Friday, 22 August 2014

Poverty is rising again

Local MSP Margaret Burgess has revealed that welfare policies imposed by the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government have resulted in an increase in poverty in Scotland.

Mrs Burgess made the announcement in her capacity as the SNP Scottish Government Minister for Housing and Welfare.  Responding to a Parliamentary Question from Jamie Hepburn MSP (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth), which asked what assessment had been made of comments by the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, regarding further changes to welfare benefits and the impact they would have on poverty in Scotland.

Margaret Burgess replied, “The Scottish Government has published statistics that show the reduction in poverty in Scotland that has been seen in recent years is now being reversed.  One-million people in Scotland are now living in relative poverty after housing costs, including more than 200,000 children.  That is simply unacceptable in a country as wealthy as Scotland.

“Separate analysis shows that Scotland could potentially see its welfare budget reduced by around £6bn by 2015-16.  Further, estimates suggest up to 100,000 more children could be living in poverty by 2020 if we continue with Westminster policies.”

The MSP for Cunninghame South, which includes Stevenston, noted, “The Scottish Government is doing all that it can to mitigate the harmful effects of Westminster welfare reforms but, unfortunately, the majority of the cuts are still to come and will hit the vulnerable hard.”
Mrs Burgess said, “With a ‘YES’s vote on the 18th of September, we can do much more than mitigate.  We can halt the roll-out of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, and we can end the Work Capability Assessment, replacing it with a system that is fit for purpose.  Further, in an independent Scotland, we will ensure that those with long-term disabilities are treated with dignity and receive a decent level of support.”

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