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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Welfare Link to Cost of Living Must not be Lost

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Commenting on reports that the coalition are considering freezing working-age benefits for two years and ending the link with inflation, the SNP said the Tories have their priorities all wrong and should stop cutting from the poorest and start investing for jobs and growth.

Reports suggest the Department for Work and Pensions wants to find a further £10 billion in cuts to the welfare budget, which is already facing cuts of £18billion. Breaking the link between inflation and benefit increases is reportedly being considered.

SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“The Tory-led government have a sorry history of making the poorest pay for their own economic mismanagement – but cutting the link between welfare and the cost of living strikes at the heart of the welfare safety net.

“It is a sad fact that welfare support is most needed in the midst a recession – so it’s staggering that the Westminster government continues to push their damaging austerity agenda.

“The out-of-touch Westminster government has no idea of the reality of life on a low income. They have their priorities all wrong, giving tax breaks to millionaires while making the poorest pay the heaviest burden for a financial crisis which is not of their making.

“Ending the link between welfare and the cost of living would not end the Coalition’s economic woes, but would make life even tougher for vulnerable people, creating greater financial stress and increasing the risks of getting into debt.

“Welfare reforms are undoubtedly necessary to create a simpler, fairer and more effective system. But the Westminster reforms are not fit for purpose. When plans for Universal Credit were first announced, it was claimed these reforms would make work pay. But so far it has just been the poor who have been made to pay.

“Decisions over the welfare system should not be left to Westminster Tories but should be made in Scotland, by a Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, 100 % elected by the people of Scotland and committed to building a fairer society.”

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