‘There is much that the Scottish Government is doing to reduce the impact of poverty and inequality and there is much in Scotland that can be celebrated and learned from.’
This is a quote from the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Health (RCPCH) in January 2017 at: http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/state-of-child-health/report-in-a-glance . I wrote a longer piece on the wider issues at:
Since then we’ve had the visit from the PM to lecture us on a range of matters in which she has proven herself utterly incompetent in England. The SNP have, wisely, remained above comment and, yesterday, acted to mitigate the effects of the Tory Government’s further attacks on the poor and to further justify the praise of the RCPCH. The press release is so strongly worded, unlike the recent weaker release on the state of the economy, that I’ve just listed its main elements below:
‘£58 million to combat UK Government’s welfare cuts.
Almost £58 million will be spent mitigating the harmful impact of the UK Government’s welfare cuts on households across Scotland.
The £7.7 million increase in funding for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) next year comes as the Scottish Government takes full responsibility for DHP funding, including £18.5 million transferred from the Department of Work and Pensions as part of a negotiated 3 year settlement.
The £57.9 million made available to local authorities will be split as follows:
- £47 million to fully mitigate the bedroom tax for more than 70,000 households – up from £45.4 million.
- £10.9 million, up from £4.8 million, to help mitigate other UK Government policies such as the Benefit Cap and Local Housing Allowance rates.
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman has written to all local authorities confirming their funding for the coming year. She said:
“We realise how damaging the UK Government’s punitive policies are, particularly the bedroom tax. That is why we have taken action to ensure DHPs are available to all affected households so no one has to pay it and we are committed to abolishing it as soon as practically possible.”
“We want to protect low income families and households across Scotland which is why we have increased the funding available in the first year we have had full responsibility for Discretionary House Payments. However we would much rather be using this money to positively lift people out of poverty.
“It is abundantly clear the approach the UK Government is taking to welfare is causing real damage and pushing people into poverty. We will continue to stand up for families across Scotland fight any further damaging UK welfare changes.”
The press release also reminds us that, since 2013, 321 000 DHP awards have been made.
That the vast majority of Scottish people, minus the handful listening to Theresa at the conference, are right behind the SNP’s progressive policies has already been demonstrated in a research survey for the House of Commons which said:
‘An independent Scotland would be able to use a wider set of fiscal levers – taxes and benefits – to address inequality concerns. But would the Scottish electorate support greater progressivity? Scots are more likely than English voters to think the gap between high and low incomes is too large (78% v. 74%); are more likely to support government efforts at redistribution (43% v. 34%); are more likely to say that social benefits are not high enough (6.2% v. 3.6%); and more likely to say that unemployment benefits are too low and cause hardship (22% v. 18%). (23)
‘State of the Nation’: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, presented to House of Commons December 2015 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/485926/State_of_the_nation_2015__social_mobility_and_child_poverty_in_Great_Britain.pdf