VHS is one of forty-five organisations across Scotland calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to end the freeze on working age and children’s benefits in the November 2017 budget. The letter has been coordinated by the Poverty Alliance as part of Challenge Poverty Week 2017.
Charities, trades unions and faith groups have joined to highlight the increasingly negative impact of the benefit freeze, particularly at a time of rising inflation. It is expected that the benefit freeze will be the main driver of rising poverty over the coming years. The freeze on most working-age and child related benefits was announced in the 2015 Summer Budget and includes Jobseekers’ Allowance, Child and Working Tax Credit excluding disability elements, Local Housing Allowances, Income support, Child benefit, Work Related Activity Group Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.
The freeze means that these benefits will not be subject to uprating until 2019/20, and will remain the same cash value as in 2015/16. Research from Sheffield Hallam estimates that the freeze in working-age benefits will lead to losses of £300 million in Scotland each year. It is expected that this will affect 700,000 families in Scotland, with an average loss of £450 per year.
Along with other signatories, VHS is concerned that rather than creating a fairer social security system that supports people when they need it and helps them into employment, the freeze adds pressure to already stretched budgets. Health inequalities are rooted in the unfair distribution of power, wealth and other resources, and VHS believes the freeze will exacerbate the gap in health outcomes between the least well off and the better off.
Read the letter: Joint Letter 18th October 2017
Read the press release: Press Release