Tory welfare cuts ‘£3bn deeper than expected’

New figures reveal the freeze on working age benefits will erode household incomes much more deeply than originally forecast.

New figures have revealed the UK government’s benefits freeze will include an additional £3billion cut over the next three years.

Figures from the House of Commons Library based on the Chancellor’s Spring Statement show that because of high inflation, the Tory’s benefit freeze will be cutting an additional £3billion more from claimants between 2018/19 and 2020/21 than the Government had envisaged in 2015.

SNP Social Justice spokesperson Neil Gray MP said the Benefit Freeze has been one of the most punishing of the UK government’s policies enacted over the past two years – freezing most working-age benefits including Housing Benefit, Child Benefit, Universal Credit and Tax Credits – for four years from April 2016.

The MP for Airdrie and Shotts has marked the two year anniversary of the passage of the Welfare Reform and Work Act – describing it as “one of most shameful acts of the last Parliament.”

Commenting, Neil Gray MP said: “The Tories’ benefit freeze has hit the poorest and most vulnerable in society and yet these new figures reveal they will now have to bear the brunt of a further £3 billion of additional cuts.

“The Welfare Reform and Work Act has implemented punitive cuts to social security in the guise of welfare ‘reform’.

“A long list of social security cuts were introduced – the Benefit Cap, the Benefit Freeze, the two child cap on Child Tax Credits, and the cut to Employment Support Allowance, among others.

“Two years later we are now starting to see the full impact of these policies. And now this will be massively amplified by the rise in inflation, which has risen steadily from 0.5% in June 2016 to a current 3%.

“Labour talk the talk on welfare cuts, but couldn’t bring themselves to walk the walk through the lobbies to vote against this legislation at its Second Reading in the Commons back in 2015.

“They are also staying conveniently silent on the impact their own approach to Brexit will have on the cost of living, which erodes by a huge proportion the incomes of benefit recipients. This may explain why they forgot to refer to the Benefit Freeze in their 2017 manifesto.

“The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 exemplifies the very worst of this Tory Government’s total callousness. The SNP want to highlight that on the two year anniversary of this Act having become law, it has left misery and devastation in its wake.

“We have challenged and condemned these Tory cuts from the very beginning, but the Tories refused to believe us when we said these policies would push people into complete crisis. Two years on they can no longer refuse to ignore the evidence.

“The Tories urgently need to reverse these cuts and restore dignity and support to social security.”