McAlpine expresses concern as region hit hard by welfare reform

South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed concerns about the high impact Tory welfare cuts are having on families and households across the region.

Dumfries and Galloway has lost £42 million as a result of the UK government's welfare reforms.

The biggest losers are families with children and single parents especially.

The average couple in Dumfries and Galloway with two or more children has lost £1510 as a result of the Westminster cuts.  Single parents in the region fare even worse - losing out on £1950 if they have two or more children.

The findings were presented to the Scottish Parliament Welfare Committee by academics from Sheffield Hallam University.

Joan McAlpine, the Dumfries based MSP who sits on the committee said the findings were "an absolute disgrace"

"It is time for the UK government to get a grip.  This is proof that welfare needs handed back to Scotland.

“At a time when one in five children lives in poverty, it can only get worse."

Ms McAlpine said that the Sheffield research showed the average cost to working age adults, many of whom have lost tax credits in the cuts, is a loss of £500. But the cost to families with children was much higher.  Disabled people in Scotland were also hit hard, which the Sheffield study, carried out on behalf of the welfare committee, made clear. Their average loss was £2000 a year.

Giving evidence to the Committee, Professor Steve Fothergill who wrote the report, made clear that of the loss of income for in-work households, the largest part would fall on “households in-work, towards the bottom end of the income spectrum."

Commenting, Ms McAlpine, said that these finding showed that low wage economies such as Dumfries and Galloway were hard hit by Tory cuts:

“When people discuss welfare reform, there is a tendency, understandably, to focus on very deprived areas.

“But the most up-to-date figures show that in Scotland the biggest financial impact is now from changes to Tax Credits with an estimated loss in Scotland of £350m a year, or £100 per person.

“This can have a devastating impact on regions with a low-wage economy such as ours, where working people rely on Tax Credits to top up their income so they can get by."

“The Scottish Government is doing all it can to mitigate the impact of welfare cuts, but the real powers over tax and welfare still remain in Westminster – despite the fact that the UK government has proven time and time again it cannot be trusted to make these choices on Scotland’s behalf.

“Only a powerful voice for Scotland with a strong team of SNP MPs can achieve change, and help deliver progressive policies across the UK."

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