Jackie Brock: The Welfare Uprating Bill is misguided and unfair

When the UK Government announced in its Autumn Budget that benefits would be capped at 1 per cent, with the exception of carers and disability benefits which would reflect inflation, a number of organisations across the country – Children in Scotland included – expressed their dismay.

When the UK Government announced in its Autumn Budget that benefits would be capped at 1 per cent, with the exception of carers and disability benefits which would reflect inflation, a number of organisations across the country – Children in Scotland included – expressed their dismay.

The changes to the UK welfare and benefits system were, it seemed, unfairly targeting those who were unable to work, or who were in the lowest paid jobs. The Welfare Uprating Bill confirms these concerns.

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The Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told the Scottish Parliament welfare committee that the impacts of the bill will be felt by nearly a third of Scottish households, and will mean life is harder for the low-paid working families. And this is on top of the cuts to child benefit.

Amid targeting so-called “shirkers” by some UK politicians, there has been a shameful omission of the impact on children of these cuts, particularly those living in low-income or benefit-reliant families, with the UK Government failing to acknowledge that many parents need benefits to ensure their children can live in a warm home and can be fed and dressed adequately.

Benefits aren’t used for children’s treats – they go towards essentials.

Any claim that the UK Government is committed to social justice will sound hollow to those living in a low-income household. In Scotland, the children’s sector needs to argue forcefully and illustrate the impact these cuts will have on children’s lives and we need to work with our representatives to identify alternatives.

We know that there must be tough financial decisions and priorities agreed, but let’s make sure our debates use facts to get a deeper understanding of the impact benefit cuts will make on children. Let’s not hide behind mindless name-calling and stigmatising.

Let’s work for more jobs and better-paid employment to reduce the benefits bill but, in the meantime, let’s not penalise children of families who require and rely on the helping hand of the state to help feed, clothe and keep a roof over their head. 
• Jackie Brock is chief executive of Children in Scotland.