The four-year benefits and tax credits freeze will reduce the real terms value of benefits received by most working-age recipients. The IFS has estimated that 13 million families across these isles will lose an average of £5 per week as a result of the freeze. That includes 7.4 million families in work, whose incomes will drop on average by £280 per year. That £5 may be a cheap lunch for some Conservative Members, but £5 a week could be the difference between heating or eating, new school shoes for the kids or getting transport to their work. Taking money from those in low-income jobs does not make work pay; it just pushes them closer to the breadline.
SNP Members came into politics to pursue progressive policies and social justice and if we are to stay true to that—I am looking at Labour Members—we cannot do anything other than oppose the Bill. As the IFS has pointed out, when the measures are taken in the round with other Budget measures, we can see the real winners and losers. The poorest four income deciles will see their annual net income cut by between 3% and 8%, or a drop of between £600 and £1,300. The higher up the income deciles, the smaller the income decline until the ninth decile, the second richest in society, who are to receive a net income rise.
What happened to the social solidarity Scotland was promised last year? What happened to the pooling and sharing of resources? What happened to the promises that our social security system would be safe with a no vote? They are all nailed to the wall, with this Bill and the Budget, as being utter fabrications, myths and untruths. The Bill, along with the Budget, is part of this Tory Government’s ideological, social-engineering agenda. They are punishing the poor, the disadvantaged, the sick and low-income working families for economic failings that are not of their doing. Hon. Members should see that this Bill will take our society backwards and vote against it.