Martin Docherty-Hughes MP: “Despite living in one of the richest countries in the world the UK government continues to pursue an austerity agenda which is forcing more people than ever before to turn to food banks and rely on emergency aid.”
On Wednesday 22nd November the UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond will present his budget plans in Westminster.
And with Christmas fast approaching too many families in Clydebank and across the country are facing financial difficulties due to rising inflation and increasing living costs. My SNP colleagues and I will be urging the Chancellor to end 7 years of damaging Tory austerity and take action to reverse cuts to social welfare and boost household incomes.
Figures published by the House of Commons Library show that the UK government’s 4 year freeze on benefits will result in real-terms cuts to social security of £5.2billion by 2019/20. Recent reports by the Child Poverty Action Group and Resolution Foundation also warn that the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) risks pushing 1 million children into poverty, with working families losing an average of £625 a year, single parents losing an average of £1,350 per year and 1.1 million two parent families facing a loss to their incomes of £2,770 annually.
These are not just numbers on a page; these Tory cuts have a devastating impact on real lives in our communities. As a result, families who are just about managing at the moment face financial hardship and the poorest and most vulnerable in society are being forced into crisis. Despite living in one of the richest countries in the world the UK government continues to pursue an austerity agenda which is forcing more people than ever before to turn to food banks and rely on emergency aid.
The Scottish Government is doing what it can to mitigate the impact of these cuts in Scotland, with over 265,000 low income households in crisis being helped through its Welfare Fund. However, until the Scottish Parliament has full powers over social security we must continue pressing the UK Government on the urgent need to end the freeze on benefits, halt its rollout of UC and boost household incomes.
Whilst the Chancellor shows little compassion for the disadvantaged in our communities, the people of West Dunbartonshire always rally to help those in need. This year’s Christmas appeal has been launched by WD Community Foodshare – seeking donations of food and toys to help support families in financial hardship over the festive period.
Donations can be made at drop-off points across West Dunbartonshire including Asda stores in Clydebank and Dumbarton, council offices at Aurora House and Garshake Road, and all local Citizens Advice Bureaus. Toy donations are also being accepted up until 12th December at Titan Enterprise Business Centre in Clydebank where my office is based.
Full details of all community drop-off points for this year’s Christmas appeal are available on the West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare Facebook page or by calling 01389 764135.
This column appeared in the Clydebank Post on 22 November 2017.