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West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has called on the Tory UK government to end its “immoral” freeze on benefits ahead of this week’s Spring Budget Statement on Wednesday.

The local SNP MP says that UK Chancellor Philip Hammond must end the damaging freeze on benefits, tax credits, and the Local Housing Allowance and increase them in line with inflation for the first time in 4 years, after it was revealed that the current freeze had made life harder for over 27 million people across the UK.

At present, many benefits including tax credits and Local Housing Allowance have been frozen since 2016 and are due to stay at this level until 2020.

A damning new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) slammed the Tories’ benefit freeze, revealing that ending the freeze one year early would benefit 2.1 million people in Scotland, with 800,000 benefitting from £100 or more this year.

The benefit freeze is the biggest policy behind rising poverty in the UK, costing families an average of £340 per year.

The JRF warns that if Westminster pushes ahead with the policy until 2020, it will have driven 400,000 people into poverty and made life harder for 27 million people in the UK.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“The UK government’s immoral freeze on benefits at a time when the costs of living are rising has needlessly driven thousands of families in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland into poverty.

“The Prime Minister claims austerity is over, but by continuing the benefits freeze for a further 12 months it is the most vulnerable in our communities that will continue to pay the price of this Westminster government’s cruel policies.

“Both the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Citizens Advice have backed calls for the freeze on benefits to be lifted now. The evidence is clear that the Tories cannot continue down this path of austerity.

“It’s time for the UK Chancellor to listen and act to end the freeze now when he delivers his Spring budget statement in parliament this week.”

The report on the benefits freeze by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is available here.

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