The Westminster parliament has been back just a few weeks, but Boris Johnson’s Tory government has wasted no time in pushing through cuts and tax rises which are set to have a devasting impact here in Scotland.
Tory manifesto pledges have been ripped up – the UK government has scrapped the triple lock on pensions and is implementing a regressive National Insurance hike that will cost West Dunbartonshire households on low and middle incomes hundreds of pounds a year.
They are also pressing ahead with the biggest cut to social security since the Second World War; slashing more than £1,000 a year from the incomes of the poorest, working families and vulnerable who rely on Universal Credit.
Across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale there are more than 8,000 households on Universal Credit who are set to lose £86 per month from their already stretched family budgets. That also represents upwards of £8 million lost to West Dunbartonshire’s local economy in a year when many of our shops, cafes and pubs are finding things tough.
The UK government’s own modelling shows that scrapping the £20 uplift to Universal Credit will be catastrophic; causing rising poverty and homelessness, and a soaring number of families both in and out of work having to rely on foodbanks.
In Scotland alone, it is estimated that the cut to Universal Credit will plunge 60,000 families and 20,000 children into poverty.
While the Scottish government is putting money into people’s pockets, with progressive measures like the Scottish Child Payment, the Tories are snatching it away again – at a time when the UK is seeing the highest levels of in-work poverty this century.
As West Dunbartonshire’s MP, I voted against these damaging Tory cuts and tax rises – as did the majority of Scotland’s MP – but again these detrimental policies are inflicted against our will by a Westminster government we didn’t vote for.
The people of Scotland haven’t voted Conservative in 55 years. We rejected Brexit at the ballot box, yet we are having to put up with empty shelves, soaring energy costs, and price rises driven by the UK’s hard exit from the EU.
Scotland cannot afford another decade of Tory austerity, where millionaire cabinet Ministers choose to place the greatest financial burdens on those who can least afford it.
Too many people have already been left behind by Boris Johnson’s government during the pandemic, and it is increasingly clear that there will be no fair recovery at Westminster.
The only way to keep our communities safe from Tory cuts is for Scotland to become an independent country, and gain the full powers needed to build a strong, fair and equal recovery.
This article was written for publication in the Clydebank Post.