The SNP has challenged Rishi Sunak to rule out a return to Tory austerity cuts and make reversing the Tory child poverty crisis a “central mission” of the Budget on Wednesday.
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and baby bank charity Little Village, published earlier this month, revealed soaring child poverty in the UK – with 4.2million children living in poverty, including 1.3million babies and children under the age of five.
In a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget, Ian Blackford MP said Tory ministers must “take responsibility” for the rising UK poverty scandal caused by a decade of Tory cuts and called for a package of measures to boost household incomes:
• Match the Scottish Child Payment – putting money into millions of families pockets by matching the game-changing new additional benefit of £10 per child per week.
• Make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extend it to legacy benefits – preventing a further 300,000 children falling into poverty.
• Abolishing the benefit cap and two-child limit – costing only £1.4 billion and pulling 200,000 children out of poverty and 450,000 children out of deep poverty.
• Ditch the Tory public sector pay freeze – and deliver a pay rise for millions of workers.
• Rule out a return to Tory austerity and prioritise investment – with a major fiscal stimulus of at least £98billion focused on protecting jobs and incomes.
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “The growing Tory child poverty crisis is an unforgivable scandal that shames Westminster. Tackling it must be a central mission of the UK Budget.
“A decade of Tory cuts has pushed millions of families into hardship. The Chancellor must take responsibility, rule out a return to austerity, and deliver a major financial package to boost household incomes and secure an investment-led recovery.
“Coronavirus has exposed the deep inequalities that exist under the broken Westminster system. But when we need to embody the spirit of 1945, and deliver fundamental changes to build a fairer society, the Tories are desperate to return to business as usual by imposing a pay freeze for millions of workers and cuts to Universal Credit.
“It is clear that Scotland faces a choice of two futures – suffering another decade of Tory cuts and the long-term damage of Brexit at Westminster, or the opportunity to protect our place in Europe and build a strong, fair and green recovery as an independent country.
“The question at the heart of the Scottish election in May will be this: who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic – people in Scotland or Boris Johnson? Who do we trust most to deliver a fair recovery – ourselves or Westminster?
“With both votes SNP we can deliver a strong, fair and green recovery and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”