Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael today said that the budget was an assault on the young and the poor after the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed new attacks on tax credits, housing benefit and student support payments.
Mr Carmichael warned that the nasty party is back after the first Conservative-only budget in 19 years set out plans that will hit the poorest in society and vulnerable young people hard.
Under the government’s plans, benefit payments will be frozen for four years, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) payments will be cut and young people aged 18-21 will lose access to housing benefit.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“If anyone had doubts, the budget today shows that the nasty party is well and truly back. The first Conservative budget in 20 years is blue in tooth and claw.
“Liberal Democrats in government forced the Conservatives to ensure that we balanced the books fairly, protecting spending in key areas while getting the economy back on track. Now we are seeing the true face of the Tory party and it is not a pretty sight.
“These welfare reforms are an assault on the young and the poor, with the benefits freeze, ESA cuts, tax credit cuts, and withdrawal of housing benefit from 18 – 21 year olds all set to hit Scotland hard.
“Tory reforms on ESA mean that new claimants with conditions like depression, schizophrenia and bi polar disorder will face a future with £30 a week less than people do at the moment, a third of their weekly support. Tory reforms to tax credits could affect half of all families in Scotland who receive these payments at present. That is the reality of the Conservative plans.
“The living wage that the government has announced is lower than the living wage in Scotland at present and we should not forget that many of those who will qualify for a pay raise will also be losing their tax credits. George Osborne is giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
“There are things in this budget that should be welcomed. The increase to the income tax threshold was a policy that Lib Dems forced the Tories to introduce in government. The fact that fuel duty freeze will be extended is good news for motorists. But we should make no mistake, what we have seen today is a Tory budget that will make life tougher for thousands of public sector workers, families and young people across the UK. I was also disappointed to hear no specific measures to support the oil and gas industry and I will continue to press ministers on this.”