MP calls for Government not to repeat austerity policies

East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald is calling on the UK Government to pull back from a rerun of its austerity policies.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:43 pm
East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald
East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald

Ms Oswald claims Ministers have made clear that, in the wake of the pandemic, they will pursue policies similar to those introduced after the 2008 financial crash.

The UK Government is planning to remove the £20 weekly uplift introduced at the start of the pandemic to those receiving Universal Credit (UC) the end of September.

An ending of the furlough scheme in September is also currently planned by the Chancellor.

Removal of the UC uplift has been condemned by over 50 anti-poverty charities, by MPs from all parties, including 100 Tory MPs, and by several Westminster committees. Anti-poverty organisations have warned that 700,000 people across the UK could be plunged into poverty, including 300,000 children.

Before the pandemic, 1 in 10 children in East Renfrewshire and 1 in 5 in Scotland were growing up in poverty. In response to a question from Ms Oswald, the DWP minister admitted the UK Government haven’t assessed what effect removal of the uplift will have on child poverty in Scotland.

The Treasury has also rejected calls for targeted support for hard-hit industries such as hospitality and aviation, which face a long, slow recovery.

The chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) told Westminster’s Treasury Select Committee that 44 per cent of ABTA members anticipate redundancies as furlough support winds down.

Research from the House of Commons Library shows the UK lags behind those of 13 neighbouring nations in wealth per head.

The data also reveals that the ‘wealth gap’ with neighbouring countries has doubled from a deficit of 7.6 per cent in 2000 to one of 16.3 per cent in 2021. For those countries with a population similar to or smaller than Scotland it has grown from a gap of 26.6 per cent in 2000 to 50.7 percent in 2021.

Ms Oswald said: “It seems the Tories learned nothing from the 10 years of austerity that held back recovery and drove thousands of families into poverty.

“The astonishing wealth gap between UK residents and those of our smaller European neighbours shows how much better Scotland could do with control of our own resources and economy.”