MSP Slams Tory-Lib Dem coalition over council tax benefit cuts

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South of Scotland  MSP Joan McAlpine has attacked plans by the UK government  to make changes to council tax benefit which could hit nearly 15,000 people in Dumfries and Galloway hard in the pocket.
 
The Tory-Lib Dem coalition aims to replace the benefit and transfer funding to Scotland – but at the same time it is reducing the amount available by 10 per cent.

This will hit more than 14,700 people in the area, many of them pensioners, who are on fixed and low incomes.
 
Ms McAlpine, said: “This Tory-Lib Dem coalition isn’t content with levying the Granny tax, a pie tax or a charity tax while at the same time handing back money to its rich chums and benefactors.
 
“Now it is coming back for another go at the most vulnerable in our society by hammering the household budgets of those who can least afford it.
 
“This council tax benefit cut could see pensioner couples here in the South of Scotland and elsewhere lose nearly £100 a year in benefit.
 
“I have no problem with the UK government finally transferring responsibility for council tax benefits to Scotland. But to slash the budget on the way is utterly unacceptable.”
 
She continued: “The Tories and Lib Dems have already targeted people with disabilities by slashing welfare benefits and attacked hard-hit households with cuts to tax credits.
 
“Now we’re seeing another unwarranted attack on pensioners, the unemployed, single parents and other vulnerable groups. Nearly 15,000 more people here in Dumfries and Galloway are set to suffer as a result of this latest move while coalition ministers award their millionaire friends a cashback deal.
 
“How are these people supposed to make the extra money to pay the UK government when that very government’s economic policies are leaving people without jobs and making it harder than ever for them to make ends meet?”
 
Ms McAlpine added that The Scottish Government had held back money to help those affected by the impact of Westminster cuts and was now looking at how it could provide support to people hit by these council tax cuts.
 
She said: “We will always do everything we can to support our vulnerable, pensioners and low earners. That’s why the SNP has frozen the council tax for the last five years and will do so right up until at least 2016.”

The benefit cut has also been condemned by the SNP’s Glasgow Council Group Leader Allison Hunter.  Official figures show that 101,610 people are in receipt of council tax benefit in Glasgow.  This includes pensioners and low paid households which are struggling to get by. 
  
Councillor Hunter commented: “The Tories and their Lib Dem supporters have slashed welfare payments for disabled people, hit families with cuts to tax credits and targeted pensioners with their “granny tax”. Now they are cutting support for council tax benefit.
 
“These changes could see pensioner couples lose nearly £100 in benefit. It is totally unfair that people who have worked hard all their lives should be treated in this way.
 
“I welcome the decision to transfer council tax benefit to Scotland – but to slash the budget on the way is completely unacceptable. At the same time as UK changes to housing benefit are having a real impact on low income families, this is a step too far.

“The Scottish Government has held back money to help those affected by the impact of UK Government cuts. I know they are looking at how to support those hit by the UK’s council tax cut – but I am disgusted by the Coalition’s determination to keep hammering the  household budgets of those who can least afford it. This shows the Tories in their true colours and the Lib Dems should be ashamed of themselves for being a part of this.
 
“This situation will horrify many Glaswegians and reinforces the need for Scotland to have more control of our own resources and the power to decide how they are allocated.”