Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cut a further £12bn of benefits after the next election – half of all proposed spending cuts over the term of the next parliament, have alarmed campaigners and commentators, with Stephen Naysmith of the Herald warning of a US style attack on the jobless and poor, pointing out that “three days after Christmas, every American who had been claiming federal unemployment benefits for more than six months had them stopped.”
Ostensibly, the cuts are to reduce the UK’s budget deficit, however, the Chancellor has ruled out cutting the deficit by raising taxes, meaning that the burden of future cuts will be borne disproportionately by the young and the poorest. Housing Benefit entitlement for under 25s will be removed should the Conservatives win the next election, although it is unclear at this stage what exemptions may apply. Nicola Sturgeon has pointed out that should parents be included, over 20,000 Scottish children would be affected and could face homelessness and destitution.
The plans have caused a Cabinet split – Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is against slashing benefits further and in favour of increasing taxes on the wealthy.