Responding to the Autumn Statement, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Social Justice spokesperson Erica Young said:
“Increasing benefits in line with inflation is welcome, however it is bitterly disappointing that the increase will not come into effect until the next financial year.
“Given that the Chancellor is taking steps to ensure people get the impact of the National Insurance cut sooner, there is no reason this can’t be done for social security payments as well.
“Working age benefits are already at their lowest ever level as a proportion of average earnings, at 13 per cent. People’s energy costs increase over the winter, and we already are seeing evidence of thousands of people unable to afford food.
On social security reforms for those out of work and with a heath condition
“However, changes to social security rules to force people with mobility or mental health issues to look for work or face cuts to their income will fuel anxiety.
“People need to understand that social security payments as they currently stand aren’t enough for many people to live on, particularly at a time of higher energy bills, housing costs and food prices. None of these things are falling.
“Meanwhile if you have a health-related condition, these costs increase. The threat of your income falling in this scenario just creates a vicious cycle for people which makes their problems worse and puts more pressure on social services like the NHS and CABs themselves.
“Our welfare state should give people the security and opportunity to fulfil their potential. It should be a safety net, not a trap door.”
On the decision to lift the freeze on Local Housing Allowance, Erica Young Said:
“It is also welcome to finally see an end to the freeze on Local Housing Allowance and increases to aspects of the minimum wage. Housing costs support for private renting has fallen so far behind actual rents that research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has found that just one in twenty new listings are at or below the LHA rate. An urgent review into whether LHA should once more be aligned with the 50th percentile.”