Tax and spending plans ‘will hit marginalised Scots worst’, warns Equality and Human Rights Commission
Current tax and spending plans by UK and Scottish governments will hit the incomes of single mothers, ethnic minority families and the severely disabled harder than other groups, an equality watchdog has warned.
According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), combined tax, spending and public services cuts will result in a drop in household income for these groups.
A family with one disabled adult and one disabled child stand to lose £5000 year on average, it said.
The report predicts an 8.5 per cent drop in income for Scotland’s poorest families and 7.8 per cent for female-led lone parent households by 2022.
Severely disabled people are set to experience a five per cent drop in income, the analysis suggests.
Scottish Government attempts to mitigate the worst effects of welfare reform mean drops in household income are expected to be even worse in England and Wales, according to the research.
The report also predicts child poverty in Scotland will increase by eight per cent by 2022, despite current Scottish Government targets to reduce it dramatically by 2030.
John Wilkes, Head of the EHRC in Scotland, said: “The findings show just how stark and how unequal the combined impact of the recession, austerity and public spending cuts have been. Using this new approach to assess the combined impact of tax and spend policy reveals that it is the most marginalised who have suffered the most.
“We already know that ethnic minorities, disabled people, and lone parents are much more likely to live in poverty than other Scots, and face far higher than average unemployment.
“What this research clearly shows is that we can and must consider the different impacts on different groups before we make major policy changes, otherwise we risk increasing the inequalities in our society.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the report’s findings and the EHRC’s recognition of the ‘positive policies’ the Scottish Government has pursued to mitigate the damaging impact of UK Government welfare policies.
“The report makes clear the damaging effects of the UK Government’s austerity programme. In Scotland alone, welfare cuts are expected to lead to a reduction in social security spending of £3.7 billion in 2020-21 due to the policies being pursued by the UK Government.
“We are committed to ensuring that, despite the UK Government’s welfare cuts, Scottish Government spending choices and services continue to protect the rights and incomes of our most marginalised and vulnerable citizens – including those from disadvantaged groups.
“Scotland is the only part of the UK to have ambitious targets to reduce, and ultimately eradicate child poverty. Through our ‘Tackling Child Poverty’ delivery plan we are investing £12 million in intensive employment support for parents, and we have introduced a new Financial Health Check service and increased school clothing grants. We are also spending around £125 million each year to help protect people from the worst impacts of UK Government welfare cuts and support those on low incomes.”
The EHRC analysed data around the impact of policies on people from the nine protected grounds set out in the Equality Act 2010.