The Scottish National Party (SNP) is calling on Westminster parties to clarify as to whether child benefit will be included in devolved powers on offer to Scotland.
The call comes after the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls revealed that a future Labour government would freeze child benefit rises at just 1% until 2017 – a real-terms cut.
Labour’s plan to cut child benefit is a clear indication that they are “locked into the Tory austerity agenda”, at a time when many families are already struggling and forced to turn to food banks, say the SNP.
SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said:
“As Ed Balls has made clear in his speech [yesterday], Labour are locked into the Tory austerity agenda. This means more cuts that would hit Scotland hard.
“In the last few years, we have had cuts on top of cuts from the Tories. And it is clear that this will continue to be the case no matter what government we have in Westminster after next May’s General Election.
“Labour’s proposal to cut Child Benefit in real terms would hit families across Scotland in the pocket – at a time when many are already suffering at the hands of Tory cuts.
“Over the past year, the number of people using foodbanks has rocketed by 400 per cent. Westminster has proved time and time again that it cannot be trusted to look out for the vulnerable. For this reason, welfare needs to be devolved to Scotland.
“However, the reality is that Labour’s devolution commission proposals completely fail to outline what welfare powers they would devolve to Scotland – and make no mention of Child Benefit.
“The Labour Party need to remember that 45 per cent of people in Scotland voted Yes last week – and polling has shown that a further quarter of No voters cast their vote in the expectation that substantial further powers would be devolved to Scotland in the coming months.
“Ed Balls’ statement that he would not increase borrowing to fund capital investment also raises questions about the effectiveness of the borrowing powers that are already supposed to be coming to the Scottish Parliament.
“The Westminster parties must now honour their commitment on further powers to the people of Scotland – and the first thing they must do is outline exactly what powers they are proposing for the Scottish Parliament.
“It is only with this much needed clarity we can move forward and work to get the best possible deal for Scotland in the circumstances.”