When I was a girl I remember budget day being seriously boring. Mum would worry about the price of cigarettes and Dad would complain about the price of a bottle of whisky or petrol or car tax but life would go on pretty much as normal. Not a wealthy family, we managed and there was no expectation that the budget would put us into poverty. How different it is today.
Today if you are an ordinary couple, with three children, both working full time in ordinary jobs, in Morrisons, in the Co Op, in hairdressers, local factories, both earning the amount that the Tory Government suggests is a living wage – £7.20 – then under this budget you will be £1580 per year worse off. If you have the apparently government approved number of children – 2 – then you will STILL be £1303 worse off.
If you earn the Scottish Living wage £7.85 pr hour, and have 2 children then you will be £237 worse off, if you have 3 children then you will be £1761 worse off.
A single mum working 20 hours at the Scottish Living wage would be worse off by £1355.
Yet for those earning a significant amount of money, If both members of a couple are earning £60 000 a year then they will be £221 better off.
For my wee family, I’m working, John is a student and we have two children under 16, we will be worse off by £78 – not too bad and we are quite relieved that it isn’t much worse and yet the future is worrying. The chance of us ever owning our own home retreats further away from us, how do we manage to keep the car on the road and if we cant, I will have no job, never mind that we couldn’t get the children to school. Still if my contract isn’t renewed in August then I wont have that to worry about.
So, many of us today will not be worrying about the cost of cigarettes or the price of a dram but how on earth we can put food on our tables or pay our rent when, next year, we may be £30 per week worse off.
We must do everything we can to fight for the devolution of welfare, to push for the powers to grow the diverse economies that we live in, so that we have more work, higher pay, less seasonal and more sustainable jobs. We have a desperate need for more affordable housing and policies which encourage property to be rented on a long term basis to families and those in housing need and we need control of the economy to do that. It is absolutely imperative that we get more powers for Scotland and that we are not pushed into silence by the appalling carry on that we see in Westminster. The Tories have no mandate to govern Scotland and today was a stark illustration of the difference in the direction of travel of Westminster and Holyrood.