Former MP blasts 'benefits theft' from Fife families
FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that a £30 million "benefits theft from Fife" is cruel and heartbreaking for families in need.
The former Dunfermline MP said 33,000 families in the Kingdom will see their Universal Credit cut by £20 from October with six million families across the UK affected.
“As energy and food prices go up and the cost of Christmas rises because of huge supply chain bottlenecks causing transport costs to rise, families are going to be hit even harder in the next month,” he said.
“Just because it is October, families do not need less to make ends meet than in September when they had £20 more. Our report shows that in some communities, one child in every two is in poverty with too many going to school ill-clad or hungry.
“Charities, already under pressure, will have to do more and local businesses will be asked to step up their charitable work.
“Fife is hit hard because we have high pockets of child poverty and greater dependence on benefits than in other parts of the country outside Glasgow.”
A report by Gordon and Sarah Brown said that Fife’s poorer areas were finding rises in food prices, with increasing heating and electricity bills hitting them hard.
It found that in the Dunfermline and West Fife constituency, there were 3,592 children in poverty with 4,410 families – 35 per cent – with children in receipt of universal credit or working tax credits.
The Browns' report claimed that the scale of the problem may well be worse than official figures suggest with statistics from End Child Poverty indicating even higher levels of poverty now and for October, with one in every two children in families in some communities forced into poverty.
These figures show that some of the hardest-hit areas in Fife include Dunfermline North, where 23 per cent of families are living in poverty and Dunfermline South and West Fife Coastal Villages, where a 22 per cent figure was recorded.
"Across Fife, there has been a 2.7 per cent rise in the estimated number of children defined as living in poverty," added the report from the Browns. "In 2015, the number was put at 15,123. In 2019-20 it stood at 16,981.
"Each community of 1,000 people will immediately lose £1 million in spending power each year if the UC cut goes ahead affecting shops and other community amenities which households will be unable to afford."