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The Draconian Benefit Cap Is Ideological And Serves No Purpose But To Harm

03/07/2017 17:22 BST | Updated 04/07/2017 08:13 BST
Ken Jack - Corbis via Getty Images

The High Court judgement offered a damning indictment of what so many of us have been arguing for years - that the draconian benefit cap is ideologically driven and serves no purpose other than to harm.

Rather than appealing the decision of the court, which would do nothing but highlight further the UK government's utter incompetence and at the expense to the public purse, the UK government must instead do the very least and accept the verdict, apologise for the hurt caused and put an end to the relentless regime of cuts and chaos.

Mr Justice Collins clearly stated that "real misery is being caused to no good purpose". In spite of this conclusion being reached after a thorough, evidence-based examination of the cap, it looks as though the Tories are - quite unbelievably - going to appeal this decision.

They have been caught red-handed, harming lone parents and young children.

We know lone parents are more likely to live in poverty and are overwhelmingly women. We know too that women have been disproportionately harmed by austerity that directly impacts on their children, and that a million more children are expected to be pushed into poverty.

With losses for families under the Universal Credit rollout, the abhorrent rape clause, and cuts for the sick and the disabled, it's clear the Tories have abandoned their rhetoric to help those "just about managing" in favour of their austerity obsession.

And despite the Resolution Foundation reporting that the Tory government's tax and social security policies would "drive the biggest increase in inequality since Thatcher," the UK government remains wedded to policies of austerity, which do little to alleviate the real issues facing households across the UK.

The UK government's say their cuts to social security incentivise work - but there is nothing incentivising about pushing people into poverty. The SNP have been clear we are completely opposed to the Tories punitive benefit sanctions regime. We have and continue to call for the current system to be completely overhauled.

In an attempt to sanitise the damage the Tories are inflicting on households all across the UK, this weakened minority government have determined to label their cuts to the most vulnerable in society as welfare reforms.

The benefit cap places the burden of the UK government's failed economic strategy on the shoulders of the most disadvantaged in society.

The Tories would do well to heed the result of the election and accept they have no mandate for their callous cuts.

The new reality at Westminster gives us a chance to work across party divides on a range of issues.

Ian Blackford, our new group leader, made clear in his response to the Queen's Speech that where there are opportunities to deliver progressive policies, we would seek to do so.

Ruth Davidson's Tories in Scotland have tried hard to distance themselves from their party in Westminster.

But, as demonstrated by their unjustifiable stance on the rape clause, they cannot hide their callousness.

They must halt this counterproductive agenda of austerity immediately, listen to the voices of those being impacted by it, listen to the voices of experts, and stimulate the economy with the investment necessary to allow for opportunity, fairness and prosperity to flourish.

Alison Thewliss is the SNP MP for Glasgow Central