Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

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My take on the budget

My take on the budget

I can’t be the only one who finds the Conservatives attempts to portray themselves as the workers’ party risible and ridiculous. I’ve sat opposite them in the House of Commons for the last two months and I can safely say I’ve never seen so much wealth and privilege in the one place. The only working people many of the Tories know are the ones who work for them.

It’s all a PR exercise and like any other brand you can’t sell it if it’s crap. So let’s take a look at what the workers’ party has planned. This week’s budget is nothing other than an all-out attack on working people. Millions of police officers, nurses, teachers and local government workers throughout the UK will have their pay pegged to a one percent increase for the next four years. On top of wage freezes and paltry rises over the past five years, this will drive down the standard of living for many, many people.

But the greatest assault is on the poorest workers. Tax credits are designed to top up low pay to a level the DWP regards as enough to make ends meet. Yes, they can be seen as a subsidy to employers who pay low wages. In fact, the growth in the cost of tax credits over the last five years is because most of the jobs that the Tories claim to have created are low paid, insecure, part time and temporary.

The answer to low pay is to increases wages, not to reduce tax credits. As pay increases tax credits would fall anyway, but to cut them first is simply to further impoverish the lowest paid, driving people to despair and desperation. The poorest 10% of earners will lose £800 a year and the next poorest 10% will lose £1,300 a year after these changes are made – when you take account of both tax credits cuts and increases in the minimum wage. That’s not my view by the way; it’s even the analysis of the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Seventy percent of tax credits in Scotland – and a similar proportion in England – go to families where people are working. The rest go to people who, because of illness or disability, are unable to work through no fault of their own.

This is a monstrous attack on the working poor throughout the UK and it should be opposed tooth and nail by anyone with a shred of compassion and decency. And just in case you were in any doubt about who the Tories really look out for, they’ve cut inheritance tax for people in million pound houses and aim to cut taxes on company profits by ten percent.

There’s a lot more in the summer budget not to like. In a move reminiscent of China’s social engineering, they intend to stop child benefit for the third and subsequent child. Tough if you’ve already got 3 children.  And if a woman gets pregnant and has a third child as a result of rape she’ll have to prove to the DWP that she was assaulted.

Then there’s the benefits cap – a measure which saves a tiny sum of money but which gets the backbench Tories juices flowing. The only reason why a claimant would be getting payments anywhere near the benefits cap is because they will be paying exorbitantly high rents charged by unscrupulous landlords milking the system. Yet, rather than tackle the landlords and control rents, the government prefers to take it out in the tenants. The result is to force the poorest in our society to move from areas they call home, creating pockets of deprivation and low economic activity where – guess what – it’s even harder to get a decent job and get off benefits. Meanwhile these “cleansed” areas will be harvested electorally by the Tory party.

All in all this is a miserable, mean spirited budget designed by people who seem to believe that to make rich people work harder you should pay them more, but to make poorer people, work harder you should pay them less. Poverty is the scourge of Britain and inequality is the most pressing social issue of our time. This budget will make both worse.

The SNP will vote against these measures any chance we get. We will also pursue the devolution of welfare and economic policy to Scotland, so we can design a welfare system that provides security to all our citizens and help them get on in life. That’s what we will be arguing for when the Scotland Bill gets to its next stage.

The SNP 56: a breath of fresh air… ?
Tommy appears on Question Time

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Comments 5

Guest - darren mcdonald on Monday, 13 July 2015 10:52

Well done tommy on getting your website up and running ive had a look through and enjoyed reading every part.
I dont know if you have noticed about the changes to working tax credits but when its payed out to people who work 16hrs they wont actually be able to claim working tax credits due to the reduction of the threshold for claiming and increase in minimum wage .
This is an outrage that has effectively brought a stop to working tax credits system as no one can claim
this leaves to many people destitute and effectively slaves to the torrie government .
I am glad that the snp is being on the side of anti austerity and I hope you and the other 55 snp mp's manage to hold westminster to account for all their disrespectful impossment's on all in the uk.
thank you very much

Well done tommy on getting your website up and running ive had a look through and enjoyed reading every part. I dont know if you have noticed about the changes to working tax credits but when its payed out to people who work 16hrs they wont actually be able to claim working tax credits due to the reduction of the threshold for claiming and increase in minimum wage . This is an outrage that has effectively brought a stop to working tax credits system as no one can claim this leaves to many people destitute and effectively slaves to the torrie government . I am glad that the snp is being on the side of anti austerity and I hope you and the other 55 snp mp's manage to hold westminster to account for all their disrespectful impossment's on all in the uk. thank you very much
Guest - Willie Belford on Monday, 13 July 2015 18:09

Has the SNP forgotten its raison d'etre is independence and that with securing over 50% of the votes cast in the GE and an overall majority in Holyrood you unquestionably have a mandate for UDI.

Do it now and remove Scotland from the fascist rule of English Tories.

Has the SNP forgotten its raison d'etre is independence and that with securing over 50% of the votes cast in the GE and an overall majority in Holyrood you unquestionably have a mandate for UDI. Do it now and remove Scotland from the fascist rule of English Tories.
Guest - Elaine Hindle on Tuesday, 14 July 2015 00:43

I agree with every word you are saying and I know you will fight for justice but we cannot wait another five years while people die. I for one want UDI as do many of our fellow citizens, we have had enough of cuts, the tory party are barbaric there is no way to stop Iain Duncan Smith who is acting like a Nazi.If we do not do something soon we will have nothing left in Scotland, as I know the tory party are hell bent on destroying us. I knew this would happen as I came through the Thatcher years and this is infinitely worse. Every day that passes more cuts are heaped upon us, we cannot stop this onslaught upon the vulnerable in our society. I am in despair for these people.
Yours Sincerely SNP Member Elaine Hindle

I agree with every word you are saying and I know you will fight for justice but we cannot wait another five years while people die. I for one want UDI as do many of our fellow citizens, we have had enough of cuts, the tory party are barbaric there is no way to stop Iain Duncan Smith who is acting like a Nazi.If we do not do something soon we will have nothing left in Scotland, as I know the tory party are hell bent on destroying us. I knew this would happen as I came through the Thatcher years and this is infinitely worse. Every day that passes more cuts are heaped upon us, we cannot stop this onslaught upon the vulnerable in our society. I am in despair for these people. Yours Sincerely SNP Member Elaine Hindle
Guest - Sasha Callaghan on Tuesday, 14 July 2015 20:16

Thank you on the decision to vote against lifting the fox hunting ban (and David Cameron's spectacular climb down).

Thank you on the decision to vote against lifting the fox hunting ban (and David Cameron's spectacular climb down).
Guest - Elaine Hindle on Tuesday, 28 July 2015 23:56

I feel that you are losing the battle to help support the poorest from the swinging cuts that the tories are currently making. You and Mhari my MP are speaking the truth but it is falling on deaf ears. I think it is time for the SNP of which I am a member to either have another referendum, or declare UDI. The other "major" party Labour refuse to help and without their support in Westminster, it leaves the Tories free to rough shod over everyone and as they are hell bent on destroying Scotland there are echoes of the past, beginning to come to haunt us again. We must stop this rot and get ourselves free from these money grabbing people, otherwise I despair for what will happen in the near future. We no longer have a democracy, as the tory party are a dictatorship. I am at my wits end about what we can do in this situation.

I feel that you are losing the battle to help support the poorest from the swinging cuts that the tories are currently making. You and Mhari my MP are speaking the truth but it is falling on deaf ears. I think it is time for the SNP of which I am a member to either have another referendum, or declare UDI. The other "major" party Labour refuse to help and without their support in Westminster, it leaves the Tories free to rough shod over everyone and as they are hell bent on destroying Scotland there are echoes of the past, beginning to come to haunt us again. We must stop this rot and get ourselves free from these money grabbing people, otherwise I despair for what will happen in the near future. We no longer have a democracy, as the tory party are a dictatorship. I am at my wits end about what we can do in this situation.
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