Single parent families could lose more than £4000 a year in benefits cuts after welfare reforms made by the UK Government, a new report for the Scottish Government has found.
In recent years the Conservative government has frozen benefits payment rates and capped the total amount of welfare funding people can receive.
The report estimates recent changes to welfare policies mean an unemployed single parent with three children will be £4080 worse off a year by 2020/21, facing an 18% reduction in their income from £23,385 to £19,205.
Meanwhile, a working couple with two children face an estimated £1540 reduction (6%) in annual income to £24,300 by 2020/21 compared to having had no welfare cuts.
Researchers said the analysis does not take into account the impact of transitional protection payments which families may be entitled to and disregards entitlements to reclaim childcare costs under universal credit as they deem it to be “less relevant”.
The Scottish Government’s communities secretary Angela Constance accused those in power at Westminster of having “targeted” by the poorest people in society with the changes.
In the foreword to the report, Constance said: “Since 2010, successive UK Governments have introduced a raft of welfare changes in pursuit of their austerity approach to deficit reduction.
“As this report shows, these changes have targeted people on low incomes across Scotland, with families with children the hardest hit.”
She added: “As well as moral objections, taking money away from low-income families makes no economic sense.
“This is money taken from the pockets of families that are already surviving on low incomes and pushing them into crisis, debt and is creating problems that have to be picked up by other public services and emergency aid such as the Scottish Welfare Fund and food banks.”
A spokesman for the UK Government said: “Our reforms will ensure we have a welfare system that’s fair to those use it as well as those who pay for it.
“The best way to help people support their families is to help them into work, and we have record numbers of people now in employment.
“We’re helping millions of families meet the everyday cost of living and keep more of what they earn – we introduced Universal Credit, increased the National Living Wage and tax-free personal allowance to make sure it pays to be in work.”