Citizens Advice Scotland ‘concerned’ over UK government tax credits plan
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has come out against news that UK government ministers are reportedly considering plans that will stop young people from being able to claim tax credits, saying the plans will compound the challenges already facing vulnerable young Scots and will lead more into poverty.
The news comes as it emerged that the government’s plans to limit EU migrant access to tax credits by imposing a four-year residency test would likely be illegal under EU law unless also extended to British nationals.
The four-year test would begin on the applicant’s 18th birthday, meaning young Scots would be unable to claim tax credits until they were 22 years old even if they have lived in the UK their entire lives.
Rob Gowans, policy officer at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “CAS is concerned at reports that as part of attempts to restrict benefit access for EU migrants, thousands of Scots under the age of 22 could also be denied access to tax credits. Coming on top of substantial cuts to the tax credits system and plans to prevent under 21s claiming Housing Benefit, the consequences of imposing this plan would likely be disastrous for vulnerable young Scots, many of whom require in-work support from the tax credits and Housing Benefit system to keep them from falling into extreme poverty.
“Vulnerable young people are continuing to be hit hard by reforms to our social security system and this plan will only add to their misery. Already, 11,600 Scottish 16-21 year olds stand to lose their Housing Benefit under both this and previously announced plans. Additional measures announced in July’s budget, like the four year freeze in working age benefits, will also continue to heavily impact upon the young. This latest idea may therefore be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many.
“Last year, Scottish CAB advisers saw a 71 per cent increase in the number of people who needed to be referred to foodbanks. CAB advisers across Scotland are also continuing to report a growing number of cases where people are in work, but are struggling to pay for everyday essential items. Our concern is that this change to the tax credit system will drive even more into financial strife.”