IAIN Macwhirter is spot on with his analysis of the message from Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement ("A bleak statement: We live in a very harsh Britain", The Herald, December 6).

The announcement that many benefits will be uprated by only 1% each year for the next three years is particularly cruel. It affects not only those whose only income comes from benefits, but also millions in low-paid jobs who are working hard to do the best they can for their families.

The cost of food, gas and electricity has gone up substantially over the past 12 months and that trend seems set to continue. For those of our citizens who are worst off, a large percentage of their income goes on those basics. For them, the effective rate of inflation is much higher than the headline rate, which comes from a large basket of items, including many that could be classified as luxuries. So the purchasing power of those benefits is going to reduce by perhaps 15% over the next three years. For many families, that will tip them from poverty into destitution.

Loading article content

What really rubbed it in was the photograph you published of Mr Osborne, flanked by David Cameron and the Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, Mr Osborne's LibDem little helper. All three are laughing. There's nothing in this Autumn Statement to laugh about.

Doug Maughan,

52 Menteith View,


I CANNOT understand why, over these years of crisis, a serious effort has not been made to reduce the deficit without resorting to radical cuts in our services. Of course, where there is waste and abuse of our public money, these failings need to be identified and efforts made to eliminate them. Reflecting that direct taxation is almost certainly the fairest means of raising government income (provided due taxes are not avoided by devious methods), there must be a case for a modest increase in standard and higher rates of income tax, with compassionate consideration given to the lowest earners. Some relief in National Insurance would be welcomed by employers, and a transfer in part of this to general taxation would benefit employment. Governments run scared of raising taxation, but countries with the best public services are likely to have higher direct taxation than our own.

In the meantime our country struggles with fuel and energy bills, levied at the whim of multinational companies that regularly make enormous profits, while governments appear paralysed to take any action. Watchdogs can growl, but they have no teeth. Consider also the behaviour of those who are secreting massive profits overseas. We note the hand-wringing, but failure of action leads us to believe we are governed by those who are unwilling or unable to correct injustice.

If they are unwilling, the ballot box will change those in power, but not necessarily mend the system. If they are unable to act, legislation must be provided to replace their impotence with the powers they require. We expect government, not just tinkering, from those in power.

Alistair Macleod,

39 Lodge Walk,

Elie, Leven.

YOU have correctly concentrated on the new reductions on the welfare budget ("Osborne attacked for £4bn raid on benefits", The Herald, December 6)). However we have still to experience the effects of many of the current changes. For example, from April next year our poorest could have their housing benefit reduced by as much as £20 per week because they are "under-occupying" their home.

If you have an additional room because you have separated from your partner and you need it for when your children stay over, or you are a foster parent, you will have to make the decision of whether you can afford this extra room. If you are a grandparent under state retirement age helping your family by watching grandchildren a few nights a week you will also be in this quandary.

This specific change known as the "bedroom tax" will affect around 95,000 households throughout Scotland and many may have to move away to find accommodation they can afford.

This is only one change and the proposed Universal Credit threatens to introduce more and worse. Isn't it about time that Scottish society said enough is enough? We can't sit back and let these changes be introduced without making our voices heard.

Foster Evans,

7 Blythswood Road, Renfrew.