Following their smallest ever demo in Eyemouth in support of the Greek people, the Eyemouth Three took to the streets of Coldstream and Duns for a Budget Day Austerity Walk.
Angry at George Osborne’s new wave of austerity measures Kate Duncan, Alison Currie and Rosemary Dale were out with a fresh set of placards on July 8, in support of the poor and vulnerable and they urged other women to do the same.
“Go out with a couple of friends and your placards and just talk to people,” Rosemary said. “Show them you’re with them, they’re not forgotten.”
“Austerity doesn’t work,” Kate added. ‘We have falling unemployment figures, but the work is part time and it’s badly paid.
“Tax credits subsidise the employers and that’s definitely wrong, but people will be badly hurt with these cuts. People we spoke to today are scared, with no idea how they will manage.”
The three have discovered that they already have a Facebook following and someone in Coldstream asked them for a picture for his Facebook page.
“We didn’t get his name,” said Alison, “but he told us how worried he was about losing his tax credits.”
The Three, who describe themselves as a cross-party protest group (Scottish Socialist, Green and Scottish National Party) are promising that there is every likelihood they will take to the streets again.
Conservative MSP, John Lamont, saw the Chancellor’s budget in a more favourable light.
He said: “I was delighted to hear the measures announced by the Chancellor in his budget. By taking those on the lowest pay out of income tax altogether and introducing a new National Living Wage of £9, the UK Government is rewarding work and allowing those on the lowest incomes to keep more of what they earn.
“At a time when household budgets are stretched I know that this will come as real help to many households in the Borders.
“The Chancellor has had to take some tough decisions over welfare spending, but these measures will ensure that the UK will finally be doing the responsible thing and raising more money than it spends by 2019.
“I’m also pleased with new measures such as the further freeze on fuel duty and the planned reduction in corporation tax, which will both be good for jobs in the Borders.
“Like their plans for full fiscal autonomy, the Scottish Government’s attacks on this budget are just not credible. The Chancellor is taking the tough decisions needed to bring the deficit down and secure the economic future of the UK. Soon, the SNP is going to have to demonstrate how it will use new fiscal powers and show that it too can make the difficult choices needed to manage tax and spending.”
Talking about the first UK budget since he was elected as MP for the Borders, Calum Kerr, SNP said: “This Tory budget is going to deal a real blow to young people, families and those who are already poor, both here in the Borders and across the country. Instead of doing the sensible thing and relenting on austerity, George Osborne is making things worse. The brutal cuts in tax credits in particular are going to do real damage to people
“An increase in the minimum wage has to be welcomed, but it is going to be offset by a reduction in the incomes of those who can afford it least. There is little good news for them in this budget. That is bad news for the Borders and for Scotland.
“Predictably and depressingly, it is the same old Tory mantra from George Osborne. Once again, they are taking from the poorest and giving to the richest.
”The Chancellor and his colleagues have again utterly ignored the message of May’s election when the SNP sent 56 MPs to Westminster, leaving just one. That was a massive rejection of austerity, but still he and his fellow Tories press their unfair and divisive policies on us.
“This budget once again makes the case for economic and welfare powers to come to Scotland, so we can start to turn things round, introduce fairness and govern for the many and not the few.”
Andy Willox, responded on behalf of Federation of Small Business: “This dramatic budget radically changes the environment in which Scottish small businesses will operate over the next five years. Many small employers will be examining their books over the weeks to come to understand what the changes to business taxation and minimum wages will mean to their operations.”
Citizens Advice Scotland is concerned that the welfare cuts in the budget will impact most sharply on those who are least able to cope, and that more people may be forced into poverty and foodbanks as a result.
CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said: “We are very concerned about the impact these cuts will have on the poorest and most vulnerable Scots – many of whom have already been hit hard by the previous welfare reforms. Once again it looks like the burden is falling on those who are least able to cope.
“Last year Scottish CAB advisers saw a 71% increase in the number of people who needed to be referred to foodbanks. Our concern is that these cuts will drive that trend to increase even more.
“We of course welcome the move to a living wage economy, but it looks like for most people this will not be enough to off-set the impact of the wider cuts. We note too that the projected minimum wage rise to £7.20 next year still falls short of the Scottish living wage which is currently £7.85.
“The freezing of working age benefits for four years is a cut in real terms. And some of the welfare cuts appear to have been focused sharpest at young people in society - many of whom will be left without adequate support, particularly those who have no families to support them.
“Anyone who is concerned about their finances can get expert advice from their local CAB or from our helpline on 0808 800 9060. CAB advice is free, impartial and confidential.”