Benefits cuts in Scotland ‘a toxic mix’

The UK government's programme of benefits cuts is a 'toxic mix' that will cause a substantial increase in poverty in Scotland, according to a new report. As well as looking at the impact of the cuts, the report attempts to identify ways in which the worst effects can be lessened.

Key points

  • Benefit cuts are being made at a time of weak job prospects in Scotland, especially for young people – amounting to a toxic mix that will increase poverty substantially.
  • There are serious design concerns about universal credit that need to be addressed. Potential solutions include decoupling housing benefit from universal credit and ensuring new employees receive payments fortnightly rather than monthly as far as possible.
  • Scotland will have to find a solution to the challenging issue of how to deal with council tax rebates and passported benefits. A Scottish system for passported benefits needs to be transparent and to avoid complexity and bureaucratic costs.
  • Within the constraints of a reduced Scottish budget, a 'Financial Security Change Fund' could be established. This would integrate existing support for income maximisation, welfare and money advice programmes; boost the capacity of credit unions; and seek to extend effective approaches more widely. It would also seek to maximise the contribution of the financial services sector and domestic energy suppliers.

Source: Jim McCormick, Welfare in Working Order: Points and Principles for the Scottish Debate (Part 1: Welfare 'Reform' and Mitigation in Scotland), Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
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