Scottish MSPs back Bill to lessen welfare reform impact

A committee of MSPs has backed a Bill designed to limit the impact of the UK government’s welfare reforms on poor and vulnerable groups in Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee issued a report after examining a Bill proposed by the Scottish Government. The committee convener Michael McMahon MSP said:

‘We heard from witnesses about the bleak picture for those on welfare and the scale of personal impact that is likely to follow the UK reforms. We have grave concerns for the future of Scotland’s most vulnerable people. This comes at a time when the Scottish welfare budget is being cut by £2.5 billion. Seeking to limit even some of the negative impacts of reforms is therefore no mean feat.’

Some of the emerging themes in evidence were:

  • Changes to the benefits system will remove lifeline benefits from large numbers of vulnerable people.
  • The means of applying for new benefits is complex – with more online applications required, and stressful capacity assessments for those with long-term disabilities.
  • 330,000 disabled people are caught in an appeals system that overturns two-thirds of the assessment results.
  • There will be major impacts on the independence of disabled people, child poverty and homelessness.
  • There is an increased likelihood of people getting into serious debt, including rent arrears, due to the new arrangements.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions has done only limited work to assess the impacts on different groups in society.

Source: Stage 1 Report on the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill, 1st Report 2012, SP Paper 125, Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee

Link: Report | Committee press release | Scottish Government press release | BBC report

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