Charities, unions and faith groups urge candidates to back new approach to welfare

April 27, 2015



Coalition calls for fundamental rethink of social security in next Parliament

A coalition of over 60 of Scotland’s leading charities, unions and faith groups has written to all Scotland’s Westminster election candidates calling for dignity and respect to be placed back at the heart of the country’s social security system.

The Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCoWR) says years of benefit cuts and welfare reform have plunged too many people into even deeper poverty and is leaving many without any support at all.

The Campaign has written to all parliamentary candidates calling for increased benefit rates so that no one is left in poverty. They urge prospective MPs to back a greater focus on benefits that are not means tested. They urge candidates to roll back 'punitive conditionality' and sanctions, which they describe as "ineffective, complex, costly and stigmatising”.

Campaign spokesperson John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said:

“Over recent years we have seen massive real terms cuts to benefits and tax credits and hopelessly inappropriate sickness and disability assessments. These changes undermine the support that ordinary families rely on, whether they are in or out of work. But now organisations from across Scotland are united in calling on prospective MPs to back a fundamentally different approach to welfare reform in the next parliament. Our wellbeing as a nation depends on protecting and enabling people when they face unemployment, ill health, disability or additional caring responsibilities. We must now invest in our social security system, not undermine it."

The Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform includes, amongst many others, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the STUC, One Parent Families Scotland, Inclusion Scotland, Engender, The Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Refugee Council.

The SCoWR Campaign manifesto says that current UK welfare reform "is creating a system which is leaving more people without access to any support at all", "lacks compassion" and fails to treat people with "dignity and respect”.

Notes to Editors

For further comment contact: John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 / 07795 340 618

SCoWR members include: Bipolar Scotland, Blackwood Housing Association, Capability Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Children 1st,Children in Scotland, Church Action on Poverty, Energy Action Scotland, Engender, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Hillcrest Housing Association, HIV Scotland, Homeless Action Scotland, Inclusion Scotland, National Autistic Society Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Oxfam, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Public and Commercial Services Union Scotland, Quarriers, Save the Children, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Scottish Drugs Forum, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Scottish Homelessness and Employability Network, Scottish Poverty Information Unit, Scottish Trade Union Congress, Scottish Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Convention, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Sense Scotland, Shelter Scotland, Terence Higgins Trust Scotland, The Action Group, The Stroke Association, The Iona Community, The Poverty Alliance, Turning Point Scotland.

The SCoWR manifesto which can be viewed and downloaded here and sets out five key principles:

  • Increase benefit rates to a level where no one is left in poverty and all have sufficient income to lead a dignified life
  • Make respect for human rights and dignity the cornerstone of a new approach to welfare
  • Radically simplify the welfare system
  • Invest in the support needed to enable everyone to participate fully in society
  • Make welfare benefits work for Scotland