MSPs must act to limit damage of UK welfare reforms, say coalition of charities, unions and faith groups

October 4, 2011
  • Holyrood welfare debate must ensure schemes to replace UK benefits are adequately funded in Scottish budget
  • Scottish Government must grasp opportunity to invest in struggling households in face of UK cuts
  • MSPs must thoroughly scrutinise UK welfare bill before approving or rejecting required legislative consent

A coalition of over sixty of Scotland’s leading charities, unions and faith groups, is calling on Scotland’s MSPs to ensure UK government welfare reforms, to be debated in the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday 5th), are thoroughly scrutinised before deciding whether to reject or approve any legislative consent motion (LCM) required to implement the reforms in Scotland.

In a briefing sent to all Scottish MSPs the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCoWR) also demands that the Scottish Parliament ensures Scottish Ministers invest adequate resources in setting up replacement schemes following the proposed abolition of council tax benefit, social fund community care grants and crisis loans.

The campaign coalition believes UK welfare reforms (see note 4 below for details) will, as they stand, too often have hugely negative impacts on individuals and communities across Scotland, and on devolved housing, childcare, health, social care, equalities and anti-poverty policy.

They believe MSPs have a unique opportunity to ensure those impacts are addressed before deciding whether to provide legislative consent.

Speaking ahead of the debate SCoWR Co-ordinator Maggie Kelly, of the Poverty Alliance, said;

“The Welfare Reform Bill, as it stands, will have a very negative impact on many devolved responsibilities in Scotland, cutting across anti poverty policy, housing and homelessness policy and disabled peoples’ right to independent living, to name but a few. In advance of the vote on the LCM we are urging members of all political parties to carefully consider the potential impact of the Bill and whether they can support its implementation, as it stands, in Scotland.”

John Dickie, head of CPAG in Scotland and a leading member of the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCoWR) added;

“Its vital that today’s debate both challenges UK reforms as posing an unacceptable risk to household incomes in Scotland, and challenges Scottish Ministers to commit the resources necessary to ensure devolved support systems adequately protect families in every part of the country. The Scottish Government must grasp the opportunity to invest in struggling households in the face of UK cuts. Such investment would be truly ‘preventative spend’, helping prevent the huge costs increased poverty will otherwise impose on us all.”

For further details, comment or a copy of the briefing contact:

John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618

Maggie Kelly, SCoWR Co-ordinator, on 0141 353 0440 or 07914803243

Notes for editors

1. SCoWR members include: Action for Children Scotland, Action Group, Afreshe, Archibald Foundation, Barnardos in Scotland, Bipolar Scotland, Capability Scotland, Carr-Gomm Scotland, Children 1st, Child Poverty Action Group, Choices - One Parent Families West of Scotland, Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, Church Action on Poverty, Citizens Advice Scotland, Ecas, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Energy Action Scotland, Faith in Community (Scotland), Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Glasgow University Students' Representative Council, Headway UK, Hillcrest Housing Association, Inclusion Scotland, Iona Community, Leonard Cheshire Scotland, Margaret Blackwood Housing Association, Momentum, National Autistic Society, One Parent Families Scotland, Oxfam in Scotland, Poverty Alliance, Public and Commercial Services Union, Quarriers, RNID Scotland, Salvation Army, SAMH, Save the Children in Scotland, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Scottish Council for Single Homeless, Scottish Drugs Forum, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Scottish Homelessness & Employability Network, Scottish Out of School Care Association, Scottish Poverty Information Unit, Scottish Womens Convention, SCVO, Sense Scotland, Turning Point Scotland.

2. The SCoWR Manifesto can be viewed here.

3.For details of UK welfare cuts see our factsheet.

4. As well as abolishing council tax benefit and elements of the social fund, the UK Welfare Reform Bill, currently before the House of Lords, combines means-tested benefits and tax credits into a new universal credit and significantly increases the conditions attached to benefit entitlement. It also replaces disability living allowance with personal independence payments whilst making a 20% cut in expenditure, time limits entitlement to contributory employment and support allowance, introduces a benefits cap, breaks the link between the maximum housing benefit payable and the actual level of local rents and restricts housing benefit based on the numbers of rooms a claimant is deemed to need.