Response to new reports on welfare reform and Scottish Welfare Fund

16 May 2014
  • Welfare reform ‘having devastating impact’
  • Services must adapt to increasing pressures families are under
  • Permanent Scottish Welfare Fund must be ‘adequately funded with ring fenced resources and ensure support reaches families facing exceptional pressures’

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland today (16 May) responded to the publication of new Scottish Government reports highlighting the damaging impacts of welfare reform and reviewing the interim Scottish Welfare Fund.

On the new Impact of Welfare Reform Tracking Study the Head of CPAG in Scotland, John Dickie said;

“It is already clear that the current approach to UK welfare reform is having a devastating impact on tens of thousands of families across Scotland and undermining action to end child poverty. The anxiety caused by poor quality information, the stigma increasingly associated with claiming benefits, the hardship caused by delays and mistakes and the fundamental inadequacy of current benefit levels described in this report are backed up by CPAG’s own case evidence from across Scotland.

It is now vital that UK government publishes clear targets for dealing with benefit claims, ensures claimants have adequate financial support whilst claims are being considered and rethinks damaging cuts. Here in Scotland government and other service providers need look further at how services can be adapted to respond to the increasing pressures families are under.”

Responding to the Review of the Scottish Welfare Fund Interim Scheme Mr. Dickie continued:

“The implementation of a national Scottish Welfare Fund, with additional ring fenced funding, has been a vital source of support for families facing crisis and exceptional pressures. It is hugely welcome but it is clear from this review that more can be done to raise awareness of the scheme, speed up the decision process and ensure applicants get the support they need. It’s important that people understand the appeals process and that they are supported to seek review of decisions.

Looking ahead it is crucial that the permanent Welfare Fund scheme continues to be adequately funded with ring fenced resources, provides support to families facing exceptional pressures given they appear to be currently under-represented, and ensures payments are made in ways that protect claimants’ choice and dignity. It will also be vital that the system for independent review can make decisions binding on local decision makers to promote consistency across Scotland. Given the delays and ongoing hardship caused by failures in the UK benefit system, it is also time to review current limits on the number of applications families can make”.

For further details and interviews please contact John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618

Notes to Editors

  • NEW Policy briefings based on case evidence from CPAG welfare reform early warning system can be found here
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.