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Welfare cuts cost disabled £2,000 a year

This news post is about 9 years old

Research reveals true cost of cuts on most vulnerable

Disabled people are losing up to £2,000 a year under draconian welfare cuts – while couples with children are seeing £1,400 slashed from their income.

The figures are contained in a new report - the first of its kind measuring the impact of the UK government’s welfare reform agenda on different household types in Scotland.

Published by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, the research shows disabled people are being hit worst by the cuts while, overall, families with children lose an estimated £960 million a year – approaching two-thirds of the overall financial loss in Scotland.

Disabled claimants and those with health problems have also been shown to be disproportionately affected.

Reductions in incapacity benefits are estimated to average £2,000 a year, and some of the same people also face big losses in Disability Living Allowance and reductions in other benefits.

Committee convener, Labour MSP Michael McMahon, said: “The Welfare Reform Committee has amassed a growing volume of evidence documenting the impact of the welfare reform agenda on Scotland’s communities.

“This latest evidence shows that some of those most in need of support, namely parents and disabled people are being hardest hit. For us to be in this situation in 21st century Scotland is unacceptable.”

Until now, there has been no way to assess the impact across the various benefits on different types of households.

Because of the cumulative impact of people being affected by several different benefit streams, the overall impact of welfare reforms has been hidden.

The statistics are expected to become an essential tool for government and local authorities in shaping targeted responses and service delivery.

Author of the report, professor Steve Fothergill of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The figures demonstrate that the welfare reforms impact very unevenly.

"The very big impact on families with children, in particular, has previously been under the radar because it is the cumulative result of several individual reforms.

“Coalition ministers have argued that “we’re all in it together”.

The impacts of welfare reform, documented in our report, show this is far from being the case.”

It comes as a separate report from a coalition of major UK churches revealed that around 6,500 children in Scotland were affected by benefit sanctions in 2013/14.

The report, published today, was written by a coalition of major UK Churches including the Church of Scotland, Church Action on Poverty, the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church.

It contains new data on the severity and length of sanctions under welfare reform, and on how sanctions affect vulnerable groups such as children and those with mental health problems.

Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, said: “As a society we need to face up to the reality of this situation and think: is this really what we want to happen?

“Where those whose lives are already fragile to be made harder. It isn’t right that punishment rather support is what we offer to families or people with mental health problems who can’t find work.

“That’s why today we’re calling for a full and independent review of the sanctions regime.”

The churches are also recommending urgent reform of the hardship payments system to avoid the deliberate imposition of hunger and are urging the government to suspend all sanctions against families with children and those suffering from mental health problems.

Most importantly, they say, there needs to be a change of culture, from one of enforcement and punishment to one of assistance and support.