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Council highlights adverse impact of UK welfare changes (28/10/11)
Highland Councillors have voiced their grave concerns at “Draconian” changes in welfare payments planned by the UK Government through the Welfare Reform Bill.
Councillors David Chisholm (Dingwall and Seaforth) and Bill Barclay (Black Isle) successfully presented a motion to the Council requesting that a letter be sent to the Scottish Government asking them to refuse to legislate on those aspects of the Bill which relate to devolved matters.
The Councillors believe the Bill will have an “enormously negative impact on local authorities and the vulnerable in our communities”.
Councillor Chisholm said: “The Welfare Reform Bill will have a huge impact on people and services in Scotland. For many people, particularly families, those with disabilities, and jobseekers, the impact will be very damaging.
“An estimated £2 billion will be taken out of the local economy in Scotland during the lifetime of this parliament, with an estimated £1 billion taken from disabled people and their families.
“People with disabilities face the biggest impact from the proposed reforms. National reassessments for sickness and disability benefits, alongside cuts in public services, will inevitably mean that many people will not receive the support to deal with their disabilities that they currently rely upon.
“Public and voluntary services will need to pick up the pieces, in terms of homelessness, worsening health, and cuts in support. However, these services are experiencing cuts themselves, so many people will face a double blow of cuts in benefits and services.
“The Welfare Reform Bill will devolve aspects of the welfare system to Scotland, including Council Tax Benefit and parts of the Social Fund. This will have a significant impact on the way that public services operate.”
The Council is to ask the other 31 local councils to follow the stance taken in the Highlands and to engage with the UK and Scottish Governments to highlight the potential loss of benefits to the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society.