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SCoWR - Charities, unions and faith groups call for welfare debate based on 'respect not myths'

Government Welfare Bill must address inadequate benefit levels, reverse ‘pointless’ and ‘humiliating’ conditions and ensure childcare support allows parents to work. A coalition of over forty of Scotland’s leading charities, unions and faith groups, is calling on Scotland’s MPs to ensure the Welfare Bill, to be debated in the Commons today addresses inadequate benefit levels, rethinks ‘pointless’ and ‘humiliating’ conditions and provides the childcare support needed to allow parents to work.

In a briefing sent to all Scottish MPs the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCoWR) says that the principle of simplifying the welfare system and increasing support for people moving into work is right but that current debate and reforms are based on false myths that welfare is generous and a barrier to work and that fraud is a major problem. According to the campaigners the reality is that benefit levels leave tens of thousands below the poverty line, and that fraud, at well under 1% of benefit expenditure[2], is at an all time low. They point out that the key barriers to work are lack of jobs, labour market discrimination and inadequate childcare support. Focussing on benefit conditions and slashing the welfare bill shows, they say, a lack of respect for ordinary people affected by unemployment, ill health, disability and caring responsibilities.

SCoWR is calling for Parliament to ensure that;

  • new Universal Credit rates are linked to Minimum Income Standards based on what the public believe people need to live on,
  • taper rates for the withdrawal of Universal Credit are set at levels that genuinely leave people better off as they enter work
  • punitive increases to the conditions attached to benefits are rejected,
  • adequate resources are made available so that everyone can participate fully in society, for example through providing adequate childcare support.

Speaking on behalf of SCoWR John Dickie, head of CPAG in Scotland, said;

“It is right to seek to simplify the welfare system and support people into work but unless this Bill is revised to address the hopeless inadequacy of current benefit levels, ensure adequate levels of childcare support are in place and remove the risk of benefit sanction from parents unable to find the right childcare then it will lead to increased poverty. Today, as an extraordinarily broad coalition of Scotland’s charities, unions and faith groups, we are calling for a welfare debate that respects people facing ill health, disability and unemployment and that challenges the myths and stereotypes that are being used to justify welfare cuts rather than real reform.”

For further comment contact:

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