Citizens Advice Scotland have welcomed new support, announced in the Scottish budget, to help people who are hit by the bedroom tax, but have said that even more funding is needed.
CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
“We have been urging both Scottish and UK Ministers to provide support for those who are being hit by the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms. We are pleased that Scottish Ministers have listened to those calls and have provided some funding to help such families. But such support must not seen as exceptional, or a one-of. The scale of the welfare crisis is huge, and even more support is needed.
“Scottish CAB offices continue to be overwhelmed by people who have been hit by benefit cuts. Last year the numbers of such cases increased by 6%, from an already high figure the previous year. Benefit cases now make up 38% of all the work of the Scottish CAB.
“In the first three months after the introduction of the bedroom tax in April, the number of Housing Benefit cases seen by CAB advisers in Scotland increased by 40% compared to the same period last year. This increase was driven largely by the bedroom tax.
“The people affected most by these welfare cuts are those who were already on low incomes and struggling to cope. Many of them are sick or disabled. Some are unemployed, but many are working on low pay. These are not people who have done anything wrong, yet they often tell us that feel they are being punished.
“It’s clear to us that the massive increase in foodbanks in Scotland is largely driven by these welfare cuts. Every CAB in Scotland now sees families every week who have literally no money and can’t afford to put food on the table, nevermind pay their rent or bills or anything else.
“So while today’s announcement of more support is welcome, we will be keen to see the detail and to make sure that the support actually gets through to those who need it. We also urge Ministers both in Scotland and at UK level to continue to provide support for the increasing numbers of people who are in financial crisis, and we call on UK Ministers to look at the impact their reforms are having on people, and consider seriously whether they are on the right course.”