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Welfare Reform Bill 'must not target vulnerable people'

Citizens Advice Scotland have said that the new Welfare Reform Bill must be about making life better for those who are most in need, and that its efforts to get people into work will depend on more jobs being available.

CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,

“Experience tells us it is the detail and the implementation of such legislation that can leave the most vulnerable worse off – so we will be reading the bill very carefully. It must make life better, not worse, for those who are most in need.

“We welcome in principle the new universal benefit. If it simplifies the benefits system, removes bureaucracy and makes it easier for people to receive the support they need, that has to be a good thing - provided it does not involve cuts in the money that people will receive.

“We also welcome in principle the aim of getting people off benefits and into work, but we are concerned that the punitive nature of the changes will in fact target those who are genuinely in need, making them jump through more and more hoops, when the real problem is that there are so few jobs around.

“And we think it is regrettable that the changes to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) have been included in the bill, despite the fact that the government’s DLA consultation is still open. This would seem to suggest that the government’s commitment to consultation are not worth the paper they are written on. These DLA reforms have the potential to affect over 340,000 Scots who claim DLA. By not listening to these people and the organisations that represent them, the government is at risk of creating more poverty for sick and disabled people in Scotland.”

For more information, interviews etc. please contact Tony Hutson on 07774 751655.