In October 2011, Citizens Advice Scotland published a briefing entitled The Impact of the Welfare Reform Bill on Scotland’s people and services. The briefing showed that an estimated £2.5 billion would be taken out of the local economy in Scotland during the lifetime of this Parliament and predicted what the impacts would be on people.
Almost 18 months later, citizens advice bureaux have seen the human impact of the series of the reforms, changes and cuts that have taken place in the benefits system. We expected families and individuals to struggle as their income decreased; however, the extent of this struggle has been unanticipated and often shocking. We did not expect to see clients at citizens advice bureaux who had fallen through the benefits safety net and who were unable to afford food. However, this is increasingly becoming a reality for people in Scotland.
As benefit changes continue to be implemented, it is not the impact assessments or economic analyses that really matter. It is the impact on real people, on their health and wellbeing, which determines the success or otherwise of government policies. This briefing uses client evidence from citizens advice bureaux to examine the impact of changes that are already in place and to predict the impact of impending changes.