Charities fear the worst from welfare reform

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has accused the Government in London of imposing “criminal cuts” in welfare which will “devastate families and communities in Scotland”. It’s published a new survey which suggests that Third Sector organisations could “struggle to pick up the pieces of the biggest attack on the poor in generations”. The report main conclusions include:

• Three quarters of charities expect demand for services to increase significantly over the next year
• With 80% of welfare cuts still to come, 63% of charities will be affected by welfare reform
• 57% of organisations engaged in welfare activity are providing crisis support and
• 69% are providing advice on benefits
• 81% of charities expect the financial situation for the sector to worsen in the next 12 months

The figures show that 81% of charities in Scotland expect the sector’s financial situation to deteriorate over the next year and they are concerned about meeting the record high demand for services as welfare cuts kick in.

In the view of Martin Sime, the SCVO’s Chief Executive, “It’s clear from this research that Westminster’s criminal cuts to welfare are putting so much pressure on charities’ services that some will struggle to keep up with demand from people and families in Scotland. The unprecedented worry and uncertainty surrounding the cuts is hitting the poorest the hardest as they face an endless cycle of appeals, bureaucracy and misinformation. All this on top of trying to get by on a day-to-day basis is pushing people and families to breaking point.

“The sector is pulling together to pick up the pieces and help to mitigate the terrible effects of these ill-conceived Westminster cuts which should never have happened in the first place.”

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, will address 200 charity representatives from across Scotland when they meet in Edinburgh today to make a stand against Westminster’s cuts and to work together to combat the chaos they are creating. In advance of the meeting, she pointed out that “The ink may only just be dry on the UK Welfare Reform Act 2012, but we must not stop making the case on behalf of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people.

“Despite our opposition – and that of large parts of Scottish Society – the UK reforms are coming too fast and against the backdrop of some of the biggest cuts to the welfare system in a generation. It is voluntary organisations, local authorities and charities and that will be picking up the pieces. The Scottish Government – under the current constitutional settlement – will do all it can to mitigate the impact of these cuts and changes although there are consequences that are out-with the capability of the Scottish Government’s powers.”