Research commissioned by the Scottish Government has shown Glasgow has 12 of the 20 wards in Scotland most affected by welfare reform, all in areas of high deprivation, proving that it is the poorest communities that have been hit hardest by the UK Government’s reform of the welfare system. Calton, one of the most deprived areas in Glasgow, which has the lowest male life expectancy in the UK, suffers most with an average loss of £880 per working age adult.
The 12 most affected areas in Glasgow, in order of loss per working age adult, are as follows:
North East £750
Southside Central £730
East Centre £680
nb Given that these figures are per working age adult, which includes those in work and not in receipt of benefits the figure per individual affected will be higher and some will suffer from multiple benefit cuts.
The reforms, which have taken around £1.6bn from the Scottish economy and £269m from Glasgow alone, have impacted most severely on those claiming incapacity benefits and Disability Living Allowance. Those affected are mostly less severely disabled or ill, older adults, of working age, who are out of work. The Scottish Government said that a key effect of the reforms, without any corresponding shift to employment, will be to widen the income gaps between communities.
The report warns that some reforms to incapacity benefit have still not taken effect and that the means-testing of ESA claimants in the Work Related Activity Group in 2015-16 could result in huge losses, up to 6 times more than Treasury savings from the Bedroom Tax. This change means that if a claimant has an additional source of income, or has a partner who is in work, they could receive a reduced amount of ESA, or nothing. Those claiming incapacity benefits stand to lose on average £3480 per year. The transfer of DLA claimants to Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) has yet to occur for the majority of claimants and the Treasury expect to make 20% savings with PIP due to eligibility changes. Average loss per adult affected by changes to DLA will be around £3,000. Some will lose both ESA and DLA entitlement, or have their benefit reduced.
The Scottish Welfare Reform Committee heard evidence on Tuesday from the author of the report, Professor Steve Fothergill, from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.
Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP said:
“Evidence that we have received indicated that our poorest communities are being hit hardest by welfare reform but we had no statistics to back this up. Now we have before us the evidence that proves it, right down to the electoral ward. From the witnesses that have come before us, we have always known that welfare reform is having a disastrous effect on individuals. Now it looks as if this is true for whole communities – in Glasgow, Dundee, Fife, the lower Clyde and beyond.”
The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alasdair Carmichael, will give evidence to the Committee on Thursday 26 June.
Source: Scottish Parliament website