Welfare reform, poverty and inequality
Third Sector Support:
Policy & legislation

The Scottish Government has announced in the budget that it will give a further £20m to local authorities for Discretionary Housing Payments to help people affected by the bedroom tax.  Although the money will not be enough to help all those affected – an estimated £50m this year will be cut from Housing Benefit in Scotland, the move has been welcomed by campaigners.

The following measures are extracted from the report.

To help people and communities the budget will:

  • Invest £522m in colleges next year rising to £526m in 2015-16
  • £68m in each of the next two years to mitigate the impact of welfare reform
  • £20m for local authorities this financial year to limit the impact of the bedroom tax
  • £33m per year for the Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Maintain a council tax freeze across Scotland
  • Maintain the council tax reduction scheme
  • Continue the social wage commitments
  • Continue to provide free prescriptions, concessionary travel and free personal care

To support the economy the budget will:

  • Fund 125 additional hours of early learning and childcare to a total of over £190 million
  • Investment in affordable housing of over £1.35 billion over 4 years
  • £24m for a National Performance Centre for Sport
  • £8bn of infrastructure investment over the next two years

For Public Services the budget will:

  • Protect the NHS budget
  • Protect the Local Government budget
  • Maintain a Scottish living wage for public sector workers
  • Reject UK plans to reform pay progression
  • Continued support for the three Change Funds, driving a shift to more preventative approaches
  • Provide £120m funding in 2015-16 to assist health and social care integration

Labour has attacked the plans, saying that the increase in support for those affected by welfare cuts is too little. There is no additional support planned for next year, which Scottish Government Finance Minister, John Swinney insisted was because he was not letting the UK Government “off the hook” and wanted to apply maximum pressure on the UK Government to reverse the cuts.

Source:  A Budget for Scotland Report

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