Welfare reforms hit poorer areas five times as hard

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Welfare reform committee deputy convener Jamie Hepburn (left) alongside convener Michael McMahon

Glasgow is second only to Birmingham in table of places most adversely affected by welfare reforms

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23rd June 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Parts of Glasgow have been struck almost five times as hard financially by welfare reforms as one of Scotland’s most affluent towns.

A new study commissioned by the Scottish Parliament’s welfare reform committee revealed five of the worst affected local council wards in the country are in Scotland’s largest city.

The UK Government cannot continue to refuse to engage on welfare reform - Michael McMahon

St Andrews in Fife, known for its prestigious golf courses and historic university, has been least affected.

The study, undertaken by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, estimated reforms – including changes to housing, disability and child benefits – hit the average working adult in the pocket by £880 per year compared to just £180 in St Andrews.

Author of the report Professor Steve Fothergill, who will give evidence to the committee in public tomorrow, said it was clear the reforms have hit the poorest communities much harder than the most affluent – a statement backed up by committee convener Michael McMahon MSP.

“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,” McMahon said.

Authority WardFinancial loss per working age adult each year
GlasgowCalton£880
GlasgowSpringburn£780
GlasgowNorth East£750
GlasgowDrumchapel/Anniesland£740
GlasgowSouthside Central£730
FifeSt Andrews£180

“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 UK government cannot continue to refuse to engage on welfare reform.”

The research focussed on adults of working age as this is the group most affected by welfare reforms.

It confirms that more than £1.6 billion a year will be taken out of the Scottish economy and that the reforms to incapacity benefits are resulting in the biggest financial losses.

The Scottish average adult of working age stands to lose £460 per year from reforms slightly less the British average of £470, but the intensity of the hit in Glasgow and its large population mean that it is second to only Birmingham within Britain in terms of the overall scale of the loss – almost £260 million a year will be taken out of Glasgow when the reforms have come to full fruition.

Deputy Convener Jamie Hepburn MSP said: “It is so depressing to see again in stark figures how the areas that most need support are those hardest hit by these reforms.

“Areas that already face challenges are simply having money sucked out of them. Even in areas like Edinburgh where the average loss is smaller, it equates to an estimated £130 million a year loss. This is money that should be supporting vulnerable people, and it should shame the UK Government to see this correlation between need and cuts.”

Ripping Money from the Hardest Hit - Child Poverty Action Group Scotland's John Dickie comments