“Welfare reform should not be about an attack on the old and disabled” Alex Rowley
Fifers could lose up to £40 million following the UK Government’s welfare reforms, according to a report prepared for the council’s Executive Committee. With around 40,000 people receiving welfare benefits in Fife, individuals, families, communities and the Fife economy will be hard hit by changes to the system.
Fife Labour want to wage war on child poverty and inequality in our communities, but these changes will plunge more families into debt and financial despair. All the evidence gathered by officials of the council shows that more people will be worse off. And the greatest impact will be on the communities which are already the most disadvantaged.
As individual households suffer, so will the local economy. People on lower incomes tend to spend their money closer to home and, if they have £40 million less in their pockets, that’s also a huge loss to local shops and businesses. The biggest changes to the welfare system are due to take effect next year (2013) but the council is urging people to be informed and
prepared. This is a national issue and information is available from the Department for Work and Pensions, Jobcentre Plus and a range of independent agencies. There’s a lot of information about welfare reform on the DWP website and if you can’t access the internet at home, there are computers in our libraries and staff on hand who can help you get online.
It’s also important to make sure you’re claiming all the benefits that you’re entitled to, because those who can least afford to are often going without.
The council has no control over welfare reform, but we’re using the information we have about Fife ’s benefit recipients and our local communities to plan for the impact these changes will have. We’ll be looking at the support we can offer locally and at how we can adapt council services to cope with people’s changing needs. Many people are worried about their finances, their families and their homes. The council will keep in touch with its tenants and people who get housing or council tax benefit to help them understand the changes, before
they’re affected. And we will work with other local agencies to minimise hardship throughout our communities.
Benefit Enquiry Line, DWP advice and information service for disabled people and carers – 0800 882 200
The Money Advice Service, independent body set up by government responsible for helping consumers understand financial matters and manage their finances better – 0300 500 5000
Child benefit office helpline – 08453 021 444
Tax credit helpline – 0345 300 3900
Citizens Advice Scotland – 0131 550 1000