Sturgeon warning on welfare cuts by GlynnePowell


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September 2012

Sturgeon warning on welfare cuts
Funding for grants used to help poor and vulnerable people will be reduced under
the UK Government's welfare reform agenda, according to the Deputy First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon said measures being brought in as part of the Welfare Reform Act
2012 will see spending in Scotland on the equivalent of community care grants and
crisis loans fall by almost £10 million in 2013/14 compared with previous years.

The reforms, which come into force in April 2013, will see the grants and loans
abolished and the funding for them transferred to the Scottish Government to do the
same job.

Ms Sturgeon said that the changes to the way the budget is calculated mean that just
under £10 million less will be spent in Scotland than if community care grants had
kept up with inflation and if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had not
cut back on crisis loans.

Crisis loans - which will become crisis grants from April 2013 - are small sums given
to people such as lone parents and the unemployed to help them out in times of
crisis. Community care grants help families, the disabled and older people live as
independently as possible and stay out of institutional care.

The Scottish Government said community care grants have not risen in line with inflation since 2005/6 while crisis
loans had been cut by £5.4 million or 53% from 2009/10.

Ms Sturgeon said: "These drastic cuts to Scotland's welfare budgets are extremely worrying, not least because we
expect demand for community care grants to continue at high levels as the tough economic times and the broader
impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms continue to bite.

"Welfare is, unfortunately, a reserved matter, but it is a reserved matter that has serious implications for some of the
most vulnerable members of our society. We know that the only way we can fully rectify this issue is to have full
powers over welfare and benefits.

"The Scottish Government will consider how it may respond but I urge the UK Government to urgently reconsider its
attack on the welfare state. If Scotland were to become independent, we would have the powers needed to ensure
that our most vulnerable families and groups are protected."

A DWP spokeswoman said: "We're reforming the Social Fund because it is complex, over-centralised and poorly
targeted, and replacing it with local provision to ensure this money goes to those most in need. We will transfer the
current annual funding for crisis loans and community care grants to the Scottish Government."

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