Scottish National Party (SNP) Media Release:
A report in today’s Independent that new benefit rules to be introduced next week could push around 280,000 people ‘into a financial black-hole’ is the latest demonstration of how poorly planned Westminster’s welfare changes have been.
The report makes clear that an impact assessment by the Social Security Advisory Committee of moves to force recipients of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to wait a week after losing their job before being allowed to claim will see around 280,000 new recipients bear the brunt of these cuts.
When the policy comes into effect next week, it has been calculated that new JSA claimants will lose around £40 each while ESA claimants will lose around £50 each, leading to warnings from Frank Field – the Coalition Government’s anti-poverty adviser – that the move will push people into the arms of payday lenders.
Last year, a PQ lodged by the SNP revealed that there had been no assessment of what impact the policy would have on what impact the move would have on poverty levels in Scotland before it was announced by the Westminster Government.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said:
“This impact assessment is a real concern and demonstrates the scale of the hardship that is likely to be caused when these changes are introduced next week.
“The sums involved may not sound vast, but they are absolutely critical when someone has just lost their job and may have no other source of income.
“As the Westminster Government’s own anti-poverty adviser Frank Field has rightly warned, for many people the only option open to them thanks to this will be to turn to payday lenders with potentially disastrous consequences.
“From start to finish the entire package of Westminster’s welfare cuts have been poorly planned and have failed utterly to prioritise the need to support vulnerable people.
“The decision to effectively outsource support for jobseekers to companies like Wonga is the clearest demonstration possible that Westminster simply cannot be trusted to handle these matters.”