Leader: ‘Government package must be reviewed’

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THE controversial welfare reforms instigated by the coalition government at Westminster are set to have a huge and far-reaching impact here in Edinburgh, as a report by the city council makes clear.

Using the Government’s own statistics, the council has calculated the sweeping benefit changes will cost the average Edinburgh household £2170 and see the city’s economy lose £482 million by 2016.

With the cost of benefit payments rising relentlessly year on year, the instinct to tackle the welfare budget is understandable and indeed the right thing to do.

Such a move will inevitably mean some pain as payments are cut or withdrawn.

But the current series of reforms seem ill thought out and their impact extremely blunt.

The bedroom tax, in particular, will see around 200 tenants have their housing benefit cut by up to 25 per cent because they live in a flat with a spare room – even though there are virtually no flats of the “right” size for them to move to.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, the city’s convener of health, social care and housing, says the benefit changes are taking money directly out of the pockets of the poorest people in Edinburgh.

And the council’s report spells out how that will mean increased poverty and extra costs for the city as a whole through increased demand for services.

There is a need to tackle the ever-increasing welfare budget, but the government’s package is seriously flawed and must be looked at again.

Inventive ideas

FROM the telephone to Dolly the Sheep, Edinburgh has always been considered to be at the forefront of scientific discovery and 
invention.

And today we celebrate two more city-based scientists who are helping to ensure the Capital retains that crown.

David Gow and Philipp Koehn have each been nominated for the 2013 European Inventor Award along with just 13 others. Both would be worthy recipients of the prestigous honour for their fascinating work in their respective fields, but the fact that Edinburgh is represented twice in the final shortlist means the real winner is the Capital.

In the wake of the incredible achievements of the likes of Professor Peter Higgs, David and Philipp show how Edinburgh is continuing to punch above its weight and lead the world.

Good luck to them for the big night and many congratulations for proving that Edinburgh truly is an Inspiring Capital.