UK reforms ‘set to lose lone parents £1800 a year’

Single parents stand to lose out under Westminster's welfare reforms. Picture: Jon Savage
Single parents stand to lose out under Westminster's welfare reforms. Picture: Jon Savage
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LONE parents with young children stand to lose more than £1,800 a year under the UK Government’s welfare reforms, according to a parliamentary committee.

Couples with dependent children will be only £400 better off than single parent families, the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee said.

Research for the committee was carried out at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, who said it is the first time the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda on different household types in Scotland has been quantified.

In total, families with children will lose an estimated £960 million a year, the research claimed.

The Department of Work and Pensions said the report did not take increases in employment and the personal allowance and the effects of Universal Credit into account.

The report found that reductions in incapacity benefits are estimated to average £2,000 a year, while some of those affected also face reductions in Disability Living Allowance and other benefits.

Committee convener Michael McMahon said: “This latest evidence shows that some of those most in need of support, namely parents and disabled people are being hardest hit. For us to be in this situation in 21st century Scotland is unacceptable.”

Campaign group One Parent Families Scotland said the figures are “shocking”.

Director Satwat Rehman said: “It is scandalous that we are witnessing a dramatic rise in the numbers of lone parents being financially penalised as a result of welfare changes.

“We need government to address the barriers to training, education and paid work that parents face rather than cut already meagre benefits for our poorest families. Thousands of single parents across Scotland already face extra hurdles when caring for their children. These struggling families must not be hit any harder, especially at a time when support services are being cut and the costs of the daily shop, childcare and housing are rising.”

The committee believe the statistics will become an “essential tool” for government and local authorities in shaping targeted responses and service delivery and oral evidence is to be given on the report on March 10.

A DWP spokesman said: “This follows a long line of misleading reports into our welfare reforms.

“It fails to take account of recent and future increases in employment, increases in the personal allowance and the effects of Universal Credit. The cumulative impact analysis should be treated with caution, as it’s based on a comparison with the previous Government’s policies, which were unaffordable.

“The reality is, we carry out thorough impact assessments on all our policies which show our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with Universal credit making 3 million households better off by £2,000 a year on average.

“Overall we spend £50 more per head on benefits in Scotland than the UK average, and provide support of £7.9 billion to millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed.”

Professor Steve Fothergill, who carried out the research, said: “The figures demonstrate that the welfare reforms impact very unevenly. The very big impact on families with children, in particular, has previously been under the radar because it is the cumulative result of several individual reforms.

“Coalition ministers have argued that ‘we’re all in it together’. The impacts of welfare reform, documented in our report, show this is far from being the case.”

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