Scottish charities body hits out at government benefits cuts plan

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Neil Hanna
Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Neil Hanna
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PROPOSED cuts to the benefits system have been categorised as “criminal” by the body representing many Scottish charities.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has released new figures which its says show that three-quarters of welfare charities expect demand for their services to increase in the next year.

The government is cutting £10bn from the welfare budget to make benefits fairer and more able to tackle poverty.

But the chief executive of the SCVO, Martin Sime, said the cuts are coming at a time when the country is struggling to emerge from the deepest recession of recent times.

The body has published research showing how charities believed they would be affected by welfare cuts.

Three-quarters of charities (76 per cent) expected demand for services to continue to increase significantly over the next year, it said. While 81 per cent of third sector organisations expected the financial situation for the sector to worsen in the next 12 months.

Mr Sime said the welfare cuts were “ill-conceived” and that charities were concerned about meeting the record high demand for services.

“It’s clear from this research that Westminster’s criminal cuts to welfare are putting so much pressure on charities’ services that some will struggle to keep up with demand from people and families in Scotland,” he said.

The Scottish government, which has no devolved powers over welfare payments, said the UK reforms were coming too fast.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Scottish government – under the current constitutional settlement – will do all it can to mitigate the impact of these cuts and changes, although there are consequences that are out-with the capability of the Scottish government.”