Welfare Bill is ‘bad for children’ MSPs told

CHILDREN’S charities have called for the Westminster government to rethink its welfare reforms, warning they could push families into poverty.

A range of organisations criticised the Welfare Reform Bill, claiming it was rushed and “bad for children”.

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MSPs on Holyrood’s health committee heard the complaints yesterday in an inquiry into the bill’s impact on Scotland.

Mark Ballard, head of policy at Barnardo’s Scotland, said the bill was being pushed through with a lack of consideration for Scottish issues. He added: “[It] is going through at such speed and often with such little attention to the Scottish situation that it’s likely to cause major unintended consequences.”

Marion Macleod, senior policy and parliamentary officer for Children in Scotland, said the bill had to be amended.

She said: “Children are receiving a double whammy. Their funding is being reduced. Public services that support them, both by local authorities but also through the charitable and voluntary sector, are being restricted.

“Consequently, the consequences for children are likely, in the short, medium and long term, to be bad.

“We would like to see the Scottish Parliament analyse what the impact of this legislation is likely to be on children and to do what it can to mitigate the worst impacts.” She also called for better childcare provision open to all.

Alison Todd, director of policy and practice development at the charity Children 1st, said arguing for the removal of the benefit cap might help families and carers. She said: “You could go back to the UK government and ask them to think again.” And she claimed the bill as it stood would only “ensure that more children in Scotland will grow up in poverty.”

One Parent Families Scotland, Action for Children Scotland and Save the Children in Scotland also raised their concerns.