Shake-up of benefits hits most at risk

VULNERABLE and disabled people are falling through the welfare safety net because they lack support during the application and assessment process, Scottish charities have warned.

Homeless charity Shelter Scotland said it was already seeing “an increasing number of people falling out of the system” due to tough new rules on benefits.

A representative of Parkinson’s UK told MSPs on the welfare reform committee the problem was “expected to get worse”.

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The committee was taking evidence on the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill. It will allow Scottish ministers to make regulations in devolved areas which take account of changes under Westminster’s Welfare Reform Act.

The act replaces some benefits with a Universal Credit and the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Around 500,000 people who would have qualified for DLA by 2016 will not qualify for PIP, say the coalition government.

Gordon Macrae, of Shelter Scotland, said “We’re seeing an increasing number falling out of the system entirely. It’s not because there isn’t a safety net there to help them, it is because the system is making it particularly difficult for them to access.”