HOLYROOD WEEK - Welfare reform will keep the poor poor

FIVE people came before committees in the parliament this week and exposed the claim that 'welfare reforms are intended to make work pay' to be a sham.

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Three of the five were people with first-hand experience which laid bare the callous and impersonal rigidity of the new 'fit for work' assessments.

The other two were DWP bosses who admitted there was no evidence it would benefit people and it was trial and error.

The only certainty is the stated aim of the Chancellor to reduce the welfare budget by £30bn - no matter who gets hurt.

In order to do this, the government admits 2million families will lose entitlements and predictions warn of 200,000 children being forced to live in poverty.

The fact this information is known before implementation means it is not an unintended consequence, but a calculated decision purely to save cash.

It has been decided it is acceptable and worthwhile to reduce the income of working parents, force into work people who can barely walk and deprive some children whose parents rely on benefits of a bedroom of their own.

The changes to housing benefit are particularly punitive and present a serious risk to the improvements in social housing in Glasgow over the last 10 years.

The potential for rent arrears both through the bedroom tax and universal credit is real.

The implications are housing associations' income is hit and that cash that should be spent on maintaining and building homes is lost.

They will be forced to spend money chasing arrears and ultimately, the warnings are, people will lose their homes.

Breaking the cycle of poverty and poor health has been a challenge no government so far has managed to conquer.

Glasgow City Council and the Holyrood government are pursuing an early years, preventative spending strategy to deal with inequalities and the appalling gap in health between rich and poor.

Small steps are noticeable but it has been recognised by doctors working in the poorest areas that it will take decades.

If it does take two generations it is still money well spent and shows forward thinking.

The effect of these welfare reforms is they will act as a barrier to the chances of success, drag people back in to poverty and condemn the next generation to suffer the same fate as their predecessors.

In other words, instead of making work pay, the outcome of welfare reform will be to keep the poor, poor.

Local government

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