The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has written a damning report attacking the UK government’s plans to introduce its Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and called on them to repeal it and to ensure protection and security for disabled people and their families.
Now a report for the Scottish Government estimates that around 30 000 people in Scotland could lose their entitlement to disability payments as PIP is rolled out. Already, the Scottish Government has had to step in with extra funds for local authorities to help them compensate 40 000 people in Scotland affected by the bedroom tax.
Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman has written to Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Disabled People, calling on Westminster to take action and saying:
‘The UK Government must listen to the cacophony of voices and growing evidence telling them about the damage their policies are causing and stop their assault on disabled people.’
We’ve already seen steps taken by the Scottish Government to improve the lives of disabled people and others in poverty, in the face of this heartless Tory government.
Across 2013-16, the Scottish Government invested £296 million to mitigate the worst aspects of UK welfare policy, via the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF), Discretionary Housing Payments, Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) and other activity, such as advice and advocacy support services. The Scottish Government is providing a further £100 million in 2016-17. This investment continues to support people affected by the UK Government’s welfare cuts in a range of different ways:
- fully mitigating the bedroom tax – spending £35 million in 2016-17 and £47 million in 2017-18 – to help over 70,000 households in Scotland, an estimated 80% of which contain at least one disabled person, to sustain their tenancies; the Scottish Government is committed to using newly devolved social security powers to effectively abolish the bedroom tax
- a further £10.9 million will be available to local authorities to mitigate the impact of other UK Government welfare reforms and help claimants of Housing benefit or Universal Credit maintain tenancies
- providing another £38 million this year for the SWF. Between 1 April 2013 and 30 September 2016, the Fund has supported over 230,000 households in Scotland, including around 77,000 families with children. 77,000 awards were made to households containing at least one disabled person
- since April 2013 the Scottish Government has committed £92 million for the CTRS over and above the funding transferred from the UK Government upon abolition of Council Tax Benefit. In 2017-18, this funding will increase to an additional £31 million, resulting in a total of £351 million being included in the local government finance settlement paid to local authorities in relation to the scheme
- In addition, the Scottish Government is making significant investment in advice and advocacy support services to enable people to access expert support in applying for benefits and appealing adverse decisions.