By Martin Kelly
Welfare reforms imposed by the UK coalition come into effect today on what has been described as a “day of shame” by the SNP.
The nationalists have claimed the changes highlight the UK government’s failure to protect the most vulnerable, as new legislation that includes the controversial Bedroom Tax take effect.

Today the changes to the welfare system will see:

• The ‘Bedroom Tax’ come into force, with 105,000 households across Scotland losing an average £600 a year.
• Working age benefits rises will be capped to one per cent for the next three years reducing the total income of Scottish households by around £210 million by 2014-15.
• Child benefit will be frozen for the third year in a row, seeing, cumulatively, between 2011-12 and 2015-16, a family with two children receiving over £1,100 less than they would had Child Benefit been uprated by RPI inflation.
• Scotland’s council tax budget will be cut by 10% but Scottish households have been protected by the Scottish Government and COSLA plugging the £40 million funding gap.
• The social fund will be abolished but the £33million Scottish Welfare Fund will be set up to benefit an extra 100,000 vulnerable Scots.

Westminster’s welfare reform programme – encompassing the cuts in the UK Budget, autumn statement and spending review – will see Scotland lose a total of £4.5billion.

The changes include the controversial bedroom tax, which means if you have more bedrooms than the government says you need, your home will be counted as being too big for you.  If this is the case, you may lose some or all of your Housing Benefit.

Your home will be too big for you if you have more than one bedroom for each of the people shown below:

  • each adult couple
  • each other person over 16
  • two children of the same sex under 16
  • two children under 10, regardless of their sex
  • any other child
  • an overnight carer you need but who doesn’t normally live with you.

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, said:

“It doesn’t matter what bracket you fall into – young, poor, disadvantaged, elderly – Westminster is hurting the life chances of people who depend on the support of the welfare state with its catastrophic changes to benefits.

“The Westminster system is wrongly persistent in believing that these are the groups who should bear the brunt of their austerity agenda.

“From introducing the ‘bedroom tax’ to freezing child benefit, it is little wonder that people in Scotland simply do not have faith in the current Westminster operated welfare system.

“We need a system that reflects Scotland’s values – a system that ensures fair and decent support for those that need it most, protecting the vulnerable and supporting households rather than seeing them be subjected to aggressive cuts from Westminster.

“A fairer welfare system for Scotland can only be achieved with independence and control over all welfare policies so that we can devise policies for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

“A recent YouGov poll found that 52% of respondents thought that the Scottish Government should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland – including oil and gas tax revenue, with 35% supporting Westminster control.

“Scotland needs a Yes vote on 18th September 2014 to enable us to invest our abundant resources in building the fairer and more prosperous Scotland that we all want to see.”

According to the Scotsman newspaper, a Downing Street spokesman has echoed the stance of Scottish Labour and insisted the Scottish government should try to mitigate the changes.

He said: “The SNP could show that they are a party of government … and use their powers to mitigate the changes.”

Johann Lamont’s Scottish Labour group has called on the Scottish government to introduce an emergency law in order to prevent tenants, who fall into arrears because of the Bedroom Tax, from being evicted.  However some of Ms Lamont’s own councils have refused to back a Scotland wide anti-eviction policy and are also refusing to introduce an anti-eviction policy at local level.

The SNP has said all of its local authorities will implement a no-evictions rule for the Bedroom Tax, but the Scottish government has thus far rejected calls from Scottish Labour for a new law, insisting that Ms Lamont’s party need explain what services Labour would cut in order to pay the estimated cost of £55 million.

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Caledonian Lass
2013-04-01 12:08

Once the full effects of the welfare ‘reforms’ and bedroom tax are felt, I think there will be a massive swing to the YES vote in the referendum next year.

Only an independent Scotland can stop this disgusting assault on the most vulnerable in society.
call me dave
2013-04-01 12:20

These changes do not effect me or my immediate family but for the many in the UK and especially in Scotland they are going to be serious.
It is a direct attack on the lower paid and the most vulnerable in our society. Maggie T is reputed to have said “there is no such thing as society” but her government never stooped so low.
This Con/Lib coalition, having tacit support from the labour party, is content to keep all the trappings of a world leading Country stuffed with arms and a nuclear deterrent. Political posturing in Europe and with wars still ongoing to preserve their status but paying little heed to the needs of the population at home.

We are rich in assets but miserable in distributing the wealth equitably.

Shame on them: Shame on us Scots if we do not give independence a try!
2013-04-01 13:35

Westminster seem hell-bent on ensuring a YES vote in Scotland with the welfare reforms, lack of army personnel being returned to Scotland etcetera. If this is indeed the case what dirty trick are they planning when Scotland does vote for independence?
2013-04-01 13:50

These changes are designed to win over voters in the South. Labour will do nothing that would risk giving these voters a clear choice. It’s an old trick – narrow the difference and you will hold your existing voters. Labour tried it in Scotland in the closing weeks of the Scottish elections – rate freeze etc.

The welfare cuts do not impact on me financially. However they do impact in that it is not the kind of society I would chose. It is the impact on friends and family which makes it clear we need the power to make different choices.

The only way we can guarantee a better solution for our fellow Scots is Independence.
2013-04-01 14:48

Someone has started a petition asking Iain Duncan Smith to live up to his claim of being able to live on £53 a week.

I think I’d like to see him prove that claim! If you would too then sign the petition here:…/…
2013-04-01 21:51

Already signed and posted to Facebook…

Pity there wasn’t a stipulation that Audit Scotland should monitor IDS for the year. In addition – no pre-stocking of cupboards, freezers etc.

2013-04-01 15:19

even though I’m not unemployed I find this horrendous tax I fear if I become unemployed which can happen in an instance lll find it unbearable especially when rent has increased the rent rise bothers me even in employment because every year it gone up I’m now paying more than double than 5 years ago thanks to the labour council its a smaller increase this year thanks to the new SNP council but ive been unemployed before and I was only surviving without buying clothes or shoes which was a headache when they were ruined I can imagine how it will be now and I’m sure people will live without food, gas, electric and that’s not right and I feel there will be riots because of it I also think the referendum next year will hold that off then it’ll depend on the vote! I’m annoyed because lll have to help family and friends more knowing i might not get my money back for a long time if ever but it’ll just need to be done!
2013-04-01 16:16

I’ve been retired for almost 20 years. I am fortunate that I have a good private pension and substantial savings. In addition to my house in the UK I also have a home in Portugal therefore I am not effected by these ruinous changes to the Welfare System.
Despite the fact that whilst in Employment I was in the high tax bracket I am nonetheless horrified that this government reduces tax for the rich but penalises those in poverty. It is un-Christian and undemocratic. With our country in financial ruin but we still encourage financial seeking immigrants into the country.
Scotland VOTE YES and get out of this Tory ruined country.
2013-04-01 16:40

I believe that a tipping point has been reached in England and Wales. You may find that local government in England simply refuses to play ball with this. If we see instances of that happening then you effectively have “devolved” opinion refusing to enforce the rule of Westminster. Meanwhile, those on the periphery, in Scotland and Wales are already grumbling. Apparently the Welsh government minister Huw Lewis accused the UK government of “coming for ordinary Welsh people”. The UK is slowly unravelling in from of our eyes. There is a certain inevitability about all of this. To fix a problem, created by an elitist, distant, tiny minority, the solution, as presented, is to target the very part of the population that is the farthest removed from the underlaying causes. Talk about cruel. The obvious solutions are not considered. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry; this is Berlin Wall territory we are entering. April 1st 2013, I’ll be remebering this date!
2013-04-01 17:30

2nd time lucky.
The new build zero interest equity government loan scheme started today will temporarily re-inflate the housing price bubble which played such a big part in the destruction of the UK economy.

This is insane as it will make the horror of the final collapse even worse, but will create a mini, temporary feel-good factor just in time for the referendum.

It will also cost UK taxpayers billions of pounds to fund. Money which would be far better spent stimulating the real economy.

The UK ruling class seem institutionally incapable of understanding the concept of genuine wealth creation.
2013-04-01 23:27

Absolutely correct chicmac.
Thatcher’s legacy…everyone owns a castle…at least for a time.
The UK government has no idea beyond this concept because they are completely bankrupt in all possibilities.

2013-04-01 18:30

Long term I think these dramatic changes will never be reversed. The UK government now has an ‘excuse’ (the financial crash) to implement these changes permanently. They’ll become part of life in the new UK. Apart from that, there is no left wing party anymore sticking up for the working class. The political parties will start looking for other scapegoats, as they are currently doing with the EU. They become the focus of attack to divert attention away from our domestic political scene.

Think about it, will university tuition fees ever be reversed south of the border ? Of course they won’t, it’s become part of society.

Our whole dialogue from politicians through the media has changed. The poor are treated as scroungers and parasites and now we are just getting outright lies from both the unionist parties which the BBC will not question in any great depth. I think Patten has had a word telling the BBC to deflate these issues.
2013-04-01 20:50

I imagine that Ian Duncan Smith could live on the £53 per week as long as he gets his expenses.
2013-04-01 21:10

I think we should be clear on what’s been done here. This isn’t just a failure to protect the most vulnerable in UK society. This is a deliberate act of savagery on those least able to defend themselves from the excesses of government. People in power destroyed the economy and people in power have decided who is going to pay for this act of inept governance. Cut, slash, burn and steal, the hall marks of a Westminster parliamentary party and system in trouble.

September 18th 2014. Let’s get rid.
2013-04-02 00:04

What has not been getting any reporting is the benefit change to married couples, we have returned to Margaret Thatchers era where a married couple get classed as one, my wife and I are both disabled and we were getting our own money, my wife’s 365 days of ESA are finished and now she gets £10 she is absolutely raging about it she was a Nurse for 17 years and now is worth £10, we thought it was wrong so went to the advice shop and nope it is right enough. Oh well looks like the holidays we have never been able to afford will not happen as major cutbacks needed, maybe cancel my SKY subscription that I don’t have, stop drinking none of us do, cut down smoking only my wife smokes 10 a day max, so as you can see no where to cut back but food, heat or electric. We have always been a YES for Indy voters more so now.

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