Sunday, 11 August 2013

UK Government has no Robust Assessment of Cumulative Impact of Welfare Changes


The SNP have called on the Westminster Government to tear down its wall of silence on the impact of welfare reforms in Scotland after it emerged that the UK Government is consistently failing to provide information on the effect of its policies.

In a Parliamentary Answer to Jamie Hepburn MSP this week, it was revealed that despite requests from the Scottish Government, the UK Government has failed to produce any robust assessment of the cumulative impact of the welfare reforms it has introduced. This has left the Scottish Government in the position of having to develop its own picture of the cumulative impact of welfare reforms as the Westminster Government has proved unwilling to conduct its own analysis.

It was further revealed that the Scottish Government is not the only body to be denied information on the impact of welfare reforms, as answers to Parliamentary Questions at Westminster, responses to MSP correspondence and FOI requests have all been met with a refusal by UK Government departments to answer questions related to benefit changes and how they will affect the people of Scotland.

MSPs who attempt to write to the DWP on behalf of their constituents who are suffering as a result of Westminster’s unforgiving reforms are now being refused any information on the grounds that the issue related to their constituents’ matters is not devolved.

Meanwhile two Parliamentary Questions from Eilidh Whiteford MP to the Scotland Office asking them to disclose the number of meetings the department’s ministers have had with the Department of Work and Pensions to discuss the impact of the welfare reforms since they were introduced, were brushed off without a meaningful answer. An FOI request seeking similar information was also met with refusal after months of delay.

Mr Hepburn, who is the Deputy Convenor of the Welfare Reform Committee, said:

“Not only has the UK Government hammered disabled people, the young, pensioners and hard-working families, but it seems they haven’t even been responsible enough to assess the full impact of their unjust welfare reforms.

“Not to have undertaken any kind of robust assessment of the impact their changes are having is simply beyond belief and speaks volumes about how little the Westminster Government seems to care about the effect its actions are having.

“As if that wasn’t bad enough, they now appear to be trying to duck questions, whether they are from MPs, MSPs or members of the public. The wall of silence that the Westminster Government appears to be building is simply unacceptable. They cannot just duck their responsibilities because the questions are tough.

“The SNP Government has stepped in to protect people in Scotland by mitigating some of the worst of these reforms where we have been able to do so, but they are still having a devastating impact on many people.

“An independent Scotland would be able to set its own course when it comes to welfare and create a system that reflects the priorities and values of people in Scotland rather than those of a Tory Government determined to wield the axe on the most vulnerable.

“Only a Yes vote in next year’s referendum will give us the opportunity to do that and ensure that no more damage is done by Westminster’s mismanagement of the welfare system."
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