Welfare reform ‘will cost Dundee economy £100m a year’

Dundee stockThe UK government’s welfare reform measures are set to cost Dundee’s economy almost £100 million every year by 2021, according to new research.

A Scottish Government report, conducted by Sheffield Hallam University in 2013, estimated the impact of welfare reform on the city’s economy annually would be £58m.

Subsequently, another report compiled by the university to the Scottish Government’s social security scrutiny committee in 2016 has revealed an additional loss of £36m to the city’s economy – resulting in an estimated annual loss of £94m by 2021.

Additional changes to Universal Credit, brought in by the election of the Conservative government in 2015, are identified in the report as the reason for the increase.

Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee will hear on Monday how the authority are trying to mitigate the impact of the move to Universal Credit in a series of support measures.

Councillors will also hear how the welfare reforms will have implications in terms of increased debt, potential increases in homelessness and demand for advice services from various organisations and the voluntary sector.

A council report has outlined how the use of foobanks in the city is high “and continues to be a lifeline for many”.

It added: “Welfare Reform measures such as the introduction of Universal Credit and DLA to PIP reassessment have contributed to the need for higher numbers of foodbank referrals as have the Concentrix tax credit problems experienced by many claimants in summer 2016.”

Depute policy and resources convener, Councillor Willie Sawers, said: “This is one of the most harrowing reports that the council has produced and lays bare the cost of the UK Government’s welfare reform to the poor and vulnerable across our city.

“The council is working hard to help individuals and I am pleased to see how various measures like the Scottish Welfare Fund are helping to mitigate the situation for some people.

“I look forward to the Scottish Government having greater control of welfare powers as this will make a significant contribution to improving the situation.

“As a council, we are working very hard with our partners and promoting innovative methods with technology to help people make the most of what is available to them.”

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