By Lesley Roy, News Reporter
GLASGOW’S economy will be the worst affected in Scotland by the recent raft of welfare reforms, according to a recent report.
It’s expected that the Scottish economy as a whole will lose almost £1.6bn a year with austerity measures will hit the poorest in society the hardest, and those on incapacity benefit suffering the biggest financial losses.
According to the report from Sheffield Hallam University, the cuts equate on average to around £480 a year for every adult of working age, with that increasing to £650 in the Glasgow area.
The prosperity gap is expected to widen further as a consequence, with towns in Scotland and Northern England expected to be hit five times harder than the Tory heartlands in the Southern counties.
However the government insists these cuts are necessary in order to make the welfare reform bill sustainable and reduce the country’s deficit.
The report stated: “The financial losses arising from the reforms will hit the most deprived parts of Scotland hardest.
“Glasgow in particular, but also a number of other older industrial areas, will feel the impact most.
“The loss of benefit income, which is often large, will have knock-on consequences for local spending and thus for local employment, which will in turn add a further twist to the downward spiral.”
Although the cuts and review of incapacity benefit are meant to help people back in to work, some charities think the government is targeting those most in need.
Richard Hamer, director of external affairs at Capability Scotland said: “These worrying projections, from the respected Sheffield Hallam researchers, reinforce what many disabled people and disability organisations have been fearing.
“The UK Government’s welfare reform programme is not about stemming an increase in benefit recipients as they say.
“Instead, this programme is about cutting ruthlessly the benefits that many disabled people rely on to attend work, gain an education or to simply to live. It really is about hitting the easiest target hardest, and that is simply unacceptable from any modern government.”
Glasgow City Council is expecting to bear the brunt of the controversial decisions made at Westminster and thinks people from all backgrounds across the city will be affected in some way.
Councillor Matt Kerr, the council’s Executive Member for Social Care, said: “When you look at all of changes together, it is clear that welfare reform will have devastating and far reaching consequences for Glasgow.
“The most vulnerable will undoubtedly feel the brunt of the changes to the welfare system, but school children, working families, pensioners and local businesses will all suffer as well.
“The council will also be caught in the upheaval and we fully anticipate that we will face far greater demand on our support services despite having fewer funds to help us bridge the gaps that appear.
“Rent arrears with registered social landlords are also predicted to become a big issue and could have huge knock-on effects as housing associations struggle to fund their building and refurbishment programmes.”
He added:” It is hard to think of a corner of Glasgow that will escape the impact of the changes to the welfare system.
“Our own analysis of these reforms had already shown that the effects will be felt far beyond those who receive benefits directly and this latest report emphatically reinforces that conclusion.”