The Scottish Government has published its fourth and final annual report on the impacts of welfare reform in Scotland, looking back to reforms introduced since 2010 and looking ahead to 2020. The report focuses on the financial impacts of welfare reform which are expected to reduce annual spending in Scotland by £3.9 billion by 2020/21. The report is comprehensive in its findings in relation to the financial impacts but what does this mean for the families affected?
Today sees the benefit cap – the limit on total benefits which households can receive if no-one works at least 16 hours a week – fall from £26,000 a year to £20,000, or £23,000 in London. The 20,000 or so families currently capped will see their housing benefit reduced overnight by £500 or £250 a month, starting from today. That’s a huge amount to expect people to find from their other income, but most will have to do that or risk losing their home. For new households, the cap will be introduced in phases starting with local authorities with the fewest affected households and finishing with those with the most (such as Birmingham) in February 2017.