The impact of welfare reform on Scottish women
Welfare Reform measures are undoubtedly having an adverse impact on women. The Scottish Women’s Convention (SWC) has consulted with women the length and breadth of the country over the last few years on the issue of welfare reform, from the initial Bill stage right up to the way in which changes to the administration and payment of benefits is affecting women, their families and communities as a whole at present.
The establishment of the Smith Commission, and the subsequent proposals for new powers over certain aspects of social security for Scotland, has also generated a significant amount of debate and discussion amongst women.
“Women, who still manage household budgets and support children proportionately more than men, are bearing the brunt of austerity cuts and the demonisation of those who claim social security benefits. It stands to reason that women’s experiences must be taken into consideration when looking at how these new powers are delivered.”
The devolution of certain aspects of social security will give Scotland the opportunity to be a leading light in terms of supporting those who need help most. It will also allow account to be taken of the unique social and geographical nature of the country.
Women have welcomed the proposals set forth in the new Scotland Bill, such as the administration and payment of, for example, Universal Credit. Having the power to decide when payments are made will benefit many women, as will the ability to split claims between members of a couple.
This is particularly the case for those who would suffer financial hardship and dependence as a result of a single household claim.
Women have also welcomed the devolution of benefits for carers, disabled people and those who are ill. These powers give the Scottish Parliament the opportunity to ensure that the often unique needs of those who claim this type of support are considered and met. This will be of significant benefit to carers, the majority of whom are women.
The devolution of these benefits, as well as other powers over social security, will mean that women are not as adversely affected as they are at present. Rather than attempting to mitigate the impact of legislation, policies ad practices already handed down, it will be possible to design a system which best reflects the needs of those seeking work in Scotland as a whole.
Scottish Women’s Convention
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