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SNP finds another £7 million to support those hit by welfare reforms

Services that support people affected by welfare reform are to benefit from £7 million in funding, the Scottish Government has announced.

The funding includes £3.5 million for advice services, £1 million to help local authorities and other organisations, and £2.5 million for anti-poverty projects in 2014/15.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said single parent families would be worse off as a result of Westminster welfare reforms when she announced the funding at a One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) drop-in centre in Glasgow.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is vital that vulnerable people in Scotland get the help and support they need during these tough economic times. Westminster's welfare reforms and the impact on the poorest in our society make this even more important.

"Because of changes to child and working tax credit, the average household in receipt of these benefits - including lone parents - will be £700 a year worse off. These families will see their annual income reduced by 8% - just when they need the most support.

"This is just further evidence of the need for independence. We want a welfare system in Scotland that provides fair and decent support for all and protects the vulnerable in our society. And the only way to guarantee that is to have possession of the powers to deliver it."

OPFS, which provides advice and support to lone parents and will benefit from the investment, said Scottish Government funding had allowed it to help nearly 300 families over the last nine months.

Director Satwat Rehman said: "Cuts to benefits, including sanctions implemented by JCP (Jobcentre Plus), have hit single parents hard, as living costs have risen steeply.

"We know many single parents do want to return to employment but they cannot always get the flexible childcare and family friendly employment they need.

"Single parents tell us they are already cutting back on food for themselves and many are borrowing money from friends and family to make ends meet. They are doing a remarkable job holding their families together while under immense financial pressure from rising costs and falling incomes.

"Scottish Government funding means lone parents and children can get advice when they need it most as well as support from other parents in their local community."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit making three million households better off, including 300,000 in Scotland.

"The UK Government has taken action to cut the cost of living; freezing fuel duty and increasing the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000, which will save a typical taxpayer over £700. This will benefit 2.2 million people in Scotland and will lift a quarter of a million Scots out of tax altogether.

"The Government remains committed to eradicating child poverty, but we want to take a new approach by tackling the root causes including worklessness and family breakdown.

"Work remains the best route out poverty - the most recent statistics show that children in workless households are around three times more likely to be in poverty than those in working families."

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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