People 'Anxious Over Benefit Cuts'

Welfare reforms are making people live in "constant fear'' of cuts to their benefits, according to a report.

Many people said they were anxious that changes to their circumstances or entitlements would push them into "crisis situations''.

The communication of the detail of welfare reforms was also criticised by some people in the Welfare Reform Tracking Study, carried out by Edinburgh Napier University for the Scottish Government.

Disabled people who took part in the study said they felt they had to present themselves in a "negative light and focus on their limitations'' during the welfare process.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said the UK Government should rethink its welfare reforms.

The Depart for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the reforms are designed to help people into work.

Particpants in the study spoke of stress, anxiety and depression brought on by assessments, and a fear of further changes.

Mr Neil said: "The UK Government's austerity agenda and benefit cuts are having a very damaging effect on people in Scotland. Their approach is slashing the incomes of some of our poorest households and pushing 100,000 children into poverty.

"The Welfare Reform Tracking Study is further evidence that people are living in constant anxiety about changes to their entitlements and are already suffering from the effects of around #6 billion of cuts taken from Scottish Welfare expenditure over the last five years. This is hugely concerning as the UK Government should be looking to lift people out of poverty not push them further into it.

"Despite these frustrations we will do all we can to use our new powers to make our system fairer and simpler and work to improve the experience for people.

"We will work quickly to implement these changes and base our social security system on how best to support people and tackle inequalities and not on crude opportunities to save money.''

A spokesman for the DWP said: "Reforms to welfare are designed to help people into work, giving more people the peace of mind and security that comes with a steady income - there are now near record numbers of people in Scotland in a job.

"The Government provides a safety net to support millions of people who are unemployed or on low incomes - spending £94bn a year across the UK on working age benefits.''

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