By a Newsnet reporter
Payday-loans and a reliance on foodbanks will increase as a result of changes to Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) rules being introduced by Westminster, the SNP has warned.
Controversial reforms will mean that new claimants will be forced to wait seven days before applying for the benefit.
The UK Chancellor George Osborne announced the policy in the Spending Review last month.
Figures obtained from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe) suggest that tens of thousands of people in Scotland are set to be affected by this policy. There were over 20,000 new JSA claimants in both April and May, while there were over 28,000 new claimants in June.
In recent weeks the soaring demand for both food banks and payday loan companies has been laid bare by a series of damning reports. The Trussell Trust note that the number of people using food banks in Scotland more than doubled last year, with the biggest reasons for people using them given as cuts to benefits or delays in receiving them.
Despite these warnings, in an answer to a Parliamentary Question to the SNP the UK Government admitted that it had made no assessment of the effect of introducing the seven-day delay in JSA on poverty levels in Scotland. Similarly, another PQ answer also revealed that no assessment had been made over claims from the Trussell Trust that the rise in use of food banks was in part due to increases in delays of benefit payments.
The coalition claim that most new applicants will be in receipt of a final wage which will cover the seven day delay period.
Commenting, SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:
“This latest measure is nothing more than a money-grabbing exercise, affecting people who are between low-income jobs and already struggling to make ends meet.
“We’re hearing a lot in the media at the moment about food banks and unscrupulous payday loan companies – and no wonder.
“Forcing people who are already living week-to-week to wait seven days to claim any jobseekers’ allowance is likely to exacerbate this problem.
“What is just as distressing is the admission from the UK Government that they didn’t even bother to do any kind of assessment of this JSA policy on poverty levels in Scotland. This typifies the complete indifference of this Government to the effect of their welfare-cutting policies on the UK. The only assessment they are interested in is how much money it will save them.
“With its limited powers, the Scottish Government is doing what it can to help those facing financial hardship – including £33m from the newly-created Scottish Welfare Fund – but clearly UK Government policies such as this do nothing to help.
“While the UK government continues down this road, making the poor poorer, and the anti-independence No campaign tries to tell the people of Scotland that this is as good as it gets, more than ever it is clear that only a Yes vote in September 2014 can make Scotland a fairer country to live, work and raise a family.”