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Councillor’s concern at benefits cutbacks

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Councillor’s concern at benefits cutbacks

THOUSANDS of families across Dumfries and Galloway will be plunged into poverty in the coming weeks when cuts are made to benefits payments.

Eighteen months ago, the UK government increased Universal Credit payments by £86.67 per month to help those on low incomes during the pandemic.

More than 8000 households in Dumfries and Galloway have benefited from the temporary cash boost in tough times, however the extra money is due to stop from October 6.

This move has caused huge concerns, with North West Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson describing it as a “money grab” on the most vulnerable people in the area.

He will table a motion at this week’s full council meeting –supported by Dumfries Provost Tracey Little – demanding a halt to the benefits reduction.

Cllr Ferguson wrote: “This decision will place an inordinate burden on families who have little or no disposable income and will delay any economic recovery whilst communities are trying desperately to recover from the pandemic.

“The proposed money grab whilst the pandemic is still creating major problems across the region will see some families losing over £1000 which our council recognises is a huge amount for those with little or no disposable income.

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation research suggests that around one in five of all families in Dumfries and Galloway will be affected. Our council therefore agrees to write to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and our two local MPs to seek a halt to the implementation of this cut, which will significantly disadvantage low-income families across our region.”

Lorna Campbell, the council’s financial wellbeing and revenues manager, produced a report on the matter, confirming that 8344 households locally will be affected by the benefits cut.

She wrote: “It is anticipated that the loss of this additional allowance from low-income families will have a direct impact on other services and increase demands for Scottish Welfare Fund, and Discretionary Housing Payments, in addition to other support services.

“The impact of the change will continue to be monitored and will be subject to more detailed reports over the coming months.”

Recovery in focus

Recovery in focus

The region’s recovery from Covid – and how Dumfries and Galloway can contribute to a national plan for rebuilding Scotland – will come into focus next week.

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