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Scottish Government urged to use new benefit powers

16th August 2017

The Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, has urged the Scottish Government to start using devolved powers to mitigate the impact of benefit changes in the Highlands. The call follows a meeting with Inverness MP, Drew Hendry, where she discussed the problems created by the introduction of Universal Credit.

“Although Universal Credit remains a matter for Westminster, Scottish Ministers need to grasp their new powers and take the opportunity to mitigate the impact of measures introduced by the British Government,” says Councillor Davidson.

Councillor Davidson has also urged a change in emphasis in our approach to Universal Credit. “We need to recognise that this policy is here to stay under the current British Government. However, we can lobby for changes to the detail, which will make life easier for claimants. For example, we should demand that assistance with the housing cost element is devolved.

We have local council expertise that would deliver a better system of providing assistance with housing costs.”

And Councillor Davidson wants to see the removal of barriers preventing council advisers from dealing with claimant’s issues. “Technical changes have introduced an additional hurdle, before council advisers can start dealing with a case. This is causing unnecessary delays in payments, in some cases leading to potential sanctions. That is unacceptable.

“We had a positive and productive meeting.

As a local MP, I know Drew Hendry will give the Highland Council’s perspective and possible solutions when he is highlighting these issues in Westminster.”

 

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