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Scotland’s children’s minister uses SASW event to attack welfare reforms

Scotland’s children’s minister Aileen Campbell used the Scottish Association of Social Work’s (SASW’s) annual awards event to call on Prime Minister David Cameron to rethink welfare reforms, which she said will unfairly impact upon the most vulnerable.

Speaking at the SASW Awards in Edinburgh on World Social Work Day yesterday, she warned there was a lot of “heartache” ahead.

She claimed an independent Scotland freed from Westminster’s policies would produce a system that was “more equitable and fairer”.

Asked what message she had for Mr Cameron, Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People said: “I would urge him to rethink what they are doing and to engage with the Scottish Government. We need to work hard to ensure we can support the Scottish people the best way we can. We are trying to mitigate against the worst affects of welfare reform and make sure people have access to the services they need.

“Everyone agrees there is a need to reform welfare to make sure it is clear and consistent and is doing what it needs to do. But I don’t think the measures the Westminster Government is taking are creating that fairer system.

“We know there is a lot of potential heartache over the welfare reforms. From my point of view and the Scottish Government’s point of view, we would like to have control of our welfare and benefits and taxation because we believe we can produce a system that is more equitable and fairer.”

Ms Campbell singled out changes to housing benefit for particular criticism: “I urge the Westminster Government to understand the impact welfare reform will have on the most vulnerable. One of the biggest causes of concern is the bedroom tax. That will cause a lot of upset to people across Scotland.”

The Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty today estimated as many as 95,000 tenants in Scotland could be affected by planned changes to housing benefit criteria designed to tackle under occupancy.