Westminster cuts will devastate Scottish communities, say charities

By staff writers
22 Nov 2012

New figures released by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) show that 81 per cent of charities in Scotland expect the sector’s financial situation to deteriorate over the next year, and that they are concerned about meeting the record high demand for services as welfare cuts kick in.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, addressed 200 charity representatives from across Scotland when they met in Edinburgh yesterday (21 November 2012) to make a stand against the Westminster Government’s cuts and to work together to combat their impact.

Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO, commented: “It’s clear from this research that Westminster’s criminal cuts to welfare are putting so much pressure on charities’ services that some will struggle to keep up with demand from people and families in Scotland."

The SCVO survey finds that:

• Three quarters of charities expect demand for services to continue to increase significantly over the next year
• With 80 per cent of welfare cuts still to come, 63 per cent of charities and third sector organisations will be affected by welfare reform
• 57 per cent of organisations engaged in welfare activity are providing crisis support and 69 per cent are providing advice on benefits
• 81 per cent of third sector organisations expect the financial situation for the sector to worsen in the next 12 months

“The unprecedented worry and uncertainty surrounding the cuts is hitting the poorest the hardest as they face an endless cycle of appeals, bureaucracy and misinformation. All this on top of trying to get by on a day-to-day basis is pushing people and families to breaking point," said Mr Sime.

“The sector is pulling together to pick up the pieces and help to mitigate the terrible effects of these ill-conceived Westminster cuts which should never have happened in the first place,” said the SCVO director.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP declared: “The ink may only just be dry on the UK Welfare Reform Act 2012, but we must not stop making the case on behalf of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people.

“Despite our opposition – and that of large parts of Scottish Society – the UK reforms are coming too fast and against the backdrop of some of the biggest cuts to the welfare system in a generation. It is voluntary organisations, local authorities and charities and that will be picking up the pieces.

“The Scottish Government – under the current constitutional settlement – will do all it can to mitigate the impact of these cuts and changes although there are consequences that are out-with the capability of the Scottish Government’s powers.

“Only Independence will provide the Scottish Parliament with control over welfare matters. Controlling our own affairs will mean fairer policies that reflect Scottish values, protect the vulnerable and benefit the Scottish people,” said Scotland's deputy first minister.

On BBC1's Newsnight Scotland in the evening, SCVO's Martin Sime responded robustly to suggestions that he was using hyperbole and exaggeration in his criticism of welfare cuts, and in calling their impact on the most vulnerable in society 'criminal'.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the national body representing the interests of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.

The Scottish third sector turns over £4.4 billion a year and employs 137,000 people in over 45,000 organisations.

* For more on SCVO see www.scvo.org.uk

[Ekk/3]

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