Emergency cash to avert benefit crisis in Glenrothes

Community worker J.P. Easton outside the Auchmuty Learning Centre
Community worker J.P. Easton outside the Auchmuty Learning Centre

The effects of welfare reform legislation is driving Glenrothes to near “crisis point” councillors have been told.

Members of the Area Committee have agreed unanimously to approve an emergency funding bid of around £150,000 just to help cope with the deluge of people finding themselves needing help because of benefit sanctions and other effects of the UK Government’s Welfare Reform changes.

A draft Area Welfare Action Plan (WRAP) is to be presented to the Executive Committee in May detailing how the extra money will be used

Norman Laird, Glenrothes area services manager said: “These reforms are already having a massive impact on agencies and staff dealing with ever increasing numbers of people who are being adversely effected by the introduction of these legislative measures.

“The funding aims to address a very local need for extra staff, volunteers and equipment, such as computers .

“With individuals facing a tougher sanctions regime, the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with the Personal Independence Payment and the introduction of Universal Credit in place of a

range of separate benefits, this will have huge implications across the Glenrothes area.

“If we don’t act now to reduce the impact on individuals, families and communities then we will be facing serious problems, we are already nearing crisis point so this requires immediate attention.”

The funding is only to cover this next 12 months, an extra £188,000 will be required in 2015/16 and £191,000 in 2016/17.

Councillors were told the aim would be to provide services as locally as possible to where people live with Auchmuty Learning Centre and Lomond Centre, Glenwood, Collydean and Cadham identified as current priorities.

Mobile and additional local provision is to be explored if funds permits.

JP Easton, from Auchmuty Learning Centre, said the priority had to be those now facing sanctions.

“We are finding people who are trying to complete their job searches and other requirements yet are still having their benefits suspended, if we can help these individuals before such sanctions can be implemented we make the situation easier,” he added.