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Scottish Government Welfare Reform Update - March 2013

2 April 2013 

Advice Services
On 21 January the Deputy First Minister announced £5.4 million for advice services for the period up to March 2015. At that time, it was announced that £1.7 million would be allocated to the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) for distribution to advice services and £300,000 would be made available for immediate spend across a number of projects.

We are now able to confirm that the remaining £3.4 million will be distributed as follows:

  • £900,000 will be allocated to SLAB, so that they will have a total of £2.6 million for distribution to advice services; and
  • £2.5 million will be made available to Citizens Advice Scotland.

We have also announced an additional £2.5 million for social landlords, helping to provide advice and support to tenants affected by the housing elements of welfare reform.

UK Government Consultation on Measuring Child Poverty At the end of last year, the UK Government launched a consultation on how child poverty is measured. The Minister for Housing and Welfare has now written to the Secretary of State to express the Scottish Government's substantive concerns about the approach raised in the consultation paper. The consultation closed on 15 February and the results are currently being analysed.

Passported Benefits At the end of February, regulations were laid before the Scottish Parliament, making changes to the qualifying criteria for disability passported benefits, and protecting access in Scotland to income-based passported benefits during DWP's Pathfinder for Universal Credit. We will review the impacts of the regulations through feedback from individuals, third sector groups and local authorities as the reality of the new benefit systems unfold over the rollout period.

Scottish Welfare Fund - Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants available from Local Authorities from 1 April
The guidance for the Scottish Welfare Fund was published last month. This finalised guidance can be found on the Scottish Government website. In February, training was delivered to Local Authority trainers by CPAG. This included a short film by the Poverty Alliance, where users of the existing Social Fund, described their experiences. Local authorities are now working hard to prepare for delivery of the new Fund from the start of April. We have also developed a new 'public facing' web presence to help people and organisations understand and use the new scheme.

Constitutional Reform
February saw the Expert Working Group on Welfare invite a call for evidence in order to help deliver its remit. The closing date was 8 March and the responses will be independently analysed and published. Preparations are underway for the next Expert Group meeting which takes place on Thursday 21 March and will focus on Delivery and Transition. The Deputy First Minister, as part of a series of speeches outlining the case for independence, delivered a key note address on child poverty 7 March. For more information please visit the Constitution section on the Welfare Reform website.

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