Feb 6 2013 By Joe McGuire
Ann McKechin Image 2
GLASGOW MP Ann McKechin has warned a perfect storm of welfare changes could mean misery for city residents.
She said Westminster-imposed changes such as the bedroom tax and changes to disability living allowance would force more people into poverty.
The Glasgow North MP said she also fears that government plans to migrate all applications such as driving licences or in-work benefits online will disadvantage those unfamiliar with computers.
McKechin said: “There are changes to people’s tax credits, disability living allowance that’s now moving to personal independent payment and it’s estimated that perhaps up to 50 per cent will lose their benefit in whole or in part.”
She is concerned that the housing element of universal credit will be paid directly to tenants in social rented housing, instead of to landlords.
McKechin said studies show more than 20 per cent of people in social rented accommodation don’t have a bank account.
She fears it could raise problems when it comes to paying housing associations, who may face a huge upswing in people paying cash.
Another fear is that some people who will now receive money direct will fail to budget, causing them to fall behind in their rent and fall into debt.
To combat this, the MP has teamed up with local organisations to inform Glaswegians of their options.
She is hosting a financial advice seminar with Queen’s Cross Housing Association on February 19 in the Community Central Hall on Maryhill Road.
She said: “If people are in distress about debt, we need to be able to identify it early and deal with it before it becomes a proper crisis.
“We want to make people realise that payday lenders should not be part of your monthly finances, and not go to illegal loan sharks either.”
GHA, Scotland’s biggest social landlord, and their partners Cube Housing Association, are preparing tenants for welfare reform.
Staff are talking with all tenants face to face, especially tenants who will be directly affected by the impact of under-occupation and explaining what their options are to lessen the impact.
They have launched a helpline for customers to get help and advice. It’s free from landlines on 0800 597 3777.
Customers calling from mobile phones can call at cheaper rates on 0141 444 0110.
A team of welfare benefits advisers, money advisers and fuel advisers are also on hand to give tenants personal advice on benefits and budgeting and managing their money.