Since 2010 the UK Government has been implementing a wide range of reforms to the welfare benefits system. The aim is to get Britain working, fight poverty, support the most vulnerable and help people break the cycle of benefit dependency. The reforms are described by the government as the biggest change to the welfare system in over 60 years and have been introduced as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
One of UK Government’s key reforms has been the introduction of Universal Credit which started to being introduced from October 2013. It replaces six of the existing working age benefits into a single monthly payment. It is being rolled out in stages and aims to be completed by 2023.
Housing Benefit under-occupancy (bedroom tax)
Reductions in Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit housing costs, for those who under-occupy their property, came into effect from April 2013 - this is commonly referred to as the bedroom tax.
Personal Independence Payments
Personal Independence Payments started to replace Disability Living Allowance from June 2013.
Scottish Welfare Fund
The Scottish Welfare Fund has been in place since April 2013 to provide a system of Crisis Grants, for those on low incomes to help meet living costs in an emergency or disaster, or Community Care Grants to help prevent people going into care and to live independently.
What are the Council doing about welfare reform?
Since 2012 a Welfare Reform Working Group has been set up under the Orkney Partnership to bring together a wide range of interested bodies and organisations to discuss the implications of the Government's welfare reforms.
Members of the Welfare Reform Working Group include the Council's Benefits Service, Housing Services, Social Services; Voluntary Action Orkney; Advocacy Orkney; Orkney Disability Forum; Orkney Housing Association Limited; Orkney Islands Property Development Limited; Jobcentre Plus; Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau, NHS Orkney.