Welfare reform to be discussed

The impact on Dumfries and Galloway of the UK government’s proposals for welfare reform will come under scrutiny at a series of discussions involving local community groups, organised by Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown.

The next discussion is being held on March 8 in Stranraer.

Representatives of the Department of Work and Pensions will brief those attending on the changes being brought in by the UK government’s Welfare Reform Act, including the so-called “bedroom tax”. Representatives of Dumfries and Galloway Council and Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service will also outline the likely impact of the changes. Local community groups, housing associations, churches and charities will then have the opportunity to discuss how they can support their members and clients to deal with the impact.

Mr Brown said: “Welfare reform will have a massive impact on Dumfries and Galloway. It will cut millions of pounds from the local economy and impact on families across our region. These round-table discussions, however, aren’t about a political debate on the changes but about bringing people together to discuss how we can best limit the damage they will cause our area.

“There will be representatives from organisations throughout Dumfries and Galloway and the aim will be to work together to support local families who will be affected by the changes. We need to ensure that people can access services such as benefits advice and get support if they need to move house due to the bedroom tax. The organisations attending these discussions all have role to play because they deal with many of the people who will be hit by these changes.”

Meanwhile, councillors will also debate the council’s preparations for welfare reform at a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee next week, February 28.