‘Lives of ex-soldiers could be at risk from Con-Dem benefit cuts, MSPs are warned’
CONCERNS have been raised that the new move to put one-off payments into the banks of veterans could see those affected by addictions not paying rent instead.
FORMER soldiers will be made homeless and some could die because of the Con-Dem Government’s brutal benefit cuts, shocked MSPs heard yesterday.
Charities warned of a tidal wave of misery as benefits are reduced or stopped for some while others will struggle with the introduction of single direct payments.
The new payments will be paid into claimants’ bank accounts rather than to landlords or other support agencies, Holyrood’s welfare committee heard.
Scottish Veterans Housing Association chairman Ian Ballantyne fears soldiers scarred by war, who are being looked after by his charity, could fall into a trap.
“You could give a gross alcoholic, of which we have quite a few, a huge amount of money provided, of course, they can get a bank account to pay into.
“Do I say, ‘I must pay my rent’, or do I go to the pub across the road? It does have serious implications because the cash flow would not be there for the organisation.
“If the cash flow doesn’t come in, you can’t pay the staff, you can’t run the facility, the facility will close. Where will they go?”
Ken Milroy, chief executive of housing charity Foyer, said the situation would also affect the poorest Scots.
“If the money goes to an individual, rather than the landlord, and they are in a vulnerable situation, we could see an increase in overdoses.
“I don’t know why we want to put people who are vulnerable in a more difficult situation by the mechanism of direct payments.”
Helen Barton, another housing boss, said plans to cut down on under-occupancy would force families to take in lodgers.
Committee convener Michael McMahon raised concerns that the DWP is not making the impact of the changes clearly understood. He said:
“The risk posed to vulnerable people is simply not acceptable.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has refused to give evidence to the committee.
But a spokeswoman for the DWP said:
“Alarmist claims about the effects of welfare reform are simply scaremongering.”