Concerns raised as impact of Welfare Reform Bill is laid bare for locals

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Families are at risk from the new Welfare Reforms Bill.

Representatives from the local authority explained the workings of the Bill – the biggest change to the welfare benefits system for the past 60 years – at a meeting this week.

It aims to simplify the benefit system, protect the vulnerable, reduce benefit dependency and get more people into work.

But it was felt the new Universal Credit (UC), to be introduced in October, could have terrible consequences.

Its purpose is to help claimants and their families become more independent and simplify the benefits system by bringing together a whole raft of payments –including Housing Benefit – into one lump sum.

David Cressey, head of strategic policy at SBC, said: “The view of the department of work and pensions is to encourage people back into work they should receive their monthly payments in one sum and this will give them more responsibility.”

But Councillor Davie Paterson said: “I think you need to get into the real world.”

One-in-four children in the Teviot and Liddesdale area are living in child poverty, with Burnfoot, in particular, in the top five per cent of deprived areas in Scotland.

Councillor Stuart Marshall feared handing a designated family member their monthly allowance, where drug or alcohol dependency may be an issue, is a recipe for disaster.

He said: “I represent one of the biggest housing schemes in the Borders where there are a lot of families suffering.

“In certain quarters we see kids suffering because the priorities in some families are wrong and I fear this will make the situation worse.”

It was estimated that the new Bill will remove £30million from the Borders economy, while it was revealed there are 1,885 people in Teviot and Liddesdale claiming Council Tax Benefit, 2,218 Housing Benefit and 1,701 claiming both.