20 November 2014

(S4O-03730) Welfare Reform (Impact Analysis)

10. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what analysis has been published of the impact of welfare reform across Scotland. (S4O-03730)

The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess): The Scottish Government has published a range of analysis, reflecting significant concern about how welfare reform is impacting on people across Scotland.

That includes analysis of how women and disabled people are being disproportionately affected by the reforms; of how the number of sanctions has been increasing over time; of how food aid provision has grown over time, which is partly because of the impact of sanctions; and of how, over the six years to 2015-16, the cumulative impact of all welfare reform changes means reductions of around £6 billion in welfare expenditure in Scotland. All the analysis is available on the Scottish Government website.

Stewart Stevenson: If welfare and social policy are devolved to this place, as indeed they should be under the vow, how will the Government use that to tackle poverty and create a fairer society?

Margaret Burgess: Our proposals will focus on equipping the Scottish Parliament with the powers to create more jobs, tackle inequality and protect public services in order to create a wealthier and fairer society.

5 November 2014

(S4O-03633) Energy Efficiency (Funding)

3. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what communication it has received from the United Kingdom Government regarding the extra £100 million of funding to be available for household energy efficiency. (S4O-03633)

The Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism (Fergus Ewing): We were informed of the proposed measure on the morning of the holding of a Liberal Democrat party conference at which the announcement was made, and only after the press was informed in a release. No further information has been received from the UK Government since 7 October, despite officials’ attempts to seek such clarity on five separate occasions. Perhaps stimulated by the publication of Mr Stevenson’s question, high-level details of the amounts of proposed funding were eventually received yesterday from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Stewart Stevenson: I thank the minister and congratulate myself on my success.

Is the minister aware of WWF’s report “The Economics of Climate Change Policy in the UK”, which shows that the installation of energy efficiency measures in the UK dropped in 2011 and 2012? Does he accept that that drop and the current incoherence of UK policy makes it more difficult for us to meet our insulation and fuel poverty targets?

Fergus Ewing: I do. It does not make it any easier to efficiently administer a good scheme, because we do not know what the budget is and what the conditions are. At the moment, the scheme is reserved to Westminster. Were we to have had power in this Parliament to administer the scheme ourselves, we would have been able to make a start. Now that we have the information, we will get on with it. I am pleased that we have paid out on 19,670 vouchers for households in Scotland; indeed, we spend almost 10 times as much on energy efficiency per household in Scotland as they do in England.

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