Scots fear welfare cuts after election

By Stephanie Brickman, May 13, 2011

Welfare chiefs in Scotland are fearing the impact of budget cuts delayed until after last Thursday's elections, which were a triumph for Alex Salmond and the SNP.

"We're not sure what will happen now but I don't think things will stay as they are," Jewish Care Scotland chief executive Suzanne Neville said this week. "The council are scrutinising things closely at the moment. We do anticipate an increased need for us to fundraise in the future."

She took issue with the notion that Scotland had so far escaped austerity measures. "The cuts haven't been as deep and far-reaching as down south but they still happened. We've also had to absorb increased costs for meals and the increase in VAT has affected us. We've also seen an increase in debt-related and mental health issues."

SCoJeC, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, which receives Scottish Government funding, reported that its allocation was ring-fenced for the time being.

But deputy director Leah Granat said that the economic situation dictated that cuts would have to be made somewhere, adding: "We hope that all areas of the budget intended to protect vulnerable groups and individuals will be maintained as far as possible."

Newark Care, administering a residential home for the elderly in Giffnock, is already feeling the pinch as council funding for new admissions from April 1 has been frozen. The extra cost of kosher food for residents, around £20 per person per week, is not being covered by the council. The cost has had to be passed on to residents' families or, in the case of local authority funded residents, been absorbed by the charity.

Chief executive Barry Elder said that "with inflation running ahead, in real terms we're losing out. An interesting thing is the SNP proposal on elder care reform. They've indicated a desire to investigate joint local authority and NHS initiatives in an integrated approach that may unlock more funding."

In the election, the Eastwood constituency - home to Scotland's largest Jewish community - boasted the country's highest turnout of 62.8 per cent.

Last updated: 8:47am, May 13 2011