KCC is­sues re­vised wel­fare re­port

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Pupils Warned Of Dangers -

A re­vised ver­sion of a county coun­cil re­port sug­gest­ing wel­fare re­forms were con­nected to ris­ing crime, home­less­ness and the use of food banks now says the links can­not be proved.

Kent County Coun­cil leader Paul Carter (Con) or­dered the with­drawal of the orig­i­nal re­port be­cause he felt it was in­ac­cu­rate and flawed. His de­ci­sion led to claims he did not want to em­bar­rass the gov­ern­ment.

The new ver­sion down­plays the ap­par­ent con­nec­tions, say­ing it is too early to judge “with any cer­tainty” the im­pact of the re­forms.

Mr Carter said: “I am very glad that I pulled the re­port be­cause it is clear the ev­i­dence link­ing th­ese con­cerns to wel­fare re­forms was not there. Con­clu­sions were drawn where there was no ev­i­dence to sup­port [them].”

He added that KCC was not try­ing to cover up any­thing.

The re-writ­ten re­port con­cludes that it is dif­fi­cult “at this stage” to sep­a­rate the ef­fects of wel­fare re­form and ben­e­fit changes from other fac­tors such as the state of the econ­omy.

What ev­i­dence there was is de­scribed as “too lim­ited or anec­do­tal to in­fer some of the con­clu­sions and state­ments which were be­ing made.”

And claims in the orig­i­nal re­port that cer­tain crimes were in­creas­ing in de­prived parts of Mar­gate be­cause of ben­e­fit changes have been dropped.

Crime fig­ures in the orig­i­nal re­port are re­placed by the phrase: “There is lit­tle, if any, ro­bust ev­i­dence on this is­sue.”

The new re­port ac­knowl­edges that there is ev­i­dence of ris­ing home­less­ness, food­bank use and debt.

But while the first ver­sion con­cluded the sharp in­crease in the num­bers us­ing food­banks of­fered “com­pelling ev­i­dence” of the im­pact of wel­fare re­forms, the new one states: “It can­not be said with cer­tainty whether the in­creases are mainly due to wel­fare re­form… or whether the need pre­vi­ously ex­isted but was not be­ing met.”

On home­less­ness, the first re­port said there had been a 25% rise com­par­ing the first three months in 2013 with the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year. The new one says the rise mea­sured over a longer pe­riod was 12%.

The re­port is due to be dis­cussed by coun­cil­lors tomorrow (Thurs­day).

KCC leader Paul Carter

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