Rory met with representatives of the Citizens Advice
Bureau (CAB) and Cumbria Law Centre at the CAB office in Penrith, to
discuss the impact locally of recent welfare reforms, and to learn
from their on-the-ground experience with local service users.

The group discussed a broad spectrum of issues relating to the Welfare
Reform Bill, including the transition from DLA to PIP, the impact of
the Spare Room Subsidy, and changes to ESA regulations. CAB has seen
an increased demand on their services following recent welfare
changes, as more local people are seeking help and advice about the
impact of changes to their benefits, and look for support in cases
where they decide to appeal against DWP decisions.

Rory agreed to work closely with the local CAB Social Policy
Working Group to provide Government with a report on CAB’s findings,
and to discuss with DWP officials where improvements can be made.

Rory said:

“I really do believe that this Government¬† is the first in several
generations to introduce reforms which seek to address fundamental
problems which had become inherent within our Welfare system. Any
transition period, from one system to another – especially when done
on such a scale – will always likely create problems however, and the
challenge is to ensure we have the necessary infrastructure and
support in place to help those individuals with more complex needs,
who are struggling to navigate the new structures in place.

This meeting with CAB and Cumbria Law Centre has been very useful,
both in terms of seeing where the new reforms seem to be working in
this constituency, and where problems remain which need to be
addressed. I will continue to work closely with CAB on this matter, to
ensure Government is provided with the relevant facts and advice, that
will ensure the new Welfare system is as strong and efficient as
possible, directing more financial support to this who really need it.

Andy Auld, CAB’s local chief executive said:

“We found it a very useful and encouraging meeting.¬† We hope to be
able to build on this with further meetings in the future”.

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