A NEW study has revealed there is “little evidence” to justify the Tory Government’s claims that welfare cuts have led to more people being in work.

The research commissioned by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee shows that while employment has risen, this could not simply be attributed to controversial welfare reforms.

Academics insisted their research has “delivered a severe blow” to the UK Government’s vow that the cruel cuts would increase employment.

The report states: “There is sufficient evidence in the present report to cast doubt on one of the central claims used to justify welfare reform.

“Welfare reform does reduce public expenditure and thereby the budget deficit but it does not, it would seem, lead to higher employment or lower unemployment.”

Convener of the Welfare Reform Committee, Michael McMahon, insisted the study carried out by academics at Glasgow and Sheffield Hallam universities “presents firm evidence that welfare reforms are not working”.

McMahon said the report “shows that people are fighting on several fronts to make ends meet as they are hit by cuts to multiple benefits”.

He added: “Thousands of people in Scotland have faced upheaval in their lives as a result of these changes, yet they are not leading to more people entering the job market.

“The report also argues that it is economic recovery, in the form of improved consumer spending and higher borrowing, that has contributed to higher employment levels (and reduced numbers of unemployed people in Scotland), rather than welfare reform.

“Larger than average reductions in unemployment in the places hit hardest by welfare reform also happened in previous economic upturns. This makes it impossible to attribute recent trends to welfare reform.”

Details of the study came after The National highlighted the shocking case of one severely disabled young man from Glasgow who has been hounded by Iain Duncan Smith’s ruthless

Department of Work and Pensiona (DWP) to fill in a 20-page document to prove he is unfit for work.

Stuart Chester, 25, has Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and autism, cannot talk, read, write, feed or wash himself and has to be cared for round-the-clock by his mother. But he was sent a complicated work capability assessment form to fill in to convince the DWP that he is entitled to his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

His heartbreaking story, told in the words of his mother and full-time carer Deborah, shocked Scotland and sparked outrage among our readers. But the stark reality is that Stuart is just one of many vulnerable people targeted by the Tory welfare cuts.

Last week, The National published the latest DWP figures which showed that more than 80 people were dying each month after work capability assessments.

Statistics revealed 2,380 claimants died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being told to get back to work and that their benefits were being stopped. In the same period, 50,580 people who received ESA died within two weeks of their benefit claim ending.

Scottish disability campaigners warned more people would die because of work capability assessments unless they were scrapped.

This latest research, by Donald Houston from the Department of Urban Studies at Glasgow

University along with Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, is believed to be the first of its kind to look at the cumulative impact of benefit reforms on the labour market.

The previous Con/Dem coalition at Westminster brought in a number of reforms, including changes to housing benefit, the introduction of a benefits cap, changes to Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and the replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payments (PIP), with the report stating this has led to “more stringent and frequent medical tests”.

The UK Government justified these on the basis that the cuts would help reduce the UK’s deficit, and would also encourage people on benefits to find work or work longer hours, rather than rely on the payments.

Professor Fothergill said: “This research delivers a severe blow to the Westminster Government claims about the positive impact of welfare reforms.”

But a spokesman for the DWP said the welfare reforms were “transforming” the lives of Scotland’s poorest families.

He cannot talk, read or write, but Tories want severely disabled Stuart Chester to fill in 20-page form to keep benefits

Cat Boyd: It is politicians who should feel shame, not those in poverty