Residents who follow political developments will be aware that many, if not most, of the new initiatives drawn up by our parliamentarians in Holyrood and Westminster have to be implemented by local councils.

Councillors often rail against these new measures, which they are obliged by law to implement, since it seems to many people that councils are responsible for these changes.

It has been very convenient over the years for parliamentarians to implement new unpopular policies and leave local councillors to pick up the flak for the changes.

If the political composition of government and councils are aligned, then the new policies are often implemented without rancour.

An example of the varying tiers of government working in harmony came during the late 1990s and early noughties, when new initiatives drawn up by the Labour administrations in Westminster and Holyrood were implemented by the Labour-led council in East Renfrewshire.

When I was leader of the council, I rarely fell out over policy with Jim Murphy and Ken Macintosh, who were the local MP and MSP at that time.

Even when new money for councils was ringfenced for a particular use, disagreements were uncommon, since we shared a similar political philosophy and were all working towards a shared positive outcome.

The only complaint that we in East Renfrewshire Council had at the time – and it is a beef we have with governments of all political colours – is that the new money provided was never sufficient to cover all of the new tasks that we were being asked to do.

Sure Start Centres for toddlers, free transport for over-60s and free personal care for the elderly were just three examples of excellent new initiatives which were welcomed across all layers of government but were never properly resourced to allow councils to fully implement them without impacting on budgets elsewhere. That said, we coped and, generally speaking, the raft of new initiatives were all successfully implemented, to the great benefit of local people.

Unfortunately, not all changes determined by governments are sensible and welcome. An example of this is the rollout of Universal Credit across all of the UK.

This is an unwelcome change to the benefits system, implemented by the Conservative government in Westminster, with the impact of these changes being felt by both claimants and local councils. Superficially, the changes are designed to simplify things by replacing a raft of benefits – such as housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseekers allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, child tax credits and working tax credits – into one single payment.

The reality, of course, is that life will become much harder for those claiming benefits, with local councils picking up the blame for delayed or reduced payments.

To mitigate the negative impact of these changes and to help local people adjust to the changes, East Renfrewshire Council is working with local partner agencies, such as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Citizens Advice Bureau and Barrhead Housing Association.

A comprehensive communications campaign has been underway ahead of the rollout date of September 26 and, in addition to the publicity material and online digital support, claimants can contact their local job centres in Barrhead or Newlands, the East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Centre or East Renfrewshire Council’s Money Advice and Rights Team.

A comprehensive information pack can be picked up at all of the partner agency offices and venues.

One positive feature of the changes planned for the rollout date is that these will only affect some residents. If someone of working age is claiming for the first time, or if there is a major change to a claimant’s circumstances, such as the birth of a child, a bereavement or a partner moving into or out of the home, then these individuals will transfer to Universal Credit.

All other claimants will transfer to Universal Credit on a rolling programme between 2019 and 2023.

The DWP will advise them of the exact date of their transfer and the impact upon them.

I do not pretend that any of these changes are welcome. However, ERC will do everything it can to support those affected.

If anyone is concerned about the impact of these changes, I would strongly advise them to visit one of the partner agency offices to speak to staff who can help.

I would also encourage them to pick up one of the specially-prepared information packs from any of these offices.