FABIANI ANGER OVER COST OF WESTMINSTER WELFARE

Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride and Welfare Reform Committee Member, has expressed her anger after a study by Sheffield Hallam University revealed that Westminster’s Welfare Reforms will cost Scotland £1.66 billion a year, which works out at an average of £510 per working age adult throughout South Lanarkshire.

Linda said:

“The Welfare Reforms coming from Westminster are not only hitting the most vulnerable people in our society, they are hitting everyone.  As the study shows, working adults in East Kilbride are paying £510 for Westminster’s appalling welfare policies.  The report warns of the damage these cuts will have on local economies, concluding that the loss of benefit income has knock-on consequences for local spending and thus for local employment.

“What the Government in London is doing is wrong. It is the dismantling of the welfare state, hitting the poorest the hardest. The UK is the 4th most unequal state in the developed world, despite Scotland’s rich resources, and these welfare changes will do nothing to improve the situation. It is no surprise that a Yougov poll showed that 53% of Scottish adults think that Holyrood is the best place for welfare and pension policy to be decided.  I don’t believe that any government in an independent Scotland would pursue these destructive policies which go against the grain of Scotland’s social values.

“I recently received a petition on behalf of the Lanarkshire Social and Economic Justice Forum asking me to denounce the Bedroom Tax. I responded to the petition by reaffirming my position that I am absolutely against these welfare reforms, which include the Bedroom Tax.  As long as Westminster has the power to implement welfare policy on Scotland, there is very little we can do other than try to mitigate against the worst effects. This with our ever decreasing budget.

“The Scottish Government has introduced a £33 million Scottish Welfare Fund to provide financial support for an extra 100,000 vulnerable Scots.  With COSLA, the Scottish Government are plugging Westminster’s £40million cut to the Council Tax Benefit budget.  We are providing benefits’ advice groups with £5.4 million to help them cope with the increasing demand for help as a result of Westminster’s cuts.  The strengthening of the protection for tenants in Scotland against eviction for rent arrears in advance of the introduction of the Bedroom Tax will ensure that eviction for rent arrears is a last resort. SNP led Councils have already committed to a no-bedroom tax-evictions policy for the first year and it is hoped South Lanarkshire Council will follow suit.

“After his refusal to give public evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, I eventually attended an informal meeting with Iain Duncan Smith at the end of March.  His complete lack of understanding of our social housing needs really angered me.  The Bedroom Tax has affected over 100,000 households in Scotland alone, and by 2015 it will mean a cumulative cut in the Scottish budget of £4.5 billion.  How can this make us ‘Better Together’? The Labour Party really need to evaluate their role in this debacle – attacking the Conservatives one day, and campaigning with them the next.  Despite the majority of Scottish MPs voting against the Bedroom Tax, it is being imposed on us regardless.  How can Labour stand side-by-side with the Tories and tell people this is better than making decisions for ourselves?

“Instead of using Scotland’s resources for economic growth and investment in a welfare system that supports people in their old age, helps families with childcare and increases equality, the Westminster parties demand that we send them all our money so that they can decide what to do with it.  They have chosen to give tax breaks for millions while attacking vulnerable people through a Bedroom Tax.  The people of Scotland simply deserve better.  The Westminster parties are telling us that we are ‘Better Together’ when evidence suggests otherwise.  I want a more socially just, fairer Scotland, where we show compassion to those in need.  The only way we are going to be able to deliver this is through a YES vote in 2014.”

ENDS

Notes:

The Sheffield Hallam University report can be found at

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/62050.aspx

The Scottish Government’s welfare reform analysis can be found at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/welfarereform/analysis/welfareexpenditurecuts

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0041/00418131.pdf

 

Yougov/SNP (Fieldwork: 20th-22nd March 2013)

Sample size: 1105 Scottish adults

Which government do you think would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland?
The UK government               34

The Scottish government         53

Don’t know              13

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