Tag Archives: social security

Scottish Parliament calls for rollout of Universal Credit to be halted

Alex Cole-Hamilton was one of the MSPs calling for the rollout of Universal Credit to be halted during a debate in the Scottish Parliament today. Only the Conservatives defended the continued rollout.

We know that people are having to wait up to 6 weeks for any money at all. MSPs had some real horror stories to report which you can see in the full record of the debate here.

Alex’s speech was very well crafted – and it was candid, too. He both acknowledged and distanced himself from the Liberal Democrat role in the coalition government’s welfare reform. However, he was able to show that without us there, the Tories have done a great deal worse. Here’s his speech in full.

I often speak with hyperbole in this place about the various responsibilities that we as decision makers discharge both in this Parliament and at Westminster, but the safety net that we provide for those who, for whatever reason, cannot provide for themselves should be the measure of any civilised society. My party has a proud history in the genesis and introduction of the welfare state in the early days of the 20th century, with the first state pension introduced under Lloyd George. In the 1940s, that great Liberal William Beveridge was the catalyst for the advent of social security when he identified the original “giant evils”, as he described them, of ignorance, idleness, squalor, want and disease. It is a failure of progress that, if we strip out the antiquated language, many of those evils still hold sway in our society today.

We should remember that, until this decade, the systems of welfare in this country had not undergone significant reform since their introduction, despite generations of incremental modification. For decades, welfare reform was sought by poverty campaigners, third sector organisations and academics so that we could dispense with unneeded red tape and inject much-needed social mobility into the system.

It fell to my party, in its period of coalition government, to co-preside over that much-needed redesign. I would, however, that we had had different bedfellows in that task. There are elements of the system that underpins the process that I take no pride in at all, and there are aspects of the new system that I still find shameful. Nevertheless, I am glad that we were there, for I dread to think of the welfare system that our Conservative partners would have designed unencumbered. We all saw the measure of the ideological compass behind Conservative social policy in the ill-fated manifesto that Theresa May published in the spring.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Liberal Democrats would end the benefits freeze – but Labour aren’t sure

As prices go up in a Brexit-induced inflationary spiral, spare a thought for the poorest in our society. People who are having to rely on state benefits don’t get any cushioning thanks to George Osborne’s benefit freeze. As prices go up, benefits, already at a meagre level, stay the same making it even harder for people to survive.

So, you’d think that Jeremy Corbyn’s lefty Labour Party would be all about ending the freeze. Well, that’s what they briefed reporters on Friday morning ahead of a Corbyn visit to Cambridge. Remember that until 2015, Cambridge was represented by a Liberal Democrat who voted against many of the most contentious elements of the Coalitions social security reforms.

Anyway, Jezza rolls up and, weirdly, gives a much more timid message than his advisers had briefed. From Politics Home:

Party officials briefed journalists that Mr Corbyn would make the promise during a visit to Coatbridge in Lanarkshire yesterday.

A trail of his speech quoted the Labour leader saying: “We will lift the freeze on social security, using part of the billions we set aside for reform in our costed manifesto, by recycling social security savings made by introducing a real Living Wage of £10 an hour, and by building the affordable homes we need.”

But when he came to make the address, Mr Corbyn only said: “We are confident that we will be able to end the benefits freeze.”

A Labour source told The Times: “In his campaign speeches… not everything is said, but the intention was to say that. It’s in line with our policy.”

A party spokesman said: “We are confident that we will be able to end the benefits freeze.”

It’s the sort of caution that strikes resignation and frustration into the heart of anyone that actually wants to sort stuff out.

Just as a matter of interest, what is the Liberal Democrats’ policy on this? Pretty unequivocal, from the 2017 manifesto

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 53 Comments

If they say you’re a Red Tory or a Yellow Tory, ask about Corbyn’s welfare cuts

Jeremy Corbyn’s team had promised to reverse child tax credit cuts, but in their 2017 manifesto, they did nothing of the sort as the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows:

Corbyn’s manifesto planned to increase taxes by £46bn per year and to borrow an extra £350bn. With so much extra funding, there was enough to honour their promises on welfare, so voters could be forgiven for assuming that they would.
In his first leadership election, Corbyn said: “Families are suffering enough. We shouldn’t play the government’s political games when the welfare of children is at stake”.  This issue of welfare cuts is why he defeated his Labour rivals for the leadership, because they had previously abstained on a number of votes.
In autumn 2015, John McDonnell, his Shadow Chancellor, didn’t just commit not to implement these cuts, he promised to reverse those that had already happened: “We are calling on Osborne to reverse his decision to cut tax credits. If he doesn’t reverse these cuts, we’re making it clear that we will”.
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 60 Comments

May doesn’t care about disabled people losing their benefits – Farron

Theresa May was confronted over disability benefit cuts yesterday, during a rare encounter with ordinary people.  Cathy Mohan, who lives in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, berated the Prime Minister over cuts to service and social security for people with learning disabilities.

Watch the encounter here.

Tim Farron said:

Theresa May has shown she just doesn’t care about people like Cathy who are seeing their benefits slashed and prices rise.

Instead of addressing concerns over learning disabilities – she tried to change the subject to mental health.

Theresa May isn’t listening and is taking people for granted.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

The most disgraceful Government form ever #rapeclause

There are many occasions at the moment when the UK Government makes me ashamed to be British. Two examples this week show what Tim Farron described on Question Time the other night as “Cruel Britannia.”

The first is the removal of Personal Independence Payments from people suffering serious psychological distress. Matt described powerfully here what that would mean for him.

When outdoors I can become so distressed by events and this can trigger an episode of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms. Symptoms include flash backs to an event that has caused much psychological harm and distress, visual hallucinations of the event that makes me feel that I am in another time and place, reliving the event as though it is really happening at that moment, becoming completely unaware of immediate surroundings. Coming out of one of these episodes is extremely distressing, confusing and disorientating and leaves me full of fear. My entire thought process is filled only with getting home and getting safe. I am no longer capable of following the route because my brain and thought process will not quieten down enough to think. I can only liken it to a petrified dog that will run off at full speed ahead, unaware of dangers / hazards / roads, petrified of people. All you can think of is getting home to the safety of your bed and cowering. The situation has caused me to put myself and others in danger whilst in this panicked state of mind. There are many things that can act as a trigger for me, It might be the way someone looks reminds me of person from my past, It can be a certain smell that acts as a trigger, it might be something I hear. I spend most of my life avoiding triggers. These are obviously easier to control within the safety of my own home, but impossible when I am outdoors.

The second example is the removal of benefits to cover third or subsequent children. In itself this is utterly wrong in principle. Benefit should be payable according to need. Children are suffering now because their families are now significantly worse off. The idea that large families should be penalised is so wrong. Are we really saying that if someone finds themselves as a single parent and they have four children, that the state should only provide help with two of them? What are the others supposed to do? It brings back the sort of attitude from Victorian times when the state would provide a parent with help with child support for a couple of weeks before taking the children off the parent and putting them in the workhouse. The idea that the poor are in some way culpable and should be punished is not something any liberal should accept. 

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Scottish Liberal Democrats demand answers from Ruth Davidson over mental health cuts to PIP

The Conservatives have not covered themselves in glory on social security issues recently. The removal of Housing Benefit from young people, the totally immoral restriction of benefits to two children and the deeply objectionable 8 page form that women have to complete if they want to claim for a third child conceived by rape, the cuts to disability benefits and cutting back eligibility to Personal Independence Payments for those suffering psychological distress have all shown a cruel lack of understanding of real life.

Let’s not forget the five year benefit freeze imposed by George Osborne in 2015. With Brexit bound to increase prices, that is simply unsustainable.

The cuts are significant, but even more reprehensible is the inhumane stripping of dignity from those who need our help. A civilised society supports those in need. If that makes me a bleeding heart Liberal, as Tim Farron declared he was on Question Time the other night, then I’m proud to be so.

Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives may pretend that they are nicer than their Westminster counterparts, making the right noises on mental health recently, but we can’t forget that they are the same party. Every awful thing that Theresa May’s Brexit government does reflects on them.

As health and social security spokespeople for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton and I have written to Ruth Davidson asking her to state her position on the cuts to PIP. Our letter says:

Dear Ruth,

We were pleased to see your party last week join the Liberal Democrats and campaigners in declaring that the SNP Government’s new mental health strategy lacked ambition. It was the right thing to do because the new strategy will not deliver the transformation we desperately need to see.

However, we were deeply concerned to see that, in the very same week, your colleagues at Westminster were voting to restrict personal independence payments to people with mental health and anxiety conditions, affecting tens of thousands of people both in and out of work.

This shows little understanding of the complex needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, for example those trapped in their homes because they are too anxious to leave without someone. These people can need help to leave their home every bit as much as someone suffering from a physical condition.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Damning PIP report shows culture of fear and mistrust – Olney

The virtual ink was barely dry on Geoff Crocker’s harrowing piece about his son’s PIP interview when a comment from Sarah Olney on the damning report by the Independent Reviewer of the PIP implementation, Paul Gary, popped into my inbox.

The report is highly critical and outlines that the fundamentals are just not working.

A key conclusion of the Review is that public trust in the fairness and consistency of PIP decisions is not currently being achieved, with high levels of disputed award decisions, many of them overturned at appeal

My findings point to the need to build very considerably on current action to improve the way PIP is administered, continuing the direction of travel proposed in the first Review. They include recommendations to improve the way the right type of evidence is obtained, used and tested in assessments; to strengthen transparency; and to broaden audit and quality assurance in assessment and decision-making.

In other words, there’s not a lot that’s going right.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve gone through the stress that Geoff describes just going for the interview. Then you find that you have been denied PIP. Then you have to endure the further stress of an appeal just to get the help that you desperately need to get on with your life, to work. PIP is not a luxury. It’s there to help people with long term conditions with the extra costs that these pile on.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Dec - 4:14pm
    Gordon, The problem Jackie has is the constitutional deficit actually grows if we follow the Norway path. Imposing rules made by others with no input...
  • User AvatarGordon 16th Dec - 3:53pm
    LJP – I was thinking only of the way the negotiations have gone so far with surrenders at each point by Davis & Co. but...
  • User AvatarNick Collins 16th Dec - 3:53pm
    Merry Christmas, Tony. I'm sorry that you have lost the ability to distinguish telling it as it is from sarcasm.
  • User AvatarChris Lewcock 16th Dec - 3:41pm
    Great that this item has been put up on LDV. Thanks Duncan. However, I do wonder if Members should have to depend on occasional (inevitably?...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 16th Dec - 3:41pm
    @ Katharine Pindar I am sorry that I didn’t express myself clearer. My point was that if the LVT is rolled up to be paid...
  • User AvatarCiaran Smith 16th Dec - 3:13pm
    As an atheist, I was disheartened to see the abuse Tim Farron got during the election campaign for his views. Whilst I disagree with his...