South of Scotland SNP MSP Mike Russell has raised concerns over worrying reports from Citizens Advice Scotland of the failure of reforms to incapacity benefit and income support.

Citizens Advice Scotland today state that the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is now worse for those dependent on it than the previous incapacity benefit system, with benefits unpaid or paid incorrectly, private firms conducting health checks, increased numbers of appeals and increasing stress, pressure and financial hardship on people who are unable to work due to illness or disability.

Mike Russell MSP said:

“The truly disgraceful aspect of these changes is that the people who are affected are some of the most vulnerable in our community. If you are physically unable to work, life is hard at the best of times – particularly during this recession. The money you receive in benefits is your lifeline, and the last thing you need is someone tinkering with it. Yet, this is exactly what has been happening since the ESA was brought in.

“From the very beginning the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been warned that they were going about these reforms in the wrong way. It is wrong that people with genuine disability and incapacity should be subject to this kind of mental and financial pressure. The Labour UK Government has approached these reforms in an utterly irresponsible manner.

“That GPs are being overruled by private firms, subcontracted to the DWP to do medical checks utterly beggars belief.

“As the first step in Labour’s plans for benefit reform this has been a disaster with people facing increased stress, hardship and financial difficulty.”

Mr Russell added:

“Many single parents across Dumfries and Galloway will be reading today’s report with trepidation. Parents next to be targeted by the government, with benefit cuts used to force parents back into work or face benefit reductions regardless of circumstances, the next step of benefit reform looks like a disaster waiting to happen.”

“The DWP’s one size fits all approach is more about cutting its benefits bill than helping those who can work back into employment or allowing parents to support their children.

“Before any further changes are made and anyone else is left in hardship the DWP must listen to Citizens Advice and get this system right. I urge Russell Brown MP to do the job he’s well paid for and talk to the DWP and get them to see sense.”

ENDS

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South of Scotland SNP MSP Mike Russell has welcomed the news that Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Corporate Policy Committee have decided to not proceed with the planned consultation on closing four of the regions six Activity and Resource Centres.

Mr Russell said:
                          
“I am delighted that the council have seen sense and removed the ARC closures from the budget proposals. This move whilst in response to the budget cutbacks that have come about because of Labour’s recession and the Westminster removal of £521 million from the Scottish Budget, was the wrong choice to offer up. The ARC’s do invaluable work and are a boon to both clients and family members who know that their  sons and daughters are being well looked after and developing life skills in a friendly environment.”

Mr Russell added:

“Dumfries and Galloway Social Work department need to have a long look at what they have been asked to do and identify savings that do not impact on service users. Identifying savings in a top heavy bureaucracy rather than picking on the most vulnerable in society would be the logical place to start.”

ENDS

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Citizens Advice Scotland today state that the new Employment Support Allowance is now worse for those dependent on it than the previous incapacity benefit system, with benefits unpaid or paid incorrectly, private firms conducting health checks, increased numbers of appeals and increasing stress, pressure and financial hardship on people who are unable to work due to illness or disability.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesman and Glasgow East MP John Mason said:

“From the start the DWP have been warned that they were going about these reforms in the wrong way.

“It is wrong that people with genuine disability and incapacity should be subject to this kind of mental and financial pressure. The UK Government has approached these reforms in an utterly irresponsible manner.

“That GPs are being overruled by private firms, subcontracted to the DWP to do medical checks is a disgrace.

“As the first step in Labour’s plans for benefit reform this has been a disaster with people facing increased stress, hardship and financial difficulty.”

Glasgow MSP Bill Kidd warned of problems for further changes

“Many single parents across Glasgow and Scotland will be reading today’s report with trepidation.

“The failure to get this change in the system right is reminiscent of the failures over child support and tax credit payments.

 

“With parents next to be targeted by the government, with benefit cuts used to force parents back into work or face benefit reductions regardless of circumstance the next step of benefit reform looks like a disaster waiting to happen.”

“The DWP’s one size fits all approach is more about cutting its benefits bill than helping those who can work back into employment or allowing parents to support their children.

“Before any further changes are made and anyone else is left in hardship the DWP must listen to Citizens Advice and get this system right.”

http://www.snp.org/node/15810

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 Dr Alasdair Allan MSP has today welcomed press reports that senior Liberal Democrats are to break party ranks and publicly support a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future. Reports suggest that LibDem Westminster candidates are set to go public on their support for a referendum after a serious of prominent members, including John Farquar Munro MSP and George Lyon MEP criticised Tavish Scott’s stance and claim that support for a referendum is running at four to one amongst LibDem members.

The Western Isles MSP, Dr Allan said:

“At four to one in favour of a referendum it is quite clear that support for the people of Scotland having their say is quite overwhelming.

“It is now clear that Tavish Scott must change his parties position on a independence referendum or face further embarrassment from a host of prominent LibDems. Clearly they do not agree – that standing in the way of the people of Scotland having their say is neither liberal nor democratic.

“The majority of Scots believe that they should have their say on our constitutional future, the majority of LibDem voters share that view and it looks like a majority of LibDem members are also supporting that position. What does Tavish have to be scared of?

“Tavish now has only one option, give the people of Scotland their democratic right or lose further credibility and authority as party leader.”

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Mr Hosie said:

“These grim figures must be a wake up call for Gordon Brown that we need to do more to stimulate the economy back to growth. If the prime minister fails to brings forward accelerated capital spending into next year he will effectively be holding Scotland back from recovery.

  “By accelerating £350 million of capital spending into vital areas such as affordable housing and other infrastructure projects the Scottish Government has done what it can to fight recession, boost spending, and assist the construction sector during tough times. 

Read the whole story:  http://www.snp.org/node/15794

 

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The SNP today (Sunday) revealed the party’s candidates for the Westminster election campaign with SNP Westminster Group Leader Angus Robertson MP calling on candidates and activists to work tirelessly to elect the strongest possible block of SNP MPs to stand up for Scotland.

Read the whole story:

 http://www.snp.org/node/15777

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SNP MEP Mr Alyn Smith has been confirmed as the sole Scots voice on an influential committee of inquiry established by the European Parliament to look into the causes of the global financial crisis and recommend cures to ensure it does not repeat. 

 

The committee will provisionally exist for a year, and has a remit to explore the reasons behind the financial crisis, and recommend what measures should be implemented, and where, to remedy any regulatory failings it finds.  This is of massive interest to the financial and business community in Scotland, as well as the people themselves given the taxpayer bailed out the failing banks.  The Committee will run for a year, and the first phase of the inquiry will be to organise public hearings hauling leading financiers and Ministers before the Committee to give evidence, where after the Committee will move into a drafting phase, coming up with what ideas for what reformed regulation is found to be necessary.  The Committee will have four full members from the UK as a whole, Smith, a Labour MEP from North East England and two newly elected English Conservatives.

Read the whole story:

http://www.snp.org/node/15780

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The 75th Annual Conference of the SNP takes place in the new Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

This year’s event, between 15 and 18 October, is a vital part of our programme of policy development as we head towards the Westminster election, and the Independence referendum in 2010.

The SNP’s Conference is the largest political conference in Scotland. More than 1,200 politically engaged delegates and visitors come to SNP conference for the wider experiences available.

You might be an individual visitor interested in attending for a day, a business keen to have a high profile presence or a charity wanting to promote your message and work.

Observer status

The SNP welcomes business, diplomatic and academic visitors to SNP Conference. Application forms are still available. Observer status provides a conference security pass, the Conference Handbook, an invitation to the Exhibitor Reception, and free access to attend events on the conference fringe. This includes a series of focused policy seminars with senior Party figures, offering the opportunity to engage first-hand on the key issues of the day.

Corporate Day Friday 16th October

The SNP will be hosting a Corporate Day on Friday 16th October. This includes a full programme for the day, including a business breakfast, seminars and a sit down lunch. The guest of honour at the lunch will be John Swinney MSP.

Business Breakfast Friday 16th October

The SNP will be hosting a Business Breakfast on Friday 16th October. The event is a sit down breakfast with speaker, followed by a question and answer session.

Contact us

To find out more about these and many other opportunities still available at this event, please contact Trudi Logan on or trudi.logan@snp.org

 

Party members can click here for more information.

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Doing impressive and important work for Scotland.  Follow Michael on his India blog:

http://mrussellindia.wordpress.com/

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Commenting on David Cameron’s conference speech, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said that by attempting to resuscitate Gordon Brown’s Britishness agenda the Tory leader had shown he did not understand Scotland.

Mr Robertson said:

“The Tories have never understood Scotland, and David Cameron’s speech has just confirmed how out of touch they actually are.  

“While people in Scotland are looking for serious action on jobs and economic recovery David Cameron was wittering on about ideas of Britishness. His speech was all but irrelevant to people in Scotland, and clearly shows why the conservatives are going nowhere north of the border. 

“The fact is that David Cameron’s ‘respect agenda’ collapsed at the first hurdle with his refusal to debate with the SNP. He talks about respect, but in the same breath refuses to debate the issues that matter to Scotland in a leaders’ debate with Alex Salmond. 

“It would be grossly unfair for a Scottish audience to see their main party, the party of Government – and a party with 7-times the Scottish representation at Westminster than the Tories – excluded from a TV leaders’ debate at the Westminster election.  On what possible democratic basis does David Cameron arrive at this typically Tory high-handed attitude? 

“The SNP have made clear we are prepared to be extremely flexible.  But all parties must accept the right of the SNP to be part of debates broadcast in Scotland, and the broadcasters must accept their obligations for fairness. 

“David Cameron’s claims have been exposed for all to see by his refusal to debate with Alex Salmond.  If he wishes to show real respect to Scotland, he should agree to a leaders’ debate that represents the real politics of Scotland.”

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