Politicians round on Tories at Westminster and Holyrood
Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, pictured right, has raised concerns with the Prime Minister about the ‘devastating impact’ caused by the Conservative government’s rollout of Universal Credit. During an exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, the SNP MP challenged Theresa May to ‘get a grip’ and take action to protect further families from being forced into crisis as a result of the Tories’ flagship welfare policy. The move follows warnings by welfare agencies that Universal Credit is set to impact up to 13,200 people in West Dunbartonshire when the new benefit is fully implemented in local job centres later this year. Figures released last week by the Trussell Trust highlighted the hardship facing families as it was revealed that food bank use has rocketed in areas where Universal Credit has been introduced.
Local employment support group Working4U also warned that advice agencies will struggle to provide the support needed to prevent the most vulnerable residents from being negatively impacted by the new benefit.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP warned the PM not to bury her head in the sand, drawing parallels between the Tories’ cruel welfare policy and the UK government’s complacent and callous treatment of the Windrush Generation.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said: “With less than 6 months to go until the full rollout of Universal Credit in West Dunbartonshire local welfare agencies are right to raise concerns about how it will impact local residents.
“The evidence of the damage being caused by the Tory government’s flagship welfare policy is clear for all to see. Research shows that foodbank use has risen by 52% in areas where Universal Credit has been implemented – four times higher than the increase in parts of the country where it has yet to be rolled out.
“The Windrush families have had to pay a heavy price for the Prime Minister’s callous complacency. That same cruel treatment of British citizens is evident as families across the UK are being forced into further financial hardship as a result of the Tories’ welfare policies.
“The UK government’s inhumane approach to welfare is in complete contrast to the SNP’s commitment to building a social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart. The sooner Scotland has full control of its own social security system the better.”
Meanwhile, new analysis from Scottish Labour of the latest figures published by the Department of Work and Pensions shows that 69 per cent of fit for work decisions in Scotland which are appealed are being overturned. The party has called for work capability assessments to be scrapped as the research has shown that the overwhelming majority are being overturned on appeal. Just recently, pressure from Labour at Holyrood has delivered a ban on private contractors operating in Scotland’s social security system. Jackie Baillie, the local MSP, pictured left, said: “It simply isn’t good enough that the overwhelming majority of people are being wrongly judged as fit for work. The figures show that capability assessments are just not working for people across Scotland. These assessments aren’t just an example of cruel policy; they are an example of a failing policy. They show that Tory austerity simply isn’t working. Our social security system should put peoples’ wellbeing first and it shouldn’t be a vehicle to boost private profits.”