By Bill Heaney
Clydebank MSP Marie McNair, pictured left, warned the Holyrood parliament this week that the decision by the Department for Work and Pensions to close its United Kingdom office that processes industrial injuries disablement benefit is causing considerable concern in her Clydeside constituency.
She said: “That [decision] has caused significant concern, including worries about the loss of expertise, help and support for those making a claim, including many who are terminally ill and those who are making a claim because of mesothelioma.
“The benefit is being transferred to Social Security Scotland. Will the minister meet me, the Clydebank Asbestos Group and others to discuss how the new service should be designed to ensure that it meets applicants’ needs and that they get the dignity, fairness and respect that they have been denied by the DWP?”
Mesothelioma, the curse of asbestosis, was prevalent amongst shipyard workers and people who worked in large factories and heavy industry in Clydebank and much of the rest of Clydeside.
The SNP Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben Macpherson, said: “The Scottish Government has continued to successfully deliver new and complex benefits in challenging circumstances, an achievement acknowledged by Audit Scotland in its social security progress report published in May.
“We intend to update Parliament early next year on the timetable for further benefit delivery, which will include the replacement of the industrial injuries scheme by employment injury assistance.”
He added: “I am concerned by any DWP cutbacks and by the potential impact on people who rely on industrial injuries disablement benefit.
“Social Security Scotland takes a different approach to the benefits that we currently deliver, for example by investing in a local delivery service that is based in communities across Scotland and offers advice and support to people applying for assistance.
“I am aware of the important support that Clydebank Asbestos Group provides to people with asbestos-related diseases and their families. I would be happy to arrange to meet Marie McNair and that group, and I thank her for the suggestion.”
Top picture: A ship being launched from Denny’s yard in Dumbarton.