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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SNP Warning On Welfare Reform

Monday, 23 January 2012

INCREASING EVIDENCE FOR WELFARE TO BE DEVOLVED

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP today (Monday) said there was increasing evidence that the welfare system should be devolved as the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty and Rights Advice Scotland warned that UK welfare reforms will remove a safety net for hardworking taxpayers and their families.

The report comes as Peers challenge proposals for a benefits cap, and follows wider criticisms by SCVO that the reforms could leave Scottish local government, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s third sector picking up the pieces.

Dr Whiteford said:

“It is increasingly clear that the only way we will get a welfare policy that suits Scotland’s needs is by having the powers to set that policy in Scotland.

“The Local Government Forum Against Poverty and Rights Advice Scotland report adds substantially to the mounting concerns about the UK Government’s reforms, and shows the wider impact that these reforms will have, not only on individuals, but on the wider economy.

“From time limiting contributory Employment and Support Allowance to cuts in the availability and level of crisis loans, it is the most disadvantaged in our communities that are paying the price of the Tories reforms.

“Reform of the benefits system is necessary but the Tory/LibDem Coalition Government’s plan looks increasingly like an assault on the most disadvantaged. We must not have cuts for the sake of cuts. Not only would that risk forcing the most vulnerable in society into a perilous position, it also takes vital capital out of the economy without consideration of the impact.

“While reform is necessary, it must be done carefully and decisions on entitlements based on medical need – not government spin.

“The welfare system should maximise the potential for all people to work and live free from poverty, however, this cannot be achieved through cuts in support for disadvantaged people.

“This issue shows yet again the different stance Scotland would take if we had the power to legislate on this issue and it is our clear view that it is the Scottish Parliament, not the UK Parliament, that should decide on welfare policy for Scotland – as would be the case if Scotland was independent.”

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