Posts

Renfrewshire Loses Over £2 Million Because Of Tory Welfare Cuts

Paisleys MSP, George Adam Demands Devolution Of Social Security Powers

 

Freedom of Information figures supplied by the Department for Work and Pensions have shown that Renfrewshire has lost out on over £2 Million because of Tory cuts to disability benefit.

 

The information – requested by investigative news outlet The Ferret – shows the number of people who have lost out on social security benefits following the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments.

 

The Tory welfare cuts – taking a total of £56 million away from communities across Scotland – have hit the poorest people hardest, leaving vulnerable and disabled people across Renfrewshire without enough money to live off.

 

            George Adam MSP

Commenting, George said:

 

“It is absolutely devastating that Tory welfare cuts have taken over £2 million out of our communities.

 

“This really hits home at how disastrous these cuts have been for people across Renfrewshire – robbing our society and vulnerable people of the money they were entitled to until the Tories decided that they no longer were.

 

“It is shameful that those most in need of support in Scotland have lost over £56 million under this cruel Tory regime.

 

“While the Scottish Government is busy setting up a new social security agency with dignity and respect at its heart, figures such as these continue to emerge showing just how damaging Tory welfare cuts are for Renfrewshire.

 

“Only with full powers over social security can Scotland treat all those in need of support with the respect they deserve, not the cruelty they face under a toxic Tory government.”

 

Geroge Adam MSP

My Constituent Was Sanctioned For A Heart Attack!

DWP Boss Ignoring Real Life Impacts Of Tory Policies

DWP boss Esther McVey today struggled through a Holyrood committee meeting as the real life impact of Tory welfare policies was laid bare.

 

SNP MSP George Adam raised the case of a constituent who had been sanctioned after suffering a heart attack – but was met with a brick wall as Ms McVey insisted the system was working.

 

After Ms McVey said that Universal Credit was fit for purpose, Mr Adam told her “with the greatest respect, that’s completely devoid from the real world.”

 

He continued: “In my constituency, I’ve got people who’ve been suffering constantly because of the roll-out. We’re not even a full roll-out area.

 

“What about people like my constituent, who ended up getting sanctioned because he had a heart attack and was in the Royal Alexandria Hospital?”

 

Commenting, George Adam said:

 

“That was like speaking to a brick wall – despite the overwhelming evidence of the negative impact of the Tory welfare agenda, Esther McVey just insisted that all was well.

 

“The fact is, the botched Universal Credit roll-out is having a devastating impact on many across the country – and that’s just the latest in a long line of Tory welfare cuts.

 

“With our limited powers over welfare, we’re building a Scottish social security agency with dignity and respect at its heart – and we’ve refused to use the discredited sanctions regime in our new employability service.

 

“But the extent of Westminster cuts to the welfare state show why we need full powers over social security in Scotland – not in the hands of the Tories

I, Daniel Blake write launches attack on minister following Holyrood grilling

THE writer of an acclaimed film that savages Britain’s welfare regime has accused the UK Work and Pensions Secretary of talking “guff” during a showdown with MSPs.

Paul Laverty, the Scot who penned I, Daniel Blake, escalated a war of words between the film’s creators and Damian Green after watching the minister reject claims that the benefits system had driven people to suicide in an appearance at the Scottish Parliament._92246155_cwvfyd4wiaafwdu

During a fraught evidence session with Holyrood’s social security committee, Mr Green was given a signed copy of the script of the film which he has previously criticised as a ‘monstrously unfair’ work of fiction despite admitting he has never seen it.

Afterwards, Mr Laverty accused Mr Green of “an absolute and total whitewash” during questioning and failing to acknowledge the reality of the “terrifying” impact of benefit sanctions on the lives of the vulnerable.

The writer added: “That was a public relations exercise, it’s absolutely guff. Two days ago Mr Damian Green described our film ‘as having no relationship to the modern benefits system’ and ‘monstrously unfair’ to the job centre staff. Then he admits he hasn’t seen it.

“I travelled the whole country, spoke to whistleblowers within the DWP, activists, academics and people in foodbanks. What we saw was people’s lives thrown into absolute chaos by the sanctions regime. When he says our film has no resemblance to reality, it does make my blood boil.

“The characters in the film are fictional, but are informed and inspired by everything we saw during some serious investigation.”

Mr Green was repeatedly challenged by MSPs over benefit reforms and the sanctions regime which can see claimants’ payments suspended if they do not follow strict rules.

He declined an invitation to apologise the “significant failures and problems” of the reforms since their 2010 roll-out, saying the policies were aimed at helping people “take control” of their lives while describing sanctions are a “necessary backstop”.

SNP MSP George Adam presented Mr Green with a signed copy of the Daniel Blake book as “light reading” for his journey back to London. He added that campaigners who had previously given evidence to the committee had “almost” accused Mr Green of murder due to suicides that had taken place due to the stresses of the benefits system.

 

Damian Green being presented with a signed I, Daniel Blake book by George

Damian Green being presented with a signed I, Daniel Blake book by George

A visibly irritated Mr Green replied: “There is no evidence, and I think bringing people who committed suicide into political debate is always unfortunate. Clearly every suicide is a tragedy, there are complex reasons behind everyone, and as I say to try and politicise individual tragedies like this always seems to me to be very unfortunate.”

 

He added: “It is absolutely not the intention of anyone connected with the welfare system, whether it’s ministers or staff of the DWP, to cause distress. The system is there to help people and I see it as an essential part of my job to try and set up structures and set up the organisation of the system so that it is there to help.”

“Absolutely I think they need to be there, but also they need to be there only as a last resort,” he said.

New Report – Bedroom Tax Impacting on Children’s Learning

New research showing that the Bedroom Tax is having a serious impact on children’s ability to learn shows that the measure should be abandoned completely, the SNP has said today– and reaffirms the importance of the Scottish Government’s full mitigation of the Tory tax.

The report from Manchester University published today finds that children are arriving at school less able to learn as a result of hunger and stress – with head teachers drawing attention to “the way that material hardship was affecting children’s ability to learn, both at school and in the home.”

The Scottish Government has now committed £90 million to fully mitigate the Bedroom Tax in Scotland – and will effectively abolish the measure completely when it has the powers to do so.George parliament

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said, “Yet again we see another Tory welfare policy hitting those least able to cope. Interesting that when recent figures show that the treasury loses out on more money through tax avoidance than it does from benefit fraud, but where is the constant cry from the Tory benches that more needs to be done to stop tax cheats?

“We need to remember that people paying the bedroom tax in England and Wales often do not have an extra room through choice, but as a result of there not being a property with right number of rooms available. So people are being punished for something out with their control. Thankfully, in Scotland the Scottish Government has fully mitigated against the Bedroom Tax by providing £90m. If this mitigation had not occurred, over 71,500 households would have been hit with the iniquitous tax – and at least 11,000 children in Scotland would be facing the same problems as children south of the border.

““It’s time George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith recognised the impact of this hated levy on children in England and Wales and on public finances in Scotland. The simplest and fairest solution remains for the measure to be dropped immediately by the DWP.”

Fake Quotes Used to Promote Benefit Sanctions Slammed By George

Recent reports that the UK Government used fake quotes to promote its benefit sanction regime have been slammed by Paisley’s MSP George Adam and Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess. George, asking a parliament question on the matter, highlighted the issue of the fake quote with the Minister, who was saddened, but unsurprised by the tactics employed by the current UK Government.George Serious Paisley Town Hall

Speaking after the parliamentary exchange, George said, ‘It is totally unacceptable that UK Government Ministers are resorting to making up fake quotes and testimonials to promote its failed benefit sanctioning regime. Over the past few years I have heard stories of people being sanctioned for failing to attend the job centre, because they had a job interview, going up to Aberdeen looking for work for a few days and being sanctioned for taking an unauthorized ‘holiday’, while I met a man with a severe brain injury, who had been on incapacity benefit for 20 years, who was suddenly told he was fit for work.

‘While sanctions are used as the punishment, I am often taken aback by the total lack of care and empathy shown by the DWP. We need a DWP that helps people into work instead of penalising them for being out of work. It is horrible being unemployed. You have to live on a reduced amount of money and people often tell me you can get stuck in a rut if they are unemployed for too long. That is why it is imperative that we do all we can to help people into work and make them feel like we care while doing so. There does not seem to be a care in the world coming out of the DWP currently. Would time not be better spent looking to improve the help given to people to find employment instead of making up fake quotes about a system that is failing? This punitive sanction regime must end now!

Answering George’s parliamentary question, the Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess said, “Sadly, that is unsurprising from the United Kingdom Government, which brought in the discredited sanctions system. We know the problems that the current sanctions regime is causing. It is clear that the system is not working, and no number of made-up public-relations case studies can demonstrate otherwise. This further highlights the failings in the whole system and the flawed approach of the UK Government. That is why we believe that the current regime should be suspended pending an urgent review. It is a discredited system that needs a complete overhaul, and we support the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s call for a full and independent review of the system.”

New Report Shows Sanctions Could Double Under Tory Plans

The SNP is today repeating its call for an immediate moratorium on sanctions and for full powers over social security to be transferred to Scotland – after further ‘heartbreaking’ evidence of the impact of the UK Government’s sanctions regime.George Serious Paisley Town Hall

As reported in today’s Daily Record, a Fife man found himself sanctioned after missing a Jobcentre appointment – despite the fact that he was in hospital recovering from emergency surgery after a major heart attack.

Today’s report comes as the New Policy Institute think-tank warns that the levels of sanctions imposed could double with the roll out of the Tory’s Universal Credit policy – increasing by as much as an extra 600,000.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said, “I find these reports heartbreaking. This is yet further evidence that the Tory government’s austerity policies are not working and forcing the most vulnerable in society to live without money after being sanctioned for often the most ridiculous of reasons.

“And the idea that the imposition of these cruel, punitive sanctions could in fact double as the Tories’ Universal Credit is rolled out is deeply worrying – and shows the need for urgent action.

“I had a young man attend my office. He was sanctioned for taking an unsanctioned holiday. The ‘holiday’ was in fact a two day trip to Aberdeen to seek employment in the oil industry. He walked around the granite city for 2 days handing in CVs and he slept on a relatives couch. He was actively looking for work, however on his return, he was told he has taken an unsanctioned holiday and his benefits were stopped.

“The SNP has already been clear that there needs to be an immediate review of the UK Government’s conditionality and sanctions regime – and the DWP should not be allowed to impose any more unfair sanctions on vulnerable people while the review is ongoing.

“But more than that, we need the powers to put a stop to this relentless assault on vulnerable people – and to design a new and better system which supports and empowers people who need help rather than punishing them as this Tory government seems intent on doing.

“The Tories have shown time and time again that they can’t be trusted to take decisions on social security on Scotland’s behalf – and it’s time that these crucial powers are in Scotland’s hands, rather than Iain Duncan Smith’s.”

George Looks Towards Fairer Welfare System in an Independent Scotland

George Adam MSPPaisley’s MSP George Adam has joined Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in slamming the Tory UK Government for the increased amount of benefit sanctions being handed out to job seekers. While asking a question of the Deputy First Minister about how we would reform welfare in an independent Scotland, George went on to ask if she shared his concerns about the current changes to the welfare system.

Commenting George said, “The Deputy First Minster rightly pointed out that we want a welfare system in an independent Scotland that is fair and does everything possible to help people into work but which also provides a decent, civilised safety net for people when they need it. I do not want this current system which is making an ever increasing number of my constituents come to me for help and advice after they have had their benefits sanctioned. This is no coincidence, the increase in the number of sanctions if not happening for no reason, it’s happening as a result of the Westminster dogma to cut back on welfare spending, no matter the cost to real people with real families to support and real bills to pay.

‘I have had constituents come to my office after having their benefits sanctioned and they have not even been told what for. They then need to wait weeks after submitting an appeal to find out, no surprise here, that the appeal has been rejected. This leaves them with no money what so ever or having to reply on hardship payments. One of the most staggering things I have noticed is that the DWP staff seem to be getting told from on high to push people towards food banks. The reason food banks are on the rise is due to, among other things, benefit sanctions. Isn’t it perverse that the rise in use of food banks is being used by the UK Government as almost an alternative to getting Job Seekers Allowance?

‘I’ve had more than one constituent come and tell me that they have had their benefit sanctioned because they attended a job interview instead of signing on. I’ve had people not able to afford to go to job interviews because they have no money to get there or to buy the shirt and trousers that they need to feel presentable when attending interviews.

‘The vast majority of people on Job Seekers Allowance understand they have to look for employment to gain their benefit, however the Tories seem to be looking for every and any way to hinder instead of help people into work. Scotland is a rich country; we should not be treating our citizens in such a way. We can and will do a better job with the full powers of independence.”

Figures Show the Failures of the Work Programme

George Adam MSPDepartment of Work and Pensions figures have shown that only one in 10 people who started the work programme in June 2011 gained sustained employment within a year. The figure came to light after George asked the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, what impact the DWP’s work programme was having on unemployment in Scotland.

Commenting, George said, “This figure shows how bad things have gotten since the Tories came to power. Their flagship policy, the work programme, is failing the people of Scotland. I have had many constituents come into the office frustrated with the lack of job opportunities the work programme affords them. After a period of being on Job Seekers Allowance, claimants are transferred onto the work programme, which is designed to help get people back into work mode and increase their chances of gaining employment.

‘However the programme has been tainted numerous times with many partner companies pulling away from the programme. On top of this, these figures show the programme simply isn’t working for 90% of users. However, positive signs have came in the form of the recent labour market statistic which show that unemployment in Scotland fell by 14,000 over the quarter and that the youth unemployment rate has had the largest annual drop since 2006—it is now at its lowest since March to May 2011.

‘The Scottish Governments’ policies are having an effect on the employment rate in Scotland which is very positive. John Swinney has also announced the Scottish employability forum will meet on 31st January to discuss ways which we can boost employment in Scotland. This forum will include the Secretary of State for Scotland, COSLA spokesperson on the issue and John Swinney. I truly hope that this meeting can alert the Secretary of State to the problems his government are causing in Scotland and that a new approach can be found.”