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TORY GOVERNMENT BETRAYS SICK AND DISABLED AGAIN AND AGAIN

The SNP’s Disabilities spokesperson has described the UK government’s Health and Disability Green Paper as “long overdue but still lacking real ambition” to support those with disabilities and long-term illnesses.

Marion Fellows MP has said the Green Paper fails to address key issues affecting disabled people in the UK social security system including benefit sanctions, the payment cap within Access to Work, and accessibility of its Kickstart scheme – all of which the SNP has long called for.

After putting disabled claimants through years of degrading assessments, the UK government should use this opportunity to follow the Scottish Government’s lead by moving away from face-to-face assessments and taking a person-centred approach.

The paper also fails to acknowledge the higher costs that disabled people have faced during the pandemic, and makes no mention exploring the widespread calls from the SNP and organisations to make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits.

Commenting, Marion Fellows MP said:

“This paper has been long overdue but is still lacking in real ambition. 

“The Tories at Westminster have been failing those with disabilities and long-term illnesses for years. A decade of brutal Tory welfare cuts, coupled with benefit sanctions, have had a hugely damaging impact on the living standards of disabled people – and now the impact of coronavirus and lack of a proper social security net is exacerbating that.

“The Green Paper was an opportunity to right these wrongs and finally offer the welfare and employment support that disabled people deserve and is already on offer in Scotland. The Tories have refused to take it.

“Scotland cannot keep waiting for Westminster to act – we can, and must, do better than this. The people of Scotland have made it clear that they want a fairer society – not a system that is disproportionately failing people with disabilities.

“The only way we can achieve that is with the full powers of independence.”

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UK BUDGET ANNOUNCED

Despite the spin from the Tories in London, Scotland’s budget will be lower in real terms that it was when the Tories came to power. It does not reverse £13.9bn of cumulative cuts or provide our people and services with the full support they need.

I was pleased that SNP calls to act on the tampon tax was heeded, and also my own calls to end the 20% tax on digital publications. However, many of the UK Government’s abhorrent policies remain. The two-child Tax Credit cap is still affecting 8,500 Scottish families. The minimum wage is still set below the real Living Wage. And the £200bn immoral and financial blackhole, Trident, will remain on the Clyde while children live in poverty, people go homeless, and families go hungry.

There was once again no strategy for the steel sector; no protection of workers’ rights; and no commitment to match the Scottish Government’s efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the economic crisis coronavirus is causing: the UK Government should have matched the Scottish Government’s NHS spending. UK Statutory Sick Pay also lags behind the European average at £94 per week whereas Ireland is offering £266 – for all workers, including the self-employed.

The Scottish Government now needs clarity on what the UK Government’s coronavirus programme will means for spending here. Barnett consequentials must be passed on so we can effectively deal with the problem.

In summary, this year’s budget is a continuation of the budgets the Tories have been forcing on Scotland for ten years. Our economy is being undermined, our services are being hamstrung, and peoples’ incomes are being squeezed. With independence and all the powers at Scotland’s disposal, we could introduce a budget that meets the needs of people across Scotland to deliver for them and allow them to live a life of opportunity, prosperity and respect.

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UK BUDGET TODAY

Scotland – our people, communities and services – have suffered under a decade of Tory austerity. With today’s budget, it is expected that it will continue. The Scottish Government Budget 2020-21 is still 2.8% (£840 million) lower in real terms compared to 2010-11. The £1.2bn extra next financial year will not reverse the £13.9bn of cumulative cuts.

Despite these pressures, the Scottish Government has delivered record public investment. For the first time, the NHS in Scotland will have a budget of £15bn. £800 million will be invested to deliver 50,000 new homes this parliament. The £10 weekly Scottish Child Payment, which when fully rolled out from this year, will help 30,000 children out of poverty as part of £3.4 billion in social security.

This shows what Scotland can do with one hand tied behind our back. Imagine what we can do with all the powers over our economy and society. Scotland has demanded to choose its future. We can either continue with tax cuts for the richest and under investment, or we can be independent and invest in our people.

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NLC BUDGET 2020/21

Due to the continued cuts from the Tory Government in London, the SNP Group in NLC did their best to create a budget which protects frontline jobs and services by listening to the concerns of local people.

Sadly, the Labour budget was passed leading to:
🚨 New charges for community alarms of £3.40 per week.
🍞 An increase in schools meals by 25% to £3.
🚧 An end to the Safe and Sustainable Travel Team which educates our young people on road safety.
👩‍⚕️ A removal of £1.8m from the adult social care fund for “remodelling” which is supposedly going to be reinvested a year later.

🚣‍♂️ SNP Councillors attempted to re-open the discussion on Kilbowie to save the centre. Despite a majority of the council voting to do so, Labour councillors voted against and the two-thirds majority required was not reached.

🥁 Thankfully, music tuition was saved. Our young musicians will be able to continue to access the education which makes them world-class.

However, the Scottish Government has today announced an extra £6m for North Lanarkshire Council. I therefore hope Councillors of all parties will meet soon to agree how local people and services can be protected from the relentless onslaught of Tory austerity.

Only with independence can Scotland end Tory rule and Tory austerity so our services can provide the full support our communities need.

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OVER £143m CUT FROM DISABLED PEOPLE LOOKING FOR WORK

TORY MINISTER CLAIMS “NO SAVINGS” IN RETRACTED STATEMENT WHILE SCOTS DISPROPORTIONATELY HIT

Recent figures have revealed that the UK Government’s policy to abolish the Work Related Activity Component (WRAC) for claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has cut their incomes by over £143.2m since it was enforced in April 2017.

Claimants of ESA suffer from a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work. Claimants are put in one of two groups: the Support Group – those who cannot work – and the Work Related Activity Group – those who require support returning to work.

In April 2017, the UK Government abolished the WRAC resulting in a weekly cut of £29.05. In response to a Parliamentary Question from Mrs Fellows, Disabilities Minister, Justin Tomlinson, claimed that “there are no savings” and that the cut “enabled the Department to recycle money”.

This answer was retracted four days later and replaced with the claim that the figures were not available and would incur disproportionate costs to calculate.

But figures from the House of Commons Library reveal that between April 2017 and June 2019, approximately over £143.2m has been cut from people with disabilities seeking to get into work.

£19.5m – or 13.6% – has been disproportionately cut from Scottish claimants despite Scotland making up 8.2% of the UK population.

Total cuts are likely to be much higher as Universal Credit claimants in the equivalent Limited Capability for Work group are also affected, but not identifiable. A Treasury forecast in 2017 estimated that by 2020/21, a total of £510m would be cut from ESA and Universal Credit incomes through the measure.

Commenting, the SNP’s Disabilities spokesperson, Marion Fellows, said:

“Recent figures show the shocking extent of the Tories punitive cuts to the incomes of society’s most vulnerable people.  A cut to peoples’ incomes of over £1,500 a year has had a devastating impact. The Tories must reverse their cuts.

“The Minister’s response is insulting to those people whose incomes are being hit. Worse yet, the UK Government has shamefully tried to hide how much they have cut by claiming it is too expensive to calculate when the Commons Library was easily able to produce reliable figures.

“Scotland is bearing the brunt of this Tory cut. With independence, we can take control of all welfare powers and use them to support disabled people into work. We can do this by improving the Access to Work scheme and implementing protective legislation for disabled people.

“Instead, the Tories’ are using their brutal welfare regime as a stick to beat vulnerable people into work by depriving them of basic support. These figures are especially shocking given many people have been wrongfully declared capable of working.

“This is in stark contrast to the work of the SNP Scottish Government who are building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect. With the full powers, we can do so much more.”

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LABOUR COUNCILLORS VOTE TO CLOSE KILBOWIE

Despite the SNP Councillors voting today to save the Kilbowie Outdoor Education Centre, Labour Councillors have voted to close it, while Tory Councillors abstained.

The SNP is fighting tooth and nail to save our facilities and services so people can continue benefiting from them.

Despite having to work within the confines of Tory austerity, the SNP Group are drafting proposals for the NLC budget which would save the centre. Kilbowie’s closure is needless.

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VOTE SNP TO PUT SCOTLAND’S FUTURE IN SCOTLAND’S HANDS

MARION FELLOWS VOWS TO FIGHT SCOTLAND’S CORNER AND SECURE EXTRA FOUR BILLION POUNDS FOR THE NHS

Marion Fellows, the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw who is seeking re-election to the House of Commons, has called on local voters put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands at the ballot box on the 12th December.

Mrs Fellows has welcomed a four billion pound commitment to the NHS in Scotland, which was set out in the SNP’s election manifesto, and has vowed to lock the Tories out of power by voting down any proposal from them to form a government.

Other key manifesto pledges include securing a Scottish Parliament veto on trade deals to prevent privatisation of the health service, stopping Brexit, giving new parents an additional twelve weeks of parental leave, securing justice for WASPI women, and an end to nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

Speaking before the final few days of local campaigning, Mrs Fellows said:

“On 12 December, the only way to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands is to vote SNP. I will not allow Scotland’s future to be decided for us by Johnson’s Tories or Corbyn’s Labour.

“Westminster is broken, and none of the UK parties are putting Scotland’s interests first. Voters here know that unlike my opponents, I’ll always be on their side. For 36 of the last 60 years, Scotland has suffered under Tory Governments we did not vote for. In the past Labour has failed to protect our local interests, that’s why more and more people believe that we should have a new opportunity to determine our own future and are putting their trust in the SNP.

“Unlike Labour, I will not allow Brexit to put jobs on the line. And unlike the Tories, I will not allow our NHS to be trodden down by austerity and opened up to privatisation or Donald Trump. Our public services must remain in public hands.

“A vote for the SNP is a vote to lock the Tories out of power; to end austerity and invest in jobs and services; and to allow Scotland to determine our own future free from the chaos of Westminster.”

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SNP WILL BRING DOWN TORIES TO RAISE INCOMES

The SNP will lock the Tories out raise incomes across Scotland says the SNP candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, who is seeking re-election on the 12th of December.

Mrs Fellows says SNP MPs will use their votes to lock the Tories out of government and will never form a deal with them – bringing an end to austerity.

SNP MPs will vote for a minimum wage equal to the Living Wage of £9.30 an hour and end austerity to invest in well paid, high skilled jobs.

SNP MPs will halt roll-out of Universal Credit and the five week waiting time for payments will be ended.

Incomes will be raised for families and the disabled with the scrapping of the draconian two-child cap and ‘rape clause’ on tax credits and an end to “rigged” disability assessment.

SNP MPs will seek dignity for the elderly opposing an increase to the age of retirement, a reversal of cuts to Pension credits, and justice for the WASPI women denied their pension rights.

The SNP Scottish Government has already delivered its Carer’s Allowance Supplement giving £452.40 to carers per year. Its new Scottish Child Payment will lift 30,000 Scottish children out of poverty by 2023.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“Tory austerity has attacked peoples’ incomes in Motherwell, Wishaw, Bellshill – and across Scotland forcing families in and out of work to foodbanks. The SNP will lock the Tories out of power, bringing an end to austerity so we can invest in creating well paid jobs, and raise incomes and employment.

“With our new social security system, the SNP hasn’t just been promising change – we’re delivering it. But we can do so much more.

“We will ensure work pays with a new Living Wage of £9.30. For the most vulnerable – especially children, the disabled and the elderly – we will ensure they get the support they need by ending the disgraceful and punishing policies of the Tory welfare regime.

“We must futureproof our economy and incomes by ensuring Scotland remains in the EU single market. Thousands of jobs are on the line. We cannot allow Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn to drag us from the EU against our will.”

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£210 m PAID OUT OF SCOTTISH WELFARE FUND

Since established in 2013, the Scottish Government’s Welfare Fund has paid out £210 million has been paid to 347,045 low income households. The SNP is delivering for Scotland.

This is money granted to those in the most dire of need in order to mitigate the Tory Government’s austerity agenda attacking our communities.

As an independent country with full powers over welfare and other areas, Scotland can make the decisions to improve peoples’ lives and build on the work the SNP is already doing.

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MARION READY TO HIT CAMPAIGN TRAIL

JOBS, PUBLIC SERVICES AND SCOTLAND’S WILL KEY PRIORITIES

The SNP’s candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, has said she is ready to fight the December General Election and will put jobs, public services and Scotland’s sovereignty first.

Elected as the Member of Parliament in 2015, Mrs Fellows acts as the SNP’s Small Business spokesperson at Westminster and has fought against Tory austerity policies such unfair disability assessments, unpaid child maintenance, low pay and precarious work, and the managed decline of the public Post Office network locally and nationally.

Locally, Marion has fought to protect libraries and bin collections from the Labour-Tory Council Coalition cuts, the Autism One-Stop Shop, Overtown village status; and called for action by the council on rat infestations, improvements to the railway bridge in Cleland and the Shieldmuir station park and ride, and litter and chip vans.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“I am ready to fight this election for communities in Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill. A vote for the SNP is a vote to protect Scotland’s jobs, public services and the democratic will of the Scottish people. I will fight Scotland’s corner against any UK Government and protect our right to decide our EU membership with a peoples’ vote. Scotland must have the right to choose its own future.

“If Labour aren’t fighting each other, they’re cosying up to the Tories by voting for Johnson’s damaging Brexit deal or being in coalition with them in North Lanarkshire Council. Labour are all over the place. But the SNP are clear: we want to stop the Tories and protect Scotland’s sovereignty.

“I am fighting for the disabled denied Personal Independence Payments; families pushed into poverty by Universal Credit; workers earning poverty wages on zero-hours contracts; the small businesses put to the bottom of the pile; the WASPI women denied their pensions; the children living in poverty who have been denied the support to secure them a promising future.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working for and representing communities over the past four years. I want to keep fighting for them.”