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Benefit system ‘takes women back to 1950s’

FULL STORY: Benefit system ‘takes women back to 1950s’

Under the cold-hearted Universal Credit benefit system, which myself and other SNP MP’s actively oppose, the power is passed back to those who should not be in possession of it.

Amongst women and men who are in receipt of Universal Credit, there are several courageous survivors of emotional and domestic abuse whose payments are often payed into their partners bank accounts if they are also receiving Universal Credit. This enables the abuser to have access to both sets of the sum, as Jobcentres are only advised to appeal a split of payments into separate accounts in “very exceptional circumstances”. This state of affairs is intolerable and unsafe, especially if a child is present in the household, as this may result in a possible mal-nurture of the child in the family.

In this case, it is near impossible for one of the parties in the claim to escape the damaging situation or relationship as their funds lie with the other person.

The Tories are still refusing to listen and as per usual, are pressing on with their regime regardless.

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Tory Sanction Regime Figures!

FULL STORY: FIGURES SHOW LOCAL IMPACT OF TORY SANCTION REGIME

These figures show just how many local peoples’ lives have been impacted by the Tories’ despicable sanction regime with families being deprived of essential support – often through no fault of their own.

We as a society are able to look after all in our communities and it is unacceptable that people are being denied the most basic rights and are forced to use foodbanks in the name of saving money while the rich get richer.

Simply put, sanctions are an attack on our community and the most vulnerable in it.

I have assisted many people in overturning their sanctions. It is apparent that the system is deliberately designed to trip people up to penalise them with some reasons being unbelievably trivial. It shows just how low the Tories are prepared to go by depriving unemployed and disabled people of support.

If anyone locally has been sanctioned, I urge them not to allow the Tories to get away with it. They rely on people being unwilling to fight against them. Reach out to the various local services for help including my office, Welfare Rights and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for help; and take part in the Select Committee’s inquiry.

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FIGURES SHOW LOCAL IMPACT OF TORY SANCTION REGIME

MP CALLS FOR THOSE SANCTIONED TO TAKE PART IN PARLIAMENT INQUIRY

Figures from the House of Commons Library have this week shown that 825 individuals were sanctioned in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency from October 2016 to 2017.

Sanctions involve welfare payments being cut or suspended leaving claimants without vital financial support for periods between 7 and 1,095 days – dependant on circumstances.

The figures also show that a total of 1,490 individuals have been sanctioned in the constituency from October 2014 to October 2017 and 56,275 across Scotland during the same period. Figures only reflect the individuals who have been sanctioned and not the actual number of sanctions which is expected to be much higher.

Elected representatives and welfare rights groups have been critical of sanctions for being issued for trivial reasons with some people sanctioned for being five minutes late for an appointment or for evidence justifying non-compliance ,like a doctor’s line, not being registered despite being submitted.

The House of Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the UK Government’s sanction regime. Local MP, Marion Fellows, is calling on all those affected to share their story.

Commenting, Marion said:

These figures show just how many local peoples’ lives have been impacted by the Tories’ despicable sanction regime with families being deprived of essential support – often through no fault of their own.

We as a society are able to look after all in our communities and it is unacceptable that people are being denied the most basic rights and are forced to use foodbanks in the name of saving money while the rich get richer.

Simply put, sanctions are an attack on our community and the most vulnerable in it.

I have assisted many people in overturning their sanctions. It is apparent that the system is deliberately designed to trip people up to penalise them with some reasons being unbelievably trivial. It shows just how low the Tories are prepared to go by depriving unemployed and disabled people of support.

If anyone locally has been sanctioned, I urge them not to allow the Tories to get away with it. They rely on people being unwilling to fight against them. Reach out to the various local services for help including my office, Welfare Rights and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for help; and take part in the Select Committee’s inquiry.

Follow this link for more information on the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into sanctions: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/benefit-sanctions-launch-17-19/

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This Week #55

Monday 3rd July 2017

On Monday, Marion received an answer from Caroline Dinenage, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to the following question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost was to the public purse of legal fees in relation to defending the benefit cap in the High Court; and how much his Department estimates the cost of appealing the High Court’s decision on that case will be.

Ms Dinenage’s response was:

Legal fees of defending the case in the High Court are £67,690. This figure includes VAT where payable (for example on Counsel’s fees) and disbursements but does not include costs attributable to time spent by Government advisory lawyers, as time spent by such advisory lawyers is not recorded in a manner that allows it to be attributable to individual court cases.

DWP has also paid £125,000 (plus VAT) towards the Claimants’ costs.

DWP’s legal costs for appealing the case in the Court of Appeal are estimated to be between £25,000 and £40,000 (this includes our best estimate of external Counsel fees).



Tuesday 4th July 2017

On Tuesday, Marion had a busy day of parliamentary duties, meetings, and briefings in London as she continued to work hard for the people of Motherwell & Wishaw.



Wednesday 5th July 2017

Wednesday brought with it another written question response, with Caroline Dinenage dodging Marion’s question on the Child Maintenance Service:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will implement the recommendations in the Work and Pensions Select Committee report, Child Maintenance Service, HC587, published on 2 May 2017; and if he will make a statement.

The response was:

The Government welcomes the Work and Pensions Select Committee report and is carefully considering its recommendations. We will submit the Government response in due course.



Thursday 6th July 2017

MP Alison Thewliss urges DWP to drop appeal against court ruling that benefits cap is unlawful

Following a written question from myself to the DWP, it has been revealed that the legal bill to appeal the High Court’s decision that the ‘benefit cap’ is unlawful could rise to more than £100,000.

Many families are unable to make up the shortfall – that is why it has been deemed illegal. The UK Government is therefore hounding families in need for the scraps that have been given to them.

Rather than go after the poor, the Tories should go after their friends in the city, their donors and the wealthy who do not pay their fair share while the rest of us do.



Friday 7th July 2017

On Friday, Marion was back home in the constituency meeting local organisations, catching up on casework, and assisting constituents at this month’s Dalziel Building surgery.

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MP Alison Thewliss urges DWP to drop appeal against court ruling that benefits cap is unlawful

FULL STORY: MP Alison Thewliss urges DWP to drop appeal against court ruling that benefits cap is unlawful

Following a written question from myself to the DWP, it has been revealed that the legal bill to appeal the High Court’s decision that the ‘benefit cap’ is unlawful could rise to more than £100,000.

Many families are unable to make up the shortfall – that is why it has been deemed illegal. The UK Government is therefore hounding families in need for the scraps that have been given to them.

Rather than go after the poor, the Tories should go after their friends in the city, their donors and the wealthy who do not pay their fair share while the rest of us do.

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This Week #53

Monday 19th June 2017

On Monday, Marion was working hard at home in the constituency, before attending the Clyde Valley High prize-giving ceremony, during which the MP presented awards to 5th and 6th year pupils including Dux Medal winner Meghan Hill.

Marion presents Meghan with her Dux Medal.


Tuesday 20th June 2017

On Thursday, Marion continued working from her office in the Dalziel Building in Motherwell, discussing local issues, meeting local people, and assisting constituents with casework.



Wednesday 21st June 2017

“More powers for Scotland” should be an SNP priority at Westminster says MP
21st June 2017

Marion Fellows, SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, has said that more powers for the Scottish Parliament should be one of the party’s top priorities during this Parliament.

New powers were devolved to the Scottish Parliament following the 2014 independence referendum and a massive SNP victory in the 2015 General Election.

The SNP included further devolution in their 2017 manifesto. The MP says that the SNP’s victory in the snap General Election with 35 of 59 MPs demonstrates a clear desire and mandate for yet more powers to be devolved.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The SNP’s manifesto called on more powers for the Scottish Parliament and Scotland has voted for that pledge to be fulfilled.

“The Scottish Parliament received new powers last year that the Scottish Government are beginning to put to good use. For example, we are breaking away from the Tories’ welfare regime of sanctions and unfair disability assessments to build a system of dignity and respect.

“However some of the powers, such as control of income tax, is difficult to use while Westminster still holds the powers to tackle tax evasion which makes it easier for people to register their tax in England to pay a lower rate.

“When the Tories are teaming up with the far right DUP, Scottish parties must unite to take these powers out of Theresa May’s hands and into Scotland’s.

“With Brexit, there is an opportunity for powers over agriculture and fisheries for example to be returned to the Scottish Parliament. With the Great Repeal Bill, it is essential that Westminster is not able to hold onto powers that are rightfully Scotland’s in a power grab.

“Further tax, employment and pension powers must be a key priority. We shouldn’t allow the Tories to allow tax evasion while ordinary people pay their fair share; we shouldn’t allow people to work for poverty wages; and we shouldn’t allow people who have paid into the pension pot have their retirement ruined.”



Thursday 22nd June 2017

Thursday provided Marion with the opportunity to provide a fantastic contribution to the Housing and Social Security debate at the House of Commons, stating:

In Scotland, we value all of our citizens, whatever their age or ethnicity. Many constituents have approached me in desperation and disbelief. I have a long list and I do not have time to go through it, but during the election campaign I was approached by a grieving grandmother whose son had just been widowed. The so-called simplification of bereavement support resulting in cuts for widows and widowers when they are at their most vulnerable is scandalous. I ask Members to try to imagine how someone who is grieving must feel when having to give up their employment to deal with a young family and finding out that the financial support they expected because of their circumstances was no longer there. That happened in April of this year.

The SNP is opposed to any increase in national insurance, especially at a time of low consumer confidence and squeezed household budgets. We need a freeze on NI contributions and VAT. The SNP here in Westminster will fight for a moratorium and review of the closure of HMRC offices in Scotland and across the UK, for beneficial ownership of companies and trusts to be made public, for measures to improve the transparency of tax paid by major international companies, and for further action by the UK Government to tackle international tax avoidance. If these measures were taken, there might be no need for austerity cuts at all, or at least they could be lessened.

The SNP will fight for an end to benefit sanctions, to the roll-out of universal credit and to charges from the Child Maintenance Service, and we will fight to end private company involvement in social security benefits. Finally, we will fight to abolish the premium-rate telephone charge for those seeking advice or claiming benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions. Not only do the Government cut benefits, but they charge people increasingly large amounts to access what is rightfully theirs. We must help the worst off and most vulnerable in our society, not impose further cuts on them.

Click here to read Marion’s speech in full.



Friday 23rd June 2017

On Friday, Marion visited Dalzell steelworks in Motherwell and met with General Manager Drew McGhie.

Although the Scottish Government saved the plant, the UK Government has yet to outline a proper industrial strategy to create the right conditions for manufacturing businesses. Marion is talking to local businesses with the intention of making sure this happens.

With great capabilities in engineering research and innovation through universities, steel businesses like Dalzell that make steel for wind turbines, and great potential for renewable energy in Scotland, there are plenty of opportunities to grow in these sectors. But we need a government that is willing.

Marion meets Drew McGhie, General Manager of the Dalzell steelworks.
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MP ANGER AS TORIES CONTINUE TO TARGET SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES WITH ‘BENEFIT CAP’

Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, has condemned the Tories’ persistence to pursue their ‘benefit cap’, which would leave 60 families in Motherwell and Wishaw without essential support, despite being declared unlawful by the High Court.

The ‘benefit cap’ limits household welfare at £500 per week for a family (£26,000 per year) and £350 per week (£18,200 per year) for a single person with no children.

The court ruled that the policy unfairly penalised single parents as many were unable to work due to care needs in order to make up the financial shortfall. The judge said: “real misery is being caused for to good purpose”.

Figures from the House of Commons Library state that 60 households were affected by the cap in Motherwell and Wishaw in February 2017. £155 million is expected to be taken from families across the UK in 2017/18 alone.

Despite the High Court’s decision, the UK Government has stated that it will appeal the decision to get court approval for the cap.

Commenting, Marion said:

“There is only one word for this policy and UK Government: barbaric.

“The cap would cause real damage to families locally and nationally driving them into poverty when there is nothing these families can do.

“The UK Government is more concerned with going after poor and single parent families than making their friends in the city pay their fair share. Single parents and children did not cause the recession, wealthy bankers did. But our communities will pay the price.

“Despite the High Court’s ruling, the UK Government will spend more of your money appealing the decision so that they can continue to hound people who need help the most. People who are our friends and neighbours.

“People should not be fooled. The Tory party is no friend of ordinary people.”

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Disgusting Tory benefit cap causing ‘real misery for no good purpose’

Unsurprisingly, the Tory benefit cap has now been declared illegal by the High Court. The reasons behind this are simple – it discriminates against single parent families who cannot meet the work requirements due to care needs.

The judge even commented, “real misery is being caused for no good purpose”.

FULL STORY: Tory Government’s benefit cap is unlawful and causes ‘real misery for no good purpose’, High Court rules.

Despite this, the Tories are adamant that families who need a helping hand should be penalised, while Theresa May’s Government gives tax cuts to their friends in the city and permits loopholes for tax evasion.

There is mounting public anger regarding this issue, on top of this correct court ruling, and yet the UK Government will appeal the decision, content to waste more tax payer’s money to implement a policy that pushes people and children into poverty.

Bluntly, this policy is disgusting.

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DWP ‘OBSTRUCTING’ BENEFIT APPEALS IN PURDAH SAYS SNP CANDIDATE

SNP MP candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, has accused the DWP of being “deliberately obstructive” with MP offices assisting with benefit appeals during the purdah period.

DWP staff said that because Parliament has been dissolved, previous MPs are now “members of the public” and require a written mandate to receive any information on constituents’ cases. This is despite similar information being made available before purdah.

During the purdah period, those previously elected as MPs are able to continue with casework in the ‘winding down period’. Mrs Fellows had raised her constituents’ issues with the DWP prior to the beginning of purdah. Staff openly discussed cases with her and her office but are now refusing to.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The DWP are being deliberately obstructive with offices assisting those with benefit issues. I understand the need to protect peoples’ information, however this is needless and cynical.

“DWP staff were more than happy to discuss cases with me a few weeks ago, but have since seized the opportunity to make helping those in need all the more difficult. Just because someone ceases to be a MP does not mean consent has been removed.

“In a constituency like Motherwell and Wishaw, helping people with their benefits makes up a large part of my office’s workload. This is often helping people who have been unjustly sanctioned or who have failed a disability assessment and are being deprived of money that is essential to them and their family.

“The DWP has been criticised in the past for throwing up barriers and making the benefits process unnecessarily bureaucratic so that people give up pursuing their claims. But SNP MPs will not be deterred in fighting the Tories’ despicable benefits regime that targets the poor and vulnerable while the rich are given tax cuts and allowed to evade their taxes.”