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Scottish Child Disability Payments Now Live

The Scottish Government’s Child Disability Payment is now open for applications across Scotland. It replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children and marks a major milestone in the foundation of Social Security Scotland.

Those who currently receive Disability Living Allowance for children from the DWP will also be transferred to Social Security Scotland. They will be told when this is happening and will find their payments transferred safely and securely within the next 18 months. Payments will be made at the same rate and there will be no break in entitlement.

Find out more: https://bit.ly/ChildDisabilityPaymentOpens

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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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Covid-19 Latest News

SNP CALL ON BORIS JOHNSON TO EXTEND STATUTORY SICK PAY POLICY

Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on statutory sick pay at Prime Minister’s questions, SNP MP Marion Fellows has urged the UK government to go further and extend the policy.

Today Boris Johnson announced that workers who are forced to take sick leave will get statutory sick pay from the first day of their absence, instead of after four days under the current rules, as part of emergency Coronavirus measures.

However, the SNP’s Disabilities spokesperson has said this does not go far enough and that the policy should be extended to be set at an hourly rate and living wage, available to everyone regardless of earnings, working hours or contract, and available for 52 weeks instead of 28.

Commenting, Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw said:

“I am pleased that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now begin from the first day of a worker’s absence instead of after four but the UK government must extend the policy further to ensure that sick pay is set at an hourly rate and available for everyone for 52 weeks instead of 28.

“Current rules around SSP are not flexible enough to meet real life needs, and fall far short of meeting a dignified standard of living – even with this new change. We must have a sick pay system fit for the 21st century which does not force people to choose between working while ill and hardship.

“Disability groups have been especially vocal in calling for an overhaul of the sick pay system. Their concerns must be factored into the UK government’s response to their sick pay consultation.

“If the UK government will not make these crucial changes then it should devolve the powers to Holyrood so it can – to meet people’s needs in Scotland and ensure their standard of living is not disadvantaged by Coronavirus or any other illness that they have contracted through no fault of their own.”

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Covid-19 Latest News

PMQS: Sick Pay and Coronavirus

I am glad that statutory sick pay will be available from day one – not day four – so people do not present at work and risk spreading coronavirus.

I hope this policy will remain permanent so that workers with all illnesses are able to take the time off they need to recover. This will especially benefit disabled people.

People should not have to choose between working while ill and hardship. We need a modern sick pay system fit for the 21st century. Sick pay must be set at an hourly rate and living wage; available to everyone regardless of earnings, working hours or contract; and available for 52 weeks instead of 28.

For people who are self-employed and on zero hours contracts, Boris Johnson has said Universal Credit is available from day one. It is not. It is available after a gruelling five week wait forcing people to foodbanks.

People deserve dignity and support. There is no need for people to endure hardship. The lack of support from the UK Government risks the unnecessary spreading of coronavirus.

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7000 HEALTH ASSESSMENTS TAMPERED WITH OR BINNED

FULL STORY HERE.

The complete figures of 6,850 assessment reports tampered with in the space of two years by auditors who weren’t even present for the assessment is truly shocking. There must be an immediate and independent review into this staggering practice.

This blindfolded decision making undermines the whole process and will impact heavily on peoples’ lives. From outsourcing to private companies chasing targets to DWP auditors themselves, the whole system is rigged against people with disabilities trying to access vital support.

I had to chase the DWP to provide the actual numbers despite the purpose of my question being clear. This may be yet another attempt by the DWP to prevent information about the impact of their policies getting out.

The UK Government must come clean on its processes and record. They must collect figures on whether the required amendments are resulting in increases or deductions in peoples’ PIP entitlement so we can see the true effect audits are having.

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SCOT GOV CARER SUPPLEMENT PAYS OUT £6m TO NORTH LANARKSHIRE CARERS

LOCAL MP WELCOMES FIGURES SHOWING NORTH LANARKSHIRE SECOND MOST LOCAL AUTHORTY TO BENEFIT FROM GROUND-BREAKING NEW CARERS ALLOWANCE SUPPLEMENT

Recent figures have revealed that North Lanarkshire carers were the second biggest recipient of the SNP Scottish Government’s Carers Allowance Supplement (CAS) with £6m being paid out since April 2018.

The CAS provides carers with £226.20 twice a year. The latest payment in October 2019 paid £1.5m to 6,685 carers in North Lanarkshire.

Since the launch of CAS, 26,985 payments have been paid to carers in North Lanarkshire while 317,055 have been paid across Scotland.

In terms of payments made and the total sum paid, North Lanarkshire was second behind Glasgow and came just ahead of Fife and South Lanarkshire.

Commenting, SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw and the SNP’s Westminster Disabilities spokesperson, Marion Fellows said:

“The SNP Scottish Government is utilising its powers over social security to deliver ground-breaking support of over £450 a year to people in North Lanarkshire and across Scotland who care for people with disabilities and illness.

“Our carers do an essential job in our communities. The Scottish Government has rightly deemed them a priority to receive this vital support. Carers and the people they care for deserve a dignified standard of living.

“In stark contrast to the UK Government’s welfare regime, the SNP Scottish Government is building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect. With independence, we can take control of all social security and employment law to deliver the support for those in need and lift people out of poverty.”

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UK HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT WILL HINDER CARE SECTOR

FULL STORY: ‘Immigration: No visas for low-skilled workers, government says’

So many people and our public services rely on workers from the EU who will not meet the conditions of the UK Government’s hostile environment.

Particularly, our elderly and disabled people rely on those 70,000 EU workers in the UK care sector. Are those most in need suppose to go without or are busy, hardworking families suppose to find more time in their already pressed schedules?

These policies will not just impact the people seeking to come to the UK, it will impact on the day-to-day lives of the people who rely on their work and on our services.

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AXE THE READING TAX!

As the SNP’s spokesperson for Disabilities, I’m backing Axe the Reading Tax in their campaign and call on the UK Government to end this unfair 20% tax on eBooks and audiobooks that disproportionately impacts disabled people.

Some disabled people need eBooks and audiobooks in order to access and enjoy the things that most of us take for granted. They should not be punished for doing so. We must end the tax.

Find out more by clicking here.

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DWP AUDITS CONTINUE

FULL STORY: ‘Fury as ‘secret’ DWP checks see benefits claims marked down’

It is concerning that thousands of health reports are being tampered with each year by people who weren’t even present for the assessment. There must be a complete halt to audits and an inquiry into the UK Government’s rigged health assessments.

DWP auditors, who aren’t present during assessments, should not be able to mandate changes which could bear heavily on peoples’ lives. Changes should not be made by so called ‘health professionals’ who didn’t even carry out the original assessment. This is a clear injustice that must be corrected.

People have spoken to me about how they feel they are degraded in their assessments. For the whole process to be a sham and for the assessment to be undermined by auditors is infuriating.

Not happy with outsourcing health assessments to private companies who are pressured to chase targets, the UK Government is interfering to get the results they want so they can deprive yet more people with disabilities of the vital support they need to live full lives.

The Tories’ austerity agenda and punitive welfare regime has allowed the wealthiest to keep more money in their pockets while cheating society’s most vulnerable of even the most basic dignities.

This is in stark contrast to the work of the Scottish Government who is building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect.

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YOUNG CARERS AWARENESS DAY

Our young carers today deserve our recognition for their challenging role in caring for loved ones. The care they provide is essential for many people with disabilities whom they care for.

We must ensure that they get the support they need to not only care for loved ones, but also ensure they are able to access the opportunities to lead a fulfilling life now and in their future.

Using Scotland’s social security powers, the SNP Scottish Government has introduced the Young Carer Grant giving young carers £300 a year. And it’s Carer’s Allowance Supplement gives over £450 more to carers each year.

But we must continue to look at new ways to support them.