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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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2,500 LOCAL PENSIONERS MISSING OUT ON PENSION CREDIT

Figures from Independent Age have revealed that 2,481 pensioners in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency are not claiming the Pension Credit they are entitled to.

More than 2,481 households in Motherwell and Wishaw who are entitled to Pension Credit do not receive the benefit, which is designed to keep the least well-off pensioners out of poverty. Currently, just six in ten (61%) people who are entitled to this payment are receiving it – leaving many forced to choose between heating and eating.

Independent Age also say that delivering Pension Credit to those who are entitled can save the NHS and social care systems £8.6m each year. Whereas maximising Pension Credit payments in Motherwell and Wishaw would cost only £4.7m.

People aged 75+ who are claiming Pension Credit can also claim a free TV license.

SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, is calling for pensioners to check if they are eligible and is backing Independent Age’s call for the UK Government to put in place an action plan to increase Pension Credit uptake.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows MP said:

“I’m deeply concerned about the high number of older people in Motherwell and Wishaw who are not receiving the Pension Credit they’re entitled to. I’m backing Independent Age’s call for the UK Government to urgently put in place an action plan to turn this situation around.

“The knock-on effects on the NHS and care systems are costing taxpayers £8.6 million in Motherwell and Wishaw alone. If we can look after our older people by putting more money in their pockets and keeping them out of hospital and care, then we should absolutely do that.

“A take-up rate of only 61% for an entitlement designed to keep older people out of poverty is indefensible – and this rate has stayed stagnant for a decade. Without this money, many people are prevented from living with dignity and having a social, well-connected later life.

“The Government’s action plan needs to include a fresh look at roles and responsibilities relating to Pension Credit, putting a stop to blaming older people for this problem.”

You can claim Pension Credit online; calling 0800 99 1234 (textphone: 0800 169 0133).

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PAN SHOWCASES SUPPORT FOR SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES

MARION WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES

The Motherwell and Wishaw Poverty Action Network (PAN) was reconvened by local MP Marion Fellows on Friday and heard from One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) and other local groups on their work.

PAN was formed by Marion Fellows to allow local bodies to work together and learn from one another with the aim to tackle poverty and its indirect effects.

Local groups spoke about the work they were doing and heard about OPFS’s work in outreach to single-parents and their services in welfare inclusion, domestic abuse, employability, and family support. Single-parents can benefit from training, income maximisation, mental health support, and financial planning.

Mrs Fellows says the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Child Payment (SCP) will be “transformative” for families. By Christmas 2020, low income families with children under six will receive payments of £10 per week. The SCP is expected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

The Scottish Government will have also almost doubled free provision of childcare to 30 hours a week. Free childcare has already been increased to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds – up from 12.5 hours in 2007 – and extended to 2 year olds from low income households.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“It was once again a pleasure to hear from OPFS and other local groups which are doing amazing work in our communities to tackle poverty.

“OPFS are engaging with these families and giving them the support they need to stay on their feet. Our children deserve the best start in life, and they are helping give it to them through comprehensive support.

“Incomes are being squeezed by the two-child tax credit cap Universal Credit’s five-week waiting time and cuts. This will make things especially tough for single-parent families who can only earn one income.

“For these families, the Scottish Government’s transformative Child Payment and extended childcare provision will give them the funds and opportunities to get into the workplace so they can raise their household income and give their children the best start.

“Unlike the UK Government, the Scottish Government is using its powers to create a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect.”

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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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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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SNP CALL FOR “CONCRETE PROPOSALS” TO REDUCE DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT GAP

Today in Parliament, the SNP’s Westminster Disabilities spokesperson, Marion Fellows, called on the UK Government to produce concrete proposals to close the disability employment gap.

Speaking at Women and Equalities question time, Mrs Fellows said the Tories’ manifesto commitment to reduce the disability employment gap was “another vague commitment with no target and no detail.”

Mrs Fellows has requested a meeting with UK Ministers to discuss what clear steps can be taken to close the gap, including changes to the Department for Work and Pension’s Access to Work scheme.

Access to Work offers support based on peoples’ needs, which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace including special equipment and help getting to and from work.

Mrs Fellows backed calls from Inclusion Scotland to increase the budget and lift the cap on how much each applicant can be granted; and calls from Leonard Cheshire to reduce waiting times so as not to jeopardise job offers.

Figures from Leonard Cheshire show that only 14% of people with disabilities in Scotland have accessed the scheme.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“If the UK Government is serious about reducing the disability employment gap, then there must be clear and concrete proposals to do so and targets to measure performance. They cannot continue paying lip service with no action.

“Increasing the Access to Work fund, lifting the cap, lowering waiting times and raising awareness are just a few small steps which can make a big difference to peoples’ lives. We must see improved access to the scheme.

“There is no shortage of ideas which could help people with disabilities get into and stay in work. It only requires the political will which so far, the UK Government has been lacking. The Tories’ austerity regime has specifically targeted people with disabilities and has trodden them down, rather than lifting them up.

“This is in sharp contrast to the Scottish Government’s Action Plan which seeks to half the disability employment gap by 2038 and creation of a new social security system based on fairness dignity and respect.”

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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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EPILEPSY AND PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE PAYMENTS

The Tories’ punitive welfare regime is specifically designed to reduce support to those who need it most. One way in which this is done is by changing the qualifying criteria for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) so that people with particular conditions or ailments no longer qualify. One such condition is epilepsy.

54% of people with epilepsy who previously received DLA were denied PIP, whilst 65% of new claims were denied. Of the third who appealed their decision 78% were granted the benefit. This rejection rate is double the national average and is the second highest out of all health conditions.

Please sign Epilepsy Scotland’s petition calling for the UK Government to review the PIP system to make it fairer on those people with the condition.

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FIRST MINISTER’S ADDRESS

Scotland is facing two futures: one as part of the UK, led by a Prime Minister that has broken the law, is determined to destroy our economy and services through a no deal Brexit and austerity, and who wants to tear our communities apart. Or we can have a future as an independent standing as equals amongst others around the globe and take control of our futures to secure the country that we want to live in.

Thankfully, before the end of this year, the First Minister will will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a referendum beyond any doubt. As support for independence has recent;y climbed to 50%, Westminster’s continued refusal to respect the sovereignty of the Scottish people to decide its own future is unsustainable and undemocratic.

Opposing the oppression of Catalan democracy; condemning the bloodshed of Turkey against the Kurdish people; a Scottish Child Payment with no Rape Clause or two child cap; and a pledge to scrap non-residential social care charges for all if a SNP Government is re-elected in 2021.

Human rights, peace and supporting our citizens – these are the values at the core of the SNP and the values that will be at the core of an independent Scotland.