MacDonald Calls on Westminster to Take Action for Falkirk District’s Charities as Scottish Government helps out benefit advice groups with £5.4 million

SNP MSP for Falkirk East, Angus MacDonald, has called on the Westminster Government to pick up the pieces of the mess they are trailing in the wake of their disastrous welfare cuts. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has stepped in to help advice services staff who are struggling to keep up with the demand from people pleading for help as a result of Westminster’s changes to the benefits system. 

A new Citizens Advice Scotland report has shown 780 people call their helpline every day seeking support after falling victim to the Tory-led Westminster Government changes to the benefit system.

Angus MacDonald said:

“Since the benefit changes have come in, I have seen a definite increase in constituents contacting me about the financial predicament they find themselves in following the decision by the Tories in Westminster to force them into poverty.  Hence, I am not in the least surprised that an increasing burden is being placed upon staff and volunteers within charities and organisations such as Citizens Advice Scotland, who work tirelessly to support people across Falkirk district who face problems in managing debt and/or putting food on the table.

“So far Westminster has failed to provide any additional support to the charities struggling to cope with the consequences of the Tory-Lib Dem welfare cuts and this report demonstrates just how high the demand for support and advice has become.  The report also shows that the number of people needing help to fight benefit cuts through the tribunal service has more than doubled since the Tories were returned to power in Westminster aided by the Lib Dems. 

“It is why the Tories were overwhelmingly rejected by the majority of Scots and it is a clear demonstration of just how out of touch they are with people in Scotland, who do care about those who are most vulnerable in our society. Many of my constituents are reaching breaking point yet the Tory Government in Westminster just doesn’t care.

“I find it difficult to see how Tory politicians in Scotland can defend the idea that decisions on welfare policy should not be taken by the Scottish Parliament and that, in their opinion, are somehow ‘better together’ with the rest of the UK when their puppet-masters in Westminster are not only forcing people in Falkirk district into poverty with their welfare changes, but also failing to provide adequate support to charities trying to assist them.

Meanwhile, as Westminster continues to fail to clean up its mess, the SNP Government in Edinburgh has stepped in with £5.4 million to help benefits advice groups to help them cope with the increasing demand for help from hard-hit families under pressure from London cuts. 

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish Government is directing a new package of funding that will see – 

·         A cash injection of £300,000 for services such as those provided by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS). 

·         The setting up a new £1.7million fund providing direct support to advice services.

·         A further £3.4 million to be spent over the next two years on helping organisations mitigate the impacts welfare reforms. 

 Angus MacDonald MSP continued: 

“The Scottish Government has stepped in to help advice services staff who are struggling to keep up with the demand from people pleading for help as a result of Westminster’s changes to the benefits system. 

“That is an extremely welcome step and reflects the SNP’s serious concerns about the pace, scale and impact of Westminster’s benefits changes.

“This highlights the difference in approach between the Scottish and UK governments – while Westminster cuts, Scotland steps in to help. 

“This £5.4million fund will help front-line staff who on a daily basis see how lives are being damaged by the consequences from Westminster’s welfare reform changes. I hope this demonstrates that the Scottish Government recognises that staff are working tirelessly, and under enormous pressure, to help those who are now struggling with putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads as a direct consequence of the Westminster welfare reforms.”

“The SNP is doing all it can to limit the impact of Tory-LibDem cuts that are hurting vulnerable groups, women and working families. 

“It is clear the only way to defend the Welfare State is to vote Yes in 2014 and protect it against Westminster politicians who become increasingly out of touch with the values and needs of the people of Scotland more and more every day.” 

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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