Pete Wishart

SNP MP FOR PERTH & PERTHSHIRE NORTH Stop ben­e­fits changes for the sake of our chil­dren

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - NEWS -

The Aus­ter­ity Gen­er­a­tion re­port pub­lished re­cently by the Child Poverty Ac­tion Group (CPAG), based on anal­y­sis by the In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Pol­icy Re­search (IPPR), re­veals work­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren have been hit hard­est by Tory cuts, with losses reach­ing thou­sands of pounds a year.

CPAG says the Tory gov­ern­ment has“bro­ken”its prom­ise of greater re­wards from work, warn­ing that uni­ver­sal credit cuts will put one mil­lion more chil­dren into poverty in a“colos­sal fail­ure of pub­lic pol­icy”and that Tory poli­cies have cre­ated“an aus­ter­ity gen­er­a­tion whose child­hoods and life chances will be scarred”.

The UK gov­ern­ment must fi­nally lis­ten, halt the dis­as­trous roll-out of uni­ver­sal credit and fix th­ese deep-rooted prob­lems be­fore even more house­holds are driven into hard­ship and des­ti­tu­tion.

They could start by ad­dress­ing the six-week wait, adding pay­ment flex­i­bil­ity and look­ing again at work al­lowances to help make work pay.

Across so­ci­ety house­holds are strug­gling from a Tory pay cut, with wages lower in real terms than a decade ago, ris­ing liv­ing costs and cuts to ba­sic sup­port.

The chan­cel­lor must use the au­tumn bud­get to re­verse th­ese Tory cuts and take the long-over­due ac­tion needed to boost in­comes.

Mean­while, the bungling over Brexit con­tin­ues to threaten the sta­bil­ity of ev­ery sec­tor of our econ­omy.

One such mess that could have a ma­jor im­pact is the ques­tion of EU pay­ments to Scot­tish hill farm­ers to en­sure they get ev­ery penny they are right­fully due.

The is­sue of Scot­tish farm­ers los­ing the con­ver­gence up­lift – the money that the farm­ing sec­tor re­ceives as a re­sult of low pay­ments per hectare – is now of deep con­cern as it is be­ing with­held from Scot­land, even though the only rea­son the UK qual­i­fied for the up­lift was be­cause of Scot­land’s low pay­ments un­der the cur­rent sys­tem.

The de­ci­sion not to pass on con­ver­gence up­lift will mean that Scot­land will have one of the low­est av­er­age rates per hectare within the EU and Scot­tish farm­ers, whether live­stock or arable, hill or low­land, will there­fore be paid less than their coun­ter­parts in other parts of the UK.

I would hope that we can all agree that this is sim­ply wrong and in­her­ently un­fair, es­pe­cially as con­ver­gence up­lift would have seen up to £190 mil­lion re­turned to Scot­land in­stead of the £30 mil­lion or so we will re­ceive un­der the UK Gov­ern­ment al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sion.

The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is sim­ply un­ten­able, with the UK gov­ern­ment de­priv­ing Scot­tish farm­ers of what they are right­fully due. To leave them with any­thing less than ev­ery penny they are due would be to­tally un­ac­cept­able.

Th­ese two is­sues may seem very dif­fer­ent but they are both about the way in which gov­ern­ment en­sures that money flows more fairly and con­trib­utes to the sort of so­ci­ety that ben­e­fits us all.

The botched job the To­ries are do­ing could be very costly in­deed.

Guests Pete Wishart MP and John Swin­ney MSP visit Perth and Dis­trict YMCA re­cently. Pic­ture by Richard Wilkins

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