Tackle the real ques­tions

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - COMMENT -

Sir, – Re­gard­ing Thurs­day’s Ques­tion Time broad­cast from the Scot­tish par­lia­ment build­ing.

There is not much to say about Ross Thom­son’s ill-in­formed at­ti­tude to the drug prob­lem in Scot­land.

Like­wise Uni­ver­sal Credit, a vi­cious at­tack by the Tories on those who have the least. Most wor­ry­ing of all, Uni­ver­sal Credit is only around 10% rolled out mean­ing most ar­eas have still to ex­pe­ri­ence its im­pact.

High­lands be­came the guinea pig and the ef­fects are be­ing felt by the un­em­ployed, work­ing peo­ple on low wages, self-em­ployed peo­ple, sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies, the vul­ner­a­ble and the dis­abled.

Many have been stripped of their right­ful sup­port, forced to wait, some­times months, on pay­ments.

What hap­pens when money is stopped? Who do you turn too?

Many will find help from Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bu­reau; (CAB is funded by the Scot­tish Govern­ment).

In the High­lands a stag­ger­ing £24 mil­lion was re­claimed on be­half of claimants by such bod­ies as CAB. Oth­ers may try their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in the coun­cil, MPs and MSP. Then there are those who will sim­ply suf­fer in si­lence.

I am old enough to re­mem­ber when the Tories in­tro­duced Care in the Com­mu­nity, when vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple ended up in Sally Ann hos­tels, places that had nei­ther the ex­pe­ri­enced staff or the where­with­all to look af­ter them.

Many sim­ply ended up sleep­ing in door­ways, and far too many took their own lives.

The Tories have tried to por­tray So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­ments as a hand­out, they are not, and peo­ple on ben­e­fits should not be made to feel like scroungers. Most money handed out in this way not only helps peo­ple but will go straight back into the lo­cal econ­omy.

Peo­ple on ben­e­fits don’t go glo­be­trot­ting to top up their win­ter tan, nei­ther do they go off on win­ter ski­ing hol­i­days in Aus­tria. The money is spent lo­cally.

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of Uni­ver­sal Credit, in the High­lands alone, the coun­cil has al­ready re­ported an es­ti­mated £36 mil­lion loss to the lo­cal econ­omy and they are car­ry­ing a £1.8 mil­lion in coun­cil hous­ing debt.

Coun­cil house ten­ants are bet­ter placed to ride out the storm, but what hap­pens to the peo­ple liv­ing in pri­vate ac­com­mo­da­tion that have their hous­ing ben­e­fit stopped?

For­get Ques­tion Time for now. It’s time for mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion on the real po­lit­i­cal ques­tions af­fect­ing Scot­land.

Wal­ter Hamil­ton. City Park,

City Road,

St An­drews.

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