Aid for EU peo­ple

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

The Scot­tish Govern­ment is of­fer­ing to pay the Se­cure Sta­tus fee of 20,000 EU ci­ti­zens who work in the Scot­tish pub­lic sec­tor, at a cost of £1.3 mil­lion. But there are 180,000 EU na­tion­als liv­ing in Scot­land, 145,000 of them of work­ing age, so why not al­lo­cate an­other £7m for the other 125,000 not in the pub­lic sec­tor and mostly on low wages? This would be the equivto alent of 14,000 Baby Boxes at £500 each [the cost in the pi­lot study]. Ac­cord­ing to a Scot­tish Par­lia­ment re­search briefing around 50,000 EU ci­ti­zens work in the cater­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor with much less se­cu­rity of em­ploy­ment and, usu­ally, low wages.

This seems like an­other head­line-grab­bing stunt tar­geted at more ac­ces­si­ble po­ten­tial vot­ers, not a gen­uine at­tempt to help peo­ple strug­gling to get on, des­per­ate to stay in the UK, and of­ten iso­lated from good ad­vice on their sta­tus in the UK and how to fill in the forms.

And while I’m on the sub­ject, the peo­ple with the real problems are the near 200,000 noneu ci­ti­zens, many of whose longterm goal is to be­come UK ci­ti­zens. This is a lengthy, com­plex process cost­ing around £1,400 and any help with ad­vice and money would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

Per­haps this is too ex­pen­sive and not re­ally pro­mot­ing the “Brexit is a de­vel­op­ing dis­as­ter” mes­sage but it would be a great help and send a pos­i­tive mes­sage. You could help 25,000 peo­ple for the cost of one year’s Baby Boxes (£35m). AL­LAN SUTHERLAND Wil­low Row, Stone­haven

In Kenny Ma­caskill’s Per­spec­tive ar­ti­cle on tax (12 Oc­to­ber), one point stands out. He de­clares that the mid­dle classes have to pay for the uni­ver­sal ben­e­fits they re­ceive in our coun­try. Maybe we should stop and ask if they want th­ese “free­bies” they will pay dearly for? We have al­ways cared for those who need help. Peo­ple with long-term ill­nesses, the el­derly, those on ben­e­fits and chil­dren re­ceived free pre­scrip­tions. Now they are free to all.

Would an MSP on a large salary pre­fer to pay a few pounds for an oc­ca­sional pre­scrip­tion or a tax rise? Schoolchil­dren now re­ceive “free” school meals in pri­maries one three, re­gard­less of abil­ity to pay. A few pounds in your pocket now but you will be pay­ing for their meals un­til they leave school, plus those taxes. That Baby Box might look like a present but you are able to buy things for your bun­dle of joy your­self. Then there are fam­ily and friends hand­ing you presents.

It is time that the spend­ing of the SNP was scru­ti­nised. Bil­lions of pounds in debt and still the new schemes cost­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions are be­ing lauded in front of the faith­ful. Taxes are there to pay for pub­lic ser­vices but those who pay should have a con­ver­sa­tion about uni­ver­sal free­bies. We must pro­tect ser­vices and help those in need but it is time we thought about our cul­ture of free to all re­gard­less of abil­ity to pay. If not, th­ese peo­ple the SNP are about to tar­get will pay dearly. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

DORIS MH DUFF Bel­mont Gar­dens, Ed­in­burgh

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