My SNP colleagues and I have consistently opposed the UK Government’s proposals to cut £30 a week from the support given to sick and disabled people in the ESA work-related activity group. We challenged this cut at every stage of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill by bringing forward amendments to remove the proposal and will continue to do so when the Bill returns to the House. It is my view that cutting support for people who are not fit for work is just simply vindictive.
Instead of attacking people who are seriously sick, disabled, or living with debilitating health problems, the Tories should instead be assessing how best they can support disabled people into work and protect those currently unable to work. My SNP colleagues and I have urged the Government, in light of the defeat of the ESA WRAG measure in the House of Lords, to think again and drop this regressive measure and continue to support those who are ill whilst they are unable to work.
In Scotland, the SNP Scottish Government is taking a distinctly different approach to supporting the most vulnerable in society. Between 2013 and 2016, the Scottish Government has invested £296 million to mitigate the worst of the UK Government’s welfare cuts. The measures include full mitigation of the Bedroom Tax which helps around 72,000 households and the Scottish Welfare Fund. We will continue to mitigate the impacts of these cuts using the full powers and resources at our disposal but we want to use our powers and resources to lift people out poverty not just continue to mitigate as best we can.
Rest assured, that my SNP colleagues and I will continue to oppose these cuts in Parliament, and will continue to press for the full devolution of social security powers to the Scottish Parliament.