We were delighted to have mentioned no less than seven times during the debate on “Dignity, Fairness and Respect in Disability Benefits” in the Scottish Parliament on 10th June 2016:
Adam Tomkins (Glasgow) (Con):
I thank the Scottish campaign for welfare reform for the event that it held in the Parliament yesterday evening, which I attended with a number of other MSPs, including Oliver Mundell, Ivan McKee, Sandra White and Alison Johnstone. I thank Patrick Harvie for hosting the event. The Scottish campaign for welfare reform, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Poverty Alliance, Inclusion Scotland and many such organisations play an essential role in not only Scottish public life but Scottish parliamentary life. For example, they bring the stories of those who rely on our social security system directly to our attention as MSPs. I express my personal thanks to all those who spoke to us yesterday evening.
Johann Lamont (Glasgow) (Lab):
We should thank disability groups for their energy, as a consequence of which they deserve to shape political debate, policy and, critically, the spending choices that are made in this Parliament. I thank Inclusion Scotland, the Glasgow Disability Alliance, Disability Agenda Scotland and others that were active in ensuring that the issues of people with disabilities were highlighted during the election campaign. Of course, listening to campaigning groups is not just something that we should do on the election trail; it should be at the centre of, and be the focus of, what we do now with the powers that we have….
… The challenge for the Government is to ensure that it mainstreams its thinking on benefits and the needs of disabled people into its employment strategies. It cannot be right that, according to Inclusion Scotland, just 63 out of 25,691 modern apprenticeships in 2013 went to disabled people.
Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse) (SNP):
I thank Inclusion Scotland for its briefing, which tells us that disabled people are being robbed of their dignity and respect, of an adequate income and sometimes even of their lives by the current benefits system. It tells us that sanctions are being imposed unfairly and disproportionately on disabled people, especially those with learning disabilities and mental health issues. It notes that the combination of welfare reforms, the work capability assessment, mandatory reconsideration and sanctions are pushing an increasing number of disabled people into poverty and destitution, and that one in five—one in five!—JSA sanctions is applied against disabled people.
Ben Macpherson (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP):
The UK Government’s cuts to disability benefits are often unfair, and they have caused unnecessary and unacceptable stress and financial hardship. For example, as Sandra White mentioned, a survey by SAMH revealed that the mental health of 98 per cent of the relevant respondents had suffered due to welfare reform. Another example is revealed by Inclusion Scotland’sresearch, which shows that 45 per cent of disabled people with mobility vehicles have lost their cars following the transfer to PIP.
Pauline McNeill (Glasgow) (Lab):
Christina McKelvie rightly quoted an excellent briefing by Inclusion Scotland, which says that disabled people have been “robbed of their dignity”. There are many stark figures in the briefing: the figure that one in five jobseekers allowance sanctions is applied against disabled people is really shocking….
… Inclusion Scotland says that 47 per cent of DLA claimants who were awarded the higher mobility rate will lose their entitlement to the enhanced rate when they are reassessed. What do the Conservatives have to say about the 45 per cent of disabled people with mobility vehicles who are losing their cars?
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green):
Those of us at last night’s meeting of the Scottish campaign on welfare reform heard from Ryan, who told us that disabled people were three times more likely to be sanctioned than they were to be found a job. That is at a time when a recent DWP-backed project found that every £1 cut from benefits reduces the likelihood of participants returning to work by 2 per cent….
…. Young Ryan, who spoke so eloquently at last night’s meeting, said that the Scottish Parliament has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design disability benefits that work. I agree whole-heartedly with him, so let us not waste that opportunity.