24 February 2020

MSP Pledges Support for Fairer Benefits System

Stewart Stevenson MSP has offered his support for a campaign seeking to ensure that Scotland’s new social security offers greater support to people living with disabilities after years of Tory failings.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) Society Scotland is leading calls at Holyrood to scrap the nonsensical and unfair ‘20-metre rule’ imposed by the UK Government.

The 20-metre rule states that anyone who can walk this short distance is not entitled to the higher rate of mobility assistance and is viewed as widely unpopular and discriminatory for conditions like MS where symptoms fluctuate
The calls come as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) UK-wide system is set to be devolved to Holyrood next year.

The MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said:

“After years of failings from the Tories, the Scottish Government are prioritising delivering payments for disabled people, as social security is set to be devolved to Holyrood.

“I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard as constituents struggle with the penalising assessment process applying for PIP.

“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain and ensure that everyone in Scotland gets the help and support they need.”

More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and nearly one in six will lose out on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) support because of the 20-metre rule.

As a result of this rule, thousands with MS have been stripped of their Motability cars and left trapped in their homes and unable to work, seen their health deteriorate, and been forced to face stressful and lengthy appeals to get their benefits reinstated.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said:

“We’ve long known about the enormous harm caused when PIP takes vital support away from people with MS. Not only does the process lack respect for people and their lives but arbitrary and nonsensical conditions like the 20-metre rule can deprive people of vital support.

“We have heard pledges that under devolution the system will treat people with respect and dignity and what we have heard from our community is that for that to happen then, simply put, this rule must be scrapped.

“MS can be painful and exhausting, it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”

19 February 2020

MSP Slams Tory Immigration Plans

Stewart Stevenson MSP has slammed post-Brexit Tory immigration plans announced overnight by the UK Government.

The UK Government unveiled its points-based immigration proposal – which has been described by industry experts as a “deep disappointment” and risks harming our industry by driving workers away from Scotland.

Under the proposals, low-skilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans. It is urging employers to "move away" from relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has warned that a cross-party report by Holyrood’s Finance Committee previously showed the damaging effect that demographic changes could pose to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.
Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said:

“The UK Governments proposed immigration system will not deliver the skilled staff needed for the farming, food and drink industries across the North-east.

“Despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans, which will be immeasurably damaging to Scotland.

“It is absolutely shameful that not a single Scottish Tory MSP or MP can bring themselves to speak out against this out-of-touch approach.

“We need a system that recognises the different regional requirements across the UK and welcomes EU citizens. We must see a tailored migration system which works for Scotland.”

North-East MSP Welcomes Cash Boost for Carers

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS) payments of up to £452 a year introduced by the Scottish Government as thousands of carers in the North-east benefit.

New figures show that 2,595 carers in Aberdeenshire and 1,230 carers in Moray have received CAS payments since September 2018, when the payment was introduced.

The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an extra payment made to carers in Scotland twice a year, in recognition of the important contribution they make to our society.

Carers now receive two supplementary payments totalling £452 per year, equivalent to an extra £8.50 per week, which is a 13% increase on the Carer’s Allowance from the UK government.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Since its introduction, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement has supported almost 100,000 carers across Scotland, including 3,825 in Aberdeenshire and Moray.

“Carers in the North-east make a vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported.

“The SNP is determined to use the powers available to the Scottish Government to improve the lives of people across Scotland.

“This supplementary payment allows the Scottish Government to get more money into the pockets of carers as quickly as possible.

“I am delighted that carers in the North-east are being recognised for the important contribution they make to our communities - in what can often be difficult circumstances.”

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