Our social security system was established to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society, but we are now seeing folk across our country fall further into poverty and despair as that safety net is being removed by the ConDem coalition at Westminster.
In the past year there has been an 1,103% rise in children using Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland, an estimated 100,000 more children will be pushed into poverty in our country by 2020 and disabled people are facing an unprecedented attack on their freedom with Westminster’s abolition of the Independent Living Fund.
The Secretary of State for Scotland, Carmichael has stated that the welfare system is “fantastic”, which I am quite sure is not a description that would be used by those that are forced to use foodbanks or by those disabled folk who have seen their independence disappear as their benefits have been slashed.
The ConDems have stated that they will cut the welfare budget by a further £12 billion in the next spending round and the Labour response to this is to pledge that they will match Tory spending plans if they were ever to gain power. It would be fair to say that all three major UK parties are planning to roll up that social security safety net and to allow the most vulnerable in our society to plummet into the abyss of poverty and despair.
The Scottish Government has reacted by trying to mitigate the excesses of Westminster social security cuts by establishing the council tax reduction scheme, providing funding to cover Bedroom Tax costs, giving an additional £1 million to foodbanks and by setting up the Scottish Independent Living Fund. However, these worthy measures cannot deal with the worst excesses of Westminster welfare reform and that is why I believe that the Scottish Parliament must have the power and the resources to deal with welfare.
The Tories, Liberals and Labour at Westminster may want to roll up that social security safety net, but in my opinion the people of Scotland want to see the social protection that it provides for our most vulnerable citizens to remain in place.
I believe that the only way to retain the safety net and to create a fairer society is for the people of Scotland to vote Yes on the 18th September.