logo Member of Parliament for Glasgow East

Prime Minister dodges disability support question

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Earlier today, I challenged the Prime Minister at his weekly question session in the House of Commons on the levels of financial support for those on legacy benefits.

Although Universal Credit has been temporarily boosted by £20 per week in response to the coronavirus crisis, those on legacy benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker's Allowance have had nothing extra to help them out.

Recent research from the Disability Benefits Consortium, a network of over 100 national and regional organisations that represent disabled people, shows that growing numbers of people are unable to pay for housing, food and heating.

The report, entitled ‘Pandemic Poverty: Stark choices facing disabled people on legacy benefits’, revealed that:

  • 82% of people on legacy benefits have spent more during the pandemic than they normally would due to higher food shopping and utility bills, as well as having to pay for taxis to attend essential appointments.
  • Two thirds have had to go without essentials like food or heating as a result of increased costs since the the Covid-19 crisis began.

The levels of these benefits and of Universal Credit were inadequate to begin with and the pandemic has drawn sharp focus to the urgent need for them to be improved permanently in order to help the most vulnerable in society to live dignified lives.

My question today might have been uncomfortable for the Prime Minister, but it’s one that I’ll keep asking until I get an answer.

Earlier this week, I addressed the same issue to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and was told that people who are struggling need to use an online calculator.

This patronising approach to the issue reveals a total disconnect with reality at the heart of Government in London. People are really struggling, especially at the moment, and Boris Johnson and his Cabinet don’t seem to care about or comprehend the problem.

Coronavirus has exposed the deep inequalities that exist under the broken Westminster system and people in Scotland deserve much better.

The question at the Scottish election in May will be this: who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic - people in Scotland or Boris Johnson.



External links

From disabilitybenefitsconsortium.files.wordpress.com
Disability Benefits Consortium report - Pandemic Poverty: Stark choices facing disabled people on legacy benefits

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