Waiting for universal credit payments may put over 23,000 low income families in the UK at risk of destitution this winter. Demand on food banks is rising, and applicants are left distressed and confused by complex applications. The calamitous roll out of universal credit shows our benefits system at its disjointed worst.
Alison has joined local campaigners and leading animal welfare charity OneKind, in calling for a halt to plans to open a new greyhound racing track in Wallyford, East Lothian.
In March, plans for a car park and 94 ‘high end’ houses to enable development of the stadium, at the site originally identified for business use, were approved by councillors after an application for development was rejected in 2011, with that decision overturned by the Scottish Government on appeal.
The schools are back and a new session of Parliament beckons. While most people will have had a break with family and friends, summer isn't such an enjoyable time for all. Many families face the extra cost of meals and activities which would usually be provided at school.
Last July and August, Trussell Trust UK provided 4,412 more three-day emergency food parcels for children than during the previous two months. 27% of these went to children younger than 4, including newborns, and I fear that we will see similar numbers this year.
Analysis by Heriot-Watt University has hit the headlines, warning that the so-called “opportunity” for fracking has been “over-hyped”. This adds weight to the case for a permanent ban on the practice.
Drilling into the ground beneath our communities and fracturing the rocks to enable gas to escape is something Scottish Greens have fought since it was first proposed. Opening up an extra source of fossil fuel makes no sense if we’re serious about reducing climate change emissions and limiting the damage that will be caused by rising global temperatures.
“I am worried sick about these charges and am falling into a depression myself.”
Just one of the responses to a consultation on extending free personal care to people under-65 with debilitating conditions such as dementia.
Maureen’s words bring home the reality for far too many people. She says she has been forced to give up work to look after her husband because of the high cost of someone else doing it but says that without wages she can’t afford the upkeep of specialist equipment including a bed, toilet and mobility scooter.
This week's Scottish Government report, highlighted by Patrick Harvie at First Minister's Questions, on the impact of UK welfare reforms makes for very sobering reading. It shows that a very large number of reforms – including, but not limited to the freeze on the value of benefits; the two-child limit on Child Tax Credits; the Benefit Cap; the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance for most claimants, and the Bedroom Tax – are removing thousands of pounds from Scottish households, many of them containing our very poorest and most vulnerable people.
Brexit and independence dominated the General Election campaign. Brexit deservedly so as it poses a huge risk to our social and environmental protections, our economy and public services, while the independence obsession of the pro-UK parties diverted attention from the Tories’ track record in office.
In particular, I’m disappointed there wasn’t more scrutiny of Westminster’s welfare reforms which have had a hugely negative impact on disabled people.
This week was an important one in Scotland’s devolution journey. Responsibility to legislate for a range of benefits, including Disability Living Allowance and Carers Benefit, was formally passed to the Scottish Parliament.
Despite the importance of council services, such as schools, social care and housing, last week’s local elections were overshadowed by national events. Those of us who care about local democracy faced an uphill battle. With little national media interest, a Tory prime minister trampling over the campaign by calling a general election in the middle of it, and other parties cynically trying to make it about constitutional issues, it was one of the toughest campaigns I can recall.
This year, some parents leaving hospital with newborn babies in their arms have also been taking home a baby box. Providing a bundle of essentials like clothes, books and blankets can help to take some of the stress out of preparing for a new arrival. This is welcome, but we need to keep in mind that many new families need much more than a baby box to give their newborn the best start in life.