Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart yesterday (Thursday 18th December) called on the Scottish Government to use all the powers available to them to help deal with welfare challenges in a debate on welfare reform and the Smith Commission at the Scottish Parliament.
Ms McTaggart stated that welfare, and the challenges it presents, is an extremely important issue for communities across Scotland. She spoke of her disgust that starving families are turning to food banks to survive, and of her belief that the welfare reform proposals that have been put forward by the Smith Commission will allow the Scottish Government to support those that need help the most. She also argues that more needs to be done at a local level to help the most vulnerable.
Speaking in the debate Ms McTaggart said “I welcome in principle the efforts that the Scottish Government’s Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill seeks to make to alleviate some of the welfare challenges. However, t is apparent to me that local authorities, charities and third sector groups, which are embedded in their communities, can make better decisions about getting people back into work and breaking the dependency cycle than someone sitting either here in Edinburgh or in Westminster.
“It also strikes me that, when new proposals are drafted, one group that is not consulted enough on them is the most vulnerable. Given that they unfortunately have to rely on the system, surely they have a role in ensuring that it is as stress free and as simple as possible. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises access to food as part of the right to an adequate standard of living, but the committee’s report found that, since 2012, the use of food banks has increased by 400 per cent.”
“It is not the job of the Scottish Parliament simply to acknowledge welfare challenges; it would be incredibly easy just to note such concerns and say that we have done our duty. However, I am sure that all members across the chamber will agree that that is simply not enough. If we are not here to challenge, we are wasting our time; if we are not here to listen, we are not doing our job; and if we are not here to change, we have lost all hope.”
You can read Ms McTaggart’s full speech here.
You can watch Ms McTaggart’s speech here.