PARTY SPOKESPEOPLE ‘POSTED MISSING’ ON BENEFIT FREEZE AND TWO-CHILD CAP
Labour is facing accusations of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘irresponsibility’ after it was revealed that none of the party’s main spokespeople on welfare contacted DWP ministers to outline concerns over the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act.
A freedom of information request revealed that the only correspondence between relevant Labour MSPs and the DWP on the subject of the 2016 Welfare Reform Act – which introduced the two-child cap and resulting ‘rape clause,’ a benefits freeze, and a benefit cap reduction – came in the form of a letter from ex leader Kezia Dugdale to former minister Esther McVey.
The department held no correspondence from Richard Leonard MSP, Elaine Smith MSP, Mark Griffin MSP or Rhoda Grant MSP.
The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) brought in several key welfare changes: the four-year benefit freeze, a further reduction in the benefit cap, a cut to the family element of tax credits and the introduction of the two-child limit, and removal of the work-related activity group component from employment and support allowance
Commenting, Shona Robison MSP said:
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Richard Leonard to call on the Scottish Government to abolish the two-child cap and ’rape clause’ – despite it being an entirely reserved benefit – whilst his own Labour MSPs sat on their hands when this was going through parliament.
“The lack of awareness shown by Labour is extremely concerning, especially when the UK’s warped welfare system, and the failure to stand up for the most vulnerable in society, lies firmly at the Tories’ doorstep.
“There is no getting away from the fact the Tories’ welfare changes are to blame for rising poverty, homelessness and foodbanks, and Labour increasingly offer no opposition to these changes – at times acting as a roadblock when it comes to Scotland’s progress on social security.
"Scottish Labour have been posted missing on standing against the Tories when it to welfare changes – they are all about soundbites, but never for attacking the real architects of these abhorrent policies.
“My SNP colleagues at Westminster and Holyrood have been fighting tooth and nail against the Tories’ ruthless welfare cuts for years now. It’s time for Labour to join our fight.”
FOI: Correspondence on any aspect of Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015 and/or the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 that the DWP received between October 2015 and February 2019 from the following:
Kezia Dugdale MSP – Former leader of Scottish Labour
Richard Leonard MSP – Current Leader of Scottish Labour
Mark Griffin MSP – Spokesperson for Social Security
Elaine Smith MSP - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality
Rhoda Grant MSP – Spokesperson for Women and Equality
Reply: The Department holds no correspondence from Richard Leonard MSP, Elaine Smith MSP, Mark Griffin MSP or Rhonda Grant MSP relating to your request.