I am currently sitting on the Welfare Reform Bill Committee which is going through the Bill clause by clause, assessing its impact and debating changes that are required. Yesterday morning I was interviewed on Good Morning Scotland on BBC radio about an amendment I have tabled to the bill, backed by charities such as Citizens Advice Scotland, Barnados, the Church of Scotland, the STUC and many others (if you want to hear the interview it is 2 hours and 8 minutes in to the programme at the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00hr4k6).
Today was Budget Day in Parliament and I’ve posted a video blog on the website and YouTube which you can watch for some initial thoughts on it.
For me the key message is that the measures will help people to heat their homes (Winter Fuel Allowance increases consolidated), pay their mortgage (support for those who become redundant for instance), look after their children (grandparent carers to get NI contributions and child tax credits to be increased) and get into work (an extra £1.7bn for JobCentre Plus and guaranteed work or training for long term unemployed who are under 25).
I move Amendment 65 that stands in my name.
– Mr Hood, if we are to place additional requirements on parents as part of these reforms – a question which amendment 40 addressed – we need to make sure there is adequate support for them before these conditions kick in. I recognise the need to get people into work, particularly in the current times and disagree with the premise of the last amendment because this has to be about an exchange and is not something for nothing.
I move new clause 2 which stands in my name.
Mr Hood this clause is self explanatory and needs little introduction – but the clarity and familiarity of the issue should not obscure the justness of this case and the need to right a longstanding wrong.
The clause would amend the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act from 1992, so that a person who is blind can qualify for the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance – something that Act excludes them from unless they are also physically unable to walk.
I move new clause 9 which stands in my name.
The aim of this clause is to ensure that a person of working age does not face a pensions penalty in retirement, when they take on a significant caring role for a grandchild or someone else in need.
The organisation Grandparents plus which champions the vital role of grandparents and the wider family in children’s lives have been working on this amendment and they provide a welcome voice in this debate, for a section of the population who are not always heard.