SNP leaving disabled benefit claimants ‘to the mercies of a Tory government’, say Labour

Social security minister Jeane Freeman rejected the allegation, insisting the party has 'campaigned tirelessly' in defense of disabled people.

Scottish Labour has accused the Scottish National Party (SNP) of leaving disabled people “to the mercies of a Tory government”.

Scottish Labour has highlighted figures showing that tens of thousands of people are being told to attend disability benefit assessments, despite a pledge by the Scottish Government to reduce the need for assessments and ban private firms from carrying out the tests.


Figures show that 130,000 sick and disabled Scots were assessed for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) over the last year, which is gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The assessments have been heavily criticised by campaigners, charities, and a number of high-profile politicians, including Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams, who last year called for both PIP and Employment and Support Allowance assessments to be scrapped.

The Scottish Government has promised action to reduce the need for PIP assessments, but Scottish Labour say the changes will come too late to help a large number of claimants.

Scottish Labour’s social security spokesman Mark Griffin said: “For years SNP ministers have, rightly, criticised Tory reforms to welfare benefits for treating people with disabilities cruelly.

“They have promised that they would restore respect and dignity in the new Scottish social security system.

“But now they are prepared to leave some of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens to the mercies of a Tory Government until the end of the decade.”

SNP social security minister Jeane Freeman rejected the allegation. “There is no delay to the devolution of these social security powers”, said Freeman.

“Labour should know that it is only once we have the legislative framework in place – the process which is currently under way – that it is possible to start delivering the social security payments.


“We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to halt the roll-out of PIP in Scotland, which has caused many people to undergo stressful assessments and lose entitlement with devastating consequences.

“The priority for those who want to protect people in Scotland from the UK Government’s new system should be to stop the roll-out of PIP altogether.

“Ironically, if Labour had had their way then these powers would have remained in Westminster’s hands in perpetuity.

“By contrast, the SNP campaigned tirelessly for these powers to be taken out of the hands of the Tories, and are working to build a system which has dignity and respect as its core principles.”

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  • Andrew MacGregor

    I find the willingness of media outlets to reprint Labour Press releases uncritically not only as dishonest but as deliberately pro-establishment.
    Labour have not pledged to remove any assessments. In fact, Labour not only introduced the assessments, and the providers that abuse the disabled – ATOS and Maximus – to the benefits process, but they also introduced the process of sanctions which means all benefit claimants can be punished and penalised. For vulnerable people like the disabled and sick, this is a matter of life and death.
    Labour in Scotland are not a separate party. They are a branch office of the UK Labour Party and as such are as complicit in the abuse of benefit claimants (and the subsequent deaths of some of those due to the sanctions mentioned above) as the Conservatives.
    They further compound the hypocrisy by having voted against Scotland having total control over benefits in the Smith Commission process and during the Scotland Act debates in Parliament. As a result, benefit powers are watered down. Furthermore the actual arguments used are spurious. These assessments are part of a process the Scottish Govt has NO control over at this juncture. The powers to deal with benefit claims for disabled and sick aren’t fully available until 2018. As far as I’m aware the process for dealing with that is being planned for April next year to coincide with the handover of powers to Scot Govt.

    So, what you’ve done is allow the liars in Labour to make claims using disabled people as pawns, without taking any account of Labour’s culpability in the current abuse of the disabled. Nor have you pointed out their hypocrisy in refusing to link benefit claims to inflation, not to remove the welfare cap, nor to remove the child benefit cap, with it’s repulsive rape clause….

    Frankly, the fact you have attacked the one administrative body that is making attempts to mitigate WM abuses – see the bedroom tax – on behalf of the Labour Party whilst ignoring all the issues I mention above, has indicated you are not trustworthy as a news source.