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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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WHITEFORD BACKS ‘GRAVE CONCERNS’ OVER INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND CHANGES

Monday, 19 April 2010

THOUSANDS OF DISABLED PEOPLE TO LOSE OUT UNDER LABOUR CUTS

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford, has echoed Scottish Government Public Health Minister Shona Robison’s "grave concern" about the future of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which assists people with severe disabilities to access essential support.

Changes to the ILF eligibility criteria proposed by Labour at Westminster will massively reduce the numbers of people able to apply for assistance from 1 May this year, with Scotland being disproportionately affected. The Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) has calculated that, under the new criteria, only four new applicants in Scotland will be eligible for ILF this year, compared to 3,645 who currently benefit.

Ms Robison has written to UK Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper to urgently raise her concerns.

Dr Whiteford strongly endorsed Ms Robison’s action, saying:

"It is outrageous that in the dying days of their discredited government, Labour are sneaking through changes that will cut off essential financial support for potentially thousands of vulnerable people.

"Over three and a half thousand disabled people in Scotland rely on ILF to help them live as independently as they can, with 118 of them living in Aberdeenshire. Labour are choking off a source of lifeline support that affords severely disabled people a measure of dignity and self-sufficiency.

"Throughout their time in office, Labour have financially discriminated against disabled people, hacking away at disability benefits time and again and even threatening to abolish them altogether. They have been shameless in their repeated attacks on the welfare of vulnerable people.

"With their talk of ‘savage’ cuts, going even ‘deeper and tougher’ than those implemented by Margaret Thatcher, not one of the London parties can be trusted to protect those in our society who need it most. Their cuts consensus would hit our most vulnerable citizens hardest.

"I am appalled that Labour has effectively abolished ILF without a single word of discussion or consultation with the Scottish Government. It is a sign of the contempt in which they hold Scotland and Scottish interests."


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“This is the sort of devastating decision that we can expect to see much more of in the future if the three London-based parties are allowed to pursue their cuts agenda.

“We need people in parliament who will say that this is not the way forward. Communities across Scotland desperately need strong local champions prepared to speak up for those in need. As part of an increased SNP and Plaid Cymru bloc of MPs in a balanced parliament, Eilidh will be able to do that. More Nats will mean less cuts.”

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