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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SCOTLAND OFFICE COMPLACENT AND UNCARING OVER CRISIS LOAN CUTS

Thursday, 10 March 2011

SNP Work and Pension spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has branded the Scotland Office as ‘complacent and uncaring’ over cuts to the level and availability of Social Fund Crisis Loans, warning that the decision would force people on low incomes towards high cost or illegal lending.

Dr Whiteford raised concerns at Scottish Questions over the announcement that the Tory Government will no longer pay Crisis Loans for items such as cookers and beds and the rate paid for living expenses will be cut from 75 per cent down to 60 per cent of benefit rate.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“It seems that the Tories have gone back to being the nasty party with this complacent and uncaring dismissal of the impact that cutting crisis loans will have on the poorest households.

“By their nature crisis loans are a last resort, and it is appalling that the Tory Government are cutting this safety net. The only winners from this will be loan sharks and high interest lenders.

“The fact that so many people have had to take out these loans should underline the difficulties that households are facing, but instead of trying to help the UK Government are making things much more painful.

“These are loans that people pay back, so these cuts are not about saving money. What they will do is force people who are in crisis to take out high interest loans or to go to loan sharks.

"With further powers over the economy and over the welfare system that supports our most vulnerable people we could put a stop to the Tories dismal decade of cuts, invest in growing our economy and support our most vulnerable properly so that together we can make Scotland better.”


Note:

A transcript of Dr Whiteford’s exchange with the Scotland Office Minister is detailed below:

Dr Whiteford: The Minister will be aware that proposals to reform the Social Fund Crisis Loan are going to cut the level and availability of loans available to people to buy essential items like beds and cookers. Does the Minister agree with me that this is going to push vulnerable people on low incomes towards high cost lending and into the arms of loan sharks, exacerbating problems that we already have in Scotland?

David Mundell (Minister of State): I certainly don’t agree Mr Speaker, with the Hon Lady’s analysis and once again from SNP benches I am extremely surprised to find elements of the Social Fund are being devolved to Scottish Parliament is not being welcomed.

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