Scottish independence: A lifeboat for disabled people drowning in a sea of cuts




By John McArdle Co-Founder, Black Triangle Campaign, 2nd December 2013 

theblogopinionOn Tuesday, the Scottish government published it’s white paper on independence, Scotland’s Future. Despite being 670 pages long, not half an hour had passed before former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling appeared on our screens informing us that it contained “nothing new”.

He’s wrong.

The white paper promises to the people of an independent Scotland a benefit system that would provide: “A standard of living that ensures dignity and enables participation in society, enabling people who can work to move into employment while supporting people who can’t work to participate in society as fully as possible.”

Furthermore, it promises a written constitution that would embed our fundamental human, economic and social rights and see to it that these remain paramount in the future working of Scotland’s parliament, government and public institutions.

It states that the Scottish government’s immediate priority would be to reverse the most damaging and counter-productive of the UK welfare changes. This would include abolishing the role of Atos Healthcare. Scotland’s social security system – including health assessments – would be run and administered exclusively by the public sector. There would be an urgent review of the disability assessment regime.

The white paper notes that the Department for Work and Pensions/Atos work capability assessment (WCA) has been reviewed four times and has lost all credibility. It notes that the rollout of the new personal independence payment (PIP) – using the same totally discredited, underlying processes as the WCA – will cause even greater hardship for disabled people, with a minimum of 20 per cent set to lose their entitlement to disability living allowance, owing to the new, much harsher criteria.

The Scottish government has promised: “In designing the most appropriate future delivery arrangements, we will ensure that the people most directly affected by the system of welfare support, those in receipt of benefits, will play a central role in its design.”

The “bedroom tax” would be abolished within the first year of an independent parliament. Housing benefit would also be restored as a separate benefit, while direct payments to social landlords would be maintained – as in the present system – to protect the poorest and most vulnerable tenants.

The further roll-out of universal credit and PIP in Scotland would be halted in its tracks in the event of a “yes” vote. The Scottish government rejects these schemes in their entirety as not fit for a Scottish social security system worthy of the name.

The Scottish government also stated that there would be an urgent “review of the conditionality and sanctions regime, to establish an approach that is proportionate and ethical, and that avoids excessive or blanket measures which penalise those looking for work”.

The Labour party have promised us Tory spending plans until 2017 and have been receiving advice from the Fabian Society on cutting a further £5 billion by extending disability cuts (via re-assessments) to pensioners eligible for attendance allowance. Echoing the Tory narrative, the Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, has spoken publicly of Scotland as the only “something for nothing” country in Europe. Labour remain steadfastly committed to the path of cuts and austerity, while saying precious little about how they will reform the taxation system to eliminate the rampant corporate and high net worth tax avoidance that is depriving the UK of up to £120 billion a year. They talk incessantly about making “tough choices”.

We cannot and do not purport to speak for all of our fellow disabled Scots in this matter, but for a very great mass of us, next year’s referendum presents us with no “tough choice” at all.

We want to live.

The recommendations of the Scottish government’s expert working group on independence and welfare reform will be available well in advance of the referendum in order to further inform this debate.

John McArdle is co-founder of Black Triangle


Related: A vote for Yes is NOT a vote for No to solidarity with the rest of the UK ‘Why Labour Doesn’t Need Scotland’ by Reverend Stuart Campbell posted in Wings over Scotland on January 12th 2012

Why Great Britain Needs Scottish Independence by global trade and international development expert Dr Mark Langan Categories: Expert OpinionFaculty of Health & Social Sciences Leeds Metropolitan University Published on 28th October 2013  

8 thoughts on “Scottish independence: A lifeboat for disabled people drowning in a sea of cuts

  1. Boz says:

    So does this mean that disabled people throughout the rest of the uk can go fuck themselves?????????????

  2. Serenity says:

    As with workers facing similar separatist movements in Spain, Belgium, Canada and elsewhere, the task confronting workers in Scotland, England and Wales is not the creation of new and even less viable capitalist states through the Balkanisation of the UK. They must seek instead to overthrow the British capitalist class and its governments in London, Edinburgh and Brussels, as part of a struggle for a workers’ government within the United Socialist States of Europe.

    Could not agree more, Salmond and his croneens are self interested opportunists.

  3. nigel simmons says:

    They keep referring to it as the NHS but it is not as we know it ,it has been fragmented and parts sold off it should change to what it is going to be Private National Health .
    The “Better information means care” leaflet dropping through our letter boxes is to inform us that our Medical Records will be shared with third parties .If we disagree we have to write to our GP stating that we wish to opt out of the scheme ,even so it will be shared in ‘special circumstances ‘ – wheres the option .
    It also states “we sometimes release confidential information to approved researchers “ another way of earning money .We will use information such as your postcode and NHS number to link your records – the NHS becoming a postcode lottery .It is also confusing and deceiving in the statement “ Information from, other places you receive care ,such as hospitals and community services ,is collected Nationally .You should also let your GP practice know if you want to prevent the information from those places being shared .
    So if we opt out and are in an accident they are saying the Hospital cant access our GP Records – Blackmail or what !
    On the website it states that the programme will ensure that GP practices know what to do if someone opts out .The Taxpayer has paid for the NHS now it is being given away to Private Enterprise. (As I am posting this on FB one of their logos pops up at the end of my post promoting the issue – until I delete it) Brain washing or what .

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