Summit planned on welfare reforms

Michael Moore
Michael Moore
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Scots Secretary Michael Moore will be challenged to meet Falkirk Council leaders to be told the damage controversial Welfare Reforms will have on families across the district.

The only Scottish Tory at Westminster, David Mundell, along with Falkirk MPs Eric Joyce and Michael Connarty, and MSPs Angus MacDonald and Michael Matheson will also receive an invitation to the showdown.

The summit was agreed when Falkirk Council met to be given an update on the council’s poverty strategy, ‘Towards a Fairer Falkirk’.

SNP group leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “Both Scottish Office Ministers should be brought to Falkirk to face the people who will be hit the hardest by these reforms.

‘‘Westminster politicians live in a bubble and are totally detached from the real world. That is why the SNP on this council believe those responsible for the misery being caused by these reforms should be brought face to face with the victims.

‘‘The plans will push people already below the poverty line into an even worse position, putting a greater strain on social services, the NHS and local charities.

“This is particularly relevant as, on the day the ‘Bedroom Tax’ comes into place on the poorest within our communities, the richest will receive tax cuts.

‘‘These are not the actions of a government with any notion of fairness or compassion and those responsible must be made aware of the consequences of their policies.”

The SNP chief hit out ahead of a briefing meeting of the council on Monday that will highlight the 
real local impact of the changes to the benefits system that UK Ministers believe will cut the welfare bill in Scotland by 20 per cent.

Her call was backed by the Labour-led administration.

After a recess to discuss the motion, council leader Craig Martin won support for the invitation to be extended to the district’s MPs and MSPs, including list MSPs.

He said: “This is such an important issue which will impact on so many of our most vulnerable people we have to do what we can to raise our concerns.”

A date for the sitdown has still to be decided.

Councillor Dennis Goldie called on the Scottish Government to respond to a plea from housing charity Shelter to fund a £50 million build on social housing to offset the first five years of welfare cuts.

But he was later accused of scoring an ‘‘‘own goal’ by Mrs Meiklejohn who pointed out it had already agreed an additional £200 million spend over and above what had been announced on January 21.