Holyrood prepares to debate welfare as UK Minister agrees to meet MSPs

18.12.2014

Scotland Office Minister, David Mundell MP, has agreed to meet with members of the Welfare Reform Committee in the New Year, it was announced today as MSPs prepared to debate welfare reform.

Mr Mundell is expected to feed back to the Committee on meetings he has held with food bank providers and other interest groups in Scotland. This follows Mr Mundell’s evidence to the committee on 26 June, when he offered to meet with organisations providing food bank services and other committee witnesses to discuss evidence linking welfare reform with increasing use of food banks. 

Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP said…“Time and again, we have highlighted evidence concerning the link between the UK Government’s welfare policies and the growing use of food banks. I look forward to hearing from Mr Mundell about the outcome of his own discussions with food bank providers.” 

Today’s announcement comes as Holyrood’s final debate before the Christmas break looks back at two influential reports released by the Committee earlier this year. 

MSPs will debate the reports on food banks and benefits sanctions. The debate will also address the welfare proposals contained in the report of the Smith Commission on the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament. 

Speaking ahead of the debate, Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP continued: 

“As families across Scotland struggle with such basic things as heating their homes and putting food on the table this Christmas, it is only right that MSPs are focussing on the real difficulties facing people as a result of the welfare reform process. In 2014, we’ve also reported on the negative effect of benefits sanctions, showing that contrary to encouraging people back into work, they are actually engendering a climate of fear around job centres. Going forward, the Smith Commission’s recommendations are likely to lead to substantial change in the area of welfare, and I welcome this opportunity for the Parliament to discuss the introduction of these new powers.” 

Deputy Convener, Clare Adamson MSP said 

“We’ve heard from numerous witnesses who’ve told us more people are resorting to food banks in order to feed their families, more people are falling foul of benefits sanctions and, as a result, there is rising demand for help and support. At this time of year in particular, it is important to keep these issues front and centre of this Parliament’s agenda.” 

Background

The full text of the motion for debate, which is scheduled for 2:30pm on Thursday 18 December is: ‘That the Parliament notes the Welfare Reform Committee’s 2nd Report 2014 (Session 4), Food Banks and Welfare Reform (SP Paper 537), its 4th Report 2014 (Session 4), Interim Report onThe New Benefit Sanctions Regime: Tough Love or Tough Luck? (SP Paper 552) and the welfare proposals contained in the Report of the Smith Commission for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament.’

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