Bob Doris MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bob Doris

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bob Doris

I have direct experience of dealing with constituents in that situation. Some families in my constituency who are employed and receive tax credits are now, because of Tory changes to tax credits, worse off than they would be if they were unemployed. Is that not appalling?



Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bob Doris (Glasgow) (SNP)

I commend the Welfare Reform Committee for its constructive scrutiny of the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill. The steady leadership of Michael McMahon and his former deputy convener Jamie Hepburn—now of course elevated to ministerial office—was an example of constructive cross-party working to provide scrutiny and to challenge where that was needed. Such cross-party working does the Parliament great credit.

I am pleased to report my most direct experience of the interim Scottish welfare fund. The referral was efficiently and effectively taken from me over the telephone, after a vulnerable woman walked into my campaign rooms in Maryhill Road a few months ago. She had been sanctioned by the DWP and was unsure when she would have recourse to public funds again. She was three months pregnant. Thank goodness the Scottish welfare fund was there at that time of crisis. It worked well in that situation, but of course it has to work well in every situation. The report looks at ways of ensuring that it works well consistently—I understand that. However, at least the woman who had that traumatic experience had the Scottish welfare fund to pick up the pieces to an extent.

Let us be clear that when the UK abolished the discretionary social fund in April 2013, a political choice was made to reinstate it in Scotland; that did not have to be done. I am proud that this Parliament and this Scottish Government decided to do that. I was disgusted that the UK Government made the political choice to cut the social fund money available when it passed responsibility for that area to Scotland. Thankfully, the Scottish Government, with cross-party support, topped up that cash by £9 million, so that our most vulnerable would not lose out any more than they already had.

Mention was made of whether there would be a widening of the criteria to support those who do not, or may not, qualify for the fund at present. The Welfare Reform Committee considered that issue but, crucially, did not overtly support the suggestion; indeed, it took no set view. I believe that that was a prudent decision.

The Scottish Government is already spending £100 million a year to try to mitigate the devastating effects of UK welfare reform on Scotland’s most vulnerable. If Scotland feels the full strain of UK austerity, that is cash that could otherwise be spent on a series of other priorities, across government, such as local authorities or colleges—the wish list of things to spend more money on from politicians across the chamber is limitless. However, that is £100 million being spent on our most vulnerable—which I believe is the right choice—because of UK cuts to Scotland, which could, in theory, be spent elsewhere if different political decisions were being taken at Westminster.

I will give two examples of how that austerity is biting. First, 100,000 households in Scotland are around £700 a year worse off because of UK reforms to child and working tax credits. Those are people who are in in-work poverty, on the breadline, who must often have recourse to food banks and the like. Secondly, 100,000 working-age adults are set to lose at least £1,120 as a result of changes to disability benefits.

Kevin Stewart gave the overall figure for welfare reforms—a £6 billion cash cut to Scotland in five years. Let us put the Scottish welfare fund in context: it is £38 million a year. When we talk about extending the criteria for the Scottish welfare fund, we should not pretend that doing so will tackle that £6 billion cut. That would be a great lie—a great deception of the poor and vulnerable in Scotland. It is like putting a finger in a dam to stem a tsunami—it just cannot be done.

I have concerns, which I raised earlier, not necessarily in relation to the Smith commission itself but in relation to topping up or creating new benefits under complex UK welfare rules and the potential for clawback. To top up or create new benefits, the money has to be there in the first place.

The Child Poverty Action Group was quoted as saying that families “under exceptional pressure” could perhaps apply to the Scottish welfare fund. Perhaps they could, but would the 100,000 households that are £700 worse off be families “under exceptional pressure”? Would the 100,000 disabled people or their families who are £1,120 worse off be termed as being “under exceptional pressure”? Let us be careful and let us be clear. If we can identify resources and additional criteria to help the most vulnerable, please let us do it, across parties, but let us not sell the big lie that the £38 million—the finger in the dam to stem a tsunami that is sweeping across Scotland—will plug that £6 billion gap, because it simply will not.

People know what solution my party and the Scottish Government propose. I say again, in the context of the debate on the Scottish welfare fund and stage 1 of the bill, that Smith does not even scratch the surface when it comes to defending the most vulnerable people in Scotland and getting them off benefits and into work, or out of in-work poverty and into prospering in work. Short of getting the powers that I think are needed, we must do all that we can across the parties, and irrespective of our various views, to help the most vulnerable. I believe that the new Scottish welfare fund, put in statute, rather than on an interim basis, will do that. I commend it to members.

16:00  

Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bob Doris

I thank Willie Rennie for giving way, as I know that he really wanted to hear from Jackie Baillie.

I welcome the fact that Willie Rennie has given that guarantee. Does it extend to any new benefits that we might want to give to vulnerable groups who might be in receipt of, say, income support, which is a means-tested benefit? Can he give a cast-iron guarantee that there will definitely be no clawback of any such benefits?



Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bob Doris (Glasgow) (SNP)

I am delighted that Jackie Baillie is excited by some of the new powers over benefits that will be coming to Scotland. Does she agree that, for any benefits paid by Scotland, there should be no cash clawback from, say, means-tested UK benefits such as income support? Does she agree that any benefits paid in Scotland or topped up in Scotland should not be taken back by the UK Treasury at any point?



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Bob Doris

I agree with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which said that the extension of the contract has caused a

“delay in ridding Scotland of this exploitative, punitive and under-performing programme.”

Does the cabinet secretary agree that, when Scotland designs its own employability programmes, such as community jobs Scotland, which cost just £35 million and is approaching its 5,000th successful job, they meet employment and training needs far better than the UK Government? Does she agree that the UK’s decision should be reversed, and that the work programme should be passed to Scotland as a matter of urgency?



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
8. Bob Doris (Glasgow) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government what engagement it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding the extension of the Department for Work and Pensions’ work programme. (S4O-03798)



Health and Sport Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Bob Doris

It is a brief one. It is more of a mopping-up exercise so that the witnesses have the opportunity to put something on the record. Right at the start of our evidence session, we heard that the number of planned elective procedures will be downsized over the festive period. There will be less of them and then, depending on other pinch-points, some may fall by the wayside. Frankly, that has been routine for many years in the management of winter stresses and strains. However, the committee would be concerned if that included urgent elective procedures or emergency treatments, such as cancer treatments. Will you say a few words on that to get something on the record?



Health and Sport Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Bob Doris

Okay. Thank you.



Health and Sport Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Bob Doris

I do not have a follow-up question, but I make the observation that it appears that we need further work on that area across Scotland. I hope that integration will help, but one issue is who a person should call if their care visitor does not turn up on Christmas eve or Christmas day. How do they resolve that?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
>> Show more
YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Bob Doris
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11923: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11623: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11622: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11621: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11620: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11446: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11330: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11209: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11176: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11131: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Bob Doris
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23554: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23511: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23512: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23510: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03798: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03785: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03745: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03708: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03689: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00793: Bob Doris, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>

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