Linda Fabiani MSP

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Appointed Member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

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Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Linda Fabiani

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Linda Fabiani

No, thank you.

I suspect that members of the Welfare Reform Committee are a bit sceptical about that, too. That is not to do down what we hope will come out of the Smith commission, but I do not think that we should get too carried away, thinking that it is a big answer to the big problems that we have while Governments at Westminster apply welfare reforms that are alien to what many of us believe in.

The Smith commission’s recommendations have still to go to the Westminster Parliament. There are those who believe that they will be enacted regardless of the result of the next UK election, but some issues are yet to be ironed out. There are technical ones such as the formula for block grant adjustments, but there are also issues to do with effects and overall income adjustment where top-ups or new benefits apply. I was delighted when Richard Simpson intervened on Annabel Goldie to put across our understanding of the issues, but some people are already saying that that is not their understanding. I am worried that, in their passage through Westminster, things will change because we do not have the earnings taper control.

There is so much more that I could say, but I will end by saying to everyone in the chamber what Denis Curran says: “When are you going to do something about it?” If we can do nothing else, we can shout about it to our respective people at Westminster. Across the Parliament, we can jointly call for the early transfer of things such as DLA so that we can stop the PIP roll-out. If we really want Scotland to be a fairer society, that is what we have to do. Let us start here.

I do not believe that, as the new leader of Labour says, we can be the fairest country on earth if we do not have control over the things that would allow us to become that, but surely we can make small differences as a way of moving forward.

15:53  

Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

I speak today as a former member of the Welfare Reform Committee. I welcome Michael McMahon’s opening speech. Its content was certainly in the spirit of what I felt was the opinion generally of the Welfare Reform Committee when I was a member.

I am pleased to speak in the debate because I was involved in work that was done for the two committee reports—on food banks and on the sanctions regime—that the motion refers to. I will say a few words about both.

I think that the committee felt that the sanctions regime, as it is operated, is overly punitive and has many errors. It is interesting to note that, in its briefing for the debate, Citizens Advice Scotland says that, in the year to June 2014, there were more than 200 JSA sanctions per day, which is a lot. However, what really got to me was the point that

“Since the start of the ... sanctions regime in October 2012, over 3,800 sanctions were ‘high level’ sanctions meaning a sanction of at least 13 weeks.”

Thirteen weeks is a heck of a lot of time for somebody to have their money stopped, especially if it is stopped in error, if they have not received notice of the sanction, if the sanction is imposed when they have good reason for not meeting the requirements or if they are unaware of their right to challenge decisions, which Citizens Advice Scotland has found to be fairly common.

With such a punitive welfare regime, it is no wonder that there has been such growth in food banks. I saw all the arguments that came from David Mundell, Iain Duncan Smith and all the rest about people taking advantage of food banks—basically, if something is provided, people will turn up for it. I am sorry, but I would rather listen to Denis Curran, who Michael McMahon talked about.

Denis has been operating food bank food distribution and has worked with the homeless for 20-plus years in East Kilbride. He knows a lot more about the issues than Iain Duncan Smith does. Denis will tell us that charitable organisations that help people out now and then or in the longer term will always be needed, but that what he has seen over the past few years is unprecedented—and, in my opinion, immoral and non-ethical.

I feel bad about the fact that Denis Curran keeps saying to me—he will probably say it again tomorrow—“There you all were talking again. What you gonna do about it?” The feeling of helplessness is ridiculous—there are people who have been working on the issues for so long and just want to do something.

Siobhan McMahon is quite right to say that we are starting to mainstream food distribution as part of our welfare system. That is absolutely appalling, but we see all sorts of examples of it. I was horrified to see that the Co-op, of all places, is marketing its own-brand products as “ideal for food banks”. What on earth are we doing when such things are happening in our society?

It is easy to talk about the figures, but I believe that every member of this Parliament must have examples of constituents who have been hit. I am certainly not going to name anyone, but one chap who had been sanctioned and had not had any money for weeks phoned our office, crying. He had worked for most of his life but had lost his job and ended up being sanctioned—by mistake, I may add; we won that case—and he was crying because he was hungry and because he could not bring himself to turn up at the food bank. It was only because we organised something with Denis Curran that that chap ended up getting something to eat over the weekend. I am just disgusted that I am living in a society where that kind of thing becomes the norm.

I guess I could say that I was privileged to be part of the Smith commission’s work, which we went into wanting a cohesive set of powers that would allow us to stop these things happening. I am not convinced that we have got that, and neither is much of civic Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

I want to focus the cabinet secretary on the issue of time bar in particular. In her statement, she said that the review

“will include consideration of the way in which the time bar operates”.

Having been in Parliament for some time, I was able to look back and see that there was a review on the law of limitation back in 2004-05 and that at the beginning of 2007 the Scottish Law Commission was asked to consider aspects of the law in relation to time bar.

It seems to me that there is a reluctance among the legal profession to look at the issue of time bar. However, there is now a recognition—way ahead of anything that we have ever had before, because of recent very sad events across the UK—that survivors are often very reluctant to come forward for years and years. I impress on the cabinet secretary that, although she cannot interfere with the operation of the justice system, she and her colleagues can take steps to ensure that our justice system recognises the particular characteristics of these kinds of cases.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Linda Fabiani

Oh, there was.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Linda Fabiani

The word “coherence” has been used over and over again in relation to the proposals in the Smith commission paper. Do you believe that there is a lack of coherence at the top level between the ability to affect the economy—the macroeconomic stuff that David Bell mentioned—and the ability to use welfare powers? Take, for example, the work programme, and being given the power to help people into jobs but not, in my opinion, the power to create jobs through a more vibrant economy. I would like your views on the sustainability of that. Do you feel—if you are willing to say so—that vital bits are missing that would allow us to have a more sustainable way of working in the future?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Linda Fabiani

Yes. The witnesses just need to say yes or no.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

Yes, it is a tiny question. I am interested in Charlie Jeffery’s points about the general requirement for more transparency and the requirement for Scotland not to act in isolation. It strikes me that, as an entity, the UK has always been slow to embrace change. Is there the willingness at nation state level down in Westminster to fully embrace the kind of changes that the panel suggests are required to make all the component parts of the UK work with the degree of autonomy and transparency that is necessary for success?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Linda Fabiani

I impress upon the cabinet secretary the concerns that people in East Kilbride have about the recent report into cleanliness at Hairmyres hospital and the fact that the vast majority of them believe that the services should come back in-house. I ask that due consideration be given to the information and findings about the subject that Unison and associated bodies have.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
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 Linda Fabiani
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11819: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11798: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11604: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11065: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10869: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10802: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10778: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10560: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10408: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10344: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Linda Fabiani
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03875: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03813: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03558: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21705: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21704: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21703: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21706: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03247: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03159: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03116: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/04/2014 Show Full Question >>