Friday, November 22, 2019
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DWP ‘willfully’ blocking MSPs from helping benefit claimants, says SNP MP

SNP MP Linda Fabiani accused the UK Government of treating Scottish members of Parliament with "contempt".

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are deliberately making it more difficult for MSPs to assist poor and vulnerable people with their benefit claims, a furious SNP MP has claimed.

SNP MP Linda Fabiani has accused the DWP of “wilfully making it more difficult for vulnerable people”, by over-complicating procedures used by MPs to resolve complaints and other problems commonly faced by benefit claimants.

Linda’s office has been told that she must email the DWP and then wait for a response, rather than being able to proactively assist her constituents with their claims.

She is particularly angry that this rule only seems to apply to MSPs, and does not appear to affect other Westminster MPs and their offices.

In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey MP, Linda described the new rules as “unnecessarily cumbersome and inconvenient”.

She added that it makes it more difficult for vulnerable people to access help from their MP, such as help with delayed benefit payments.

“This was the case this morning for one of our constituents which is how we came by this information”, she said.

“That constituent now has no funds and has to wait for my office to receive a written response which we will relay to him.”

A near empty food cupboard. Photo: Oxfam.

She continued: “I was particularly surprised to be told by the Job Centre operative that this only applies to offices of Members of the Scottish Parliament and not to offices of Members of the Westminster Parliament.

“This seems unduly discriminatory”, she said.

Fabiani told the Daily Record: “While it is astonishing that the DWP should treat Members of the Scottish Parliament with such contempt – what’s worse is the fact they are willfully making it more difficult for vulnerable people to get the help they need, and failing the very people they are there to support.

“What is the DWP resolution team’s job if not to resolve problems with the disastrous Tory welfare system?

“If the Tories are unwilling to deliver an effective welfare system that supports those in need, it is time for them to give the Scottish Parliament the powers to prevent even more people being dragged into hardship.”

A DWP spokesperson said the department will respond to the letter soon, but did not provide any further comment.

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