West Lothian MP’s anger as Government overturns Lords recommendations

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Livingston MP Graeme Morrice has expressed his fear that a number of changes in the legislation introduced in the Welfare Reform BIll will hit some of the most vulnerable people in West Lothian.

Mr Morrice voiced his concerns after the Government overturned House of Lords amendments which, he sdaid, would have improved the bill by removing some of its most damaging measures and increasing protection for vulnerable groups including young disabled people, single parents and those living with cancer.

Among the changes the bill will introduce are reduced entitlements to employment support allowance (ESA) for young disabled people, a reduction in the rate of the “disabled child element” of Child Tax Credits and charges for single parents accessing the Child Support Agency.

Graeme said: m“The House of Lords had made several important changes which I was happy to support when the bill came back to the Commons for MPs to consider again.

‘‘Unfortunately, the coalition government was determined to reverse the positive changes made in the Lords and with its large Commons majority was able to do so.

“It is very disappointing that the Ggovernment has not listened to the concerns raised about the bill by the Lords, opposition MPs, charities, campaign groups and thousands of individuals.

‘‘I now fear that the changes introduced by this legislation will adversely affect vulnerable groups in West Lothian including young disabled people, single parents and those living with cancer.”

The defeated Lords amendments exclude child benefit from overall cap, not charging single parents for Child Support Agency if they’ve taken steps to reach a settlement, exempt cancer patients from means testing of ESA, means test other ESA claimants after two years, not one as planned, allow young disabled people who have never worked to keep claiming “contributory” ESA, exempt social tenants with one spare room from “under occupancy” penalties, limit reduction to lower rate of “disabled child element” of Child Tax Credits.