Labour abstention on Welfare Reform Bill

Local SNP MP, Patricia Gibson has criticised the Labour Party for failing to back the SNP in opposing welfare reforms put forward by David Cameron’s Conservative Government.

During the recent budget, Chancellor George Osborne made a number of announcements to reduce annual welfare spending by £12 billion by the year 2019/2020.

According to new figures from the House of Commons library, £955 million of the cuts imposed will fall on Scotland - of which £410m will come from cuts to tax credits and universal credit, £315m from the four-year freeze on working age benefits from 2016, and £230m from other measures, such as housing benefit cuts and a benefit cap.

After a series of recent Tory back bench rebellions, it was expected that Labour and the SNP may be able to join forces to defeat the Government proposals. However, in a move controversial to many in her party, acting Labour Leader Harriet Harman urged Labour MPs not to vote against the Welfare Reform Bill, telling them this was not a good time to campaign against the public.

The move has caused deep division in the Labour Party, with backbench MPs and leadership candidates at odds over how to proceed.

SNP members called on Labour to vote against the government proposals which they say will push millions more into poverty and penalise those in work who rely on state support to supplement their income.

Commenting, North Ayrshire & Arran MP, Patricia Gibson said:

“That the Labour Party were willing to roll over and let these obscene reforms pass without putting up a fight beggars belief.

“The sad reality is that – far from us all being in it together – George Osborne is deliberately going after the people who need his help most.

“These changes ideological assault, not on skivers who don't want to work, but on those who are in work and rely on additional support from the state to supplement their income. "With Labour MPs sitting on their hands and allowing these punitive measures to pass, it is clear that the SNP are the only party in the House of Commons worthy of calling themselves 'the opposition."

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