Local News for Thursday 14th March 2019

PENSION CREDIT CUT MAY MEAN NO COLD-WEATHER PAYMENTS

Low-income pensioners hit by cuts to Pension Credit could also lose access to other benefits, such as cold-weather payments, MSPs have been warned.

From 15 May, mixed-age couples – where one person is of state pension age and the other is younger – will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit, costing couples up to £140 per week, or £7,000 per year.

Age Scotland has told a Holyrood committee that Pension Credit is a “passporting benefit,” meaning that some couples who face losing out may not be able to claim other forms of assistance such as cold-weather payments, housing benefit, and Council Tax Reduction.

Age Scotland also warned that those who have been hit by changes to the state pension age (WASPI) will also be negatively affected by these changes to Pension Credit, which are “likely to have a greater impact on women.”

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The impact of this Tory cut – which was conveniently sneaked out the back door on the evening of an important Brexit vote – is truly shocking.

“This cut is going to hit pensioners in need, a majority of whom are disabled – and it is staggering the knock-on impact could also see them lose access to cold-weather payments and other benefits.

“Evidence of Westminster’s failure on welfare grows every day. The Tories can’t keep sweeping the harmful effects of their welfare cuts under the rug.
“The UK Government must urgently reverse this attack on low-income pensioners.”


HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS AREA DRINK DRIVE NUMBERS UP

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart is disappointed that the drink drive statistics for Quarter 3 (1st April 2018 – 31st December 2018) in the Highlands & Islands Division has shown that for the same period in 2017/18 there were 294 drink drivers and for this period in 2018/19 there have been 309.

Mr Stewart said:
‘In Scotland we reduced the amount of alcohol a driver could have in their blood in our efforts to make our roads safer, however, the drink driver and for that matter the drug driver, seem to think they are above the law and continue to be a danger to themselves and others.

‘I have suggested that those convicted of drink or drug driving should undertake mandatory rehabilitation courses - Drink/Drug Driver Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS).

Mr Stewart said the incentive for the drink/drug driver is that if they complete the course they can not only get up to 25% off their driving ban, but also become more responsible and safer drivers in the process.

Another option Mr Stewart feels should be looked at is new cars being fitted with an ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device which requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting the vehicle, if a positive sample is sensed – the car will not start.

Mr Stewart concluded " Scotland has been at the forefront of road safety initiatives and has taken the lead in the UK with regards a reduced blood/alcohol level for drivers. Why don't we go that step further and seriously consider the two options I have highlighted yet again?