Labour’s means testing will stigmatise vulnerable, warns SNP

aileen-mcleod.jpg
SNP MSP, Aileen McLeod has accused Labour of levying “an unfair tax
on the ill” by arguing for the reintroduction of prescription charges

Scottish news: Labour’s means testing will stigmatise vulnerable, warns SNP

by Joseph Blythe

The Scottish government have reiterated their commitment to providing benefits such as free prescriptions to the people of Scotland, while blasting the system of means testing proposed by the Labour Party.

During today’s Scottish parliament debate on universal benefits Aileen McLeod, cabinet secretary for health and well-being, attacked Labour plans to reintroduce prescription fees as “an unfair tax on the ill”.

 

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She revealed that people suffering from certain long-term illnesses, including Parkinson’s Disease, asthma, cancer, and HIV were not entitled to free prescriptions before charges were abolished in 2011. This led to questions over whether Labour would expect those suffering from these conditions to pay as well.

Speaking at the debate, Ms McLeod said: “Let there be no doubt - that social justice agenda is now under attack from our political opponents in this parliament. Their targets are the range of universal benefits that this parliament has supported from the earliest days of devolution – free prescriptions, free eye examinations, free personal and nursing care and concessionary travel.

"Means testing - as proposed by the Tories, Liberals and Labour - would have a disastrous impact on hundreds of thousands of ordinary Scots who are already experiencing immense financial hardship.

"It will lead to the stigmatization of the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in our communities and it will impose what is a utterly obscene ‘health-and-welfare’ tax on all citizens of Scotland, including the hundreds of thousands who have spent their working lives paying taxes so that they might enjoy a modest level of comfort in later life.”

Something for nothing Scots

Earlier this year Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont had claimed Scots were living in a “something for nothing culture”, and raised concern about the long-term affordability of certain services.

Speaking before today’s debate, health secretary Alex Neil called the SNP’s stance on the issue “clear and unwavering.”

He added: "It is simply not right to tax ill health through prescription charging, not right for older people to spend time in hospital or be prematurely put in care homes due to a lack of support, or for adults to forego eye examinations due to the cost, while our concessionary travel scheme is boosting the quality of life of older and disabled people.”

According to the Scottish government abolishing prescription charges had benefitted around 600,000 adults earning under £16,000.

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published this page in News 2012-11-13 16:51:30 +0000