By Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP.
As the festive season draws to a close, it’s a good time of year not only to reflect on our personal goals for the year ahead, but to consider those for whom Christmas has been a difficult and frugal time.
While many of us will have enjoyed the company of friends and relatives- and more good food and drink than is necessarily good for us – for others Christmas will have been stressful or lonely. For families on low and middle incomes, Christmas can create real financial pressures, especially when youngsters want to keep up with their pals’ clothes, games and gadgets.
Cuts in tax credits and freezes in child benefit have eaten into the finances of many families, and it will have been a lean festive season for many.
During the Winter months it’s more important than ever look out for elderly, disabled or vulnerable neighbours.
Over the last year, the use of food banks has grown by around 400 per cent around Scotland. Our local food banks in Banff and Buchan are run by voluntary groups and churches, who support those referred to them. They deserve our ongoing gratitude for the lifeline support they offer to those in our communities who need them.
It’s a disgrace, though, that that in a country as rich as ours, food parcels are necessary at all, especially when much of the increase in demand for food aid has been driven by changes to taxes and benefits.
Just before the House of Commons rose for Christmas we debated a motion to repeal the pernicious Bedroom Tax. Although the Scottish Government has mitigated this measure for every affected household in Scotland (8 out of 10 of which are the home of a disabled person) the legislation remains on the statute book, and tenants remain liable in law.
Of course, I voted to end this deeply unjust piece of legislation once and for all, but it was voted down by the Tories and their Lib Dem allies, who claim – in Scotland- to oppose it, yet file through the lobby to support their Tory friends. Actions speak louder than words
I would like to wish everyone in Banff and Buchan a happy New Year going into 2015. I look forward to the next parliamentary session, where I will continue to do my best for all my constituents.
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