JIM Taylor’s response to my letter is, like all his letters, informative and thought-provoking (Letters, The National, April 29). But I have to take issue with him once again over his argument that, because of its historical contractual basis, State Retirement Pension (SRP) isn’t or shouldn’t be regarded as a benefit, including his view that , “...most would see it as a basic pension and not a benefit” because of this.

At the risk of coming across as an irredeemable pedant, I think it’s worth continuing to challenge such a distinction. I can understand people feeling conned, angry, even betrayed, at the prospect of the state pension coming under further attack and the long-standing contract with government over such a fundamental right being broken.

However, it doesn’t follow that because SRP is based on such a contract, this means it isn’t or shouldn’t be regarded as a benefit. The fact that contributory JSA, contributory ESA and certain other contributory benefits are contractual doesn’t stop them being benefits. Also, social security benefits don’t have to have the word “benefit” in their title to be benefits and SRP is no different in this regard.

But, aside from the logical argument, my main reason for challenging the distinction made between the state pension and other benefits is that there often seems to be a subtext in such arguments: namely, the need or desire to distinguish between those who receive SRP and those who receive working-age, and especially out-of-work, benefits; between the “deserving” pensioners and the “undeserving” unemployed, sick and disabled, etc. I don’t discern the merest hint of this in Jim’s letter, quite the opposite. But in my experience, the “deserving” versus “undeserving” subtext frequently underlies this distinction and I feel strongly that the latter is therefore something that should be challenged at every opportunity.

Finally, as a former activist who has been unable to engage in political activism, or even most forms of social engagement, for some time now due to health reasons, I really appreciate having the letters pages of The National as a means of engaging with fellow independence supporters in discussions on all manner of issues, and I also hugely value the respect with which most of us respond to one another.
Mo Maclean

IT is becoming clear that Theresa May is looking at getting rid of the triple lock. Being a pensioner myself I find this very disturbing. We have known that she doesn’t care about any person who receives any type of benefit or pension.

Under Nicola Sturgeon the Scottish Government have worked hard to give us the best NHS we can have and are now doing their best on many other benefits. Labour, the Tories and the LibDems have stopped the Scottish Government on several occasions from passing legislation to improve our lives and Westminster are going to raid our resources to (they hope) improve their hand over Brexit, with May calling for all to back her to strengthen her hand over the EU.

The SNP are fighting mainly the Tories at the council elections but you’d be mistaken to think the Tories are fighting the General Election given all they’re spouting about is independence. Ruth Davidson’s record is pathetic, Kez Dugdale is not much better and Willie Rennie, well the least said the better. Patrick Harvey speaks more sense than the rest of them put together.

I’ve not heard any details from the Tories on council policies, and that’s where we are.

The SNP are speaking about local government policies, which is damning for Ruth and her tribe.
Dave Thornton
Address supplied


Sheltered housing is a better option than care homes

SHONA Craven highlights that solutions are required to resolve the growing elderly care requirements (Radical solutions are needed to solve elderly care crisis, The National, April 28).

Elderly people very often prefer to continue living in their own property, and will be tempted to do so after it is in their own best interest. The accommodation in care homes is usually just a private bedroom with a couple of chairs and a TV plus an en-suite bathroom shower room. This normally compares very unfavourably with the elderly person’s current home.

So why not provide more sheltered housing with self-contained private flats containing living room, bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom? These could be social housing or privately owned. They would be connected to some communal social areas and gardens with care back-up available as and when required.

Several people requiring care would be in the one building, saving carers travelling between individual houses. Care could be increased as it does become required. Couples with one providing the majority of care can continue, getting back-up as required and giving the carer partner more option for socialising etc. and avoiding loneliness and isolation.

They will be able to continue to save the state billions by providing care for longer and avoid the trauma of separation from each other and later forced relocation to unfamiliar care homes when it becomes essential.

These facilities should be state-run, saving the people from exorbitant charges for private care homes, where charges of over £1000 a week per person are normal, while still saving the state billions of pounds in providing care.
Jim Stamper

JOHN Scobie (Letters, The National, April 28) makes a very valid criticism of the Scottish Government and in particular Fergus Ewing’s recent decision to deal the final death blow to any recovery of the seabed in the Firth of Clyde. He did so against the advice of his own government’s report by granting licences for “pilot” electric fishing for razor fish.

The method effectively electrocutes all remaining seabed life in the pursuit of this resource, which is largely exported to China.

Bearing in mind that the SNP Government puts great store in its “green” credentials, and ignoring the “carbon air miles” issue for now in this trade, it is an absolute disgrace as what he has agreed to is an environmental criminal act of total destruction.

It is long past the time that the Scottish Government implemented the recommendations of its own environmental study that clearly advised all inshore dredging should be banned immediately. Brexit will pass control of fishing out to the 200 mile limit around our coast.

In terms of the Scottish Government I would hope that they are considering re-establishing a “no trawl” restriction out to three miles around our entire coast.

It would be reassuring to think that fishermen themselves would support this given that they will have all the remaining 197 miles to trawl.
John Drummond

I RECENTLY participated in a short course run by a charity called Turn2us. Having read some of the harrowing cases where people are left desperate and destitute by DWP decisions and other life-changing experiences, I would like to ensure that as many people as possible are made aware of the excellent services it offers.

Turn2us helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. Its website (turn2us.org.uk) includes a Benefits Calculator and a Grants Search to find out if you might be eligible for support from over 3000 charitable funds. It can also provide direct financial assistance through funds managed directly by the charity.

I would like to hope that by using these services, some of £1.6 billion unclaimed benefit would end up in the hands of those entitled to it.

WITH regard to Conservative MP Andrew Turner’s comment that “homosexuality is wrong and dangerous to society” (Tory MP will not stand at General Election after sexuality slur, The National, April 29), so is Theresa May. But that isn’t controversial. Is it?
WJ Graham
East Kilbride