ONCE again the Scottish Government are picking up the pieces of Westminster’s shambolic policy of Universal Credit by introducing varied timescales for payments and the option of housing payments paid directly to landlords to assist claimants in Scotland who are suffering the consequences of the botched new benefit of Universal Credits.

Universal Credits brings together six current benefits (Child tax credit, Housing benefit, Income support, Income-based, jobseeker’s allowance, Income-related employment and support allowance, Working tax credit) and has had real- life detrimental effects on individuals and families. Yet, this week at the Conservative Party Conference Work and Pensions secretary David Gauke claimed this new benefit is working and announced the go-ahead for the roll-out of this benefit across the country.

In complete contrast, MSPs in the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly this week calling for a pause in the roll-out. This was followed at First Ministers’ Questions today (FMQ’s) when the First Minister was prompted to call for full welfare powers to be devolved to Scotland.

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The new system of Universal Credits has been so controversial, condemned by charities, past government advisers, MP’s including 12 Conservatives who called for the roll-out to be paused and the Scottish Parliament, yet the Conservatives heartless welfare policies march on. Is there no justice for those who due to no fault of their own find themselves dependant on Universal Credits and other benefits?
Catriona C Clark

WORLD renowned expert on everything, Donald Trump, has described the perpetrator of the latest US mass shooting as “demented”. We now hear that Stephen Paddock had shown no apparent sign of any mental illness.

There are many people worldwide who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other less common forms of dementia. Public understanding has been improving in recent years, with celebrities speaking more openly about having received the diagnosis. Trump’s careless throwing around of technical terms as insults is not only a sign of his ignorance, but risks associating the unrelated ideas of dementia and mass murder in the minds of his addled admirers.
Derek Ball

NICOLA Sturgeon last night delivered what can only be described as the most astute speech on the Brexit/Irish conundrum thus far. Her assessment of the situation, on the impact Brexit will have on the collective of Ireland was clear and precise, and she showed yet again, what a mature states person she has become. She laid out the problems and solutions clearly and in an understandable manner, which left one in no doubt as to who ultimately will be held responsible if no solution is found.

Nicola also made it abundantly clear the Scottish people, government and the SNP all want to remain full members of the EU. She also made it clear to the Irish government that she wants to have links as close to them as possible, as we are nations very much alike in many respect and she sees no reason why we can’t remain close after Brexit.

Contrast this speech with the abysmal attempt from Theresa May at the Tory Conference. Put aside the coughing fits, prankster and dodgy set, she avoided any meaningful discourse on Brexit, preferring to resort to well-worn sound bites when she glossed over it before trying to woo younger voters with bribes over student loans and affordable housing.

Add the so-called price cap on energy bills and it added up to nothing more than a desperate attempt to curry favour with the electorate. This same electorate, however, have been here before, when she promised the earth during the last election only to renege or dilute most of the pledges she made.

We in Scotland should consider ourselves fortunate to have a First Minister who behaves in a mature fashion; who has the support of the country and who presides over a government that has shown just where its priorities lie — whether from reforming social security to banning fracking — and which has managed to provide the best society and public services it can.
Ade Hegney