NEW welfare powers earmarked for devolution by the Smith Commission will be the focus of the final Holyrood debate before the Christmas break.
MSPs will also discuss reports by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee on foodbanks and benefit sanctions.
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The committee has announced that members will meet with Scotland Office Minister David Mundell in the new year for him to update them on talks he has held with foodbank providers.
Convener Michael McMahon MSP said: “As families across Scotland struggle with such basic things as heating their homes and putting food on the table this Christmas, it is only right that MSPs are focussing on the real difficulties facing people as a result of the welfare reform process.
“In 2014, we’ve also reported on the negative effect of benefits sanctions, showing that contrary to encouraging people back into work, they are actually engendering a climate of fear around job centres.
“Going forward, the Smith Commission’s recommendations are likely to lead to substantial change in the area of welfare, and I welcome this opportunity for the Parliament to discuss the introduction of these new powers.”
Deputy convener Clare Adamson MSP said: “We’ve heard from numerous witnesses who’ve told us more people are resorting to food banks in order to feed their families, more people are falling foul of benefits sanctions and, as a result, there is rising demand for help and support.
“At this time of year in particular, it is important to keep these issues front and centre of this Parliament’s agenda.”
Mr McMahon said he welcomed the opportunity to hear from Tory minister Mr Mundell.
He added: “Time and again, we have highlighted evidence concerning the link between the UK Government’s welfare policies and the growing use of foodbanks.”
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