Readers' Letters: Where is the dignity in retaining the 20-metre-rule for disablity benefits?

The Scottish Government’s new approach to social security promised to bring “dignity, fairness and respect” to the system as Adult Disability Payment (ADP) replaces Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The 20-metre-rule has cost people with disabilities financial support and mobility vehicles, the MS Society Scotland says

Yet, by retaining the baseless “20-metre-rule”, the Government risks enshrining unfairness in our new system (Scotsman, 7 September).

In practice the “20-metre-rule” means that people with disabilities who can walk one step over that distance do not qualify for the higher rate of mobility support. It has cost them financial support and mobility vehicles and had a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.

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No government has ever produced any evidence that people who can walk over 20 metres have lower levels of need for mobility support. In their proposals for ADP the Scottish Government make no attempt to argue that the rule is an effective way to measure mobility.

That should not be a surprise. As one person who lost their mobility vehicle because of the rule told us: “I still can’t figure out where I’m supposed to go. My nearest bus stop is 200 metres away.”

Since 2013, one in three people with MS have had their support downgraded, including one in ten who have lost support altogether.

It does not have to be this way. We have an opportunity to have a world-leading social security system and the Scottish Government shouldn’t throw it away by continuing with discredited rules.

This week the Citizen Participation and Public Petition Committee will consider a petition from MS Society Scotland, signed by over 3,000 people. It calls for our parliament to press the government to change direction.

It is time this crucial issue for people with disabilities, an underrepresented group who are losing out, was brought to the political fore.

Morna Simpkin, Director of MS Society Scotland, Edinburgh

Capital a turn-off

So "Scotland is top destination for UK television” (Scotsman, 6 September).

I assume that Edinburgh is not on the list of destinations preferred by film and TV producers, given the range of peculiar works throughout the city right now.

Diversions, scaffolding and the astonishing proliferation of lightly used wider pavements and cycle lanes with all those luminous bollards – to say nothing of the tram extension. Parts of the city are almost unrecognisable and unlikely to attract film-makers.

Showing visitors around was an amazing disappointment in the last weeks and I can only think that the installation in Lanark Road might be seen as a contender for the Turner Prize, given the middle of the road parking and the loss of the excellent bus lane.

David Gerrard, Edinburgh

Social care chaos

Feelings are running high in the Parliamentary Conservative Party as Boris Johnson announces he will fund his social care plans with an increase in National Insurance. One Tory MP described it as "a tax raid on supermarket workers and nurses so the children of Surrey homeowners can receive bigger inheritances''. That's a pretty strong statement!

The problem is that options are running out. The Tories pretended to have an election platform at the last election but they had one aim: "to get Brexit done.” Boris Johnston promised to do what it takes to keep the country united behind the slogan but the cracks had to appear.

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At a time when Brexit is just about to cause chaos in supermarkets the voters from the Red Wall seats are about to face huge new costs in food prices and National Insurance, while seeing a fall in Universal Credit for the low paid and unemployed. Boris Johnston is no longer trying to work out answers. Fatalism has taken over.

But we may see the career of some good ministers such as Rishi Sunak dragged down with him. Even worse, as the Tories have brought British democracy down this low, it is understandable that voters in Scotland will be drawn back to a SNP solution.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Cats’ instincts

Clark Cross is right to point out that there is a massive feline overpopulation crisis in the UK (Letters, 6 September). The problem lies with humans. Unfortunately, many irresponsible owners take them in when they’re cute kittens, then get tired of looking after them when they’re older, and dump them in the streets. Those abandoned cats are usually unnuetered, which makes them more likely to wander.

A cat which has not known freedom in the outside world will adapt to indoor life more successfully than one used to roaming. We’re no different. Imagine how we would feel if we were incarcerated indoors after a life of freedom.

Cats have been known to save their owners’ lives by alerting them to danger – including house fires and gas leaks.

We humans can’t claim the moral high-ground on the issue of killing other species. We even slaughter our fellow human beings in the most horrific ways. Cats are amateurs compared to us.

Carolyn Taylor, Dundee

Scottish welcome

When I first came to Scotland more than 20 years ago, I was often asked where I am from. After all, my accent gives away that I'm not exactly a local quine. In these friendly conversations I was happy to confirm that I'm originally from Germany and that I felt that in Scotland people were very welcoming unlike elsewhere in the world where my nationality was sometimes noted with discernible reservations. More often than not I was then told: "Ach well, you're alright as long as you're not English!" Wink, wink, ha ha.

That was in the years after my arrival in Scotland and long before words like Yessers and Yoons had entered the Scottish vocabulary. By and large such remarks were meant as good-natured, tongue-in-cheek jokes.

These days they may have a very different, far more serious connotation depending on the political views of the respective speaker. Today it matters whether you're a Yesser or Yoon and it might be the defining factor when establishing, continuing or ending relationships with other people – people whose company you otherwise would enjoy and appreciate.

This, in my view, is the saddest of the changes which have been allowed to happen over the past 14 years.

Regina Erich, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Passport plea

Can anyone tell me how to get the Covicd vaccine passport app?

I have tried everything including the NHSInform.Scot/COVID-19-Vaccine website – which does not have a link to the QR Code.

I have telephoned the helpline (0808 196 8565) and they know nothing about it. I have spoken to friends/colleagues who are practioner nurses and they are unaware of it.

Did I dream last week’s announcements from the Government stating that everyone can obtain their Covid Passport QR Code on 3 September?

Adrian Bateman, Westhill, Aberdeenshire

Irish ayes

W Hope (Letters, 7 September) details higher VAT and NHS costs in the Irish Republic but failed to mention that the average salary there is £4,500 higher than in the UK. Also, there are numerous NHS cost exemptions for those with serious conditions, on roughly half the average wage or less and for the elderly etc.

The Irish State pension is paid at £213.35 a week for those over 66 compared to £179.60 in the UK and those aged 70 or over also enjoy free TV licences plus many other benefits.

As Alex Orr points out in his letter of the same date, Ireland’s export trade is booming while the UK’s is declining significantly since Brexit and W Hope should compare the buoyant Irish economy with Northern Ireland, where 60 per cent of the population live in three of the poorest districts in the UK.

That is no advert for continued dependency on Brexit Britain.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Take a break

Many readers may be feeling tired and worn-down, with a nagging headache caused by constant griping by nationalists with a chip on their shoulders.

Let me recommend a long weekend break in Cheshire. It’s warmer, friendly and completely Nat-free.

There is nothing to interrupt appreciation of the beautiful landscape and thatched houses. There is no constant background whine; no pronouncements about keeping us under the thumb by Nicola Sturgeon and no face masks. Heaven.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Powering down

In the closing years of the last century, British power systems engineers warned that wind and solar power would make the UK electricity grid increasingly fragile and extremely costly.

However, their warnings were ignored and we are facing a bleak future. For example on Monday, the entire UK wind fleet was absent for much of the day and the UK’s creaking grid had to be propped up by fossil fuels with conventional gas- and coal-fired generators being fired up, at enormous expense.

The balancing cost of avoiding blackouts has been increasing rapidly and will hit £2 billion this year, with the burden falling hardest on the most vulnerable of our consumers. For a country claiming to be “Powering Past Coal” this is a disgrace.

Worse still, in the run-up to COP26, it makes our claim to leadership in the delivery of Net Zero look ridiculous.

Prime Boris Minister Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have no plausible platform from which to urge other countries to decarbonise.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

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