The UK Government recently lost yet another case in the high court in terms of how they treat the disabled. This time it was PIP assessments and how they are applied to people with mental health problems. The court found that found changes to the disability benefit system “blatantly discriminated” against people with mental health problems. The only good thing the UK Government have done on the back of this December 2017 ruling is that they have decided not to appeal. This means that up to 160,000 people across the UK could be due benefits re-instated and backdated. If you believe you are one of those affected then please feel free to contact my office for advice. Overall it is another damning indictment of the policies implemented by the Tory UK Government given they have now lost several court cases.
Potholes, Road Tax and Taxing
Many constituents have expressed concerns about the number of potholes appearing after the winter conditions, as has the Kilmarnock Standard. Many people feel aggrieved that they are paying road tax and fuel duty but feel this doesn’t get re-invested in the roads. There is a truth in this. All road tax and fuel duty gets paid to the UK Government. It goes into a single line, called taxation as all taxes collected simply go into one big pot and is used to manage day to day spending.
The responsibility of the local roads is the council’s and the trunk road network is the responsibility of the Scottish Government in Scotland. The grant that comes from Westminster to Scotland does not reflect in any way the road and fuel taxes paid by residents. So, when Westminster imposes new taxes, they might say it is for specific spending but actually then the money just disappears into a pot.
Take tobacco tax: when it is argued that the tobacco tax contributes towards paying for the Health Service to treat people with tobacco related illnesses then that is not true as there is no methodology for allocating taxes in that way. It can be argued that this tax can change people’s behaviour and deter people from smoking and if it works that way, then that is a good thing but Government has to be clearer about all taxation.
The Motability scheme is a fantastic asset which clearly facilitates those with disabilities being able to access their own cars for transport. It turns out that “Motability Operations” is paying its chief executive £1.7m and they have £2.4bn in reserves. It is a shocking position and it turns out Ester McVey raised concerns 5 years ago, but it seems only when the story hit the Daily Mail, did the UK Government decide to take further action and request the National Audit Office do a review. For all those who have lost their cars due to Tory cutbacks then it must be particularly galling to have the scheme operate in this way, and hopefully the correct action will now follow.
These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard.