Four million pounds of tax payers' money has been spent by the DWP. The bill has risen 700% in two years.
According to figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request, the DWP spent a total of £4,059,109 advertising Universal Credit in 2018/19 – compared with just £511,227 in 2016/17.
This week, the Advertising Standards’ Authority launched a formal investigation into the DWP over claims that adverts which appeared in the Metro newspaper, amongst others, were “deliberately misleading.”
Commenting, Bob Doris MSP said:
“These figures are frankly insulting for those struggling on Universal Credit – an ill thought-out welfare scheme which has forced families into debt, rent arrears, foodbanks and destitution.
“The DWP has ploughed ahead with the botched roll-out of Universal Credit, despite all the warnings they’ve received.
“Now they’re trying to airbrush the utter failure of their flagship welfare policy - spending millions of taxpayers’ money on a one-sided advertising campaign which is now under investigation for being misleading.  
“Rather than face up to the overwhelming criticism of their botched reform and fix Universal Credit, the Tories have decided to push their PR operation into overdrive.
“Westminster have shown us time and time again that they are totally out-of-step with the needs and priorities of Scotland. The Tory government clearly can’t be trusted to look after the most vulnerable in society.”
DWP response: 

Please find below total amount spent on advertising broken down by year and channel since 2016:

Financial year 2016/17
Channel Spend Media - Digital advertising £81,107 Media - Radio £124,883 Media - Press £114,927 Media – Out of Home £190,310 Total £511,227
Financial year 2017/18
Channel Spend Media - Digital advertising £828,839 Media - Radio £299,828 Media - Local Press £64,224 Media – Out of Home £499,950 Total £1,692,841
Financial year 2018/19
Channel Spend Media – Digital advertising £2,197,042 Media – Out of Home £1,100,105 Media - Radio £526,533 Media - Local Press £235,429 Total £4,059,109

Ian Blackford says Brexit threat could bring down a new Tory Government.

The SNP has said that Boris Johnson could be the shortest serving Prime Minister of the UK in history if he railroads ahead with his plans of inflicting a ‘do or die’ Brexit outcome, that will result in lasting economic and social harm.

With the former Foreign Secretary looking set to succeed Theresa May this week, Ian Blackford MP warned that the SNP would not sit idly by as Boris Johnson disregards democracy and continues to side-line Scotland’s voice and interests through the Brexit process.

The SNP’s Westminster leader also called on MPs from across Westminster to work with the SNP to ensure that Boris Johnson’s nightmare plans to drag the UK out of the EU does not become reality – calling for every option to be on the table.

The warnings follow on from a vote in Parliament last week where MPs voted by a substantial majority to stop the next Prime Minister from pushing through a no-deal Brexit by shutting down Parliament.

The SNP has also raised serious concerns over an undemocratic Tory coronation whereby a few thousand Tory activists would choose the UK's next Prime Minister – rather than the public. Pete Wishart, the SNP’s Shadow Leader of the House, introduced a bill in Westminster last week that would require a parliamentary vote on any future Prime Minister.

Commenting, Ian Blackford MP said:

“If Boris Johnson continues down the road with his ‘do or die’ Brexit plan then his only legacy could be as the UK’s shortest serving Prime Minister in history.

“The SNP will not sit idly by as the failed former Foreign Secretary railroads ahead with imposing a devastating Brexit upon Scotland against our will – and every option must be on the table to stop this government in its tracks.

“Last week, Parliament took control and voted by a strong majority to block the next Tory Prime Minister from shutting down Parliament and forcing through a no-deal Brexit. However the threat does not disappear there, and I call on MPs from across Westminster to back the SNP’s efforts to ensure that Boris Johnson’s nightmare Brexit plans do not become a reality.

“We know that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and any outcome of leaving the EU will leave us poorer and worse off.

“While his tenure may be short-lived, it must also not be the case that the next Prime Minister is installed by a few thousand Tory activists – without Parliament, or the sixty-six million people who live across Scotland and the UK, having any say whatsoever. That would show a complete disregard for democracy.

“People in Scotland are looking on in horror at the decisions being imposed upon Scotland without our say and with our voices repeatedly ignored. It’s no wonder then that support for independence is rising, and a majority now support a fresh referendum on Scotland’s future.

“It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is by becoming an equal and independent European country.”

SNP MP Stuart McDonald will today (Friday) join a delegation meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator to discuss the possibility of “ring-fencing” citizens’ rights if the UK crashes out the EU without a comprehensive deal.
Cross-party MPs from a Taskforce on Citizens’ Rights, which includes the SNP MP, will be in Brussels today (Friday) for a meeting with Michel Barnier to discuss the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens residing in the EU.
The meeting follows on from the so-called ‘Costa amendment’ – signed by the SNP – which passed in the House of Commons and forced the Tory government to seek to safeguard citizens’ rights “whatever the outcome of negotiations on other aspects of the withdrawal agreement.”
The SNP warned that the rights of citizens were in jeopardy with Boris Johnson – the likely successor to Theresa May – pledging a ‘do or die’ exit from the EU in October and increasing the threat of a devastating no-deal departure.
Commenting ahead of the meeting, SNP Immigration spokesperson, Stuart McDonald MP, said:
“Whatever the outcome of Brexit, it is vital that the issue of citizens’ rights is resolved in favour of all UK and EU nationals most directly affected – those living in other member states - and whose lives are being blighted by the continued chaos and uncertainty being caused by the Tory government.
"It is a mark of just how disastrous the Tory government’s handling of Brexit has been that we are having to think about how to address the huge problems that will be faced by EU citizens here and UK citizens in Europe if there is not a deal.
“More fundamentally, it's clear that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and any form of leaving the EU will leave us all poorer and worse off.
"Ultimately, the best way to protect citizens' rights is by remaining in the EU and retaining the mutual rights we have benefited from.”



Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

My door is open to anyone who seeks advice and support, so you can  phone or email me at any time.

You also have the option of visiting  constituency surgeries on Mondays. You don't need to make an appointment.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter, which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do  sign up here.

Back to School, back to costs!

Pupils from across all of South Lanarkshire have been helped out with the price of school uniforms. COSLA confirmed that all 32 local authorities have implemented an increase for school clothing grant. 

The £100 minimum grant to all eligible families was put in place for the start of the academic year, relieving the financial pressure for South Lanarkshire families and pupils as they return to school. 

This announcement from the Scottish Government will provide real, tangible help to families feeling the strain. 

We all know the stress and pressure that the return to school can bring, with clothes, shoes, bags and all the accessories. 

In South Lanarkshire, we have already made great strides in providing pupils with school clothing through the Back to School Bank. 

It's great to see our Scottish Government taking an action that provides real help.

Motor Neurone Disease 

Some of you already know that I take a close interest in living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as my own father did for many years before he died.

In June, just before we went off for the summer holidays, we marked MND Awareness Week. 

The Scottish Government has invested £2.5 million annually in the Specialist Nursing and Care Fund since 2015, more than doubling the number of MND specialist nurses across Scotland.

The new Health and Social Care Standards, introduced in April, seek to provide better personal outcomes for everyone and to ensure that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.

Everyone is entitled to care that meets their needs and upholds their rights.

The Euan MacDonald Centre, at Edinburgh University, was started up with funds from Euan - just 29 when he was diagnosed - and his father, Donald. It's a fantastic resource, and I was directly involved with Euan on the building of a voicebank for patients to access, allowing them to pick out a voice sound that is closest to their own natural voice.

The Scottish Government recognise that research is essential for the development of new and effective approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of Motor Neurone Disease – investing in both research capacity and in bringing MND studies to Scotland.
Are you being scammed?

Watch out! What do you know about skimming or fake ATMs? The cleverer technology gets, the cleverer online scammers get to keep up. Phishing, harvesting, identity theft, hacked information such as BA's embarrassment last week. British Airways is facing a possible fine of around £500 million over a data breach that compromised 380,000 card payments after regulators said they were "making inquiries" into the incident.


So I took up the cause at Larkhall Trinity Church last week and invited in experts to explain more.

The ‘Scam Awareness Surgery’ was designed to make sure the citizens of Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse are made more aware of the latest scams and frauds. 

Research from Citizens Advice Scotland had shown that over 61% of over 65s have been approached by a scammer. Other schemes include computer repair/ phishing scams and home and identity fraud

Scammers can target anyone, but especially older people and anyone who has a vulnerability that makes them an easier target.

I thought it was important to give you the opportunity to ask questions and find out how best to protect yourselves against this ever more sophisticated form of theft.

Thanks especially to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards and Police Scotland for coming along to give east to understand help and guidance that will make sure people here are more protected and secure whether that's at an ATM or purchasing something online.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks with more news.