Christina has expressed his/her delight at the news that the SNP Scottish Government continues to press ahead with delivering Scotland’s new benefits system despite the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville announced this week that Social Security Scotland will continue to press ahead with rolling out a raft of new benefits that will benefit those in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

The next benefit that will be rolled out across Scotland will be the Child Disability Payment, with applications opening in the Summer of 2021.

This will be followed by the Adult Disability Payment, which is set to be piloted from Spring 2022 and rolled out across the country by the Summer of that year.

Once the Adult Disability Payment is fully rolled out, those who are on Personal Independent Payment or Disability Living Allowance will be automatically switched to the new system, and not have to face another DWP face-to-face assessment.

Commenting Christina said:

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government can continue with the rollout of its game-changing social security system, despite the challenges presented to it by COVID-19.

“Alongside the Job Start Payment, Child Winter Heating Assistance and the Scottish Child Payment, Scotland continues to develop a benefits system which benefits those that need it most.

“The transition from the UK government benefits to the new Scottish benefits will be stress free and people across the constituency will have peace of mind that they will not have to go through what can be a distressing DWP assessment.

“As the pandemic continues, it is vital that the Scottish Government continues to support people in South Lanarkshire, especially into the winter months.

“The SNP and the Scottish Government will continue to develop a benefits system which is kind, compassionate and caring.”

SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse has demanded action after the latest estimations from Which? suggested people in South Lanarkshire could be owed millions in withheld refunds for cancelled trips.

Customers across the UK are waiting on more than £1 billion in refunds according to the results of the survey of more than 7,500 people who had a package holiday cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

Expressed a proportion of population, the findings of the survey suggest that holidaymakers in South Lanarkshire could be owed nearly £4.8 million.

Holiday companies are required to refund money within 14 days but the huge number of cancellations has left many of firms overwhelmed. 21% of those surveyed who requested a refund in March were still waiting at the beginning of October.

The research also found that the average cost of a cancelled holiday was £1,784.

During the summer, the Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into package travel companies' handling of cancellations and refunds.

Commenting on the figures, local SNP MSP Christina said:

“For many people, this saga has rumbled on for far too long – it’s time for the UK government and the market regulator to get a hold of this situation.

“Times are tough financially for many local families, and while I appreciate holiday companies were inundated with refund requests earlier in the year, we are now in November.

“We aren’t talking about spare change here – the average cost of a cancelled holiday was £1,784 according to this survey.

“While we all recognise the travel industry’s acute financial difficulties, there can be no excuse for them hoarding the hard-earned cash of their hard-pressed customers.

“As a matter of urgency, the UK government needs to set out how travel companies will be supported financially to fulfil their legal obligations to passengers – and take firm action against those who continue to drag their feet.  

“I would urge anyone in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse who is still waiting on a refund from March to get in touch with my office – I will offer any support I can to make sure you get your money back.”

The new Scottish Child Payment - which has been described as a “game-changer” in the fight to tackle child poverty - will open early for applications this month.

MSP Christina McKelvie has encouraged parents and carers in South Lanarkshire who are eligible to apply now so that the Scottish Government can process and start making payments as quickly as possible once the benefit starts in February next year..

The SNP Government has prioritised the early introduction of the new benefit, which will provide eligible families on low incomes with a child under 6, an extra £10 per week for each child. 

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Latest figures estimate that 194,000 children aged under-6 in Scotland will be eligible for the new Scottish Child Payment - with over 11,800 children set to benefit in South Lanarkshire.

SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie said: 

“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious, game-changing new benefit which will directly tackle child poverty in South Lanarkshire and across Scotland. 

“This support is needed more than ever, and it’s early introduction for under 6s - almost two years ahead of the original commitment for a new payment - will be a lifeline for so many families in across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

"While the SNP does everything it can to tackle poverty, the Tories at Westminster are still helplessly trying to defend their shameless decision to deprive children of free school meals over the holidays. 

“Children and families simply shouldn’t have to depend on the whim of Boris Johnson’s callous Tory government to get through this Covid-19 crisis. 

“This benefit will be a lifeline for many children, young people and their families in South Lanarkshire. I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to apply as soon as possible.”