WEDNESDAY evening’s Drivetime radio programme with John Beattie on Radio Scotland was deeply disappointing.

One of his guest contributors was John Lamont, Conservative Party MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. The discussion was on the Autumn Statement and Mr Lamont was praising the changes to the taxation and benefits outlined in Westminster earlier in the day.

Previous contributors had spoken of increases in Universal Credit and other benefits, but had noted that there was a new assessment regime planned. The contributor who herself was disabled advised that provided the assessors were qualified to properly assess the claimant’s disability, there should be no issues. However, she went on to describe the gradual onset of her disability and advised Mr Beattie that the disability is variable and it takes experience to properly assess.

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Mr Lamont, in defence of the assessment regime outlined by the chancellor Jeremy Hunt, stated that most people in the UK feel that people capable of working should be encouraged to work and if they cannot get work, retraining for another job role. He expanded to say that there are benefit claimants who are capable of work and yet do not, and so should be subject to a reassessment regime.

John Beattie asked John Lamont directly how many people were in this grouping. Mr Lamont could not answer.

I think we have heard this before under May/Johnson period. The numbers bandied about by “red-tops” was frequently quoted as 25% to 30%. This was roundly trashed when analysis proved that the actual rate of “mis-use” or “abuse” of the benefits system was as low as a single-digit percentage of the claimants.

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As discussed within the programme by the disabled contributor, claimant re-assessment must be done by capable qualified people, when last time within the May/Johnson it was unskilled assessors.

At no point have we seen the cost/benefit analysis of deploying a new reassessment procedure.

In order to spend taxpayers’ money it cannot be “frittered away” on a politically motivated “waste of money”, there should be a document which can be pored over to see the detail and the expectation of reduction of false benefits claims.

Alistair Ballantyne

AFTER Listening to the latest Tory attack on certain benefit claimants by a shameless Chancellor of the Exchequer named Jeremy Hunt in his Autumn Statement, it just confirms the fact most politically savvy people know only too well: when the government is bereft of ideas, their officials claim they are to clamp down on benefit scroungers and shirkers. All I can say is, “Thanks, Mr Hunt! You have given me a good laugh, just like your predecessors have every few years since the 1970s”!

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This is desperation personified by another nasty Tory government with nowhere to go! And setting out a budget with the usual tired economy-boosting/tinkering that has little relevance to stimulating economic growth in the proper way it should be done, with no recognition of the financial plight of public services as well as a similar situation for millions of citizens in the country. And having the impudence to promise growth without delivering it while vilifying the SNP Scottish Government’s historical record (Scottish GDP still lower, employment still lower) and its agenda of “separation”?

It’s the usual drivel as we are not comparing apples with apples or pears with pears! And no right of challenge/reply given to the SNP’s Drew Hendry to refute the rhetorical bulls**t from this man who clearly doesn’t like the idea of Scotland breaking away from a broken Union with another Tory government mismanaging the economy AGAIN. We can go it alone and do much better than these charlatans, who always “talk a good game” but never deliver!

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Of course, Mr Hunt has previous form in this regard as I recall his despicable record in a previous role as the Health Secretary and his personal quest to damage NHS England’s reputation and working practices by forcing his own political ideology on it before finally being removed from the role in ignominy. The regard/description of the selfish Mr Hunt from many people within the nursing and medical professions attached to NHS England is unprintable – such is the scathing criticism of this horrible, egotistical man who should be nowhere near the role of Chancellor in the current British government.

Bernie Japs

IS the Sepa report that most of Scotland's bathing waters get a clean bill of health reliable (98% of bathing waters get a clean bill of health, Nov 22)? For instance, there is a report online warning to avoid bathing at Ayr South Beach due to faecal contamination during and after rainfall. Have any independent bodies checked the state of Scotland's bathing waters? What are the experiences of those using the beaches and waters surrounding them? 

Melvyn Gibson
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