Spend money on helping the disabled, not building more nuclear weapons, SNP says

The Chancellor has announced a multi-million pound package to upgrade a submarine base

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Indy Politics

The Government should be focusing on helping disabled people rather than spending billions on a new generation of nuclear weapons, the Scottish National Party has said.

George Osborne has announced £500m of cash for the Royal Navy’s submarine base in Falsane, where the Trident system is stationed.

But Brendan O’Hara, the SNP’s defence spokesperson, said the Chancellor’s priorities revealed “something funamendally wrong with Westminster’s values”.

“With the UK Government facing a United Nations probe over its cuts to support for disabled people, George Osborne has his priorities all wrong,” he said.

“He should be defending the disabled, not his government’s indefensible decision to spend £100bn on a new generation of nuclear weapons - and this so-called investment in Faslane will directly support the deployment of Trident submarines.”

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George Osborne meets with a young apprentice earlier this year

Mr O’Hara noted that Mr Osborne was effectively pre-empting a decision by Parliament on whether Trident would in fact be renewed.

Ministers say the money, which will be used to repair ship lifts, sea walls, and jetties at the submarine base will safeguard 6,700 jobs at the base.

It is estimated by the SNP that Trident will have a £100bn lifetime cost, though the exact figure is difficult to calculate.

Nearly every MP in Scotland is opposed to Trident, with all of the SNP’s MPs against new nuclear weapons.

The Lib Dems’ Alastair Carmichael has previously voted against new nuclear weapons, while Labour’s remaining MP Ian Murray has said he does not support the weapons system.

David Mundell, the Tories’ only Scottish MP, is in favour of Trident renewal, however.

 

Jeremy Corbyn, the frontrunner for the Labour leadership, is a longstanding opponent of new nuclear weapons, though all the other candidates for leader and a large part of the parliamentary party are in favour.

On Sunday it was announced that the UN Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities would investigate the UK Government’s welfare reforms.

A leading charity told the Sunday Hearald newspaper that the UN would be sending a special rapporteur to review the system, which has been heavily criticised.

The Government’s policies, championed by welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith, have been repeatedly criticised by disability charities.

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Iain Duncan-Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pension since 2010

In June the British Psychological Society said there was “now significant body of evidence that the Government's benefit tests is failing to assess people’s fitness for work accurately and appropriately”. It called for a full overhaul of the way the tests are carried out.

The tests' appeals system has also been fraught with controversy with a very high rate of overturns and delays lasting months and blamed for hardship

Some payments for the ESA benefit were cut in the Chancellor’s recent budget, with Mr Duncan Smith arguing that the previous cash level created a “perverse incentive”.

Homelessness charity Crisis last year warned that an increase in sanctions for the ESA benefit was in danger of contributing to a rise in homelessness for disabled people.

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