I understand there is to be a debate in Westminster about housing benefits next week. I have written to all Scottish MPs not about the specifics of the debate but about the principles that I would want to see behind the debate. Welfare benefits are intended to alleviate poverty. A mark of any society is how it cares for the vulnerable. It is not possible for any society to guarantee equality of outcomes for all; it is however possible to achieve equality of opportunities. Any proposals for welfare reform which place barriers upon the ability of individuals and families to survive with dignity when they are in a vulnerable position undermine us as a society.
We are concerned about the apparent stigmatisation of those in receipt of benefits that is emerging through a political discourse that associates error and fraud in immediate proximity to each other. I am concerned that this is being done deliberately and that the incidence of what are extreme cases is being used as a cover for reforms that harm those in need whose care is our moral duty as a society.