Letters: There’s nothing tough about kicking the poor

Bad habit. Picture: PA.
Bad habit. Picture: PA.
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The relentless attack on claimants, characterising them as burdens to society rather than members of it, has reached the point where, in the spirit of the Poor Laws and the workhouse, they are told that in order to keep a roof over their head they must live without any pleasures or amenities except those few that their betters accede to (Tenants told to cut luxuries, News, August 24).

They should be grateful to be kept alive.

Fracking work. Picture: Getty Images

Fracking work. Picture: Getty Images

Of course it’s cigarettes (unhealthy) and alcohol (immoral) which are emphasised; but even basic means of communication, conferring some degree of social inclusion, might jeopardize the benefit. Mobile phones are not particularly luxurious; many poor people have them instead of a landline. Television is an almost universal source of shared entertainment and information.

But it’s not the particulars that matter. People on minimal incomes – which are all they would have even if they received a discretionary housing payment – should at least be able to spend the money as they like.

The present policy violates several human rights, to which the UK government is in theory signatory: the right to a home (which includes one adequate for the needs of disabled people), the right to an adequate standard of living and (through monitoring expenditures) the right to privacy.

I don’t know which is worse – the cruelty in denying these rights to an already impoverished, excluded and stigmatised group, or the hypocrisy of councils claiming to disapprove of the bedroom tax, and to be “uncomfortable” about denying its victims any pleasures, then going ahead and implementing it in all its ferocity. This latest measure is described as “tough”, but there’s nothing tough about kicking people when they’re down.

Katherine Perlo, High Street, Prestonpans

Closing plants 
is like treason

Scotland’s long hot summer has left wind farms struggling to produce enough electricity to make more than a few cups of tea.

Wind turbine developers and their paid propagandists have been economic with the truth as to the electricity output when applying for planning permission, hence access to lucrative subsidies.

Few if any live up to the developers’ promises.

I suggest a new technical term to be used when applying for planning permission and recording actual output.

The term “boiling kettle output” would be readily understood by all.

Then when power cuts are imminent the public could be urged to “go easy on the kettle”. Silly, yes, but so is relying on expensive, unreliable, subsidised turbines to provide our energy needs.

Closing nuclear and fossil fuel plants is akin to treason and when the lights go out a certain person will say: “It wisnae me it was them in Westminster.”

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Fossil fuels have had their day, so move on

The US commentators who inspired your report “Fracking support tipped to soar across Lothians” (News, August 24) would have been better suited on your horoscopes page, given the lack of credible evidence to support their predictions. They say people here will become receptive to fracking as the benefits become clear. What benefits?

Exploiting shale gas poses a risk to our climate. It is not “low carbon” and burning it will breach our carbon targets. We already have access to more fossil fuels than we can safely burn.

The shale revolution can’t happen overnight as some commentators suggest. Fracking has taken off in the US because it has long had an on-shore drilling industry.

We risk contaminating our water. Can there be a more precious Scottish resource?

There is little evidence that exploiting shale will bring down energy prices. The scale required simply can’t happen given our geology, population densities and regulations. We will remain vulnerable to gas price volatility on the international markets. If we fall for the fracking hype we damage our renewable future. Fossil fuels have had their day. It’s time to move on.

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, Scottish Green Party

Rewards of helping young are worth it

We are delighted to see the Scottish Government embark on its “Make Young People Your Business Week” campaign, aimed at raising awareness amongst employers of the economic value of taking on a young person and the various incentives on offer to do this.

During an economic recession it is the most vulnerable who suffer the most and we have a collective responsibility as a society to give them the opportunity to realise their full
potential.

The rewards of getting these young people into work are, however, well worth it.

One key grouping which is most adversely affected by the economic recession and youth unemployment are those young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.

A greater holistic approach combining financial resources as well as targeted support is vital in assisting those in these categories to re-engage with education and training, ensuring they are ready to take up employment as well as while they are in employment.

However, the rewards of getting these young people – many of whom boast excellent skills – into work are well worth it, with higher loyalty and retention rates.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Sophie Dow, founder, Mindroom; Tom McGhee, managing director, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, chief executive, Who Cares? Scotland; Stuart Jacob, director, Falkland House School; Brian Durham, Managing Director, Young Foundations