Bitter debate on Universal Credit at final council meeting of the year | Press and Journal

Subscribe today Subscribe today from 99p A bitter debate on controversial welfare changes was heard at the city council’s final full meeting of the year. During the item on the council’s Fairer Aberdeen Fund, which aims to provide projects that will benefit disadvantaged communities in the city, the SNP group moved to condemn the five week delay in some payments. The opposition group noted that 77.5% of the council tenants currently receiving the payments in the city were in rent arrears and called for a report to be prepared on what more could be done to help. But the Aberdeen Labour group, who are still suspended and seeking re-admittance to the national party, faced sustained criticism for siding with their Conservative administration partners in not including the five-week delay line in their own amendment. The nine-member group hit back, accusing the SNP of not doing enough in power at Holyrood to mitigate against the Universal Credit changes. >> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter Aberdeen Labour member Gordon Graham provoked outrage on opposition benches when he said that “the Tories have done more for disadvantaged communities in Aberdeen than the SNP ever have.” SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said: “I can’t be alone in having to direct constituents to foodbanks because of this delay. “It is absolutely scandalous and here we have suspended Labour members shying away from the issue.” Liberal Democrat Steve Delaney sided with the SNP saying it was “disgusting” that the suspended members were backing the Tories. Aberdeen Labour’s Sarah Duncan, who works as an official at the Unison trade union, said that the SNP government at Holyrood would have the powers to mitigate against the changes and branded the move as “gesture politics”. The bitterness of the debate intensified when SNP member Neil Copland attacked Ms Duncan’s contribution- saying that he was glad that he wasn’t a member of the UNISON union and that she “is not a socialist”. After being told his comments were “dreadful” by Lord Provost Barney Crockett, he withdrew them and apologised. That apology was later reiterated in a summing-up by SNP leader Stephen Flynn. Aberdeen Labour leader Jenny Laing said the SNP move was about “trying to cause division in the chamber”, adding “the people of Aberdeen deserve better”. The administration won the vote after a 22-22 draw in the chamber, with the Lord Provost using his casting vote. More from the Press and Journal Tags

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