10th May 2017

SNP MP candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, has accused the DWP of being “deliberately obstructive” with MP offices assisting with benefit appeals during the purdah period.

DWP staff said that because Parliament has been dissolved, previous MPs are now “members of the public” and require a written mandate to receive any information on constituents’ cases. This is despite similar information being made available before purdah.

During the purdah period, those previously elected as MPs are able to continue with casework in the ‘winding down period’. Mrs Fellows had raised her constituents’ issues with the DWP prior to the beginning of purdah. Staff openly discussed cases with her and her office but are now refusing to.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The DWP are being deliberately obstructive with offices assisting those with benefit issues. I understand the need to protect peoples’ information, however this is needless and cynical.

“DWP staff were more than happy to discuss cases with me a few weeks ago, but have since seized the opportunity to make helping those in need all the more difficult. Just because someone ceases to be a MP does not mean consent has been removed.

“In a constituency like Motherwell and Wishaw, helping people with their benefits makes up a large part of my office’s workload. This is often helping people who have been unjustly sanctioned or who have failed a disability assessment and are being deprived of money that is essential to them and their family.

“The DWP has been criticised in the past for throwing up barriers and making the benefits process unnecessarily bureaucratic so that people give up pursuing their claims. But SNP MPs will not be deterred in fighting the Tories’ despicable benefits regime that targets the poor and vulnerable while the rich are given tax cuts and allowed to evade their taxes.”