Westminster: Broken & Failing

Month after month, my colleagues and I have been urging the UK Government to act on the ever-mounting failings within its various departments. Our calls are ignored, and chaos is now a standard operating procedure at Westminster.

Disappointingly, it’s constituents who’ve been most in need of help who have been bearing the brunt of these UK Government failings. This isn’t even a single event, down to the tragi-comic farce playing out over the Boris Johnson or Ministerial resignations; these are systemic failures that have been going on for far too long.

Colleagues from all parties have highlighted these concerns with Ministers for many months. Yet, these service failures have been allowed to continue.

There has always been a long-standing series of conventions regarding timely replies to Parliamentarians.

Departments are meant to have a service standard that is supposed to adhere to that convention. For example, the Department for Work and Pensions has consistently stated fifteen working days, the Home Office twenty working days, the Child Maintenance Service fifteen working days, and so on.

This is not happening – not even close.

Any semblance of timely response standards has long fallen by the wayside – despite UK Government departments being the only place to get the answers to individual issues that impact people’s daily lives, such as problems with their pension, visas or social security support.

It was clear that the Home Office was under acute pressure as far back as the Afghanistan crisis. Yet, nothing has been done to sort out resourcing issues. Since then, the department has had to deal with crisis after crisis. Yet, instead of adequately resourcing departments, the Tory government talks about reducing civil servants.

Last July, a whole swathe of people who reached pension age were not paid. They did not get their money, and we could not get through to help. It took until October to get the issues sorted. In emergency and time-sensitive situations, people are not getting the help they need – they are being failed. Currently, responses from UK immigration and visas take over two months; help with Passports takes up to four months, while universal credit responses take around three months – and the list goes on.

We are often lectured about the strength of the UK, especially as a so-called benefit of the Union. As my constituents constantly find, this strength does not exist when needed. Westminster is a broken institution and shows no sign of recovery.

Contributor: Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strath

Listen to Drew on Scotland’s Choice Podcast or catch up with him over on his website

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