I’M really grateful to Alison Johnstone for continuing to shine a light on the threadbare nature of the UK’s social safety net (Virus crisis highlights the huge holes in UK benefits net, April 3).

Among other things, as Alison rightly points out, the additional £1000 for new and existing claimants of Universal Credit (UC), recently announced as part of the UK Government’s rescue package, comes at the tail end of the four-year freeze of UC and certain other benefits, a freeze that has eroded the value of these benefits as living costs have increased. Therefore, while this additional amount is welcome, its true value is questionable.

READ MORE: Coronavirus crisis highlights the huge holes in UK benefits net

In addition, the increase is surely an admission that the previous rates of UC weren’t enough to live on, yet it’s only to last for 12 months, after which it will presumably revert to a punitive lower rate for the "undeserving” who remain out of work.

Successive Tory or Tory-led governments have spent years demonising and scapegoating anyone in receipt of out-of-work benefits, rhetoric that’s been essential to their long-term “welfare reform” project of dismantling the safety net. Whether this “all in it together” crisis will result in any significant improvement in attitudes towards those who rely on out-of-work benefits, or in any essential repairs to the shredded safety net, is anyone’s guess.

All those of us who care can do is continue to put forward the case that a decent social security system is an investment not only in those who directly rely on it but also in wider society.

Mo Maclean

I TOTALLY agree with L McGregor’s letter in Thursday’s edition in which she asks “Is Westminster not the management of our population?”

Let us look at a real lockdown scenario. The NHS, through incompetence of government not preparing and equipping staff, has finally collapsed – people now dying at home with no help and the virus totally out of control. People dying from hunger because large retail food corporations have been too interested in profit and have done little to nothing to protect those retail workers who man the tills and stack the shelves.

Some big names have tried to get on the bandwagon early and made a “virtue” out of the protection they have put in place (see a certain large retailer’s TV advert.) wEarly to make capital out of the situation, but like the other big guns far too tardy in protecting their workforce who line the pockets of the directors and shareholders.

One big name has even said they will reward their belatedly partially protected workforce with a bonus – guess what? In vouchers for their store. Well whoopy do. A pittance is the value of a life?

The news rightly highlights the plight of unprotected NHS workers and the loss of valued skills and personal tragedy every time an NHS worker die, but I would dearly love to see some real pressure being put upon large retailers to seriously protect their workforce. They have the money – supermarkets made it hand over fist when this pandemic first made its presence known. How many unsung heroes in the retail industry have died in anonymity?

Consumers – write your MSPs bringing home to them the importance of protecting ALL people in the line of fire of this pandemic. The NHS nurses us through this, retail workers feed us – equally important, surely.

Frieda Burns

WHAT a brilliant letter by Jim Finnie of Pitlochry (Why, with the UK in lockdown, are flights arriving at Heathrow?, April 3). Why do you not move it to the front page, or ask Jason Leitch about it?

I stay up a close in Port Glasgow. I have had Parkinson’s for 20 years and I am 60 now. I have been subscribed to The National since it started. I am trying my best to survive with all the restrictions that are quite rightly in place. Why are these flights, and onward travel by folk without restrictions, being allowed?!

Joy Kirkpatrick
Port Glasgow

READ MORE: With the UK in lockdown, why are flights arriving at Heathrow?​

IT’S at times like this that you realise the essential need for news from a Scottish angle. The BBC have decided to no longer have the brief Scottish news break in their breakfast show, so any viewers won’t realise what’s happening in Scotland to combat the coronavirus.

Instead we’ll get the regurgitated nonsense from Westminster which wilfully mixes up the figures for England, UK or elsewhere in a shambolic attempt to mask the failings of the Johnson government. The BBC simply act as an echo chamber repeating the lies of Gove, Hancock and co without bothering to check if anything they’ve said is actually true. It’s not good enough.

There are times when I’ve been frustrated by The National and certain stories that have been published, but do we really want to go back to having no national newspaper in Scotland which supports independence? Do we really just want a newspaper which only promotes the SNP? That wouldn’t do the party or the nationalist movement any good in the long run.

The National could help make the breakthrough we need to make independence a reality, so its still important that everyone who supports independence continues to support The National.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren

ADDED to the lexicon of modern colloquial Scottish Lowland language. From the supermarket assistant on duty at the head of the two-metre-apart line of queuing shoppers to her supervisor inside the shop: “Wanootwanin?”

Perhaps more succinct but less evocative than that other famous example on board the Falklands War aircraft carrier: “I counted them out and I counted them all back.”

Victor Moncrieff

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: www.thenational.scot/subscribe. Thanks – and stay safe.