Thursday 1 December 2016
According to the National Audit Office (NAO) the DWP’s sanctions regime costs taxpayers more than double the money than the DWP save.
The NAO report revealed that the administrative costs of the benefit sanctions system dwarves the income removed from those on lowest incomes whilst also causing severe hardship to families up and down the country. The costs of administering the system is £285 million a year, and is on the back of the £132 million removed from JSA and ESA payments.
The report also reiterates the point that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that sanctions work and their imposition varies wildly across the UK.
The Scottish Government has been taking effective action to build a social security system based on dignity and respect, and just last week it was confirmed that the Scottish Government would not take part in sanctions for the employability support programmes to be devolved – a major step forward in our attempts to move away from the cruel Westminster system.
By any measure, the current approach to welfare is failing – and is putting insufferable strain on families up and down the country.
Small Business Saturday
I’ll be out and about visiting local businesses across Glasgow Kelvin as part of the Small Business Saturday. Statistics from the Scottish Government show there are 16,905 small enterprises across Glasgow City – contributing almost £7 million to the local economy.
The SNP in government has always made efforts to support small businesses from introducing and extending the small business bonus to launching a growth fund worth £500m to deal with the new challenges created by Brexit.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of Scotland’s economy, supporting jobs and growth in our communities, as well as providing an invaluable service and with Christmas just weeks away this is the perfect opportunity to show your support and shop local.
Purple Poncho Players
Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) approached me to sponsor a performance from their Purple Poncho Players (PPP) group in the Scottish Parliament this week and I am delighted to say that it was a huge success.
PPP were borne out of a shared experience during a rally in 2011 – GDA provided purple poncho’s to protect participants from the rain and the group was founded!
From that GDA members came together with the idea of using creative methods to share messages about real life experiences of disabled people – in short their aim is to persuade those in power to do things differently, to listen to disabled people’s voices and in turn improve policies and services.
With the social security consultation now ended the PPP and GDA wanted to mark the occasion performing their poetry, music and sketches depicting real life experiences of disabled people by disabled people and the devastating effects of the draconian welfare reforms imposed by the UK Government.
The SNP Government is committed to taking the new system in a very different direction from what I see as the archaic and punitive structure that the Tory Government has put in place. The SNP will deliver a system that will treat people with dignity and respect. I welcome that commitment. A timetable is in place for the safe and secure transfer of powers. It is the responsibility of the Social Security Committee, which I convene, to ensure that the social security bill is thoroughly scrutinised.
Byres Road Shortlisted
A photograph taken in Byre’s Road was this week chosen by acclaimed photographer and Glasgow born Harry Benson as being among the best entries of the Parliament’s #SeeingScotland photography competition.
The competition, which was run on Instagram, received almost 5,000 entries from people across Scotland. People can vote for their favourite image simply by liking it on the Scottish Parliament’s Facebook and Instagram pages until noon on the 2nd of December. The photograph with the most likes will be crowned the winner.
The free exhibition of some of Harry’s most iconic images are currently on display at the Scottish Parliament until 3 December. Harry Benson: Seeing America captures significant moments in America’s social, political and cultural history over the last 50 years.
Proposed Football Strict Liability Bill
My colleague James Dornan MSP has launched a consultation on his Private Members Bill Football Strict Liability this week.
The Bill would make Scottish professional football clubs strictly liable for their supporters’ behaviour.
To view the consultation document please visit https://youtu.be/fmiy3HxM0ic.
You can also find information in The Scottish Parliament’s business bulletin https://bb.parliament.scot/#20161130
If you wish to submit your views on James’s proposal please visit www.parliament.scot/proposed-football-strict-liability-bill
Violence Against Women
Transforming gender stereotypes is key to tackling violence against women and girls, according to a report published this week.
The Young People’s Attitudes to Violence Against Women report, which surveyed 11 -18 year-olds, found that those who held stereotypical gender views were less likely to view sexual harassment or controlling behaviour as seriously wrong. Boys were more likely than girls to hold discriminatory attitudes when it came to gender.
The report, published during the international campaign for 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence, also reveals a heightened awareness among young people about newer forms of violence against women and girls, including revenge porn, and the need for this to be tackled.
You can read the report here http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/10/3285
New Teaching Routes
Innovative new ways of developing teachers of the future are to be created, backed by over £1 million from the Scottish Government Attainment Scotland Fund.
The proposals include:
Moves to get new teachers into the classroom more quickly for priority Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects
Targeted help for former teachers looking to return
The development of teachers able to work in both primary and secondary
Fast track routes combining post-graduate education with the probation year
Offering more joint degrees in teaching and specialist subjects such as chemistry
The plans, which will bring more than 200 new teachers into the profession, have been put forward by the Scottish Council of Deans of Education and are aimed at helping tackle teacher recruitment challenges being experienced in some subjects in certain parts of the country.
FOI Social Landlords
The Scottish Government is launching a consultation on proposals to extend FOI legislation to Registered Social Landlords.
The Scottish Government is committed to promoting openness and transparency and seeks to extend coverage of the legislation to organisations delivering key public services. Freedom of Information has previously been extended to bodies undertaking leisure, sporting, cultural, security, care and educational functions.
You can access the consultation here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/freedom-of-information/foi-social-landlords/
The number of recorded crimes involving firearms has fallen by nearly three-quarters in ten years.Firearms were used in 332 recorded crimes in 2015/16, according to new figures released this week.
The number of crimes where a person was killed or injured by a firearm fell by over a quarter, from 48 in 2014/15 to 35 the following year.
Robberies saw the largest drop in crimes where firearms were involved, with 40% fewer in 2015/16 compared with the year before.
An air weapon was the main firearm in nearly half (48%) of all offences involving a firearm in 2015/16.