Thursday 27 April 2017
Child Tax Credit Reforms
Tensions were running high this week in the Parliament as the UK Government’s two-child tax credit limit and its attached rape clause were debated.
The rape clause is an abomination – it is a grotesque policy, which must be scrapped. Making women who have been raped relive the trauma of that experience to access child tax credits is utterly appalling.
This abhorrent two child tax credit limit seeks only to punish those most in need and ride roughshod over equality for all. For in work families currently in receipt of child tax credits 87% are women, for in work single parents 94% are women.
In addition to the two-child cap and the rape clause, the UK Government has introduced changes to the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payments which has led to disabled people losing around 800 Motability vehicles every single week; The Bedroom Tax – which the SNP Government has mitigated in Scotland – disproportionately impacts households with a disabled adult; Young vulnerable people are paying the price as financial support for housing is scrapped; Pensioners are paying the price as the triple-lock is abandoned and grieving families are being ruthlessly targeted as Bereavement Payments and Widowed Parents’ Allowance are slashed.
You can see my contribution at:
and the video footage at:
Street Connect charity has made it to the shortlist for a free DIY makeover, in a competition which has been launched this month and it needs your vote
Street Connect is one of four community organisations across Glasgow which could be visited by a team of Local Heroes later this month if it wins the prize.
The winning organisation will be selected based on how many public votes they receive in an online poll, w and I would encourage you to cast your vote on the competition website at: www. LocalHeroes.com/vote.
MS Awareness Week
MS Society in Scotland were in the Parliament this week highlighting MS Awareness Week (24-30 April) and the vital role the MS nurse has on the lives of people living with the neurological condition.
I along with many colleagues pledged my support for MS nurses in Scotland.
Regularly cited as a key contact for people with MS, the role and responsibilities of the MS nurse can be wide-ranging and varied. These include monitoring people for potentially dangerous side effects who are receiving drug modifying therapies (DMTs), as well as giving emotional support and helping to navigate the social care system. The specialist role means that nurses can also provide expert advice to their patients on symptom management and living as best as possible with MS.
For more information on the work of the MS Society, please visit www.mssociety.org.uk
I took part in the debate on carers and young carers this week in Parliament highlighting the crucial role they have in society and how it is vitally important we support them in looking after the people they care for, which can often be in very challenging circumstances.
As Convener of the Social Security Committee and with the pledge from the Scottish Government this will happen through a social security system where everyone is treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
We know that it is is unfair that support in the form of the carers allowance is the lowest of all working-age benefits. That is why the Scottish Government have committed to increasing it to the level of the jobseekers allowance.
They are also committed to considering the introduction introduction of a Young Carer’s Allowance to provide extra support for young people with significant caring responsibilities, and they have taken action to protect and grow our social care services with an announcement of a further £100 million for the continued delivery of the Living Wage for adult care workers and sustainability in the sector.
You can read the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10908&i=99795
I met up with representatives from Scottish Hazards in the Parliament this week.
Scottish Hazards campaigns for improved worker health and safety throughout Scotland and joins with others internationally to campaign for improved working conditions throughout the world.
It is part of the UK Hazards Campaign and the European Hazards Network, and is part of the Partnership for Health and Safety in Scotland.
The Scottish Hazards Centre provides information, advice and support to individual workers and groups of workers in Scotland who are not unionised and who have inadequate access to Occupational Health & Safety expertise.
22nd West End Festival
Due to parliamentary business I was unable to make the launch of the 22nd West End Festival this week. I did however lodge the following motion highlighting the event and everyone involved.
That the Parliament welcomes the launch of the 22nd West End Festival, which will take place in Glasgow from 2 to 25 June 2017; notes that this is one of the largest community events staged in the city, bringing over 400 performances through music, theatre, storytelling, exhibitions and local gala days, as well as a full programme staged at the Kelvingrove Bandstand; understands that the events are produced in collaboration with over 100 businesses and over 100 local organisations, and wishes the West End Festival Director, Michael Dale, his team, festival supporters and participants every success for another vibrant community-based thriving festival.
Many of you will know that this event is very much a landmark in Glasgow which benefits not just the local community but the whole city and further afield and I hope that you will join with me in attending and supporting the organisers, performers and local businesses who make the festival the success it is.
I took the opportunity to raise the issue of safeguarding greenspaces this week during general question time.
I highlighted the recent campaign to save North Kelvin Meadows a greenspace owned by GCC which was saved after the local community came together to oppose the planning application from a developer which was subsequently called in by the Scottish Government and the application was rejected – a victory for the local community and generations to come.
You can access the exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10910
It was great to meet up with students and staff from City of Glasgow College this week after their tour round the Parliament.
I think it’s wonderful that our Parliament is open and accessible for all.
These visits and tours allow for a greater understanding of our political system.
Traditional Building Skills
I was pleased to meet up with CITB, Historic Scotland and many young people in Buchanan Street at the beginning of the week for the traditional building skills demonstration.
The highlight of the event was the opportunity High School pupils had to be introduced to four traditional building skills by local apprentices and tradespeople. I was also very lucky to have the opportunity and managed to build a bird table!
The event was open to all and included an information and exhibition tent which featured careers information about training and jobs in traditional trades and information about caring for traditional buildings from CITB and Historic Environment Scotland.
This event was raising the profile of traditional building skills; inspiring young people and also raising their awareness of the career opportunities which are available in this field.
I can now report that the bird table has a home at Dunard Primary School garden!
Social Security Agency
Scotland’s new social security agency will put people before profits, with no private companies carrying out benefit assessments.
Social Security Minister, Jeane Freeman, firmly ruled this out in a statement to Parliament – where she also outlined the conclusion of the options appraisal process for the model of the new social security agency.
The new agency will have a central location as well as providing a local presence across Scotland so it is directly responsive to individual needs. A decision on where the main agency will be located will be made in the autumn.
It was also confirmed that the new agency will employ at least 1,500 staff – making it one of largest executive agencies of the Scottish Government.
There was an opportunity to question the Minister on the statement to Parliament and I took the opportunity to highlight the issue around communication with the DWP and asked for assurances that the social security system in Scotland serves the people and is exemplar in communication – a stark contrast with the DWP.
You can access the exchange at www.parliament.scot