Thursday 15 June
I attended the inaugural meeting of the External Experts Panel held this week in the Parliament. The group has been established as a collaborative venture between three parliamentary committees, Social Security, Finance and Constitution and Culture, Tourism, European and External Relations as well as the Centre on Constitutional Change based at the University of Edinburgh, with the support of the ESRC.
The meeting brought together the members and provided an opportunity for the experts to outline their views on the forthcoming challenges and opportunities that MSPs will need to consider over the next 12 months in the three areas of, constitutional policy and territorial financing, Brexit and EU matters and the implementation of new social security policy in Scotland.
The Scottish Government pledged support for victims of human trafficking will be doubled to at least 90 days. The announcement was made during a debate in the Parliament this week on the issue of human trafficking and I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
The extended period of support will be three times longer than the Council of Europe minimum period and twice as long as the rest of the UK. The change is being made after consultation with victims’ groups and other justice agencies, and is a key part of the new Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, launched in May and aimed at eliminating human trafficking in Scotland.
Funding of almost £800,000 will be provided this year through support groups TARA (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) and Migrant Help UK.
You can read my contribution here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11003&i=100549
Ahead of Brexit negotiations beginning, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Theresa May to express the Scottish Government’s concerns over the UK’s current Brexit plans.
The First Minister has called for membership of the European Single Market and the EU Customs Union to be protected and for the negotiating team to include representation from the devolved governments.
She has also called for the UK government to immediately guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK beyond the date of the UK’s exit from the EU.
A new £2.5 million fund will improve the help delivered to people looking to access employment and training.
The Employability Innovation and Integration Fund will look to join up employment support with health and social care, justice and housing services, making sure people receive the level of support they need to find sustainable employment.
Bodies responsible for delivering community planning partnership priorities which include health boards and local authorities, are being invited to submit proposals for the Fund.
If you would like more information on the Employability Innovation and Integration Fund including an application form, please send an email to email@example.com
The not for profit social enterprise Care Opinion were in the Parliament this week and I stopped by their stall to have a chat to them about their work.
Care Opinion aims to make it quick, easy and safe for people who use services and their carers to give feedback about their health and social care, and for providers to respond to and make use of feedback for service improvement.
Anyone can share their stories on the Care Opinion website and when the story is published on site they will automatically notify relevant health and social care services who may then also respond online.
The result is short public online exchanges which show how people are experiencing services and how services are listening and responding to that experience.
You can see more at www.careopinion.org.uk
A series of practical measures have been set out to tackle and prevent hate crime in Scotland, focused on tackling prejudice and building stronger communities.
Responding to the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime which reported in September, Communities and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance has confirmed:
Creating a delivery group of key partners with Ministerial oversight to ensure the advisory group’s recommendations lead to meaningful changes on the ground
Work with transport providers and disabled people’s organisations to deliver a hate crime charter for public transport
Tackling hate crime in the workplace, focusing on frontline staff, working with the STUC and others to gather evidence
A public campaign aiming to prevent hate crime by raising awareness of what hate crime is and how to report it and showing perpetrators the impact of these crimes on victims
Adopting the International Holocaust Memorial Trust’s definition of anti-Semitism – driving work to tackle this form of prejudice
The hospitality sector contributes billions to both our local and national economy every year and yet it’s workers are the lowest paid and least contractually secure in our economy. The median income of workers in the hotels industry for example is 50p less than the Minimum Wage at only £7 per hour.
Fair Hospitality is the campaign to improve conditions alongside workers within the hospitality industry. Our aim will be to provide hospitality workers with the legal knowledge, the organising skills and collective confidence to transform their workplace and ultimately re-build a collective bargaining framework for the industry.
I know across Glasgow Kelvin there have been successes for this campaign but there remains several issues highlighted by the Fair Hospitality campaign that remain unresolved.
I support the aims of this campaign and hope to work in collaboration as the local MSP for the area to reach an agreement.
Glasgow and Berlin will co-host the inaugural European Championships in August 2018, bringing together the existing championships of seven of Europe’s leading sports into one coordinated, exciting multi-sport event.
Aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, golf, rowing and triathlon will be held in Scotland, with the German capital hosting the athletics.
Scotland’s sporting reputation has never been higher, following what is now widely recognised as the best ever Commonwealth Games and the spectacular 2014 Ryder Cup.
Commonwealth and European champion swimmer, Ross Murdoch, who has been named as the first Glasgow 2018 sporting ambassador, joined young people from across Scotland at a sporting street carnival in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street to celebrate tickets going on public sale and you can get yours at https://www.glasgow2018.com/tickets
National Clean Air Day
Scotland is making progress tackling air pollution, a new report launched today on National Clean Air Day has shown.
The report showed that in the last 18 months 40 key actions have been progressed as part of the Clean Air for Scotland (CAFS) strategy involving the Scottish Government, local authorities, the NHS, Transport Scotland and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Key activity includes:
working with local authorities to introduce the country’s first Low Emission Zone by 2018, including on-going engagement with the bus and freight sectors
Scotland becoming the first country in Europe to adopt in law the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on fine particulate matter and funding for 13 new monitoring stations (adding to the 16 already in place)
the creation of four new Air Quality Management Areas, bringing the total to 38 in Scotland, all in locations designed to give the best insight into pollution country wide
the development of an app which advices people about alternative routes to help reduce exposure to pollution, and a permanent exhibition at the Glasgow Science Centre dedicated to air quality