Ebrief

Thursday 7 September

Welcome back! I hope that you managed to make the most of the summer. There was plenty going on in and around the constituency and I took the opportunity of recess to get out and about.

Programme for Government

I very much welcome the legislative programme announced by the first Minister this week in Parliament. Seizing the opportunities of the low carbon revolution, investing in future economic growth and improving the lives of all our young people is central.

Action will be taken to phase out the need for petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 and fast-track the development of a Scotland wide charging network as well as plans for a Scottish National Investment Bank to deliver long term financial support for innovative industries.

Education bill will be the centrepiece of the legislative programme for the year ahead, with major reforms also taking place in health and justice and a review of local democracy.

Other measures within the Programme for Government – which confirmed 16 new pieces of legislation – include:

  • support for key business sectors including low carbon, screen, manufacturing and financial technology
  • extending free personal care to all those under 65 who need it, known as ‘Frank’s Law’
  • rolling out new social security powers as part of a package of measures to tackle inequality, child poverty, end rough sleeping, reduce drug deaths and provide free sanitary protection to students in school, college and university
  • extending the presumption against short prison sentences to 12 months to break the cycle of offending and encourage the greater use of more effective community sentences
  • record investment in the NHS and a pledge to lift the public sector pay cap for NHS and other public sector workers
  • doubling the provision of free childcare
  • Improving public health with action on air quality, increased investment in active travel and measures to restrict the marketing of fatty and sugary food and drink
  • A discussion paper on the use of income tax in Scotland to support public services

I also took the opportunity to contribute to the debate focusing on social security you can read my contribution here:  http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ormain.aspx

You can access the full programme here https://beta.gov.scot/publications/nation-ambition-governments-programme-scotland-2017-18/

Glasgow Gaelic School

09.17 Glasgow Gaelic School

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney MSP had a visit to the Glasgow Gaelic School during the recess which I attended. It was very productive and gave the staff an opportunity to discuss issues with both the Cabinet Secretary and myself.

I’d also like to draw people’s attention to the recent Scottish Women’s Award ceremony which saw the school’s Headteacher Dr Donalda McComb being recognised with an Award for Services to Education – many congratulations.

In accepting the award Dr McComb paid tribute to the parents, teachers and children at the school.

Universal Credit

Citizens Advice Scotland’s report on Universal Credit was the subject of a members debate in Parliament this week and as Convener of the Social Security Committee I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate.

The UK Government are railroading through a system which is causing financial hardship. For too many people, a system that is intended to support them through difficult times is making their situation much worse. Families are falling into debt and rent arrears and having to turn to foodbanks just to survive.

This situation is not acceptable. The UK Government needs to do more to reduce how long people have to wait for payments and to improve the support available. I as well as many others across the chamber are calling on the UK Government to pause in the accelerated roll-out of Universal Credit, so that these problems can be fixed before more families find themselves in crisis.

You can access my full speech here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ormain.aspx

New Ventures

09.17 KMR CandlesI found this wonderful new shop KMR Candles on the High Street selling handmade candles made with natural eco-soya wax.

Rebecca Macraild is the entrepreneur behind this business and is pictured with me in the shop. It’s great to see new ventures opening up in the city centre stocking handmade Scottish goods.

If you can’t manage into the shop they also have an online presence www.kmrcandles.co.uk

 

Workforce Development

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) will be available to organisations across the private, public and third sectors who are subject to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. The FWDF was developed in line with the Scottish Government’s 2016 consultation on the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, and is part of a range of support for Scottish Levy payers, which includes the expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme.

The one-year pilot fund will focus on the up-skilling and re-skilling of existing employees of any age, with individual organisations able to apply for up to £10,000. From today, Scotland’s employers can apply for part of a new £10 million fund to partner with colleges to deliver in-work skills training.

Brexit

The process for post-Brexit planning needs to change so that the position of the Scottish Government – particularly in areas that directly affect devolution  – is properly represented.

In a letter to the UK Government, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe has asked for the change in process to be made, setting out concerns over the lack of engagement on documents covering devolved areas such as science and innovation and areas that impact significantly on Scotland, such as future immigration and customs arrangements.

The process for post-Brexit planning needs to change so that the position of the Scottish Government – particularly in areas that directly affect devolution  – is properly represented.

PAMIS

09.17 Pamiloo PamisThousands of people with complex needs across Scotland are unable to attend events or visit outdoor venues due to the lack of appropriate toilets. While locations sometimes offer ‘accessible toilets’, these are not suitable for people with complex needs who need specialised equipment and additional space.

I met up with PAMIS (Promoting a more inclusive society) at Buchanan Galleries. They have just acquired the first Scottish Mobile Changing Places toilet, this vehicle – the pamiloo can now be used by families and used at leisure events held by PAMIS to provide fully accessible toileting facilities.

PAMIS are still fundraising to pay for the cost of the vehicle, and very much appreciate any support. You can make a donation to the campaign on JustGiving.

You can also take part in their fundraising efforts inspired by their 25 anniversary year – The PAMIS Challenge 25. They are looking for 25 teams from across Scotland to turn £100 seed money into £1000 for the Pamiloo. How you do it is entirely up to you! You can be as creative as you like. You can start your challenge on a date of your choosing and then you have 12 weeks to complete it. If you would like to take part, or would like more information, please contact Fiona Harper from our fundraising team on f.k.harper@dundee.ac.uk or call 01382 339560.

Franks Law

At least 9000 families in Scotland will benefit from the introduction of free personal care for everyone who requires it, regardless of age.

Known as ‘Frank’s Law’ after the campaign led by footballer Frank Kopel’s widow Amanda, the policy will take effect by April 2019.

This change will help thousands of families across Scotland and Mrs Kopel has played a crucial role in bringing issues around personal care for under 65s to light and in ensuring they have remained prominent in the public’s mind.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced free personal care for everyone who requires it, regardless of age, as part of the Programme for Government on Tuesday, September 5.

This has become known as Frank’s Law after a campaign led by Amanda Kopel. Mrs Kopel has campaigned for the change in care provision since her husband, the former Dundee United player Frank Kopel, was diagnosed with and later died from early onset dementia.

Landlord Registration

Guidance on regulating landlords in the private rented sector has been issued to all local authorities. The new guidance is available to read here- Landlord Registration Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities

The guidance will support local authorities to effectively regulate the landlord registration system, which requires councils to maintain a register of private landlords and ensure that only landlords it judges to be fit and proper are allowed on the register.

Landlord registration gives local authorities the ability to control and regulate who can operate legitimately as a private landlord.

The Scottish Government want to see a sector that is characterised by more good quality homes, being managed professionally and where tenants feel secure.  Where there are poor standards, local authorities should be taking tough, targeted enforcement to ensure every landlord is fit for purpose.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s