Thursday 9 November 2017
Child Poverty Bill
As the Convener of the Social Security Committee which took the lead on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill I am extremely pleased Scotland is to become the only part of the UK with statutory targets to tackle child poverty after the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament. As the Convener of the Social Security Committee which took the lead on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill I am very proud of the work of the Committee on this Bill.
The Bill will:
Set in statute targets to reduce child poverty by 2030
Place a duty on ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals and to report on progress annually
Place a duty on local authorities and health boards to report annually on what they are doing to contribute to reducing child poverty
Establish a Poverty and Inequality Commission
I had a very interesting and informative visit to Partick Jobcentre at the end of last week with my colleague Patrick Grady MP.
With the continued problems with the roll out of Universal Credit we took the opportunity to question the staff on the impact of the roll out.
I also took the opportunity to raise the issue of partnership working with other services and voluntary organisations. These additional services are more than ever vital in providing assistance to clients and I wanted to ensure that staff within the Jobcentre were not only aware of this provision but were providing this information to ensure clients have access to this support.
Historical Sexual Offences
Legislation to provide gay men convicted under historical discriminatory laws with an automatic pardon has been published.
The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill will also enable men to apply to have convictions for same-sex sexual activity that is now legal removed from central criminal conviction records.
The bill delivers on a commitment made in the Programme for Government when it was published in September.
You can read the full text of the statement by the First Minister here:http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11174&i=101857
Dyslexia Awareness Week runs from 6 – 11 November this year and I took the opportunity to stop by and chat with representative from Dyslexia Scotland whilst they were in the Scottish Parliament this week.
The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Positive about dyslexia’ and they had this to say about the campaign:
We are positive about the skills and talents of children and adults with dyslexia.
We are positive that with the right support, children and adults with dyslexia can reach their full potential.
We are positive that children and adults with dyslexia can be successful in education, work and life.
We are working to help turn the negatives into positives.
We are #positiveaboutdyslexia
You can get more information on the campaign and Dyslexia Scotland at https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/dyslexia-awareness-week
Further to my question to the First Minister last week on the allegations of sexual harassment I submitted a further question to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) asking what measures will be put in place not just in terms of sexual harassment but all harassment in whatever guise it may be.
You can read the full exchange here:
Scotland has 1,000 accredited living wage employers compared with around 3,500 across the whole of the UK, meaning Scotland contributes more than a quarter of the UK total and I’m pleased to say I make up one of the 1,000.
81.6% of Scottish workers earn the real living wage, the highest rate in the UK.
The new Real Living Wage rate was announced this week as £8.75 an hour.
Fuel Poverty Consultation
People are being asked to give their views on a new long-term strategy to tackle fuel poverty.
The consultation will run until 1 February 2018 and will seek opinions on, among other things, ambitious targets for fuel poverty reduction – with a revised definition recommended by an independent, expert review – and the timescales for meeting them.
Responses to the consultation will inform the new strategy and the development of a Warm Homes Bill, due to be introduced in 2018, which will enshrine the proposed new fuel poverty target in legislation.
You can access the consultation here:
Gender Recognition Act
Plans have been unveiled to make it simpler – and less intrusive – for transgender people to be legally recognised in their acquired gender.
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on proposals which would bring Scotland into line with international best practice including:
Replacing requirements to provide medical evidence and to live in an acquired gender for two years when seeking legal gender recognition, with a self-declaration system; Reducing the age at which recognition can be obtained to 16, and considering options for under-16s; Options for the legal recognition of non-binary people – people who do not identify as male or female
EU nationals working in Scotland contribute an average of £34,400 each to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – more than £4.4 billion a year – according to new data analysis.
Evidence submitted to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) by the Scottish Government demonstrates how the economy benefits from the presence of 128,000 workers born elsewhere in Europe.
It is the first time economists have calculated a figure which highlights the possibility that if net EU migration to the UK was to fall Scotland’s predicted population growth would be disproportionately affected.
High School of Glasgow
My colleague Bill Kidd MSP and I welcomed S3 Modern Studies pupils from the High School of Glasgow to the Scottish Parliament this week.
We had some very interesting questions from the pupils.
Theses ranged from allowing for members of the public to question the First Minister at weekly FMQs to what issue would be paramount should Scotland become independent to our views on Brexit and what if any transition arrangements should be stipulated on our exit from the European Union.
Tearfund Scotland were in the Parliament highlighting a paper jointly published by Tearfund and the Institute of Development Studies.
The paper Virtuous Circle outlines what the circular economy offers for low and middle-income countries.
They report that the current way of doing things is linear. We take natural resources, make items, use them and then throw them away. At this end point all the energy, water and materials used in making the items are thrown away too.
The circular economy, however, keeps resources in use for as long as possible. Many items, such as cars, can be shared rather than left sitting idle. They can also be repaired or rebuilt rather than being thrown away when they break. This creates new job opportunities and reduces health-damaging waste.
You can find out more about their work and this particular report at https://learn.tearfund.org/en/resources/policy_and_research/sustainable_economics/the_circular_economy/