Thursday 22 February 2018
The Scottish Government’s budget was passed this week in Parliament. This budget will protect low and middle income earners and deliver for public services and public sector workers.
The budget delivers progressive reforms to Scotland’s income tax system, with modest increases on higher earners, while 70% of taxpayers will pay less than they did last year and 55% will pay less than the rest of the UK. Opinion polling found that Scots back the SNP’s tax plans by 2 to 1.
The Budget will also deliver an additional £400 million for the NHS, an expansion in childcare, more spending on broadband, extra funding for our police and fire services, and a pay rise for hard-working public sector employees.
This is a budget for a stronger economy and a fairer society – with increased funding for the NHS and protection for low and middle income earners.
In the face of massive Westminster cuts, ongoing austerity and a damaging hard Brexit – this budget provides investment to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.
I was delighted to sponsor the Scottish Ethnic Minority Older Peoples Forum in the Parliament this week.
The Older People Services Project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is developed and managed jointly by Trust, Hanover (Scotland) and Bield Housing Associations.
The purpose of the project is to encourage and maximise benefits and services uptake by older people from Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) communities, carry out research on their changing needs and aspirations and to set up BME Older People’s forum in Scotland.
The Older Peoples Services Project will help ethnic minority older people with access to benefits and services to improve their lives and deal with issues of isolation and loneliness. There will be a specific focus on raising awareness on the effects of isolation on health, wellbeing and respect and dignity.
Agent for Change
Good news from the Scottish Government – developers building new residential buildings near music venues will be responsible for taking appropriate measures to ensure local people are not disturbed by noise. I know that many music venue owners in Glasgow particularly those affected by this issue and whom I’ve been working with to change the current guidance will very much welcome this change.
New guidance on this Agent of Change principle will be included in the new version of the National Planning Framework and local authorities will be asked to implement it immediately.
Music venues should not have to make high cost changes or deal with expensive disputes because of new developments. Developers will be responsible for identifying and solving any potential issues with noise, giving residents of new homes a better quality of life and allowing our music venues to continue to operate.
Development and consultation on the next National Planning Framework (NPF4) will begin in 2018, and it is expected to be adopted in 2020.
A Chief Planner letter has been sent to all planning authorities highlighting existing guidance on noise issues and asking them to ensure decisions reflect the Agent of Change principle.
You can access the letter here https://news.gov.scot/resources/agent-of-change-planner-letter-2
Purple Friday is LGBT Youth Scotland’s annual fund and awareness-raising campaign and I was delighted to take part in a photo – opp with my colleagues to highlight the campaign.
The campaign was established to shine a spotlight on LGBT Youth Scotland’s essential work with young people and give allies an opportunity to declare their support for LGBTI equality and inclusion in Scotland.
This year’s theme is #EverydayHero and here I am with MSPs spanning all the party’s in the Scottish Parliament.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) were in Parliament this week exhibiting their services and I took the opportunity to have a quick chat with them.
The purpose and aims of HIS are to support and provide better health quality and social care for everyone in Scotland.
They work with people at every level of the health and social care system making sure improvements in care are informed by the experiences of people who deliver and people who use services.
New funding will support research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
Funding of £90,000 will be provided for a Scottish university to host a new Ph.D studentship focussed on improving understanding of ME – a condition characterised by long-term fatigue and other symptoms that can make it more difficult for a person to carry on their daily life.
The studentship, jointly funded by Scottish Government and Action for ME, is in response to calls from ME organisations for increased research into the condition.
The Scottish Government has announced schools will be allocated £3 million this year to support pupils learning additional languages with Glasgow City receiving £301,000.
A lack of language skills has been estimated to cost Scottish businesses hundreds of millions of pounds a year in lost exports.
The Scottish Government funding will enable every primary school pupil to start learning an additional language in Primary 1 and a second additional language by Primary 5, and for language learning to continue to the end of S3. This includes Mandarin, Gaelic and British Sign Language as well as European languages.
There has been a sustained increase in language Highers and skills-based qualifications in recent years and the Scottish Government’s continued investment will build on this success, ensuring the workforce has the right skills to make the most of international economic opportunities.
Best Bib n Tucker
It was lovely to meet up with representatives from Best Bib n Tucker CIC in Parliament this week, a local Edinburgh Community social enterprise.
They have developed a range of professionally produced protective clothing, including bibs, smocks and tabards particularly for adults but also for children who have additional needs at meal times.
They also provide training with workshops in sewing, photography, health, employability and the environment. These all tie in with the groups aim of improving the local communities’ health, environment and connection to friends.
The work they do goes some way in alleviating loneliness and isolation whilst teaching and learning new skills.
The Joint Programme Board overseeing the integration of British Transport Police (BTP) in Scotland into Police Scotland has agreed to review the timetable.
A longer timetable will allow for enhanced engagement with officers, staff and their representatives on key issues, including pay and conditions.
A detailed re-planning exercise will now take place over the coming months to ensure robust delivery plans are in place for all of the key elements of the programme and to establish a new delivery date.