Thursday 23 January 2020
The Scottish Parliament had the honour of displaying the Arbroath Tapestry this week!
The Tapestry is just one of a range of activities to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.
Arbroath Abbey will host a display of the new Arbroath Tapestry, which has been designed by artist Andrew Crummy and created by a group of highly skilled Angus women, as well as a ‘scriptorium’ structure similar to the room in the Abbey where the declaration may have been written.
You can find out more about the events across the country here:
Many of you would have seen the reports in the media regarding the unacceptable waiting times for toxicology reports. I took the opportunity to raise the matter again in the chamber at First Ministers Questions, having already pursued this matter with the Lord Advocate many months ago as well as directly with Glasgow University.
I asked what action the Scottish Government was taking to address the reported problems with toxicology services at the University of Glasgow.
You can access the full exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12474&i=112781
Chinese New Year
Parliament celebrated Chinese New Year this week with a reception being held in the Garden Lobby.
The event was led by the British Born Young Talent Association (BBYTA) and there were fantastic performances with a lion dance, kung fu display as well as cultural performances from children.
BBYTA were inspired to do this from the Year of the Young People campaign in 2018.
The Chinese New Year Celebration promoted a better understanding of Chinese culture and the importance of diversity in a multi-cultural setting.
The event also celebrated diversity in modern Scotland, fabricating connections between the two countries and building on the special relationship that has already been established by the Scottish Government and the Chinese Government.
Many of the performances and arts on display were created and performed by disadvantaged children. The group recognised that these children may not have the same opportunities, so they wanted to give them a platform not only to showcase their talents but to also learn about new cultures through celebrating Chinese New Year.
Analysis shows tens of thousands of people have completely lost their disability benefits since 2013.
More than half of new claims in Scotland for the UK Government’s disability payment are refused, with tens of thousands of disabled people completely losing their benefits.
Since the UK Government replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013, 167,000 new claims in Scotland have been unsuccessful, equal to 54% of all applications.
The analysis, produced by the Scottish Government, shows that the share of new claimants awarded PIP has decreased since the benefit was introduced, from 74% in 2013/14 to 56% in 2018/19, an 18 percentage point reduction.
In addition, 39,000 people in Scotland have lost their disability benefits completely (costing them between £1,200 and £7,740 per year) after losing their DLA entitlement when they were reassessed and refused PIP.
Since PIP was introduced, 30,000 people have had to undergo a stressful appeals process, with 21,000 of those having to go to court in order to receive their correct PIP entitlement.
The Scottish Government will do things differently as they start delivery of disability benefits over the next 18 months.
Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland and they want people to receive all the support they are entitled to.
The Scottish Government are building a new social security system from scratch – with fairness, respect and dignity at its heart.
Paths for All were exhibiting in Parliament this week and I took time to chat to them about the work they are doing across the country.
I also offered my support to their campaign. Championing walking and to encourage people to get up and out regardless of age, ability or agility!
Physical inactivity is one of the biggest public health issues affecting our society with implications for present day physical, mental and social health, as well as the future health of the people of Scotland.
Paths for All believe walking is the key to tackling physical inactivity in our society. It is the only free, easily accessible activity that most people can do.
You can find out about Paths for All or if you’re looking for inspiration you can get more information here: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/walking-for-health
Good news this week with the passing of legislation to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank unanimously by the Scottish Parliament.
The new institution will direct investments that deliver economic, environmental and social returns, and help Scotland’s journey towards net-zero carbon emissions. It will aim to increase innovation, give support to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), and build a high-tech and inclusive economy.
The bank is expected to be operational before the end of the year. It will have an initial capitalisation of £2 billion over 10 years with the aim that it will ultimately become self-financing.
For more information go to https://www.gov.scot/policies/economic-growth/scottish-national-investment-bank/
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust were in Parliament today as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
They were highlighting their campaign to smear the myths and stigma around human papillomavirus (HPV) and their work to eradicate cervical cancer.
They want as many people as possible to know how they can reduce their risk of the disease and to educate others.
You can reduce your risk of cervical cancer by attending cervical screening when invited, knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any and taking up the HPV vaccination if aged 11-18.
The HPV vaccine has been offered to girls in Scotland from S1 since 2008 and from academic year 2019/20, the HPV vaccine is also offered to S1 boys
Projects for disadvantaged young people will share £19 million seized from criminals.
The CashBack for Communities scheme reinvests criminal assets into community projects which support young people into positive destinations, diverting some away from potentially criminal or anti-social behaviour.
A total of 24 organisations have been awarded funding, taking the total investment in the unique programme to more than £110 million since it began in 2008.
In addition there are 2 funds which will allocate money to youth work projects, through the YouthLink Scotland managed Youth Work Fund and further details can be found at:
There are also individual awards funded by Prince’s Trust Development Awards programme and further information on this and the way to apply can be found at: