BANK CLOSURES ‘UNJUSTIFIABLE’ AFTER RISE IN PROFITS

SNP KEEPS UP PRESSURE OVER LOCAL COMMUNITY BANKING CRISIS

The SNP has called on Bank of Scotland to reverse plans to close bank branches across Scotland, after Lloyds Banking Group unveiled a huge increase in profits for the year.

Lloyds Banking Group, which owns the Bank of Scotland, today announced a 13% increase in annual pre-tax profits, reporting that operating costs remained broadly steady over the last year.

Sandra White MSP recently led a debate in the Scottish Parliament condemning the Bank of Scotland’s proposed closure of seven branches across Scotland – including Glasgow St George’s Cross in her own constituency.

SNP politicians have also written to bosses at Santander about its plans to close 15 branches across Scotland, calling for a halt to these closures until the bank has undertaken a full consultation with staff and local communities.

Sandra White MSP said:

“Today’s news that Lloyds has seen profits rise over the last year forces us to question whether its programme of wholesale bank closures is really necessary.

“High street banks are hugely important to communities across Scotland – people and businesses depend on them to help keep local economies running.

“Communities and businesses should be able to access a face-to-face banking service, which is indispensable for many of my constituents.

“In more rural parts of Scotland, some branches earmarked for closure are literally the last bank in town.

“If the Bank of Scotland is interested in growing its customer base and building trust, it should abandon plans to close branches throughout Scotland, and keep branches at the heart of our communities.

“The SNP will continue our fight to save these banks. The Bank of Scotland, and others, should recognise there’s little sense in their plans to axe high street branches.”


ENDS

Notes:

Lloyds Banking Group reported a 13% increase in annual profits as it delivered a bumper pay-out for shareholders and said it will meet cost target earlier than expected. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/lloyds-banking-group-return-4bn-074430864.html

HOLYROOD COMMITTEE CALLS FOR URGENT WELFARE REFORM

A report published this week by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee has called for the urgent reversal of UK government welfare cuts that have caused “significant damage” to the income of working Scots.

Introduced by the Tories in 2016, the working-age benefit freeze gives a real-terms cut to households claiming benefits such as Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Child tax credits, and Tax Credits – forcing families to bear the brunt of what will be an estimated £3.7 billion in cuts by 2020.

The report found that, “the benefits freeze has a disproportionate impact on the poorest and those in most need.”

While the SNP has pledged almost £100 million for the coming year to continue mitigation of the Bedroom Tax and the UK government’s reserved welfare cuts, the committee has said it should not be left for only the Scottish Government to ensure the income of claimants north of the border does not drop in real terms.

The report, ‘Social Security and In-Work Poverty’, has also urged the UK government to re-think its controversial Universal Credit system, backing calls to end the five week waiting period for first-time claimants to receive a payment – suggesting a maximum of two weeks would be more appropriate.

The report continued, stating that “Universal Credit is a significant cause of the rise in demand for food bank services.”

The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest foodbank charity, recently came forward with figures that show a 52% increase in demand at local foodbanks in the 12 months after the roll-out reaches an area.

Neither the Work and Pensions Secretary nor the UK Employment Minister accepted the committee’s invitation to give evidence during this inquiry.

Commenting SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White said:

“Here in Glasgow Kelvin and across Scotland, families are falling behind on rent payments and daily living costs thanks to the Tories damaging welfare policies.

“More and more households simply can’t get by – forcing many of those on Universal Credit to rely on emergency welfare support and foodbanks to feed themselves.

“The UK government cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand – it’s time to listen to the pleas from claimants, campaigners and charity groups for fundamental reform of Universal Credit and an end the benefits freeze.”

ENDS

Notes: https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/SC/2019/2/6/Social-Security-and-In-Work-Poverty

University of Glasgow’s 568th Anniversary Recognised in Parliament

Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White has recognised the 568th Birthday of the University of Glasgow in a Parliamentary Motion lodged on anniversary of its foundation.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

“The University’s centuries-old contribution to academia, innovation, and scientific pursuit has been of considerable contribution to the world, and part of the fabric of Glasgow, Scotland, and beyond.

“Building on its rich history, the University continues to inspire people and change the world. It is my pleasure to recognise this achievement in a Parliamentary Motion on its anniversary today”

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the whole University of Glasgow community and alumni on this wonderful anniversary.”

Parliamentary Motion:

Motion Number: S5M-15257
Lodged By: Sandra White
Date Lodged: 07/01/2019

Title: 568th Anniversary of the University of Glasgow

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates the University of Glasgow on its 568th anniversary; notes that the university was founded on 7 January 1451 by the Bishop of Glasgow, William Turnbull, following the issuing of a papal bull by Pope Nicholas V at the request of King James II; further notes that the institution is the fourth oldest English-speaking university in the world, and the second oldest university in Scotland; understands that it commands a global reputation for centuries of pioneering research and academic excellence, and continues to be ranked as one of the world’s leading higher education institutions; recognises the university’s centuries of contributions, which have been of huge significance to generations of students, and the city of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond, and wishes the university and its alumni a happy anniversary and continued success as it builds on its rich history in its mission to “inspire people and change the world”.

Photo: Gary Paterson

Scottish Government funded infrastructure sees £1.12bn invested in Glasgow

The Scottish Government’s strong commitment to investment in infrastructure in Glasgow has been highlighted today, as it was revealed that the area benefits from £1.12bn of funding for infrastructure projects being delivered in 2018.

Local projects such as the Woodside Health Centre and the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme are due to be completed during 2019 and 2020 benefitted from over 1 billion pounds of funding, and there are a number of new projects and schemes being lined up to be started next year.

The Scottish Government has reiterated its commitment to investing in key projects across Scotland, in 2019 – even in the face of Westminster cuts to funding of almost £2billion.

The last few years have seen number of high-profile projects completed in Scotland, including the Queensferry Crossing, Borders Railway, and new college campuses in Glasgow, Inverness and Ayrshire. 

Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“Investing in infrastructure means better public services, enhanced connectivity, more jobs and growth in our economy.

“I am delighted to hear that the SNP government invested a record £1.12bn in significant infrastructure projects being delivered in Glasgow. This has not only created jobs and boosted the local economy in the short-term, but will also contribute to a lasting economic legacy in the area.

“But Scotland has the potential to do so much more in building for the future and transforming communities.

“With full powers over our economy in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, we could create more jobs and reverse Tory cuts and the damage of austerity in Glasgow.”

ENDS

ScotGov’s £2m Library Investment Pays Off as Visitor Numbers Increase

MORE SCOTS VISITING LIBRARIES THAN EVER BEFORE

SNP MSP PRAISES WORK OF LIBRARY WORKERS AND VOLUNTEERS IN Glasgow

An SNP MSP has welcomed new research that shows that more people in Scotland are using public libraries than ever before.

Last year, there were over 43 million visits to public libraries in Scotland – including both physical visits and virtual visits. This marked a 2.5% increase on the previous year.

In Glasgow each visit represents £2.16 of investment, with 74% of library visitors recording satisfaction in the service.

The Scottish Government, via the Public Library Improvement Fund, has invested almost £2million in libraries across Scotland and recently announced that every public library in Scotland will receive a complete collection of Muriel Spark novels, as part of an initiative announced by the First Minister.

Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“Local libraries are a critical part of our society, which is why it’s so great to see that more and more people are taking the time to use library facilities in Glasgow.

“Literacy and education are vital in ensuring that every child in Scotland gets the best start in life, and for older people visiting a library can be an excellent way of combatting loneliness and mental health issues.

“It’s deeply inspiring to see the work of those library workers and volunteers, who are vital in enabling people to access reading materials and computers, if they don’t have access to these at home.”

ENDS