News

Ebrief

Thursday 13 December

Deliveries

It doesn’t seem like a year since I was last meeting up with the staff at Clarence Drive Sorting Office.

My thanks to the Manager of the sorting office Andrew Mullen for organising the visit and sincere thanks to all the staff for their Christmas cheer and warm welcome.

The staff here in Clarence Drive and across the country work tirelessly to ensure our cards and gifts are delivered in time in the run up to the festive season.

Brexit

I’m at a loss for words on the current status of Brexit and I also need to factor in the huge possibility that whatever comment I do make on the current situation could change rapidly!

The situation is an utter shambles. People are nervous about what the future holds and despite the Scottish Government offering an alternative the UK Government are forging ahead with a disastrous deal with extremely bad consequences.

Mackintosh Remembered

It was an honour to be invited to the unveiling of the sculpture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh by acclaimed artist Andy Scott.

It is believed to be the world’s first public sculpture celebrating Mackintosh, one of Glasgow’s most famous sons and takes pride of place in Anderston.

Mr Scott created the sculpture in clay before it was cast into bronze. The completed sculpture weighs three tons, is 2.8 metres tall and sits atop a 2.2 metre plinth. It shows Mackintosh sat on the famous high-backed chair he designed for Glasgow’s Argyle Street Tea Rooms.

The sculpture faces west from a section of Argyle Street reinstated during Sanctuary’s regeneration of Anderston.This sculpture is a truly fitting tribute to Mackintosh and particularly for this 150th anniversary.

Budget

Budget delivers increased funding for health, education and economic investment.A significant cash injection to health and care services and funding to help prepare Scotland’s economy for Brexit are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the year ahead. The 2019/20 Scottish Budget, proposes an increase of almost £730 million in health and care services.

This includes additional revenues generated by tax decisions that mitigate the shortfall in NHS funding promised by the UK Government.The budget includes more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise infrastructure – including a new £50 million Town Centre Fund to support the future of our high streets.Real terms increases in funding for local government, education, health and the police will support the transformation of our public services to meet new challenges, while investment in skills, social security and training will help ensure we deliver opportunity for all.

The Scottish Government will continue to deliver on its commitments to end homelessness and tackle child poverty, while investment in culture is also protected.

Mr Mackay also confirmed that the Scottish Government’s tax policy will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland will pay less than people earning the same income in the rest of the UK, while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.

Christmas Shopping

Out and about across the constituency and I dropped by the Salvation Army shop on Dumbarton Road.

I was taking part in the Charity Retail Associations (CRA) ‘Good Cause Santa Claus’ Secret Santa Charity Shop Challenge. The CRA are asking people across the country to buy their Secret Santa gifts in charity shops.

I’d echo their calls for your support when you’re buying your Christmas gifts – check out your local charity shops we have an abundance across the constituency so plenty to choose from!

Suicide

 

The Chris Mitchell Foundation were exhibiting in Parliament this week.

The Chris Mitchell Foundation was established in his honour to raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing for players, ex players and staff working in Scottish professional football.

Their vision is to dispel the stigma associated with mental health in Scottish professional football and for it to be integrated into physical health and fitness training programmes.

They want to bring to the forefront the need for awareness of mental health and wellbeing within the Scottish professional football industry, by sharing knowledge and skills and improve learning, forging cohesive and sustainable partnerships, connecting and supporting service users and campaigning to raise awareness on a national scale.

You can find out more about the Foundation here: https://cmfoundation.org.uk

Winter Surgery

I’m pictured with representatives from WarmWorks Scotland and my colleague Patrick Grady MP at the Woodside Winter Surgery which we co-hosted on Friday.

It was an open public surgery for local residents to come and get information about keeping safe and warm this winter.

Whilst aimed at primarily older and more vulnerable groups, all members of the community were welcome and we had a very good success story with an elderly constituent securing through assistance from WarmWorks a new boiler in time for Christmas!

SCOTTISH BUDGET MEANS £76.7 MILLION BOOST FOR GLASGOW’S NHS

Health services in Glasgow will receive a £76.7m boost next year, the Scottish Government unveiled in the budget.

 

The inflation busting increase will see NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde funding increase 3.6% year on year.

 

The budget saw SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay increase total health and care funding by £729m, putting the future of the health service at the centre of the Scottish Government’s financial plan.

 

The Finance Secretary did however highlight the risk Brexit plays to this investment, with the potential for the Scottish Government to be forced to review the budget should the UK face a ‘No Deal’ scenario.

 

Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White said:

 

“People across Glasgow Kelvin will welcome the significant investment in our local NHS services, with a real-term increase in spending.

 

“The SNP value our NHS and are determined to ensure it stays fit for the future.

 

“In contrast, the budget exposed the Tory proposals as completely hollow – with their plan to hand high earners a tax cut leaving a £1 billion hole in our public spending.

 

“Meanwhile, even Labour insiders have admitted that their plans are a ‘shambles’ with the party failing to cost their spending demands.

 

“The SNP budget delivers for our NHS in Glasgow.”

 

Tackling the disability employment gap

Addressing workplace barriers for disabled people.

More disabled parents will be helped into work following an additional £6 million aimed at reducing both the disability employment gap and child poverty.

With only around 40% of working age disabled adults in employment, compared with more than 80% of non-disabled adults, the new funding is part of an action plan outlining how this gap can be at least halved over the next 20 years. The plan sets an initial ambition to increase the employment rate of disabled people to 50% by 2023 then to 60% by 2030.

The action plan also includes:

  • Up to £1 million to develop solutions to the barriers employers face in hiring and retaining disabled people
  • Up to £500,000 to pilot the provision of support similar to Access to Work to disabled people undertaking work experience or work trials
  • A new support service to help disabled people for who more mainstream employment support is not suitable
  • Appointing a business leader to advise Ministers on the steps to reduce the perceived risk of recruiting those with fluctuating health conditions
  • Developing targets for the employment of disabled people within the Scottish Government’s own workforce

Fair Work Minister Jamie Hepburn said:

“Everybody who can and wants to work should have the chance to find rewarding jobs. Unfortunately, far too many disabled people are currently denied this opportunity.

“I am determined that we do everything in our power to address inequality in the workforce and ensure disabled people are supported to have fair and sustainable working lives. The action plan is a significant step forward in making this happen and helping achieve our aim of at least halving the disability employment gap.”

Figures Reveal £56.9m Spent by Scottish Government over 6 months to mitigate Westminster Welfare Cuts and Bedroom Tax

DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENT FIGURES FOR GLASGOW REVEALED

SNP MSP: SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT STILL MITIGATING TORY CUTS

 

An SNP MSP has highlighted the millions being spent on mitigating Tory welfare cuts by the Scottish Government, after new figures revealed that a total of £9.9m was paid to people in Glasgow under the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme – as part of over £50m spent across Scotland to mitigate cruel Tory cuts and policies.

In Glasgow, 18,035 of people in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit were given additional assistance towards housing costs by the Scottish Government. A massive £7.2m in Glasgow – and £40m across Scotland – was spent solely on mitigating the Tories hated Bedroom Tax during the period 1 April to 30 September 2018.

The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme provides financial assistance towards housing costs for those claiming housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

Between April and September, local Authorities in Scotland made a total 100,635 awards under the DHP Scheme, with a total value of £56.9 million and an average award of £565.

SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White said:

“These figures provide further evidence of the cost of protecting people from the very worst impacts of UK Government welfare reform, and make clear that the SNP will always stand up for a fairer welfare system which treats people with respect and dignity.

“It shouldn’t fall to the Scottish Government to mitigate the impact of damaging Tory policies like the bedroom tax – but we know that providing a lifeline for families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet is the right thing to do.

“Instead of being left trying to convince an uncaring Westminster government to recognise just how wrong their welfare cuts are the Scottish Parliament should be making all decisions on tax and social security for ourselves.”

ENDS

Ebrief

Thursday 6 December

St Andrews Day Celebrations

11.18 St Andrews Torchlight ParadeDespite the wet and windy weather hundreds of people came along to celebrate our patron saint and carry a torch for the St Andrews Torchlight Parade.

As ever Michael Dale and his team ensured the event was full of colour and spectacle.

The Parade is part of the winter festivals programme and keeps getting better every year.

Our Lord Provost Eva Bolander led the parade along with David Hayman who was representing the charity Spirit Aid which was the recipient of support from the Parade last year.

It’s great to see so many people taking part in this fantastic annual event and I’m looking forward to next year’s parade!

Best Start – Correction

Apologies to readers trying to access the Best Start grant from the link I included in a previous Ebrief. Unfortunately the link was incorrect and I have been assured that the following link will work https://www.mygov.scot/pregnancy-and-baby-payment/ please let me know if you have any problems.

Small Business Saturday 

11.18 Small Busines Sat 4

I headed for Great Western Road to meet and offer my support for Small Business Saturday marked on 1 December. The day encourages people to shop locally and support their local businesses.

First stop was Solly’s African Village. What a wonderful array of products and comparing the prices to other retailers exceptionally reasonable!

Solly has been trading on Great Western Road for more than 30 years offering gifts and produce from Africa and the Carribean. Check out their website here: https://www.sollysafricanvillage.co.uk/

11.18 Small Business Sat 4

Next stop Paulin Watches a watch company specialising in high quality, design-led watches. The brainchild of 3 sisters, production began in late 2014.

The Paulin sisters were inspired by their great grandfather; George Henry Paulin, a distinguished sculptor who worked throughout both World Wars across London and Glasgow, with strong artistic roots. Find them here: https://www.paulinwatches.com/

11.18 Small Business Sat 3From there I headed for Liquorice Tree to meet the manager Helen.

Liquorice Tree Gifts opened in the summer of 2013 in Glasgow’s West End, next to the Kelvinbridge subway station on Great Western Road.

The store offers a gorgeous range of gifts to suit every person and occasion. Their business has been so successful that they have grown their brand and opened another branch in Edinburgh’s city centre.

I’d highly recommend this shop for some beautiful and quirky gifts. You can have a look at their stock here: https://www.liquoricetree.com/

11.18 Small Business Sat 2Next stop Valhalla’s Goat and their incredible stock of fine wines, craft beers and spirits.

An original independent wine and spirit merchant in the west end with some incredibly knowledgeable staff who are on hand to answers any of your questions and offer suggestions on what to select!

I went for the Glas-Wee-Gin and some craft beers all beautifully packaged. Have a look for yourself at https://www.valhallasgoat.com/

Finally I stopped by west end institution Roots, Fruits and Flowers for a chat with Garth about the business he’s been successfully running for more than 30 years.

12.18 Small Business Saturday RootsAlthough they have downsized they still have a grocery store on Argyle Street and Great Western Road and a florist and greengrocer on Great Western Road.

You can browse their products online here https://www.rootsfruitsandflowers.com/ but I would recommend a trip in person.

This is just a very small selection of the independent shops trading across the constituency – there are many, many more but they can only survive if you use them! Buy local this Christmas and throughout the year!

BREXIT

The Scottish Parliament has rejected the UK Government’s draft Brexit deal and has ruled out a ‘no deal’ Brexit option.

The UK Government’s Brexit deal will make Scotland poorer and they must now listen and act on the Scottish Parliament’s overwhelming decision to reject it.

In every area of Scotland there will be businesses, organisations, communities, people and families who will suffer, directly suffer, over a long period of time under this proposed deal.

The Scottish Parliament came together to say we cannot let this happen, and the UK Government must now respect this decisive vote.

Nordoff Robbins

12.18 SMA 2018Another fabulous night at the annual Nordoff Robbins Scottish Music Awards and look who I bumped into!

This was a particularly special night as they celebrate their 20th annual awards – a great achievement with special thanks to Donald Macleod who has shown huge commitment and dedication.

There was a great line up to entertain the crowd including newly inducted Scottish Music Hall of Fame Susan Boyle who performed Wild Horses and the legendary Annie Lennox was also inducted.

Other highlights included performances from Snow Patrol, Amy MacDonald, Tom Grennan and Kyle Falconer and compere Sanjeev Kholi.

This is always a very special night for the Scottish music industry, recognising and showcasing our incredible talent!

Universal Credit

Anyone making a new claim for Universal Credit faces spending the festive season without money. The in-built wait of a minimum of five weeks before payment means that anyone making a claim this week will need to survive until January without money to which they are entitled.

The Scottish Government cannot change Universal Credit.  It’s a benefit delivered by the UK Government. However, they do have limited powers to make the delivery of Universal Credit better suited to the needs of people.

Since last year, our Universal Credit Scottish choices have given people the choice to receive their Universal Credit award twice monthly and have the housing costs paid directly to their landlord.

The Scottish Government are spending significant amounts to mitigate the worst effects of UK Government cuts and support those on low incomes – £125 million this year alone – £20 million more than last year. The system is an utter shambles and requires fundamental changes to make it fit for purpose.

World Aids Day

11.18 World Aids DayEvery year on 1 December people around the world come together to mark World AIDS Day.

It’s a day that is internationally recognised to help increase awareness of HIV, challenge stigma, raise money and improve education. Many people also use the day to remember those who have died of AIDS.

2018 marks the 30th Annual World AIDS Day, which was the first ever global health day.

Big anniversaries offer the opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV over the past three decades and I was happy to join HIV Scotland in the Scottish Parliament to help promote the 30th Annual World Aids Day.