News

Sandra welcomes latest Scottish Welfare Fund help as Tory poverty policies bite.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin and the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Convener has welcomed Scottish Welfare Fund statistics released by the Scottish Government, and has warned of increasing poverty under callous Tory policies such as the Rape Clause.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a national grant scheme run by Local Authorities, based on guidance from Scottish Ministers to provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency, when there is an immediate threat to health or safety, and to enable people to live independently or continue to live independently, preventing the need for institutional care.

Latest figures from October to December 2016 released today show over 51,000 applications were lodged, with more than 60% of successful applications resulting in a total of £8m awarded. Over half of all awards issued were to applications living in the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland.

Commenting, the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Convener and MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White said:

“I have been pleased to see the Scottish Welfare Fund has been able to help a great deal of people who have fallen on unfortunate circumstances due to no fault of their own. As a local MSP I have seen this work first hand having referred many constituents facing testings times and whom have received vital support as a result.

“However, it is it is unfortunate that increasingly the Fund is having to create extensions to defend against the worst of cruel Tory policies such as the interim expansion by the Scottish Government to provide support for the 18-21 year olds whose housing benefits have been scraped by the British Government.

“Once again, today in the Scottish Parliament we are discussing the impact on Scotland of another cruel poverty policy from the Tories, where we will consider the morally repugnant Rape Clause under Tory Tax Credit Removal plans which anti-poverty charities say will increase child poverty by 10%.

“We continue to do what we can to fight poverty and Tory austerity, and indeed the Scottish Government spends significant resources attempting to mitigate Tory austerity and poverty policies in our public services, and in fighting terrible policies such as the Bedroom Tax and the removal of housing support for young people. This is money that should be taking the fight against poverty forward rather than covering Tory attacks on the worst off in society.”

Commenting on the latest statistics on the Scottish Welfare Fund, Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said:

“Nobody chooses to rely on grants but at times of crisis it’s essential the right support is there to help those who need it most and that’s what the Scottish Welfare Fund does – it provides support for those who desperately need it.

“It is a vital lifeline for people in times of need and helps with everyday necessities, such as food, nappies or heating, that many of us take for granted. Since April 2013, £124 million has been spent helping more than 241,000 households across the country. We have recently had to extend the fund on an interim basis to ensure housing support is provided to 18 to 21 year-olds who will no longer receive financial assistance with housing costs under Universal Credit.

“It is completely unacceptable that people find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own and we will continue to do all we can to support hard pressed families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.”

The statistical release is available here: https://news.gov.scot/news/scottish-welfare-fund-1

More information on the housing support for 18 to 21 year-olds: https://news.gov.scot/news/uk-housing-benefit-changes-shameful

Ebrief

Thursday 20 April

Election

Speculation all round with the announcement of a snap General Election. I would think that Ms May is betting that her party can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray with the opposition.

The people will have their choice. They could reject the narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.

Welfare

Women are being unfairly impacted by recent UK Government cuts to benefits and welfare eligibility.

An estimated 20% of women’s income comes from benefits and child tax credits, compared to 10% of men’s. Meanwhile, of all in-work families receiving child tax credits, 87% of recipients were women. For in-work single parents, 94% of recipients were female.

By 2020-21 it is estimated around 50,000 Scottish households will be affected by the changes to child tax credits, which will be capped at two children. This means anyone with two children or more will no longer receive tax credits at the birth of their next child or subsequent children, unless an exception applies. The policy also affects those making a new Universal Credit claim.

The capping at two children policy is particularly galling and I have lodged a motion in Parliament condemning the UK Government on this and calling on an immediate withdrawal of this move. I have also written to both Annie Wells MSP and Adam Tomkins MSP on this issue and await their response.

As usual we are seeing an alarming lack of understanding from the UK Government about the impact of their ideologically-driven policies. This is most evident in the extremely ill-thought through ‘rape clause’, where – shockingly – women have to provide evidence they’ve been raped to access benefits.

The UK Government’s callous policies make the Scottish Government’s efforts to eradicate child poverty even harder. The Scottish Government are spending some £100 million a year on welfare mitigation to protect the vulnerable and those on low incomes, which should be invested in anti-poverty measures. In Scotland the reality is we are tackling deep seated issues of inequality with one hand tied behind our back.

Social Enterprise Fund

A scheme to encourage the launch of new companies that benefit and involve communities has seen annual funding double to £1 million for each of the next three years.

The Social Entrepreneurs Fund offers grants and business support to help people make their ‘social start-up’ aspirations a reality. Increased backing for the fund is just one of 92 commitments made in the 2017-2020 Social Enterprise Action Plan.

The plan follows publication of Scotland’s first-ever Social Enterprise Strategy, aimed at sustainably growing the sector over the next decade. Already, Scotland has more than 5,000 social enterprises – business that reinvest profits to address important issues like homelessness, unemployment or climate change – with 200 new enterprises starting up every year.

The latest round of funding awards saw a Kelvin resident who owns Lewalicious Cakes secure £5000 to set up a community bakery in the east end of Glasgow, offering training, volunteering and employment support to unemployed young people.

You can find out more information at http://www.firstport.org.uk/

SAAS

Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) is now open for business and asking full-time students to submit their 2017-2018 applications for funding at www.saas.gov.uk

SAAS have also launched a new SAAS Account, which allows students to manage their applications from their mobile and desktop devices and within one portal: including submitting an application, uploading documents and supporting evidence, checking on progress and sending and receiving enquiries.

Students should apply now to ensure they have their funding in place for the start of their course and must submit an accurate application along with all the required supporting evidence. And we’re here to help, we have extended our opening hours to support students through the registration and application process.

If you have any queries please ring the SAAS helpline on 0300 555 0505.

Visit http://www.saas.gov.uk now for more information and to complete applications 

Organ Donation

The number of patients living in Scotland whose lives were saved or improved by an organ transplant has reached a record high.

New figures show that in 2016/17 there were 133 deceased organ donors in Scottish hospitals – up from 99 the previous year. This equates to a donor rate in Scotland of 24.8 per million of population – the highest rate in the UK. 348 people in Scotland waiting for an organ received a deceased donor transplant, which is also the highest ever number of transplants.

The NHSBT figures also show that the number of people in Scotland waiting for a transplant dropped to the lowest on record and that nearly 2.4 million people in Scotland are now on the NHS Organ Donor Register, which is approximately 45% of the Scottish population.

If you would like to register or find out more information please go to https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/

LGBT

A working group is being established to examine how the education experience for LGBTI young people in Scotland can be improved.

It will be chaired by the Association of Directors of Education (ADES) and will include education leaders, equalities experts and young people, as well as representatives of the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign.

The detailed remit of the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group will be agreed at its first meeting. Its membership includes representatives of Association of Directors of Education (ADES), Education Scotland, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), Equality & Human Rights Commission, LGBT Youth Scotland, National Parent Forum Scotland, respectme, School Leaders Scotland, Scottish Catholic Education Service, Scottish Youth Parliament, Stonewall Scotland and TIE.

Parking

This is just a reminder that the consultation on the future of parking in Scotland is now open and can be accessed at:https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/road-policy/improving-parking-in-scotland/

I know from both on my walkabouts across the constituency and the correspondence I receive that this is a huge issue. Your views matter and I would encourage you to participate in the consultation.

Sectarianism

Projects that challenge sectarian behaviour will share £500,000 funding from the Scottish Government.

The 11 successful projects have a strong educational focus, work directly with young people and adults and will deliver projects directly tied to the recommendations of Dr Duncan Morrow’s review of the Independent Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland.

I was particularly glad to see that North Kelvin received £22,592 to provide anti-sectarian education through an after-school club model that brings local schools together. This will ensure that anti-sectarian messages that are given in school are reinforced outwith the formal school environment thereby helping to embed these messages in the minds of young people from a range of backgrounds.

Sandra White MSP condemns introduction of Tax Credit Rape Claus

Sandra White has condemned the UK Government’s ‘Rape Clause’ which forces mothers of more than two children to prove they were raped in order to receive additional Child Tax Credits after the family cap on two children per family came into force today.

 

In lodging a motion to the Scottish Parliament, Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

 

“I am utterly appalled with the introduction of the Rape Clause which is one of the most callous, inhumane, and disgusting policies I have witnessed come into force by this government.

 

“The public and women’s advocacy groups area rightly appalled by this outrageous policy, and I join them in condemning this action and in calling on this Tory UK Government to withdraw this draconian policy with immediate effect.”

 

Sandra’s motion to the Scottish Parliament can be found here, please write to your MSPs asking them to support it at www.writetothem.com:

 

Motion Number: S5M-05080

Lodged By: Sandra White

Date Lodged: 06/04/2017

Title:
Tax Credit Rape Clause

Motion Text:That the Parliament condemns the introduction of new measures for entitlement to child tax credits by the Department for Work and Pensions, which limits tax credits and the child element of universal credit to two children, unless a third or subsequent child was the result of rape; understands concerns have been raised by national women’s organisations including Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid on the impact of limiting social security to only two children, which it considers will deepen women and children’s poverty, including those in Glasgow Kelvin; believes that the so-called “rape clause” will have a traumatic impact, forcing women to disclose sexual violence to the state with the threat of deeper impoverishment if they refuse, and notes calls on the UK Government to withdraw what it considers this draconian legislation with immediate effect.

Sandra welcomes creation of three new University Hospitals in GCU and NHS partnership.

Sandra White MSP has welcomed the new partnership between Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and NHS Lanarkshire to introduce three new university hospitals that will improve research, study, and healthy ageing provision.

Commenting, Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said, “I was pleased to lodge a congratulatory motion to the Scottish Parliament in recognition of this welcomed partnership that will deliver improved provision by utilising GCU’s renowned experience in the areas of health sciences.”

Motion S5M-05035: Sandra White, Glasgow Kelvin, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/04/2017
GCU and NHS Lanarkshire to Introduce New University Hospitals
That the Parliament congratulates the partnership between Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and NHS Lanarkshire that will establish three university hospitals at Monklands, Wishaw General and Hairmyres; understands that the initiative will see world-leading academics working alongside health staff to tackle key health challenges facing people; believes that work is underway to benefit people, including measures to reduce waiting times and improve access to healthcare, with treatment being carried out by GCU physiotherapists at the university’s clinic; notes that GCU’s mission is to “support the common good” and believes that this will helped to be met by using the institution’s world-renowned specialisations in healthy ageing, long-term health conditions such as stroke, MS and diabetes, HIV and sexual health and substance misuse, and considers that this will be a welcome partnership that will improve health provision as well bring wider professional and academic development in health research and delivery that will support the growth of Scotland’s vibrant life sciences sector.
Supported by: Gordon MacDonald, James Dornan, Graeme Dey, Richard Lyle, Stuart McMillan, Kenneth Gibson, Bob Doris, Ivan McKee, David Torrance, Jenny Gilruth, Joan McAlpine, Bill Kidd, Fulton MacGregor, Gillian Martin

Sandra condemns Labour PFI school shame as Glasgow faces £54m bill and largest charge in the country.

LABOUR PFI SCHOOL SHAME AS GLASGOW COUNCIL COUNTS COST – £425 MILLION TO BE PAID OUT THIS YEAR ACROSS SCOTLAND – ROBBING MONEY FROM VITAL SERVICES

 Labour’s disastrous PFI schools scheme continues to cost Glasgow City Council millions of pounds every year, analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre has revealed – proving they are a party which cannot be trusted to manage vital public services.

 The duff deals made by Labour during their time in power at Holyrood will cost local authorities across £426.8 million in this financial year – with Glasgow facing a stunning £54m bill, the highest in the country and 4.5x the national average, demonstrating Labour’s short-term thinking and profligate use of public money.

 SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White has slammed Labour’s toxic legacy, which continues to rob our local authority of vital funding for education and other public services. The total nationwide cost of the toxic PFI legacy across all projects topped £1 billion in 2015/16, with this figure continuing to rise.

 Commenting, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White, said:

“Labour’s decades-long mismanagement of our city witnessed with its toxic PFI legacy has left this city facing a £54m PFI bill – the largest in the country. Glaswegians of today and tomorrow have been lumbered with these irresponsible decisions, and we will have to foot the bill for Labour’s mess.”

 “The toxic legacy that Labour’s PFI deals have left our schools and Glasgow City Council continues to cost millions of pounds every year – and proves once again that only the SNP can be trusted to deliver on education and local funding.

 “While Labour carp from the sidelines about the SNP’s record, it is increasingly clear that we are still paying for the mess that Labour left over a decade ago – with payments in 2017/18 to be as high as £426.8 million across all our council areas, and Glasgow facing a bill of £54m.

 “Labour’s spendthrift and reckless handling of our public finances continues to rob Glasgow of funds which could be put towards delivering better local services. And let’s not forget the potential consequences of Labour’s dodgy deals on jerry-built schools across Edinburgh – forced to close for nearly 500 days because of fundamental safety concerns.  

 “It’s high time that Labour apologised for this toxic legacy that they’ve left for our schools, Glasgow and local authorities across the country.”