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 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.”

Sandra White MSP welcomes £6.3m US jobs investment announced during First Minister’s US visit

Sandra White MSP has welcomed announcements of a £6.3m jobs investment and a key climate deal during the first day of the First Minister’s visit to the United States of America encouraging trade, tourism, and partnership.

£6.3m of inward investment from US companies supported by grants from Scottish Enterprise will create 44 new jobs for the data analytics and life sciences sectors.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

“I welcome this news from the First Minister’s visit to the US which continues to build on the strong economic and partnership ties between our nations -securing more investment and jobs alongside our ambitious climate change priorities.

“While the UK works to tear us out of the world’s biggest single market and develops diplomatic tensions with our European friends, this is a great example of our First Minister ‘doing the day job’ and delivering for Scotland with an ambitious, outward, and global attitude.”

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP said:

“The US is Scotland’s biggest source of inward investment and, in the wake of Article 50 being triggered and the risk of a hard Brexit, it is vital we continue to build on the success of our current ­business relationship with the US.

“Scotland remains open for business and I’m delighted these companies have chosen to expand here. It further demonstrates our position as a prime location for inward investment.”

The Scottish Government have already made one announcement linked to the visit – that US technology firm Xilinx Inc are to invest £3.8million in their research centre in ­Edinburgh, creating 12 new jobs and protecting 30 existing roles.

Sandra White welcomes Parking laws discussion

Views are now being sought by the Scottish Government on how to implement a clearer and more consistent approach to parking laws in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is asking interested parties for their opinions ahead of the development of new policies which are expected to form part of a Transport Bill in this session of Parliament.

A range of issues, including how to deal with irresponsible parking and the proper use of disabled spaces, are being considered as part of the consultation, which is being launched today.

Having led the fight in Holyrood to tackle irresponsible parking Sandra White MSP commented:

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government are continuing the many years of work that my office, and prior to that Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, have invested in this bill. The many organisations who have contributed and pushed this agenda for the individuals they represent, be it Living Streets or Guide Dogs for the Blind, to name but two, deserve a great deal of credit for their tireless campaigning as well.

“This is yet another example of The Scottish Government listening to the people, following through on a manifesto pledge, and now delivering.

“The Scottish Government is now carrying out the detailed review of parking having obtained the necessary powers in the Scotland Act last year.”

Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP said:

“The impact of parking policies goes further than governing where people can leave their vehicles. The rules can have a direct impact on town centre regeneration and on accessibility so it is important that we hear from as wide a range of groups as possible as part of this consultation.

“We know that people are concerned about irresponsible parking and the misuse of disabled spaces and this is their opportunity to have their say on how we can address these problems.

“The Scottish Government is also keen to explore if parking rules can help support wider policy aims and views are being sought on whether more can be done to encourage the use of ultra-low emission vehicles.

“Our aim is to create a set of policies that can help make our roads safer, greener and available to all and we would encourage anyone with an interest to get involved and let us know what they think over the coming weeks before the consultation ends on June 30th.”

Director Living Streets Scotland, Stuart Hay said:

“We are pleased the Scottish Government is considering how to best use its new powers over parking to make streets safer and more pleasant for everyone through adopting a consistent national approach.

“Many Scottish communities will welcome clearer laws that prevent vehicles obstructing and damaging pavements, especially where older people, people with disabilities and children feel unsafe.”

The ‘Improving Parking in Scotland’ Consultation can be found at  https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/road-policy/improving-parking-in-scotland/consult_view/

 

END

Queen Street redevelopment gets go ahead

Scottish Ministers have today given formal approval to an application by Network Rail to undertake major redevelopment works at Queen Street Station.

The Transport and Works Scotland (TAWS) Order triggers the latest phase of this ambitious improvement programme which, on completion, will give one of Scotland’s key rail hubs a major facelift.

The main provisions of the Order enable Network Rail to undertake enhancements to accommodate longer trains and the future growth in passenger numbers. On completion the new station will deliver:

• a fully accessible, modern, transport facility;
• improved access to an expanded concourse;
• enhanced aesthetics and passenger facilities in the station;
• increased capacity, walking and circulation space and longer platforms; and
• a station that better serves the needs of passengers and the city.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin commented:

“It is fantastic that one of Scotland’s key public transport hubs is to receive a much needed face lift. The plans for Queen Street Station will elevate the station to a new level in terms of design and usability. Not only will it look fantastic but it will allow for Glaswegians and visitors alike the ability to fully access the station, as should be the case, while improving their user experience.”

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said:

“The Scottish Government is delivering the most ambitious programme of rail investment ever seen in Scotland, committing over £5 billion across the current funding period. Approval of this TAWS Order allows Network Rail to undertake significant enhancements to Glasgow Queen Street Station.

“This continued investment in our key rail hubs will not only accommodate longer trains and the future growth in passenger numbers, it will also improve the overall service experience.  Coupled with new longer, faster, greener Class 385 trains coming later this year and a full fleet refurbishment, we are doing what we can now to deliver a Scottish rail industry for the future, one which encourages even more people opt to get out their cars and onto trains.”