Thursday 22 June 2017
This was a horrific attack and my thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected. I know that everyone will be saddened to see yet another terrorist attack.
While there is no intelligence of any specific threat to Scotland, Police Scotland remain vigilant and visible across communities to provide reassurance to members of the public.
Muslim communities will understandably be anxious just now and it is in these moments that we must come together as a country and unite against extremism and hate from wherever it comes.
Social Security Bill
Historic legislation to establish Scotland’s first social security system has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament this week. The Social Security (Scotland) Bill will give the Scottish Government the powers to deliver eleven benefits devolved as part of the Scotland Act 2016.
It also provides powers to top up reserved benefits and provides a mechanism to pay a Carer’s Allowance supplement at the earliest opportunity.
You can access a copy of the Bill here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/105267.aspx
The first social security payments to be delivered by the Scottish Government from summer 2018 will be the increased Carer’s Allowance, followed by the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019.
The UK Government must provide greater clarity on its Brexit plans following the Queens Speech particularly when the bulk of the speech centred on the legislation necessary for the UK to withdraw from the European Union, demonstrating that as well as being harmful to the country, Brexit is set to take up all the UK government’s resources, forcing other important issues to be sidelined.
Brexit must not see the UK Government attempt to reduce devolved competence or attempt to avoid the need for legislative consent from Holyrood.
The list of contents for Scotland’s Baby Box is now available at http://www.parentclub.scot/baby-box as registration for the nationwide roll out begins.
All babies due on or after 15 August 2017 will receive a box of essential items to support parents and promote a fair and equal start for all children in Scotland.
The final research of the successful pilot which took place in Orkney and Clackmannanshire has also been published. The findings have informed the logistics and contents of the initiative and responses have been positive, with some suggestions for improvement already implemented for national delivery.
The first meeting of a Ministerial Working Group, convened to examine building and fire safety regulatory frameworks, has taken place this week.
The meeting was chaired by Communities Secretary Angela Constance with Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing. They were joined by officials from fire and rescue, building standards, local government and housing.
This group is overseeing a review of building and fire safety regulatory frameworks with an initial focus on high rise domestic buildings, following the Grenfell Tower fire in London. It will agree any improvements or actions identified.
I had a great start to the week with a wonderful visit to the Tron Theatre.
Andy Arnold the Artistic Director kindly extended an invitation to me for a tour of the building and a chat on the theatres plans for the future.
The Tron Theatre is one of Glasgow’s cultural hubs which has been producing and presenting an eclectic programme of work for over 20 years in the 16th century Tron Kirk building.
I was delighted with their recent funding success from the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund of almost £40,000 of which they will use to refurbish The Tron Theatre’s Changing House.
The theatre is going from strength to strength and for those who haven’t already attended one of their many productions I would highly recommend a visit.
Applications for a degree course offering exisiting graduates a new route into medicine will open in September, Health Secretary Shona Robison has confirmed.
The four-year course will have 40 places available and is being delivered by the medical schools in St Andrews and Dundee in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The course, which will begin next Autumn, will be open to existing graduates from any discipline with an interest in pursuing a degree in medicine.
Details will shortly be posted on the medical schools’ websites, and a social media campaign will be used to encourage applications.
Candidates interested in the new course will need to sit the GAMSAT aptitude test by 4 August. UCAS applications will open in September.
Air Departure Tax
A bill to replace Air Passenger Duty in Scotland has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill sets the structure of the new tax and how it will be collected and managed by Revenue Scotland. Detail on tax bands and tax rate amounts will be set out in secondary legislation in the autumn, as part of the Scottish Government’s budget process and alongside other devolved taxes.
I took the opportunity to stop by the Kirkcaldy Foodbanks stall at the Parliament this week to discuss the latest initiative on food poverty.
Nourish Scotland and the Poverty Truth Commission are working together to develop a Dignity Framework with and for community food providers supported through funding from the Scottish Governments’ Fair Food Transformation Fund.
It is hoped that the framework can be a tool for community food providers and community members to consider how placing dignity at the heart of community food provision can support a transition away from emergency food aid as a primary response to food insecurity.
You can access more details on the project at www.nourishscotland.org
The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill published this week sets an objective for public boards that 50% of non-executive members are women by 2022.
It will apply to certain public bodies, colleges and Higher Education Institutions in Scotland, subject to the Bill receiving parliamentary approval.
The Bill will drive further improvements, building on the success of the Scottish Government’s ‘50/50 by 2020’ pledge – which has seen nearly 200 organisations across the public, private and third sectors sign up voluntarily to improve gender balance on board.
A fund to incentivise film production in Scotland has generated £17.5m for the economy – returning £10 for every pound spent.
The Production Growth Fund, a combination of Scottish Government and National Lottery Funding administered by Creative Scotland, provides an incentive for major film and TV producers to base their work in Scotland. T2: Trainspotting, Churchill and The Loch were among the first productions to benefit.
Responding to Creative Scotland figures that underline the impact of the first £1.75m awarded, Ms Hyslop confirmed the Scottish Government will allocate an additional £250k to the Production Growth Fund, taking its total to £3.25 million.
With MND Awareness taking place this week I was pleased to see that applications are now being taken for a scholarship fund set up in memory of motor neurone disease (MND) campaigner, Gordon Aikman.
The Gordon Aikman Scholarship is worth £50,000; with Scottish Government funding of £25,000 and MND Scotland announcing this week that it will match this funding.
It will support individuals affected by MND or their carers and healthcare professionals to research and develop practical improvements in the way people with MND are cared for.
Social Enterprise Awards
Scotland’s annual awards for achievement in social enterprise are open for entries – with just 3 weeks left to apply.
Social Enterprise Scotland is calling on all social enterprises to step up and demonstrate how they’re helping people or the environment – gaining real recognition for their many achievements and with many social enterprises across the constituency doing some great work I’d encourage you to get your applications in.
The deadline for award applications is Monday 10 July 2017. All information is at: socialenterpriseawards.scot
A ten-year strategy to ensure Police Scotland is equipped to tackle new and emerging threats has been published.
Policing 2026 includes a commitment to recruit more civilian cyber specialists to counter the threat posed by cyber-crime and calls for greater emphasis on addressing vulnerability and mental health issues.
As well as maintaining officer numbers for 2017-18, the strategy also proposes a workforce model that frees up officers from support work to increase the number available for frontline policing.
Thursday 15 June
I attended the inaugural meeting of the External Experts Panel held this week in the Parliament. The group has been established as a collaborative venture between three parliamentary committees, Social Security, Finance and Constitution and Culture, Tourism, European and External Relations as well as the Centre on Constitutional Change based at the University of Edinburgh, with the support of the ESRC.
The meeting brought together the members and provided an opportunity for the experts to outline their views on the forthcoming challenges and opportunities that MSPs will need to consider over the next 12 months in the three areas of, constitutional policy and territorial financing, Brexit and EU matters and the implementation of new social security policy in Scotland.
The Scottish Government pledged support for victims of human trafficking will be doubled to at least 90 days. The announcement was made during a debate in the Parliament this week on the issue of human trafficking and I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
The extended period of support will be three times longer than the Council of Europe minimum period and twice as long as the rest of the UK. The change is being made after consultation with victims’ groups and other justice agencies, and is a key part of the new Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, launched in May and aimed at eliminating human trafficking in Scotland.
Funding of almost £800,000 will be provided this year through support groups TARA (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) and Migrant Help UK.
You can read my contribution here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11003&i=100549
Ahead of Brexit negotiations beginning, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Theresa May to express the Scottish Government’s concerns over the UK’s current Brexit plans.
The First Minister has called for membership of the European Single Market and the EU Customs Union to be protected and for the negotiating team to include representation from the devolved governments.
She has also called for the UK government to immediately guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK beyond the date of the UK’s exit from the EU.
A new £2.5 million fund will improve the help delivered to people looking to access employment and training.
The Employability Innovation and Integration Fund will look to join up employment support with health and social care, justice and housing services, making sure people receive the level of support they need to find sustainable employment.
Bodies responsible for delivering community planning partnership priorities which include health boards and local authorities, are being invited to submit proposals for the Fund.
If you would like more information on the Employability Innovation and Integration Fund including an application form, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The not for profit social enterprise Care Opinion were in the Parliament this week and I stopped by their stall to have a chat to them about their work.
Care Opinion aims to make it quick, easy and safe for people who use services and their carers to give feedback about their health and social care, and for providers to respond to and make use of feedback for service improvement.
Anyone can share their stories on the Care Opinion website and when the story is published on site they will automatically notify relevant health and social care services who may then also respond online.
The result is short public online exchanges which show how people are experiencing services and how services are listening and responding to that experience.
You can see more at www.careopinion.org.uk
A series of practical measures have been set out to tackle and prevent hate crime in Scotland, focused on tackling prejudice and building stronger communities.
Responding to the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime which reported in September, Communities and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance has confirmed:
Creating a delivery group of key partners with Ministerial oversight to ensure the advisory group’s recommendations lead to meaningful changes on the ground
Work with transport providers and disabled people’s organisations to deliver a hate crime charter for public transport
Tackling hate crime in the workplace, focusing on frontline staff, working with the STUC and others to gather evidence
A public campaign aiming to prevent hate crime by raising awareness of what hate crime is and how to report it and showing perpetrators the impact of these crimes on victims
Adopting the International Holocaust Memorial Trust’s definition of anti-Semitism – driving work to tackle this form of prejudice
The hospitality sector contributes billions to both our local and national economy every year and yet it’s workers are the lowest paid and least contractually secure in our economy. The median income of workers in the hotels industry for example is 50p less than the Minimum Wage at only £7 per hour.
Fair Hospitality is the campaign to improve conditions alongside workers within the hospitality industry. Our aim will be to provide hospitality workers with the legal knowledge, the organising skills and collective confidence to transform their workplace and ultimately re-build a collective bargaining framework for the industry.
I know across Glasgow Kelvin there have been successes for this campaign but there remains several issues highlighted by the Fair Hospitality campaign that remain unresolved.
I support the aims of this campaign and hope to work in collaboration as the local MSP for the area to reach an agreement.
Glasgow and Berlin will co-host the inaugural European Championships in August 2018, bringing together the existing championships of seven of Europe’s leading sports into one coordinated, exciting multi-sport event.
Aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, golf, rowing and triathlon will be held in Scotland, with the German capital hosting the athletics.
Scotland’s sporting reputation has never been higher, following what is now widely recognised as the best ever Commonwealth Games and the spectacular 2014 Ryder Cup.
Commonwealth and European champion swimmer, Ross Murdoch, who has been named as the first Glasgow 2018 sporting ambassador, joined young people from across Scotland at a sporting street carnival in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street to celebrate tickets going on public sale and you can get yours at https://www.glasgow2018.com/tickets
National Clean Air Day
Scotland is making progress tackling air pollution, a new report launched today on National Clean Air Day has shown.
The report showed that in the last 18 months 40 key actions have been progressed as part of the Clean Air for Scotland (CAFS) strategy involving the Scottish Government, local authorities, the NHS, Transport Scotland and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Key activity includes:
working with local authorities to introduce the country’s first Low Emission Zone by 2018, including on-going engagement with the bus and freight sectors
Scotland becoming the first country in Europe to adopt in law the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on fine particulate matter and funding for 13 new monitoring stations (adding to the 16 already in place)
the creation of four new Air Quality Management Areas, bringing the total to 38 in Scotland, all in locations designed to give the best insight into pollution country wide
the development of an app which advices people about alternative routes to help reduce exposure to pollution, and a permanent exhibition at the Glasgow Science Centre dedicated to air quality
SNP MSP Sandra White has welcomed the announcement of a further £1.75 billion Scottish Government investment in affordable housing across Scotland, which includes £286 million investment in Glasgow City Council.
Councils and house-builders across Scotland’s 32 local authorities will have the opportunity to plan ahead with grant subsidies guaranteed, for the first time, for the next three years until 2021.
In 2018-19, £532 million will be shared amongst local authorities – rising to £591 million in 2019-20 and £630 million in 2020-21. Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said: “The announcement that Glasgow will receive £286 million over the next three years provides the certainty that Glasgow Kelvin and the sector needs to keep progressing and ensures we keep up the momentum to reach the Scottish Government’s target of 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021.
“Increasing the supply of affordable homes is a key SNP commitment and plays a vital role in helping to tackle poverty and inequality in Glasgow Kelvin.
“Committing funding until the end of this parliament will help ensure that Scotland leads the way in building homes that are high-quality, efficient and affordable, and will strengthen our house-building sector and the estimated 14,000 jobs that the affordable housing supply programme supports each year.
“The SNP believes that everyone in Scotland deserves a warm, affordable home and with a huge number of affordable homes approved last year, we are making great progress towards that aim.”
[Notes for editors
Affordable housing covers homes for social rent, affordable rent and affordable home ownership. The full breakdown of each Local Authority’s Long term Resource Planning Assumptions are available on the Scottish Government website. The Scottish Government recently confirmed £422 million would be allocated to councils in 2017/18 as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme. The latest Quarterly Housing Statistics covering the first year of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme are published by the Scottish Government.]
Thursday 8 June
My heartfelt sympathies are with the families of those who lost their lives during the despicable and cowardly terror attack in London.
We saw yet again the bravery, dedication, selflessness and professionalism of the police and of those who work in the NHS and fire service.
As was the case after the Manchester attack, the public can expect to see a more visible police presence, particularly in busy areas – this will include an increase in armed police.
At what I know is an anxious time, my message to you is be vigilant, report anything of suspicion to the police – but otherwise continue to live your lives as normal.
At 10pm tonight the polls will close and the counts will start. By the time you are reading this many of you will already have cast your vote, for those who haven’t I’d urge you to get to your polling station before 10pm and assert your democratic right.
Community Central Halls
Huge congratulations to Community Central Halls on their 40th Anniversary and to Development Services Manager Gary Gentles on 30 years’ service with the organisation.
The Halls and the staff provide an invaluable service to the local community from pre-school nursery provision to day care and homecare for older people to their welcoming café.
I have lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament highlighting their anniversary and the vital services they provide and I wish them every success for many years to come.
You can access the motion here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx
Social Security Committee
It has been a busy year for the Social Security Committee and if you would like to find out what we have been doing over the past 12 months you can access the annual report video here https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/SC/2017/5/31/Annual-report-2016-17
The number of Modern Apprenticeship starts increased to 26,262 and exceeded the 2016/17 annual target, new statistics have confirmed.
Skills Development Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship statistics for the fourth quarter of 2016/17 revealed that over the year:
The number of Modern Apprenticeships starts exceeded the 2016/17 target of 26,000; 76% (19,847) of new starts were aged between 16 and 24; The largest proportion of new starts (23%) were in the construction industry.
Across Glasgow the figures have also increased from 2,710 in 2015/16 to 2,871 in 2016/17.
Out and About
What a great weekend out and about in the constituency soaking up the great atmosphere at the Garnethill Gala Day where I had the opportunity to meet up with some great social enterprises and try my hand at stonemasonry thanks to the Glasgow City Heritage Trust.
Vanilla Ink welcomed me to their studios at Charing Cross Mansions. They are Scotland’s unique jewellery studio, with the aim of developing new talent. Known for it’s professional development programme aimed at bridging the gap from education to industry, supporting start up jewellers in their own transition from student to professional.
Teaching is at the core of Vanilla Ink and by working with industry professionals they offer workshops for the complete beginner to the advanced jeweller and everything in between.
For more information go to http://www.vanillainkstudios.co.uk/
The number of children and young people seen by mental health services (CAMHS) within the target time has increased for the third consecutive quarter.
Figures published by ISD Scotland this week show that 83.6% of people were seen within 18 weeks during the quarter ending 31 March 2017, up from 82.5% in the previous quarter.
CAMHS workforce has increased by 65% under this Government, with the number of CAMHS psychologists having more than doubled.
The Scottish Governments’ ten-year strategy for mental health sets out a range of measures that focus on prevention and early intervention to meet the mental health needs of children and young people, backed by £150 million of funding.
A commission to review school counselling and rejected child and adolescent mental health service referrals, will also be set up as a foundation for making further improvements.
Legislation to make civil justice more affordable and accessible for all has been published in the Scottish Parliament.
The Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill, if passed by Parliament, will:
make the cost of court action more predictable at the outset
for the first time allow solicitors, as well as claims management companies, to offer damages based agreements which are a form of ‘no win, no fee’ agreement where the fee is calculated as a percentage of the damages recovered
introduce a sliding cap mechanism to make the legal fees in such cases more predictable
protect people from facing a large expenses bill if they do not win personal injury claims
enable groups of people to sue in the civil courts where they have the same or a similar claim against the same defender or defenders. Under current Scots law, such cases have to be pursued separately
In May 2015, I introduced the Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill. However, the Bill was not enacted into law as the Scottish Parliament did not have power to legislate on the reserved matter. The Scottish Government made a commitment in December 2015 to progress this important matter once powers on parking were devolved. On 24 March 2016, the Scotland Act 2016 received Royal Assent, and powers to legislate on parking matters were devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
Due to the complex nature of parking and level of concerns that were raised by stakeholders in relation to the Bill, the Scottish Government set out a general intention to use the powers devolved by the Scotland Act 2016 to legislate on parking.
I know that irresponsible parking is a widespread problem both in Glasgow Kelvin and across Scotland as a whole and I would urge you if you have not already done so to take the opportunity to submit to the consultation which closes on 30 June.
You can find all the details here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/road-policy/improving-parking-in-scotland/user_uploads/695337_v8_20170605.pdf
The Prestonpans Tapestry will be on display at the Scottish Parliament from 21 June 2017 and tells the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s triumphant passage to Scotland.
The tapestry is one of the largest in the world and illustrates the Jacobite victory at the Battle of Prestonpans against the redcoat British Army on 21 September 1745.
The artist Andrew Crummy, who also created The Great Tapestry of Scotland, worked with hundreds of stitchers in Scotland, France, Australia and the USA to bring the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites to life in this piece of art.