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

GLASGOW KELVIN GP PRACTICES TO RECEIVE FUNDING BOOST

GP practices in Kelvin will receive a funding boost this year, the Scottish Government has unveiled.

 

The Scottish Government has announced that an additional £20 million support will be given to GP practices across Scotland to help with the costs of running their practices.

 

The ‘GP Premises Sustainability Loan Scheme’ aims to ease the financial burden associated with owning a General Practice – in turn helping to improve recruitment and retention. It means that GPs who own their own premises can apply for long term interest-free loans worth up to 20% of their practice’s value.

 

A total of 172 practices across Scotland have successfully applied for loans – around 50% of the total eligible.

 

The new GP contract in Scotland is backed by £110 million in 2018/19 to ensure that GPs are able to spend more time with patients, and less time on paperwork. The Scottish Government is investing a further £7.5 million to improve GP recruitment and retention in 2018/19.

 

SNP MSP Sandra White said:

 

“People in Kelvin will welcome this significant investment in our local NHS service, which will help family doctors deal with the costs of running their practice.

 

“The extra investment will make becoming a GP an attractive career choice and encourage more people to join the profession – which will in turn make it easier for practices in Scotland to retain and recruit staff.

 

“This news is extremely encouraging and I encourage eligible GPs in Kelvin to consider whether they would benefit from this scheme. To learn that 51 GP practices across Greater Glasgow & Clyde have already received funding is excellent news and will only go to further improve the level of care provided to our community.

 

“The NHS is one of our most treasured institutions, and the SNP in government is absolutely committed to ensuring it stays fit for the future.”

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

Vodafone update

Since news broke of Vodafone UK’s decision to cull their services operating out of Berkeley Square, the office of Sandra White MSP has been working in conjunction with Alison Thewliss MP to seek an urgent reconsideration by Vodafone.

In the first instance a joint letter was issued by both elected representatives to Vodafone’s CEO and also their Head of UK Operations. A response from Vodafone’s CEO, Mr Nick Jeffery, has now been received and a copy of which can be seen below:
Sandra White MSP Vodafone

With no movement from Vodafone Sandra White MSP also submitted a request to the Scottish Parliament for a Topical Question to raise this matter formally in the Debating Chamber. Unfortunately this extremely serious and urgent question was not chosen despite strong indications that it would be. As such Sandra White has now contacted the Presiding Officer to seek clarity as to why such a gross oversight was made.

Despite these challenges Sandra White MSP has now secured a meeting with Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, next week. This meeting will allow Sandra White to discuss the ongoing situation and seek urgent assistance from the Scottish Government to ensure everything possible is being done to protect Scottish jobs and assist the affected workforce in Glasgow Kelvin.

BUDGET GETS HOLYROOD BACKING WITH BOOST FOR LOCAL SERVICES

SNP SUPPORT INCREASE IN INVESTMENT IN GLASGOW KELVIN

Holyrood has today backed the SNP’s budget plans, offering economic stability in the face of Brexit while giving a cash boost to the NHS, schools and other vital services.

Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2 billion in a decade to Scotland’s block resource grant, the SNP is proposing additional funding of almost £730 million for Scotland’s health and care services – including £76.7m specifically for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.

Under the deal reached, Glasgow City Council will receive an additional £39m from the Scottish Government on top of a total overall settlement of £11.1bn.

The budget also includes more than £180 million to raise attainment in schools, and almost £500 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare.

SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“With the UK government in complete chaos, the SNP in government are offering certainty and stability with a budget which protects public services, supports the economy, and helps build a fairer country.

“This budget uses our powers in a progressive way in order to protect and invest in our public services – with a major boost for the NHS.

“Giving our schools, hospitals and other vital services in Kelvin the money they need to deliver better services for our communities is vital to this government. This is why I welcome Holyrood’s support for the budget.”