Sandra White MSP welcomes record Scottish Youth Parliament elections

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin has welcomed the Scottish Youth Parliament’s record-breaking election results announced this week.

SYP nationally received 77,000 votes with candidates fielded across Scotland after more than 1100 lodged interest in running.

In Sandra’s constituency of Glasgow Kelvin, Jessica Gow and Khaled Emkidh were elected as MSYPs.

Sandra White MSP said, “I am delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament elections have seen more young people getting involved in seeking to represent and change their communities.

“I have enjoyed working with MSYPs over the years and I am looking forward to working with Glasgow Kelvin’s new youth parliamentarians. I was pleased to recognise their success and the ongoing achievements of the SYP in a motion to the Scottish Parliament.

“The role of the SYP in Scotland’s youth sector is an important one as it gives young people a platform to make change and develops Scotland’s future leaders, and I wish them all the best in this work.”

Sandra White MSP’s motion to the Scottish Parliament:

Motion S5M-04773: Sandra White, Glasgow Kelvin, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/03/2017

Congratulations to Glasgow Kelvin’s New Youth Parliamentarians

That the Parliament welcomes the election of new Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament across the country and the efforts of everyone who stood to represent young people in their communities; notes that Jessica Gow and Khaled Emkidh will represent the constituency of Glasgow Kelvin; understands that both were elected by young people in Glasgow Kelvin to campaign on issues of education, transport, justice, human rights and health and wellbeing; recognises the important work of the Scottish Youth Parliament to highlight youth issues and provide a platform for the voices of young people in Scotland; further understands that it achieved a record-breaking 1,179 notifications of interest to stand for election lodged by young people, which is an increase of 39% on the 2015 elections; considers that it has increased its reach to young people across Scotland by working with 10 partnering National Voluntary Organisations, which have increased by three since 2015; congratulates the Scottish Youth Parliament on its continued success, and wishes its new youth parliamentarians the best with their work.

Supported by: Stuart McMillan, Gail Ross, Richard Lyle, Bill Kidd, Ash Denham, Joan McAlpine, Clare Haughey, David Torrance, Fulton MacGregor, Angus MacDonald, Bob Doris, Ivan McKee, Jenny Gilruth

Sandra White MSP highlights support for Scotland’s food and drink industry

£10m backing to boost growth in Scotland’s food and drink industry.

Sandra White MSP has welcomed new funding announced by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP to further support Scotland’s “phenomenal” food and drink industry.

The Scottish Government, its enterprise agencies, and the food and drink industry are supporting delivery of the new food and drink strategy – ‘Ambition 2030’ – through a new £10 million funding package.

The strategy will target key markets, boost innovation, focus on skills, and support local producers – with ambitious plans to double the value of the industry to £30 billion by 2030.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said: 

“I am delighted that the First Minister has announced this new funding to help further develop Scotland’s vibrant food and drink industry in which we are seeing massive growth across Scotland and particularly in Glasgow.

“The opening of the Clydeside Distillery is a great example of how Scotland’s food and drink sector continues to bring economical development and opportunities to our communities. I have been particularly pleased to support the establishment of this distillery bringing development, sustainable jobs, and vibrancy to Glasgow’s Riverside while preserving its great heritage.

“This is a story repeated across Scotland with a growing industry developing products and experiences which are enjoyed across Europe and the world. However, the great foundation in this vital part of the Scottish economy faces reckless challenges from the UK Government’s recent plans to drag us out of the single market and to hit our distilling industry with an 80% tax.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have such a world-renowned strong food and drinks sector but we cannot take this for granted and that’s why I am pleased this SNP Government is working with the sector to deliver growth and development.”

Making the announcement at Scotland Food and Drink’s 10th annual conference in Glasgow the First Minister said:

“Scotland’s food and drink sector has enjoyed phenomenal success over the past ten years with unprecedented growth in turnover and exports, including food exports alone doubling to £1.5 billion.

“Our nation is blessed with all the ingredients we need to achieve greater success. We have a fantastic natural larder, the skills and expertise, and the complementary strengths in tourism, innovation and research.

“Yet the risk of leaving the EU and the single market means these are uncertain times, while revoking the free movement of people could have a profound impact on our food and drink industry.

“That is why we are doing our utmost to support the industry – working in partnership with Scotland Food and Drink, the industry bodies, and our producers – and this new £10 million investment will support the industry realise its ambition to double its value by 2030.”

James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food & Drink said:

“As an industry, we are hugely ambitious for the future. There are uncertainties ahead, but we have a world class industry and growing markets at home and abroad. ‘Ambition 2030’ will drive a new era of growth in our sector for the benefit of Scotland’s economy and communities. 

“The secret of success over the last decade has been a spirit of partnership between the industry, government and its agencies.   Today’s funding announcement demonstrates our collective commitment to deepen that partnership and take our work to a new level.”

Background

Funding contributions for this new investment is from the Scottish Government (£6.9 million); the enterprise agencies (£600k); and the industry (£2.5 million) over the next three years.

This is in addition to the range of support already provided to the industry by the Scottish Government and the enterprise agencies.

Scottish Food and drink exports grew by £421 million in 2016, to a record £5.5 billion, while there was an 8% increase in the value of exports over the past year.

Ebrief

Thursday 16 March 2017

#ScotRef

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed plans to seek parliamentary approval to begin discussions with the UK government to bring forward an independence vote.

Ahead of the UK government’s triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of the process of leaving the EU, the First Minister said that the Westminster government has been guilty of complete intransigence in the face of Scottish Government attempts to find a compromise – and has continually acted against the best interests of Scotland, not least by ruling out membership of the single market without consulting the Scottish Government.

It has become clear that the UK government has no intention of respecting Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU and Glasgow’s 66% vote to remain in the EU. Throughout the entire Brexit process to date, the Scottish Government has been consistent in its pursuit of a compromise with the UK government, putting forward substantial proposals for Scotland to remain in the single market – yet the UK government has rejected these and is pursuing an ever harder line.

It is within this context, with the UK government intent on pursuing a damaging hard Brexit and set to trigger Article 50 without communicating with the devolved governments, that it has become ever clearer that the people of Scotland must be offered a choice over our future.

Scotland now stands at a crossroads, and we cannot drift along for two years hoping for the best.  We face the real prospect of right-wing Tory governments until at least 2030 and being dragged out of the EU and Single Market with all the damage to our economy and society that will cause.

You can find out more here: www.ref.scot

Mexico’s Missing Students

03.17 Mexico's Missing StudentsFor 20 years Scottish artist and filmmaker, Jan Nimmo, has been making artwork and films that highlight human and environmental rights issues through people’s personal stories. Jan’s most recent project exhibited in the Parliament, is a response to the events of 26th September 2014 when students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Teacher Training School in Ayotzinapa, Mexico were attacked by police in the city of Iguala. 6 people, 3 of them students, were murdered and 43 students were forcibly disappeared. The whereabouts of the students is still not known.

You can find out more here http://jannimmo.com/Ayotzinapa.html

Social Security

The DWP has ordered benefit assessors to single out those with mental health conditions – even when the impact is identical to those suffering physical conditions.

New guidelines tell assessors that mental health conditions are “not relevant” to the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) even if their mobility is limited to the same extent as someone with a physical impairment.

The updated guidance follows the UK government introducing emergency legislation to block a tribunal ruling that PIP payments should be extended for those with mental ill health.

Tory MP George Freeman, director of Theresa May’s policy unit, said that the changes were simply “tweaks” aimed at “people who take pills at home who suffer from anxiety.”

These reports are deeply worrying – and are just the latest in a long line of dangerous attitudes coming from the heart of the DWP.

Mental ill health can have a profound impact on somebody’s life and it deserves to be treated the same as physical illness.

But the Tory axemen in charge of the DWP have consistently put cost-cutting ahead of the well-being of claimants. This guidance will come as no surprise to many of those who’ve suffered under the DWP’s sanctions regime or work capability assessments.

The UK government need to urgently look at this again.

INSP Exhibition

If you’re looking for something to do locally I’d encourage members to go along to the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) exhibition at The Lighthouse which tells the story of vendors and celebrates the impact and difference that street papers make on their lives.

The free exhibition, which runs until April 9, combines the best of global street paper cover design; quotes from vendors of the impact street papers have made on their lives; and excerpts from recent street paper interviews with famous names – including Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama – on poverty and homelessness.

The covers range from The Big Issue UK’s first edition in September 1991 to the front page of The Springs Echo, the world’s newest street paper published early this year in Colorado Springs by Raven Cannon, a former vendor with Seattle street paper Real Change. Raven herself was experiencing homelessness at the time of Spring Echo’s launch.

Accessible Tourism

The Parliament marked the beginning of national tourism week with a debate on inclusive and accessible tourism. Tourism contributes significantly to Scotland’s prosperity both in financial terms and Scotland’s place in Europe particularly when seven of our top 10 key markets are European—as well as the wider world.

The industry continues to grow. People who come to visit us are drawn to Scotland for a wide variety of reasons: they want to see our exceptional natural landscapes, visit our award-winning attractions and taste our wonderful food and drink.

Scotland’s economic strategy is not just about delivering sustainable economic growth it is also about tackling the inequalities that continue to exist in our society and which are, unfortunately, still very real for many people. We often say that tourism is everyone’s business, and we have made great progress in making that so, but tourism is not yet for everyone. One in every three people in Scotland misses out on being a visitor in his or her own country. The Scottish Government want to change that, and have made significant steps in addressing this with the ScotSpirit initiative giving over 100 disadvantaged families a holiday.

You can read the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10838&i=99260

Exodus

03.17 RefugeesI attended the Exodus – A Modern Phenomenon event this week in Parliament. The event discussed the current situation regarding the mass displacement of people across the world as it relates to destabilisation, poverty and marginalisation.

There was also the opportunity to highlight the work being carried out with refugees in Scotland with representatives from the Scottish Refugee Council, Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance and the main address was given by Imam Razawi from the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society.

Equal Pay

With Glasgow City Council employees still embroiled in their equal pay dispute I took the opportunity to raise the matter with the Scottish Government during General Question time this week in the chamber.

Labour-run Glasgow City Council is now the only council in Scotland not to have reached a comprehensive settlement

You can view the exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10841&i=99294

Womens Support Project

03.17 Womens ProjectI took time to visit The Women’s Support Project exhibition in the Parliament this week. The Project aims to raise awareness of the extent and effects of violence against women and children, and works to improve services for those affected by violence.

Key themes in their work have been highlighting links between different forms of male violence and promoting an interagency response to the abuse of women and children. Their work is informed by a feminist analysis of male violence and an understanding of the links and overlaps between different forms of violence, discrimination and oppression.

If you would like to find out more about their work go to http://www.womenssupportproject.co.uk/content/aboutus/168/

Experience Panels

From today, people across Scotland will begin to receive letters inviting them to join the Experience Panels which will shape the country’s new social security system.

The invitations are being sent to people who have recent or current experience of the social security system. The letters are being sent on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Department of Work and Pensions, which holds details of people with recent experience of using the social security system. The letters will arrive in white envelopes rather than the standard brown envelopes used for DWP correspondence

East Africa Crisis Appeal

The Scottish Government will donate £200,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s East Africa Crisis Appeal, which was launched this week.

The appeal will support those affected by famine in parts of South Sudan, where more than 4.9 million people currently do not have enough food to eat.

Caused by more than three years of conflict and violence, the situation in South Sudan has displaced millions of people and been exacerbated by severe drought, which is also affecting neighbouring countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, with 16 million people in need of food, water and medical treatment.

Donate to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal at: www.dec.org.uk

 

Ebrief

Ebrief

Thursday 9 March

UK Budget

The Chancellor confirmed a real terms cut to the Scottish budget of 9.2 per cent between 2010/11 and 2019/20. While the additional Barnett consequentials are welcome no one should think that this budget provides an end to austerity from the UK Government – in fact there is still a further £3.5 billion of cuts to come.

On top of that the Chancellor continued with the UK Government’s damaging welfare cuts that will make many vulnerable and low income households worse off.

The real elephant in the room in this budget was Brexit. There was no mention of the UK Government’s plans to protect and grow the UK economy as the Prime Minister gets ready to trigger Article 50. This is simply not acceptable. Brexit is a real threat to people across Scotland in so many ways.

And amongst the utter chaos of a hard Tory Brexit, a hike on NICs threatens to undermine and deter the type of entrepreneurial behaviour that we should seek to encourage. I wholeheartedly believe in a flexible labour market, but that flexibility must be guarded against vulnerability. Some self-employed workers, particularly those on low incomes, do not always enjoy the same guarantees as those in employment such as pensions and sick leave. The UK Government has a poor track record on workers protection and rights, and it is vital that we seek every option to ensure that self employed workers are fully protected.

International Women’s Day

03.17 TearfundTearfund Scotland showcased their photo exhibition to mark International Women’s Day, 2017 on the Scottish Parliament.

The event celebrated the stories of seven Malawian girls who have been rescued from child marriage to continue their education.

These inspiring stories were brought to life by seven girls from Scottish schools.

Responsible Parking

A very brief update for you all on where we are with the issue of responsible parking. I met with representatives of Transport Scotland on Monday to discuss the work they are doing in taking this forward.

I can confirm that the formal consultation will open in the Spring but I will also ensure to highlight the launch in the Ebrief including links to participate. 

Local Government

On Tuesday I took the opportunity to participate in Alex Rowley’s member’s debate on Local Government Finance and the State of the Debt. Essentially the motion asked for the UK Government to write off local government debt accrued through the Public Works Loan Board.

The sentiments of the motion are well over a decade late – throughout the years of the debt accruing there was a Labour Government in Westminster and a Labour Administration here in Holyrood – why was this never suggested then.

The UK Government and both Labour and Lib Dem administrations exacerbated the debt by piling further debt onto local government with the now much maligned PFI scheme. The total annual PFI cost is £30.3 billion, the total local authority borrowing was £15.146 billion.

The proposal provided in the Unite paper requesting HM Treasury write off the debt is likely to be met with a requirement that the Scottish Government provides an offsetting reduction in its Budget and the Scottish Government are not financially in a position to accommodate this due to the reduction in the funding provided by Westminster.

Citizens Income

The concept of a minimum guaranteed income, known as the citizen’s income, is being explored by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee.

A citizen’s income works on the basis that individuals are guaranteed a minimum regular payment unconditionally.  The possibility of a citizen’s income scheme is currently being investigated for Glasgow and Fife.

With the new social security powers now devolved to the Parliament, we should be looking for new ideas and different approaches to social security policy. We must also ensure that these policies are right for Scotland and today’s session will help us do just that.

Marie Curie

03.17 Marie CurieMarie Curie were in the Parliament this week to raise awareness of their Great Daffodil Appeal campaign and I was more than happy to offer my support.

The proceeds of money raised through the appeal will be used to provide care and support for more than 7,400 people living with a terminal illness in Scotland each year, employing over 200 Marie Curie Nurses to care for almost 5,000 people living with a terminal illness and their families in their homes each year.

The funds make a huge difference in the operation of their hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow which care for around 2,500 people each year, including people staying in the hospices and those coming in for the day to use the hospices’ services.

Benefit Uptake

The Scottish Government have launched an awareness campaign this week encouraging people to claim benefits they are entitled to with the backing of a number of key social security organisations including Citizens Advice Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland and Age Scotland.

Throughout Scotland, it was estimated that there were over 500,000 cases of individuals or families not claiming the tax credits and other main income-related benefits they were entitled to in 2014-15 – and the campaign seeks to correct this by raising awareness through a week of radio and press adverts.

It is vitally important that families and individuals get the support that they are entitled to and the support that they need – and I encourage everyone to check what support they can receive through the social security system.

Many people both here in Glasgow Kelvin and across Scotland might be missing out on a whole range of benefits that they are entitled too – causing their existing income to become increasingly stretched and leaving many in financial difficulty. By raising awareness that there is a whole range of benefits that people can claim, we can help to alleviate the difficulties that many people face on a day to day basis.

The Scottish Government is committed to putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security policy in Scotland, and this campaign is a step in the right direction towards doing that.

Earth Hour

The World Wildlife Fund were in the Parliament this week promoting Earth Hour.03.17 Earth Hour

Around the globe, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and make noise for climate change action.

This year Earth Hour is at 8:30pm on 25 March 2017 and I would encourage readers to join in and show your support for climate change action.

Bedroom Tax 

Almost £58 million will be spent mitigating the harmful impact of the UK Government’s welfare cuts on households across Scotland.

The £7.7 million increase in funding for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) next year comes as the Scottish Government takes full responsibility for DHP funding, including £18.5 million transferred from the Department of Work and Pensions as part of a negotiated 3 year settlement.

The £57.9 million made available to local authorities will be split as follows:

£47 million to fully mitigate the bedroom tax for more than 70,000 households – up from £45.4 million.

£10.9 million, up from £4.8 million, to help mitigate other UK Government policies such as the Benefit Cap and Local Housing Allowance rates.

Dyslexia

Funding for a charity supporting children with dyslexia is being doubled, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced.

Dyslexia Scotland will receive £200,000 funding in 2017/18 to support their work, which includes a helpline, dyslexia assessments and tutoring.

New tools to help teachers address the needs of pupils with dyslexia are also being developed. The Addressing Dyslexia toolkit has been revised to make it more accessible and easier to use.

Free online training courses are also being developed to help teachers identify dyslexia early and improve support for pupils as they learn and when preparing to leave school.

The Addressing Dyslexia toolkit was first launched in 2010.

Global Poverty

Scotland-based organisations are invited to develop projects to contribute to the global fight against poverty and inequality, International Development Minister Alasdair Allan said today.

In keeping with the priorities detailed in the refreshed International Development Strategy, a new four and a half-year funding round will target support for communities in Zambia and Rwanda.

Since 2005, the Scottish Government has supported hundreds of projects in sub-Saharan Africa contributing to the Millennium Development Goals and their successor, the new UN Global Goals.

Zambia and Rwanda will each be allocated project funding up to £1.8 million each year over a period of four and a half years. The International Development Strategy is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/12/4633

Organisations can find out more and submit concept notes at:

https://www.ltsbfoundationforscotland.org.uk/grant-programmes/scottish-government-zambia-rwanda-development-programmes/

 

Sandra White MSP says Scotland Must Have a Choice over Future

 

HARD BREXIT MEANS OPTION OF INDEPENDENCE MUST BE OFFERED

SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White has said that it is absolutely correct and appropriate for the people of Scotland to be offered a choice, once the options become clear, between a Tory hard Brexit and becoming an independent country, after the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed plans to seek parliamentary approval to begin discussions with the UK government to bring forward an independence vote.

Ahead of the UK government’s triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of the process of leaving the EU, the First Minister said that the Westminster government has been guilty of complete intransigence in the face of Scottish Government attempts to find a compromise – and has continually acted against the best interests of Scotland, not least by ruling out membership of the single market without consulting the Scottish Government.

SNP MSP Sandra White has said that it has become clear that the UK government has no intention of respecting Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU and Glasgow’s 66% vote to remain in the EU.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White said:

“Throughout the entire Brexit process to date, the Scottish Government has been consistent in its pursuit of a compromise with the UK government, putting forward substantial proposals for Scotland to remain in the single market – yet the UK government has rejected these and is pursuing an ever harder line.

“It is within this context, with the UK government intent on pursuing a damaging hard Brexit and set to trigger Article 50 without communicating with the devolved governments, that it has become ever clearer that the people of Scotland must be offered a choice over our future.

“The SNP will always stand up for Scotland’s interests and we are intent on protecting Scotland’s place in the single market. The people of Scotland deserve to choose,  once the terms of Brexit are clear and before it is too late to decide our own path, honouring the manifesto pledge that we were elected on last year.

“Scotland now stands at a crossroads, and we cannot drift along for two years hoping for the best.  We face the real prospect of right-wing Tory governments until at least 2030 and being dragged out of the EU and Single Market with all the damage to our economy and society that will cause.”