LOCAL MSP WELCOMES ADDITIONAL £197,000 SUPPORT FOR MIDLOTHIAN AND £178,000 FOR EAST LOTHIAN
Children in Midlothian and East Lothian who are eligible for free school meals will be among those who continue to be supported over the summer through a package of £27.6 million of additional funding from the Scottish Government.
Midlothian will receive £197,000 and East Lothian will receive £178,000 of funding from the SNP government to support the continued provision of free school meals during the summer holiday period, with Midlothian also receiving £211,000 and East Lothian receiving £250,000 for the wider provision of food support.
This funding will ensure that Midlothian and East Lothian are able to continue the provision of free school meals during the summer holidays and to provide other food provisions to help low income families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MSP Colin Beattie said:
“We know that this pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government has ensured Midlothian and East Lothian can continue to provide free school meals and support families, children and young people who need some extra help at this challenging time.
“Free school meals are vital for families in Midlothian and East Lothian and an important way of ensuring their children receive the nutritious food they need. That is why it is so important that support continues while schools remain closed.
"This extra support will make a huge difference to children and their families in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland, and help to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society receive support during this pandemic.”
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed a Holyrood vote approving £4.23 million extra funding for Midlothian and £4.75 million extra funding for East Lothian in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost £258 million extra funding has been approved for vital local services across Scotland, such as food provision for those in need, education and social care.
The Scottish Government is in discussions with local authorities over providing a further £72 million – which will bring the total additional funding to almost £330 million.
This extra funding is on top of the local government finance settlement of £11.4 billion, which already provided an increase of £589.4 million (5.8%) compared to the previous year.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The pandemic has put real pressure on families and local services, and it’s right that the Scottish Government has ensured Midlothian and East Lothian have more cash to deal with this.
“This funding boost is supporting access to food, welfare payments and frontline services.
“I also welcome the additional flexibility given to councils in how money is spent, allowing resources to be diverted to the COVID-19 response if required.”
NEW FIGURES SHOW HALF A BILLION IN EXTRA SPENDING LAST YEAR
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has welcomed new figures showing spending on education in Midlothian rose by £15,100,000 last year and spending in East Lothian rose by £12,658,000.
The figures show councils spent £547 million more on education in 2019-20 than the previous year - a real terms spending increase of 8% across Scotland.
The increase was driven in large part by the SNP’s flagship policy of expanding free childcare.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“This SNP Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that our young people here in Midlothian and East Lothian, and across Scotland, get the best possible start in life.
“We’ve handed local councils the cash needed to increase free childcare and early learning and are continuing to invest to improve attainment in schools.
“The coronavirus pandemic has understandably been a difficult time for schools and nurseries, and has underlined the importance of investing in education – which is why the Scottish Government is expanding free school meals over the summer holidays and providing extra financial support for higher education students.
“Despite these uncertain times, the Education Secretary has been clear that even more children and families will be able to benefit from this childcare expansion in the year ahead.”
It has been announced that the Eskbank branch of the Post Office will not be reopening, following it’s closure last year. The Post Office have been exploring options for restoring a service for those living locally, however there has been no solution found and therefore the branch is set to remain closed.
Colin Beattie MSP commented:
‘I am disappointed to hear the news that the Eskbank Post Office is to remain closed. I firmly believe that businesses such as post offices and banks are important to preserving our communities and ensuring that those living here have the facilities that they need.’
‘I know that many in the Eskbank area will be dismayed by this decision and that accessing post office services is very important for the local community. This Post Office has been closed since May 2019, with the lingering hope of this only being temporary, however I have now been informed that there are no suitable opportunities to re-establish this service. Though services remain available in Dalkeith and Woodburn, I understand the inconvenience that this will be to many of my constituents, particularly those who are more vulnerable and depend on accessing local facilities.’
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has raised concerns about a shortfall in funding for early learning and childcare in Midlothian during a meeting of the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee.
A report by Audit Scotland on Early learning and childcare, which was being scrutinised by the Parliamentary Committee, highlighted that Midlothian will have the largest proportionate funding gap in Scotland when this is delivered for 2021/22, with Midlothian Council receiving about 24% less revenue funding than the council estimated was required.
Colin Beattie commented:
‘It is deeply concerning for me that Midlothian has the largest proportional gap in Early Learning and Childcare funding which will be delivered in 2021/22.’
‘The responsibility of this funding distribution fell to COSLA, and they decided to use a method based on financial templates rather than formula. They then adjusted this in accordance with population sizes for each council, however they used population data from 2014 to calculate this. As many people will know, Midlothian is the fastest growing constituency in Scotland and so there will be a significant population increase from the figures given in 2014. As a result, they have received a disproportionately low amount of funding in comparison with what is actually needed.’
‘COSLA have effectively given 24% less than Midlothian Council have estimated that they would need to deliver these provisions. This is completely unacceptable and seems like a major oversight on the part of COSLA. It is clear that this will not match the needs of the area and the shortfall is going to create a significant issues in the delivery of expanding early learning and childcare provisions as it has been calculated on outdated population figures.’
‘I would call on COSLA to rethink this decision, taking into consideration the impact that population increases will have on calculating this funding and the difficulties which this funding gap will create. Midlothian is growing quickly and there needs to be the proper funding provisions to ensure that those living here have the same proportionate opportunities and support as those elsewhere in Scotland.’
Commenting on the announcement from the Scottish Government that schools will return full-time in August, without distancing, if Scotland continues to make progress on suppressing the coronavirus – Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh said:
“Thanks to the united effort of people here in Midlothian and East Lothian, and across Scotland, who have stuck to government advice we have now made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19.
“I’m absolutely delighted by today’s announcement that if we stay on the right path, and continue to suppress this virus, our young people can return to school full time from August.
“This is an important step not only in ensuring our young people get the education they deserve, but it’s also positive news for working families.
“I want to send my gratitude to our amazing teachers and school staff in Midlothian and East Lothian who have helped us get to this stage.
“There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but this SNP Scottish Government is working hard to support families and communities across the country.”
TORY-TRUMP TRADE DEAL THREATENS MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN’S FOOD INDUSTRY
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has renewed calls for the Tory government to remove the threat of lower food standards in any future trade deal – after a poll found that 83% of Scots are against US-style hormone-fed chicken entering the UK market.
The latest polling from YouGov has also revealed that 80% of Scots consumers are also against US demands such as imports of chloride washed chicken, 81% are against imports of vegetables grown with EU-banned pesticides and 90% say we shouldn’t remove the labels showing origin of meat products.
Local products are also at risk from cheap, sub-standard imports with the Tories so far refusing to ensure geographically limited produce will protected in a US trade deal.
Commenting, local MSP Colin Beattie said:
“It’s absolutely clear that the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland do not want to see chlorine chicken, hormone-injected meat or vegetables riddled in pesticides on our supermarket shelves.
“The threat to our local food and drink industry, here in Midlothian North and Musselburgh from a Tory-Trump trade deal is growing by the day as the US ramps up its demands to flood the UK market with lower standard imports.
“Once again Scotland is an afterthought for the Tories, as the interests of Scottish farmers and producers are being sacrificed so Boris Johnson can pander to the demands of Donald Trump.
“Enough is enough – the UK Tory government needs to enshrine in law that Scotland’s world-class food and drink sector will be protected.”
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie has backed a Bill to protect environmental standards by “keeping pace” with the EU after the end of the Brexit transition period.
The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill will allow or provide for continuity of provision that would otherwise be lost on withdrawal from the EU.
The Bill’s proposals on environmental principles and governance will help Scotland maintain high standards, in line with the EU, to support our world-leading efforts tackle the climate emergency.
The SNP has also renewed calls on Boris Johnson to agree a two-year extension to the transition period - warning that the Tory government's failure in the Brexit talks is threatening the economy.
MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Both Midlothian and East Lothian voted to remain in the European Union, along with every other local authority in Scotland.
“Brexit must not mean a race to the bottom on environmental standards – which is why the Scottish Government is rightly seeking to keep pace with European regulations.
"The UK is already facing the worst economic crisis in decades – yet the Tories are determined to crash out of the transition period this year, imposing yet more uncertainty on Scottish businesses during a global health emergency.
“The SNP believe the best future for Scotland is as an independent member of the EU - but this Bill will enable us to ‘keep pace’ with Europe in devolved areas and will complement Scotland’s world-leading ambitions to tackle climate change.”
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed new figures outlining the scale of Scottish Government funding to tackle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of £3.8 billion in extra spending to tackle coronavirus, the Scottish Government has committed to a £350 million package of emergency funding for communities to help tackle harms caused by the pandemic.
A new online dashboard, published this week, has outlined the financial support so far allocated to Midlothian and East Lothian. This totalled at £2,488,682 for Midlothian and £2,367,944 for East Lothian.
The Scottish Government funding has included:
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The pandemic has caused enormous pressure on households and communities across Scotland.
“The Scottish Government has provided swift and substantial financial help to households in Midlothian and East Lothian – supporting frontline organisations and access to food.
“We now know that change can happen rapidly – and we must build on that momentum to achieve our long-term goals of reducing poverty and inequality.”
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement of extra financial help for students facing financial hardship over the summer months.
The Scottish Government has brought forward early access to £11.4 million of discretionary funds - which will be administered by colleges and universities - to support higher education students.
Students are, due to UK government rules, unable to claim Universal Credit or other benefits.
Scottish students studying in Europe as part of EU Portability or historically arranged schemes will also be able to access a £100,000 emergency fund administered by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Many students in Midlothian and East Lothian will have expected to find paid work over the summer to cover their rent or save for the following term – but are now, through no fault of their own, unable to do so.
"This Scottish Government support will be welcome news for those students who rely on part-time jobs over the summer months, who could find it difficult to cover their living costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"No student should face financial hardship as a result of this crisis - and these new measures will support students until the start of the next academic year when bursary, grant and loan payments will begin again."
To find out what I've been doing in Parliament, click on me!