TORY BUDGET LEAVES MIDLOTIHAN AND EAST LOTHIAN HOUSEHOLDS FACING BIGGEST FALL IN LIVING STANDARDS ON RECORD
77% OF PEOPLE NOT CONFIDENT WESTMINSTER BUDGET PROVIDES ENOUGH HELP TO TACKLE RISING COSTS
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has said "families are seeing their incomes hammered under Westminster control" - as analysis shows the UK is set for the biggest fall in living standards on record.
Following last week's spring budget, a YouGov poll has found that 77% of people do not have confidence that the Westminster's budget will provide enough help to tackle the cost of living.
Analysis following the Tory budget shows:
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
"Scotland is a wealthy, energy-rich country but families across Midlothian and East Lothian are seeing their incomes hammered under Westminster control - and the UK economy is slumping behind.
"With Brexit costing the UK billions of pounds in long-term damage, and families facing the biggest fall in living standards on record, it's clear Scotland needs independence so we can build a strong, fair and prosperous economy.
"Neither the Tories or the pro-Brexit, pro-cuts Labour Party are being honest about the damage their policies are doing to Scotland. There's a reason the UK is expected to have slower growth than any other major economy - including sanction-hit Russia.
"The SNP government will do everything it can to support people's incomes, including progressive policies like the Scottish Child Payment - but with no change on offer at Westminster, Scotland needs independence to deliver the real change people across Midlothian and East Lothian need."
UK GOVT PENSION AGE RISES SET TO FORCE PEOPLE IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN TO WORK LONGER
2.9 MILLION PEOPLE ACROSS SCOTLAND COULD BE AFFECTED BY PENSION AGE INCREASES
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has called on the Conservative UK Government to scrap proposed rises to the pension age which would force people in Midlothian and east Lothian to work until 68 before receiving their state pension.
Citing new figures from the House of Commons Library, Colin Beattie said up to 2.9 million people in Scotland could be affected by the UK Government’s proposals to hike the UK’s state pension age from 66 to 67 in 2028 and 68 by 2044.
Colin Beattie said Conservative plans to force people to work longer, especially while pensioners in Scotland have been routinely short-changed by the UK government, would be a “further betrayal” of older people in Midlothian and East Lothian.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh said:
“The Conservative UK Government should completely scrap their plans to increase the pension age, a move that could force 2.9 million people in Scotland to work even longer before getting to enjoy their retirement.
“Failure to do so would be a further betrayal of older people in Midlothian and East Lothian who, thanks to the UK Government, already receive one of the lowest pensions in North-west Europe, have had their free TV licences revoked and are seeing unsustainable rises to their cost of living.
“The Conservatives made pensions a cornerstone of their 2014 referendum campaign, but have since been terrible for pensioners in Scotland, having done absolutely nothing to empower older people to enjoy their retirement and later life.
“If the UK Government presses ahead with these changes it will serve as further proof that only with the full powers of independence can we deliver proper pensions at a decent age as we set out to build a country and economy that works for everyone.”
SNP WARN OF FUEL POVERTY DANGERS AMID TORY PLANS TO SCALE BACK SUPPORT
Colin Beattie MSP has called on the UK government to scrap proposals to reduce energy support to households, as energy prices fall while bills are set to soar.
Households in Midlothian and East Lothian are set to pay through the nose for increased bills next month, under UK government plans to scale back support for energy costs.
The call from Colin Beattie comes after UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt proposed to slash support through the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) scheme, meaning that from April a typical household will pay around £3,000 a year for energy.
Responding to falling wholesale energy costs, Ofgem has announced that from 1 April the energy price cap will fall. However, due to current government support through the EPG, there is a discrepancy between the actual energy price cap set by Ofgem and what the typical household in Scotland will pay annually.
Colin Beattie is joining SNP MSPs and MPs in calling on the Chancellor to maintain current levels of state support, as it will take time for current falling wholesale energy prices to filter through to household bills.
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie commented:
“It should not be a surprise that this Tory government is ready to slash support for household energy bills when they were forced into introducing it in the first place.
“For many families in Midlothian and East Lothian this scheme has been a lifeline this winter, and has been the difference between abject fuel poverty, and being able to put the heating on when the temperature once again plummets below zero.
“Reducing Government support now, at a time when inflation continues to run wild and food prices remain through the roof, is not just irresponsible; it is an obscene act of state negligence.
“Only the SNP will stand up for Scottish households against Westminster’s reckless mismanagement of this cost crisis and protect families from their cruel welfare cuts.”
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie visited Azilo Training to celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023. Azilo Training, based in Musselburgh, deliver Childcare and Health & Social Care qualifications to over 300 Modern Apprentices in Scotland.
This year’s theme for Scottish Apprenticeship Week is ‘Unlocking Potential’ highlighting the positive impact of apprenticeships to people and businesses across Scotland. Over the course of the week, Skills Development Scotland co-ordinates a large programme of events and visits to demonstrate the importance of apprenticeships and highlight the achievements of individual apprentices and all those who contribute to their success.
Commenting on his visit, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I was delighted to visit Azilo Training to hear more about the fantastic work they do and courses they offer not just locally but across Scotland.
“Azilo Training is a leading training provider in Childcare, Social Services & Healthcare qualifications and work collaboratively to ensure their training packages meet the needs of businesses to secure a sustainable workforce.
“If anyone is looking to start a career in the Health and Social Care sector, Azilo Training may be the right step for you. You can find out more at: https://azilotraining.com/”
Photo: Colin Beattie MSP with Azilo Training staff
COLIN BEATTIE MSP URGES CONSTITUENTS NOT TO MISS OUT ON ENERGY BILL SUPPORT
Colin Beattie MSP has urged constituents not to miss out on the energy bill support available to them, especially those who reside in residential park homes and those on prepayment meters.
For those who reside in park homes or pay for energy through a landlord, housing manager or site owner, you must apply on the UK Government website to receive £400 in energy bill relief.
For those on prepayment meters, vouchers are issued to you each month and remain valid for only three months with the final expiry date of 30 June 2023.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh said:
“It is vital people do not miss out on the help that they are entitled to.
“In most cases, the majority of households have received the £400 payment in energy bill support automatically. However, this is not the case for everyone.
“I am urging park home residents in my constituency to apply for the support and those on prepayment meters to redeem their vouchers before they expire.
“If you reside in a park home, you can apply online at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-energy-bill-support-if-not-automatic or call 0808 175 3287 for assistance. For those receiving energy bill support vouchers, these can be redeemed at your nearest PayPoint.”
2,092 YOUNG PEOPLE FROM MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN HEADED TO WORK OR FURTHER EDUCATION
95.4% of school leavers from Midlothian and 95.6% of school leavers from East Lothian are in positive destinations, according to new statistics from the Scottish Government.
Last year saw the highest number of young people across Scotland in work, education or further training after leaving school since records began.
Of these school leavers, a record 25.1% had secured employment- the highest number since records began.
The statistics also show a further reduction in the overall attainment gap across Scotland, with the gap between school leavers from the most and least deprived areas progressing after school narrowing to a record low of 4.4 percentage points.
Commenting on the latest statistics, Colin Beattie said:
“These record-breaking figures show that the Scottish Government’s education recovery plan is working and young people in Midlothian and East Lothian are continuing to succeed despite unprecedented challenges in recent years.
“Education is a clear priority for this SNP Scottish Government, and I am delighted that 2,092 young people in Midlothian and East Lothian have secured a place in further education or employment three months after leaving school.
“These figures also show good progress in closing the poverty-related gap – with those from the least and most deprived areas going onto a positive destination at a record-low.
“These encouraging numbers are a testament to the hard work and dedication of all Midlothian and East Lothian’s teachers, parents and, of course, young people, and is something everyone in the community should be proud of.
“Opposition parties want to downplay our young people’s achievements, but these numbers don’t lie. SNP action is delivering in Scottish Education, and it is right that all parties celebrate our school leavers’ success.”
7,645 CHILDREN IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN SUPPORTED BY THE SNP’S SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT
‘GAME CHANGER’ ANTI-POVERTY TOOL VITAL IN TACKLING TORY COST OF LIVING CRISIS
3,915 children in Midlothian and 3,730 children in East Lothian have benefited from the Scottish Child Payment since it was introduced, according to new figures released by the Scottish Government.
Now available to all eligible children under 16, 7,645 children in Midlothian and East Lothian have received since the scheme’s inception in February 2021, totalling £5.5 million. The full roll-out has been described as a “watershed moment” in tackling poverty in Scotland.
The Scottish Child Payment is unique to Scotland and is projected to lift around 50,000 children out of poverty in 2023/24.
It has been hailed as a “game-changer” by anti-poverty charities and is backed up with £442 million of funding from the Scottish Government in the next financial year.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I am delighted that these new figures show a significant uptake in families being supported by the Scottish Child Payment in Midlothian and East Lothian - with 7,645 children benefitting since its inception.
“The Scottish Child Payment, which is now £25 a week - a 150% increase - is a momentous achievement of this SNP Government and is the most ambitious poverty reduction measure in the UK.
“This flagship payment underlines the SNP Scottish Government’s unwavering commitment to tackling child poverty, particularly as the Tory cost of living crisis deepens.
“While the Scottish Government continues to dig deep in its fight to end child poverty, its efforts are repeatedly curtailed by the UK Government’s reckless pursuit of ideologically-driven austerity.
“Only independence gives Scotland the full powers to tackle poverty at source and uphold the values of respect, dignity and compassion for all.”
COLIN BEATTIE SUPPORTS NEW EPILEPSY AND MENTAL HEALTH SURVEY
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP encourages estimated 885 constituents living with epilepsy to make their voices heard
Colin Beattie is calling on people living with epilepsy in Midlothian North and Musselburgh to take part in a new national survey to understand the affect epilepsy can have on mental health, launched this week by Epilepsy Scotland.
Epilepsy is defined as the tendency to have repeated seizures which start in the brain and there are an estimated 58,000 people in Scotland living with epilepsy, which is the most common neurological condition.
This new national survey looks to understand the experiences of people of all ages living with epilepsy across Scotland and seeks to identify which specific support measures should be highlighted.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I am delighted to support Epilepsy Scotland in promoting this vitally important national survey to understand the specific mental health needs of people living with epilepsy in Scotland.
“In the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency, there are estimated to be around 885 people living with epilepsy, which can have a significant impact on their day-to-day life and on mental wellbeing.
“People living with epilepsy are more likely to develop mental health conditions including anxiety and depression as a result of the condition.
“I would encourage all my constituents and people across Scotland with epilepsy to make their voices heard through this vital survey.”
Lesslie Young, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Scotland, added:
“We are pleased to have the support of Colin Beattie in promoting our ‘It’s Time to Talk about Epilepsy’ mental health survey to people living in Midlothian North and Musselburgh and across Scotland.
“Epilepsy can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health and almost every person we support through our national helpline is affected by mental health struggles.
“To someone living with uncontrolled seizures, there is a significant psychological impact of never knowing when the next seizure is going to happen. For some who have controlled seizures, the medication can have side effects which affect mood and mental health.
“I would encourage anyone living with epilepsy to share your experiences through our survey, to ensure your voice is heard.”
The survey will run for six weeks and will close on Monday 13 March 2023.
To complete the survey, please go to https://www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk/mentalhealthsurvey/
SNP MSP COLIN BEATTIE WELCOMES £50 BOOST TO AROUND 10,900 HOUSEHOLDS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed the news that around 5,100 households in Midlothian and 5,800 households in East Lothian will receive an automatic £50 from the Scottish Government’s new Winter Heating Payment in the coming few weeks regardless of the weather conditions.
The new payment replaces the Cold Weather Payment - a Westminster benefit administered by the DWP – that only paid out when the temperature in Midlothian and East Lothian fell far enough for an extended period.
This meant many areas across Scotland missed out on any help at all from one year to the next because it was just not cold enough for long enough.
In contrast, the new £50 Scottish payment is guaranteed to be paid to every eligible household regardless of what the weather is like.
Earlier this week, the SNP Scottish Government received the data needed from the DWP to identify everyone in Scotland who is eligible. That data is now going through a quality assurance process to make sure all payments are paid safely and securely.
And the money will be delivered to eligible households later this month and next.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said: “This really is a massive improvement for around 10,900 hard-pressed households in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“We have replaced the old Westminster payment – which only paid out when the temperature plunged for a sustained period – with a new Scottish payment that is reliable because it is guaranteed every year and does not depend on the temperature turning Baltic.
“It means those in need will get the much-needed extra cash this month or next without having to shiver away at home while hoping the weather stays cold long enough to trigger a payment.
“Last winter, no cold weather payments were made across whole swathes of the country. In total, only 11,000 people in the whole of the country received the cash from Westminster. This year, because of the SNP Scottish Government, around 10,900 households in Midlothian and East Lothian alone will get an extra £50 to help with the Tory cost-of-living crisis.
“And the total amount paid out by Westminster also varied enormously from year to year. Between 2015 and 2022, an average of only £8.3million was given out in Scotland to an average of 185,000 households.
“The new Scottish benefit will see £20million put into the pockets of 415,000 households in the next few weeks.
“That means around 10,900 households in Midlothian and East Lothian are guaranteed to receive £50 to help with their bills – regardless of how cold it is.”
As the UK marks the third anniversary of Brexit, Colin Beattie MSP has said ‘three years on and Brexit is still a disaster’.
It comes as new projections from the IMF show the UK is set to be the only country in the developed world to see its economy shrink in 2023. Even Russia, which has been hit with sanctions for Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, is projected to grow its economy.
A recent Brexit poll conducted by UnHerd found that only three areas of Britain think that leaving the EU was a good idea.
Reflecting on the anniversary, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie commented:
““We are now three years on and Brexit is still a disaster, the only way Scotland can escape the chaos and economic turmoil of Westminster control is with independence.
“My constituents and people across Scotland have had their household incomes hammered directly by Brexit and have seen none of the benefits of leaving the EU promised by Westminster.
“This was not a choice the people of Scotland made three years ago and recent polling suggests that other areas in the UK have also came to the realisation that we are not stronger outside the EU.
“Both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have ruled out any return to the EU or the Single Market. Under Westminster control there will be no way back to the EU.
“Once again, Scotland is suffering at the hands of Westminster and its disastrous decisions. Independence is now the only way for Scotland to regain EU membership and escape further Brexit damage.”