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.”
Midlothian has seen 210 college students move on to positive destinations after their studies in 2020-21.
East Lothian has seen 220 college students move on to positive destinations after their studies in 2020-21.
The latest figures show that 14,930 students or 90% in Scotland went on to positive destinations, which includes further study at university or into employment.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“It is extremely encouraging to see so many young people in Midlothian and East Lothian making the most of their studies and going on to further education or gaining employment.
“It is very good news to see that this trend has been repeated across Scotland, with 90% of college leavers going on to positive destinations.
“This demonstrates how Scotland’s colleges are equipping our young people well to go on and secure a job or take their studies further.
“Despite the economic challenges being faced by Scotland because of the economic incompetence by the Tories at Westminster, the Scotland’s job market continues to recover from the pandemic.”
ORIES SACRIFICE NHS FOR THEIR ‘IDEOLOGICAL UNIONISM’
Tory opposition to last week’s Scottish Government budget would mean cuts to the healthcare services in Midlothian of an estimated £17.3million and East Lothian an estimated £20million exposing how “they will always prioritise their ideological unionism above adequately funding the NHS”, says SNP MSP Colin Beattie.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The Tories' dispiriting yet predictable response to John Swinney’s penny-for-patient-care budget measure proves yet again that they will always prioritise their ideological unionism above adequately funding the NHS – regardless of the effects on patient care.
“While the Scottish Government announced modest tax rises on the better paid to be spent protecting our NHS, the Tories are effectively proposing a cut in NHS funding of at least £1billion across Scotland – and that works out at an estimated £30.3million in Midlothian and East Lothian.
"The changes the Scottish Government has made to income tax mean around £1 billion-a-year extra is being raised than if we matched UK rates. Our progressive tax policies mean we can deliver record funding for the NHS, up by more than £1 billion and substantially more than we receive from the UK Government for health spending.
“The Tories clearly don’t agree the NHS should be the priority. They believe Scotland should just fall into line with Westminster’s income tax policies no matter what the cost.
“Let’s not forget, that is exactly what they wanted John Swinney to do after Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss’s disastrous budget just a few short months ago. If the Scottish Government had listened to them then we would be in an even more dire situation because of Westminster mismanagement of the economy.
“While the ideological Tories are prepared to sacrifice the NHS and the care of patients across Scotland in a misguided attempt to protect their failed union, the SNP Scottish Government will continue to take the tough decisions that best protect the people of Scotland.”
NOTE - Tory response to the budget here:
Scottish Conservatives on Twitter: John Swinney's tax hikes will widen the income tax gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK - driving away talent and jobs, while hitting 500,000 middle-earning Scots in the pocket. The SNP's Budget will stifle our economic growth.
SNP PRIORITISING LOCAL SERVICES AND PEOPLE, DESPITE WESTMINSTER CONSTRAINTS
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has said 'despite the financial constraints of Westminster control, services and people in Midlothian and East Lothian have been prioritised in the Scottish Government's budget for 2022/23,
Midlothian and East Lothian Council are set to benefit from over £13.2 billion, announced by the Deputy First Minister yesterday, for councils in the Local Government Settlement 2023-24 - a real terms increase of 1.3% since Budget Act 2022-23.
In, what has been described as 'the most challenging budget settlement since devolution', John Swinney MSP announced that 'instead of providing the flat-cash position set out in the Resource Spending Review, [the Scottish Government is] now increasing the resources available to Local Government next year by over £550 million.'
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, said:
"The financial pressures on governments right now are incredibly heavy and it is at times like these that Governments have to make tough choices and, ultimately, decide what matters to them - so I welcome the SNP Scottish Government prioritising councils like Midlothian and East Lothian, the services they provide and people they serve, despite the financial constraints of Westminster control.
"Midlothian and East Lothian Council will benefit hugely from the SNP Government's decision to go beyond the commitments made in the Resource Spending Review and provide over £550 million funding for local government compared to the RSR position.
"There is no doubt that this Budget takes place at a time of enormous challenge, created by Westminster economic mismanagement and Brexit, causing the cost of living crisis, which is now putting huge strain on council services.
"At national and local level, the SNP in government will continue to do all it can with all that we have, to help people in Midlothian and East Lothian cope through this crisis and protect essential services. This budget settlement for local government will help in that endeavour - however, it is clear that we could do so much more for people and communities across Scotland with the full powers and resources of independence."
Scottish Budget: 2023-24
Around 5,100 households in Midlothian and 5,800 households in East Lothian are set to receive the new Scottish Government Winter Heating Payment.
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has welcomed the support as it replaces the old Cold Weather Payment from the UK government which relied on the temperature dropping to a certain level before payments were triggered.
The Scottish Government’s Winter Heating Payment will pay a flat-rate of £50 in February, no matter the temperature, to people on low-incomes who qualify.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The Winter Heating Payment will be the 13th social security benefit set up by the Scottish Government and demonstrates what we can do with limited powers to build a fairer, more equal Scotland.
“It is a welcome step that the new payment will move away from the UK government’s system of issuing support when the temperature drops to a certain level. This will provide a reliable payment for households every winter.
“The new payment is another social security payment that is unique to Scotland and builds on support already available through game-changing benefits such as the Scottish Child Payment – the only payment of its kind in Britain.
“However, the Scottish Government continues to act with one hand tied behind its back by a callous and uncaring UK government.
“That is why it is only with the full powers of independence can we truly provide a system that works for the people of Scotland, not against them.”
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has held his sixth annual Christmas Card Competition for all primary school children within his constituency. The school children are asked to design a Christmas Card which fits in with the annual theme – this year the theme was ‘Peace on Earth’.
Mr Beattie invited Alister Hadden from Wallyford Community Council and Dave Evans from MYPAS along to judge the competition.
This year’s overall winner was Sophie Marsland, a P6 pupil from Lasswade Primary School. The winning design is used as Mr Beattie’s official Christmas card which is sent across the area to constituents, businesses, colleagues, charities and local organisations.
The runner up was Erica Olds, a P7 pupil from Musselburgh Burgh Primary School. In third place was Guilherme, a P3 pupil from Roswell Primary School and in fourth place Brooke MacKenzie, a P7 pupil from Wallyford Primary School.
For overall class prizes, in first place was P6S Lasswade Primary School, runner up was P7T Wallyford Primary School and in third place P7 Loretto R.C. Primary School.
Book vouchers are awarded to the winner and the runners up, as well as to the three best overall classes. The top prizes this year were a £60 book voucher for the Individual Category and a £100 book voucher for the Best Class Overall Category.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“The Christmas Card competition is always the highlight of the festive season for me. Every year the designs get better and better which makes the job of choosing the winner much more difficult. I am blown away by the skill and talent of all the entries.
“I would like to thank all the schools for their entries this year and all the children who worked so hard on their designs.
“A special congratulations to the winner Sophie – I am sure all those who receive my Christmas Card will love your design.”
Photo L-R: Colin Beattie MSP and winner Sophie Marsland
DEADLINE LOOMS FOR COST-OF-LIVING PAYMENT
SNP MSP Colin Beattie and Age Scotland are urging low income pensioners in Midlothian and East Lothian to act quickly to claim for Pension Credit before this Sunday’s deadline to avoid losing out on an extra £324 cost of living payment.
Age Scotland, the national charity for older people, can help identify if someone is eligible for Pension Credit and offer advice on applying by calling their helpline on 0800 12 44 222, where advisers can carry out a full benefits check, or check their eligibility online at www.age.scot/benefitscalculator
Pension Credit provides pensioners on a low income with extra money and other helpful support. It can top up their weekly income to £182.60 if they are single, and £278.70 if they are making a joint claim with a partner, as well as cutting council tax bills, help with energy costs and a free TV licence if they are over the age of 75.
Anyone who makes a successful Pension Credit application to the Department for Work and Pensions before 18 December, 2022 will also be entitled to a £324 lump sum financial support payment. This is because a claim for Pension Credit can be backdated for up to three months, provided the entitlement conditions are met throughout that time.
Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh said:
“With growing numbers of older people struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, there has never been a more important time to make sure you are receiving everything to which you are entitled.
“Every year in Scotland, hundreds of millions of pounds in social security payments go unclaimed by older people due to lack of awareness, difficulty in accessing them, stigma surrounding benefits or just not knowing where to turn for help.
“I would encourage people to call Age Scotland’s helpline to find out if they are entitled to Pension Credit or make an application directly via the gov.uk website as soon as possible.”
Age Scotland interim chief executive Michelle Supple said:
“Pension Credit is not only an essential benefit, but it opens the door to much more additional support including help with energy bills in the winter, a free TV licence for over-75s, help with rent and council tax reduction, free dental care and reduced water bills.
“We are urging all pensioners on a low income to act quickly and start the application process or call our helpline 0800 12 44 222 for advice. We don’t want to see anyone miss out on extra cost of living support, especially with Christmas around the corner.”
If you receive Pension Credit, there is a range of additional support and payments to help:
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has encouraged people to donate long-life food items at their local Tesco stores to help support the Trussell Trust and FareShare.
Mr Beattie visited Tesco in Dalkeith and Musselburgh during the Winter Food Collection to meet staff and volunteers from the Trussell Trust and FareShare to learn more about their decade-long partnership with Tesco.
Commenting Colin Beattie MSP said:
“It was fantastic to join the staff and volunteers at Tesco to hear more about the work they are undertaking to support our local communities.
“Now more than ever our foodbanks are being relied upon as many households across Midlothian and East Lothian struggle to put food on the table due to the cost of living crisis.
“The partnership Tesco has with the Trussell Trust and FareShare helps support families across the county and I am grateful for the support they can offer my constituents.
“If you are shopping in a local store and are able to, please do consider donating some life-long food items at the collection points in Tesco.
“Any small donation can help families a great amount this Christmas.”
Midlothian Photo L-R: Marc Welch (Tesco Store Manager), Ann Akgul (Community Champion) and Janice Burns (Midlothian Foodbank Manager).
East Lothian Photo L-R: Simon Warren (Tesco Store Manager), Colin Beattie MSP, Debra McLeod, Lisa Clark and Colin Beattie MSP.
Local MSP Colin Beattie has commented on the proposed new Westminster constituency boundaries put forward by the Boundary Commission.
The current proposals would see Musselburgh split between the East Lothian constituency and the Edinburgh East constituency to which many residents and Mr Beattie himself have raised concerns on.
The proposals would also see Scotland lose 2 MPs overall.
The consultation on the proposed new boundaries closes 5 December 2022.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I find the proposals put forward by the Boundary Commission deeply worrying for my constituents – especially those that reside in Musselburgh. The revised boundaries put forward which will impact Musselburgh make no logical sense at all. What is proposed is to essentially divide a united community into two.
“I and many residents in Musselburgh feel that their interests are very much aligned with that of East Lothian. The interests and needs of Musselburgh hold more local connections and similarities to East Lothian than that of Edinburgh.
“Currently, Musselburgh is facing issues, for example, access to healthcare services at Riverside Medical Practice and ongoing consultation of the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme. Both issues I am involved with as the local MSP, but it would indeed make issues such as these more complex to deal with having Musselburgh split between two MPs.
“These decisions are often made with lack of insight and understanding of a community and what the potential impact could be. It is important that feedback on this is considered very carefully where residents of Musselburgh and East Lothian, if not all agree that this proposal should not go ahead.
“Overall, the proposed boundary changes will see Scotland lose 2 MPs. These changes purposely reduce our voice getting heard of vital issues that impact Scottish communities. It is important Scotland has fair representation to ensure its needs and wants are heard loud and clear in Westminster.
If you have not already done so, I would strongly encourage giving feedback on your thoughts on the proposals here: https://www.bcs2023review.com/.”
You can contribute to the consultation and view Colin’s comment on the Boundary Commission website here: https://www.bcs2023review.com/