Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh visited the Turing Trust in Loanhead to hear more about the work they are undertaking to help empower disadvantaged communities through technology.
Founded by Alan Turing’s family in 2009, his family seek to continue his legacy through the Turing Trust by refurbishing IT equipment, installing a range of educational software and providing it to students across Africa to enable IT-supported learning.
So far, the Turing Trust has installed over 12,000 computers in African classrooms, supported more than 116,000 students and offset 3,500 tonnes of carbon emission. The Turing Trust also accept donation of old computers and laptops from individuals and businesses giving the devices a new lease of life instead of going into landfill.
Commenting on his visit, Local MSP Colin Beattie said:
“I am hugely impressed with the work the staff and volunteers at the Turing Trust are undertaking in my constituency to help classrooms in Africa access these much needed resources in this new digital world.
“Now more than ever we are relying on technology to keep us connected and the Turing Trust is playing its part to ensure that classrooms across Africa can have the same opportunities to learn.
“As well as empowering disadvantaged communities through technology, the Turing Trust keeps its impact on the environment low with its zero-landfill policy.
“I would encourage anyone who would like to support the Turing Trust’s excellent work to donate any old computers or laptops information on how to do so can be found on their website.”
Founder of the Turing Trust, James Turing, commented:
“Over the last 12 months we have seen our team achieve some incredible results thanks to the vital support of myriad donors and volunteers. Together they have helped us with over 7,400 hours of hard work, ranging from packing containers on shipping days to the all-important refurbishment of computers.”
“From the goals set in 2020, in spite of continuing challenges with the pandemic, we have made considerable progress on many of these. This year we were able to install more computer labs than any year before, installing a total of 70 new computer labs in Malawi in 2021. Many plans for teacher training had to be modified, yet we nonetheless ensured that 198 teachers received training.
“Beyond these social impacts our IT reuse programme has generated significant environmental benefits throughout the year too. In 2021 we diverted 46 tonnes of PCs that would otherwise go to waste and provided equivalent carbon savings of 966 tonnes.
“I would like to pass on my immense thanks to all of our staff and volunteers who have gone above and beyond this year in their efforts to help others. I am immensely looking forward to the year to come and seeing what more we can do building a world with technology-enabled education for all.”
Photo L-R: Neil Gilchrist, Audrey Johnston, Colin Beattie MSP and Founder James Turing
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie has slammed the Tory leadership candidates for their ‘silence’ on child poverty as a new report highlights the scale of the cost of living with Westminster.
A new report from Citizens Advice Scotland on Universal Credit underlines the struggles households across Scotland are facing - revealing that the need for food banks has grown by almost a third (31%) since September 2021.
The report calls for Westminster to immediately uprate Universal Credit and all legacy benefits, a suspension of sanctions, scrapping the benefit cap and the two-child limit, pausing the collection of all DWP and HMRC debts, and converting all Advance Payments at the beginning of UC claims into non-repayable assessment period grants.
Whilst recent research has shown that the efforts of the SNP Scottish Government is making a real difference to those struggling, through actions such as uprating devolved benefits and introducing the ‘game changing’ Scottish Child Payment, Colin Beattie MSP has said ‘progress is being undermined by decades of Westminster austerity policies and a Tory leadership contest ignoring the cost of living crisis.’
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“It is utterly shameful to see such an increase in foodbank use in a place as wealthy as the UK. Yet, sadly, it’s not surprising that families in Midlothian and East Lothian are struggling to get by as prices continue to rise but Westminster fails to take any meaningful action to help and every single Tory leadership candidate is silent on the matter of child poverty and the cost of living crisis.
“Research shows the actions of the SNP Scottish Government are making a real difference to those in Midlothian and East Lothian struggling as it’s doing all it can with the powers at its disposal to support households through these tough times, but these efforts are constantly fighting against cruel Westminster policies.
“The Tories silence on poverty has been deafening and it’s clear that the last thing people in Midlothian and East Lothian need is a different Prime Minister - we need a different future with independence and the full welfare powers it gives Scotland to build a fairer, wealthier and happier country.”
Citizens Advice Scotland Report
MSP COLIN BEATTIE SAYS WESTMINSTER POLITICIANS CAN’T DENY THE CHOICE OF PEOPLE IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has warned Westminster politicians that they cannot deny the choice of the people of Midlothian and East Lothian by ignoring democracy, as the second in the series of papers on independence is published by the Scottish Government.
The latest paper, titled ‘Renewing Democracy through Independence’, outlines how Scotland’s voice has been ignored at key points in recent decades - from the failure to invest North Sea oil and gas revenues like other neighbouring nations did, to the crippling decade of Tory austerity and delivering a hard Brexit that Scotland overwhelmingly rejected.
In contrast, the paper also shows where the Scottish Parliament has taken decisions within the limited powers it currently has, it has delivered transformative change for the people of Midlothian and East Lothian with policies like the Scottish Child Payment, Minimum Unit Pricing and being one of the first nations in the world to provide free period products.
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie said:
“This latest paper lays bare that when decisions are made by Westminster, it’s the people of Midlothian and East Lothian that lose out.
“Hundreds of billions in oil revenue squandered by the UK Treasury, a crippling decade of Tory austerity and the economic and social disaster that is Brexit is the legacy of Westminster control faced by families in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“Decisions about Scotland should be taken by those who live here - not by politicians we don’t vote for or unelected Lords. That’s why Scotland needs independence - and Westminster politicians cannot continue to stand in the way of the democratic right of the people of Midlothian and East Lothian to choose a better future.
“There will soon come a time when the opposition will have to engage in the substance of the independence argument. It will then be for them to explain why Westminster control would be better than the full powers of independence where Scotland takes our own decisions.”
Scottish Government paper:
WOMEN IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN NOW OFFERED MESH REMOVAL SURGERY IN THE US
Colin Beattie MSP has welcomed the news that women in Scotland who require the surgical removal of mesh implants are to be offered surgery in the US as a potential treatment course.
Women in Scotland now have the option to request for referral to one of two independent providers for mesh removal surgery. The Scottish Government has announced a contract has been agreed between the NHS and Gynaecologic and Reconstructive Surgery Ltd in Missouri, USA, where Dr Veronikis practices. The contract allows NHS Scotland to facilitate arrangements for those who wish to travel to the USA for mesh removal surgery.
This option is in addition to the treatment options currently being offered with Spire Healthcare in Bristol and the Complex Pelvic Mesh Removal Service in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC). Each of these options will be available free of charge.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, said:
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government has acted to ensure that women in Midlothian and East Lothian seeking mesh removal surgery can access the surgery they need.
“Many women have suffered an unimaginable amount of pain due to complications as a result of transvaginal mesh implants and it is absolutely right the Scottish Government is doing all it can to ensure they now get the treatment that they want and need. This contract gives women access to Dr Veronikis’ services and adds to the range of free options for treatment including the service already available in NHS Scotland and a specialist NHS centre in England.
“I encourage anyone in Midlothian and East Lothian who would like a referral to any of these services to make their wishes known to their clinical team so they can access the best possible treatment for them as quickly as possible.”
£30,528 has been paid out to support young carers in Midlothian and £24,441 has been paid out to support young carers in East Lothian by the Scottish Government has from the Young Carer’s Grant since its launch.
The payment, which is unique to Scotland, has paid out £1.8m in vital support for young carers across Scotland since its introduction in October 2019.
The grant was recently increased from £308.15 to £326.65 from 1 April.
The payment is available for 16-18-year-olds who spend an average of 16 hours caring for a person or people in receipt of a disability benefit. As long as someone remains eligible, they can apply on an annual basis.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Young carers in Midlothian and East Lothian show incredible dedication to those who they care for whether that be a family member, friend or someone in the community and it is right that they are supported to provide that help.
“It is encouraging that applications for the Young Carer’s Grant have increased since its introduction.
“In Scotland we are building a social security system built on fairness, dignity and respect as the Young Carer’s Grant is just one of a number of support payments available only in Scotland.
“This is how the SNP Scottish Government is supporting people with its limited powers, but it continues to do so with one hand tied behind its back and only with the full powers of independence can we fully build a system that works for all.
“I would encourage anyone aged between 16 and 18 who provides care or knows anyone who does so to apply for the grant.”
COLIN BEATTIE WELCOMES SCOT GOV GIVING POWER TO MIDLOTHIAN COUNCIL AND EAST LOTHIAN COUNCIL TO RUN BUS SERVICES
Colin Beattie has welcomed the SNP Scottish Government giving power to Midlothian Council and East Lothian Council to run the bus services in Midlothian and East Lothian.
Powers from the Transport (Scotland) Act will now be utilised and allow councils across Scotland to run bus services in local communities as they see fit.
When the Act was developed, local authorities asked for the ability to run their own services to be included and the SNP Scottish Government has reacted to that request by allowing them to do so, if they wish.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Bus services are vital to Midlothian and East Lothian for those wanting to get around but they are also a vital tool in our response to the climate emergency. That is why it is welcome that the SNP Scottish Government is rolling out these powers to local authorities across the country, including Midlothian Council and East Lothian Council, to ensure we have a bus service that is fit for purpose and serves the needs of people in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“This is just one measure the SNP Scottish Government has taken to revitalise our bus network here in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland by providing half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure, coupled with the roll out of free bus travel to under 22s and significant investment to encourage a shift to zero emission buses.
“Buses will play a key role in achieving Scotland’s world-leading target of reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030 and this measure to empower local authorities will be another step on the path to achieving that goal.”
DEPRIVATION GAP AT RECORD LOW AND RECORD HIGH PROPORTION OF YOUNG PEOPLE FROM DEPRIVED COMMUNITIES IN POSITIVE DESTINATIONS
New statistics have shown 92.9% of pupils across Midlothian and 94.7% of pupils across East Lothian were in a ‘positive destination’ within nine months of leaving school last year.
The latest figures show that 877 school leavers from Midlothian and 1,087 school leavers from East Lothian went on to work, training or further study.
Across Scotland, the statistics show that 93.2% of pupils overall who left school last year were in a positive destination, which includes work, training or further study, nine months later - up from 92.2% in the previous year. The figures also show a record proportion of young people from the most deprived communities going on to positive destinations and the gap between school leavers from the most and least deprived areas achieving positive destinations narrowed to a record low of 7.5 percentage points - the gap has now more than halved since 2009-2010.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“It is brilliant to see over 92% of pupils across Midlothian and East Lothian are going on to positive destinations – whether that be work, training or further study.
“After what has been a significantly challenging couple of years for our young people, all credit must be given to them for overcoming the challenges and the hard work of them and all those who have supported them.
“I am grateful that the SNP Scottish Government is ensuring that strong action is being taken to fulfil our commitment to get it right our every child, providing the support and environment to give all our young people the best possible change to succeed – no matter what their background.
“From investing in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap, free tuition, or introducing the back-to-work Jobs Grant for people aged 16 to 24 – the SNP in Government is taking actions to prioritise young people in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“While opposition parties continue to paint a bleak picture of what young people in Scotland are achieving, the reality is that real progress is being made as a result of SNP’s action. One of the largest barriers standing in the way of their future prospects is being tied to a Westminster Government holding communities and sectors back.”
On Thursday 16 June, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Miners' Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill. The Bill provides a pardon for miners who were convicted of certain offences relating to the 1984-1985 miners’ strike where the conditions of the pardon are met.
A pardon will apply automatically. Miners will not need to apply for a pardon.
Colin Beattie is Vice-Chair of the National Mining Museum of Scotland and his constituency was home to two super pits Bilston Glen and Monktonhall. At their peak, both had 1800 workers employed at each pit and both saw violence flare frequently during the ’84-’85 strike. The aftermath of the strike caused real hardship with some still suffering the consequences decades later.
Welcoming the passing of the Bill, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I am pleased the Parliament unanimously passed this Bill. In every nook and cranny of my constituency you are served with a poignant reminder of our industrial mining past and I know the events of the ’84-’85 Miners’ strike remain raw and divisive in ex-mining communities, even today when I speak to ex-miners and their families.
“The Bill brings justice to those who have faced stigma, wipes out the stain of law breaking for so many decent miners who were simply caught up in the unholy mess but did not truly realise the consequences this would have on them. This is why it is so important.
“I am proud that the Scottish Government is the first in the UK to pass a Bill granting pardon for miners convicted of certain offence during 1984-1985 strike. I hope this restores dignity to those convicted and, provides a sense of closure to the lingering feelings of injustice.
“I also recognise that many issues around the potential for financial compensation are reserved to the UK Government and call for this to be reviewed as part of the inquiry if Westminster agrees to address this important issue on behalf of miners elsewhere in the UK.
“It is now time for the UK Government to act swiftly and follow in the steps of the Scottish Government to bring justice to all miners and mining communities across the United Kingdom.”
WESTMINSTER CUTS TO SOCIAL SECURITY HAVE BEEN ‘CATASTROPHIC’ FOR SCOTS’ HEALTH
People across Midlothian and East Lothian are suffering as a result of Tory cuts which have been slammed as ‘catastrophic’ in a new report by top researchers.
The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) found that people in Scotland feel their health is deteriorating from a younger age than previously. The study found that people in Scotland started to feel their health decline from age 46, a decline from 51 in 2009.
Dr David Walsh from GCPH described the finding as ‘terrifying’ and laid the blame squarely at the door of the Tory UK government and its cuts to social security payments. Dr Walsh also commented that ‘this should not be happening in a wealthy country like the UK’.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“This report lays bare the appalling record of this callous Tory UK government as they continually slash support from those in Midlothian and East Lothian that need it most.
“People in Midlothian and East Lothian should not be feeling their health decline earlier than they did a decade ago - we are a wealthy country that can look after our citizens but sadly Westminster control is resulting in this devastating reality.
“While I’m very glad the SNP Scottish Government has introduced a number of social security payments to support households across Scotland, including the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment, we are continuing to act with one-hand tied behind our back by a UK Tory government that removes support at time when people need it most.
“These conclusions also come out just a week after another Glasgow University study that has found that UK Tory austerity is causing people to die younger - report after report highlighting the brutal consequences of Westminster control
“We can, and must, do better. It is beyond doubt now that we need the full powers of independence so we can build fairer, more equal society for everyone in Midlothian, East Lothian and right across Scotland.”
COLIN BEATTIE WELCOMES SCOT GOV HEATING ASSISTANCE PAYMENT
Colin Beattie has welcomed the planned introduction of the new Low Income Winter Heating Assistance benefit to help households in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland pay their energy bills.
The support is being introduced by the SNP Scottish Government and will guarantee an annual payment of £50 to around 400,000 low income households from February 2023.
It replaces the UK government’s Cold Weather payments which were only triggered during a ‘cold spell’ of seven consecutive days below zero degrees, whilst the new payment from the Scottish Government will provide a reliable, stable guaranteed payment in winter, no matter the weather.
It will be the thirteenth social security payment introduced by the SNP Scottish Government and will be only available in Scotland.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“The SNP Scottish Government is providing a guaranteed payment of £50 to low-income households in Midlothian and East Lothian to help pay their energy bills every winter, starting in February 2023.
“Once again the SNP Scottish Government is stepping up to support households within its limited budget and despite the majority of powers lying with the Tories at Westminster.
“The Scottish Government’s annual £20m investment will mean households will get an automatic payment. The UK Cold Weather payments only reached 11,000 households in 2021/22.
“As the Scottish Government continues to step up and provide support to households across Scotland, it does so with one hand tied behind its back by the UK Tory government.
“That is why it is only with the full powers of independence can we start to build a fairer, more equal country.”