Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has welcomed the announcement yesterday, that the Scottish Child Payment will give eligible families £10 a week for every child under 16 by the end of 2022. For a family with two children under the age of 16 this is an additional £1,000 a year.
Announced by Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Communities during a Ministerial Statement on Tackling the child poverty plan, the Scottish Government is using new social security powers to introduce a new benefit to lift children out of poverty.
Once fully rolled out, the payment will benefit up to 410,000 children and reduce relative child poverty by 3 percentage points – making a significant impact towards our interim child poverty targets. The Scottish Child Payment will not only support those in poverty and reduce relative child poverty – it will also prevent those just above the poverty threshold from sliding under.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“This announcement made by Aileen Campbell is warmly welcomed. It will help to lift so many families out of poverty.
“The Scottish Government are already making a real difference to thousands of families. From the new Best Start Grant, new employability programmes and encouraging flexible work, increases to the value of the School Clothing Grant, almost doubling funded provision of Early Learning and Childcare, and delivering 50,000 warm and affordable homes.
“This is the mark of a serious government that is balancing the radical action needed to address the changing needs of Scotland’s people, in a responsible way.”
SNP SCHEME SAVES SCOTTISH HOUSEHOLDS £6.4 MILLION
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has welcomed new figures showing that 6,330 in Midlothian and 6,870 in East Lothian have benefitted from the SNP Government’s Council Tax Reduction scheme in March 2019.
The scheme helps provides financial support to low income households, saved families in Midlothian an estimated £94.3 and in East Lothian an estimated £95.5 a week in March.
Between 2013/14 and the end of 2018/19 the SNP Government invested over £1.4 billion into the Council Tax Reduction Scheme – recently extending the scheme to include higher band households who fall below average earnings up to a maximum of £25,000 net income.
The move has helped support an extra 54,000 households in Scotland – a third of them pensioner households.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“In the face of huge cuts from the UK Tory government, the SNP has managed to help almost half a million households every year with their council tax bill.
“Just under 80% of those households are totally exempt from council tax thanks to the scheme.
“In March alone, the Council Tax Reduction scheme has helped 6,330 households in Midlothian (saving local families an estimated £94.3 a week in March) and 6,870 households in East Lothian (saving local families an estimated £95.5 a week in March).
“I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for a reduction in their council tax to get in touch with their local Citizen’s Advice Bureau for advice.”
UK GOVT UNDER PRESSURE TO ACT AS TORIES HAMMER OLDER PEOPLE
4,124 people in Midlothian and 5,583 in East Lothian will be hit by the Tory government’s decision to scrap the free TV licence for over-75s, new figures have revealed.
It is estimated that 5.8% of over-75s people in Midlothian and 10.6% in East Lothian will be forced to pay an extra £154.50 in household bills when the free TV licence policy for over-75s is axed.
The SNP has renewed calls on the UK government to ensure the free TV licence is fully funded, and can continue to benefit households and elderly people across Scotland and the UK.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“A decade of damaging Tory government cuts has left older people in Scotland worse off – and it’s concerning to see that the decision to axe the free TV licence will hit 4,124 over-75s in Midlothian and 5,583 in East Lothian.
"This is yet another broken Tory manifesto commitment which will take money out of the pockets of older people.
"It is time this Tory government finally made the welfare of our older population a priority – instead of making things even worse by taking away key benefits.
"The Tories should urgently stop this swindle and ensure that the TV license for over-75s is be properly funded and protected.”
MSP SAYS NEW BILL WILL “MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE” IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has given his backing to the Scottish Government’s world-leading Fuel Poverty Bill that was passed unanimously by MSPs this week [11th June].
Under the plans no more than 5% of households in Scotland will be in fuel poverty by 2040 – ensuring families in Midlothian and East Lothian who struggle to heat their homes are given the right support.
By the end of 2021 the SNP Government will have invested over £1 billion to tackle fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of Scottish houses.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The SNP is fully committed to tackling fuel poverty across Scotland – this world-leading legislation will go a long way in helping to support low income households here in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“This bill is designed to work for everyone regardless of where in Scotland they live. Scotland is now among only a handful of European nations to have legally defined fuel poverty – linking the definition to household incomes and the higher cost of living in rural and island areas.
“The SNP’s Fuel Poverty Bill is a massive step in tackling fuel poverty and will help make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people in Midlothian and East Lothian.”
CONTINUED GROWTH IN SCOTLAND DESPITE WESTMINSTER SHAMBLES
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has praised new figures showing that Scotland's employment rate has risen to 75.9% - the highest on record.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that Scotland’s employment rate rose to 75.9% for February to April 2019, and the unemployment rate fell once again to 3.3% - lower than the UK for the ninth month in a row.
Scotland's female employment rate (for 16-64 year olds) also hit a new record high of 72.7%, and the youth unemployment rate fell to a low 6.1%.
The SNP in government has supported job creation by publishing a new Labour Market Strategy, slashing or abolishing business rates for 100,000 premises – saving small businesses £1.2 billion so far - delivering opportunities for 200,000 Modern Apprentices since 2007, and increasing college funding.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
“It is extremely encouraging to see that economic growth in Scotland is exceeding expectations and breaking records – benefitting people in Midlothian, East Lothian and across the country.
“These latest figures show the success of the Scottish Government’s approach, focused on building a strong economy, investing in business and enterprise and supporting the industries of the future.
“This success is welcome, but the shambles at Westminster continues to pose a real threat to Scottish jobs and household incomes.
“People and businesses in Midlothian and East Lothian will be understandably concerned with the complete lack of clarity from the UK Government, especially this close to the Brexit deadline.
“In contrast, the Scottish Government is offering stability and certainty, and as a result, the Scottish economy continues to strengthen.”
Recently, Colin Beattie, MSP, joined with Councillor Colin Cassidy to call on Midlothian Council to ban the use of glyphosate weed killer across its services. Councillor Colin Cassidy brought a motion to the last Council meeting demanding a ban on its use; he commented that he had seen the impact with his own eyes after a recent spraying near his home left his driveway “covered with dead bees.”
Glyphosate is a widely used, non-selective herbicide (or herbicide ingredient) registered for use on many foods and non-food crops, as well as non-crop areas where total vegetation control is desired.
In the last year Two court cases in America have seen juries rule it caused cancer, although America’s Environmental Protection Agency has this month insisted it is not a carcinogen.
Councillor Cassidy told councillors that it is not only a cost to our insect life, but it has an impact on human life as well.
Both West Lothian Council and Edinburgh City currently have active pesticide-free campaigns ongoing.
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, commented:
‘Midlothian Council must find an alternative to Glyphosate Weed Killer to stop the risk to the environment and human kind.
‘I thank Councillor Cassidy for putting this motion to Midlothian Council, and I hope that they can ensure that a safer and more environmentally friendly option is found.
‘Council’s all across Scotland should be actively looking for alternatives to this pesticide to ensure that we are protecting our environment, animals and human beings from harmful chemicals.’
MSP, Colin Beattie, has expressed his shock and anger at Midlothian Council withdrawing many children’s access to free school buses where the distance to be travelled is less than three miles.
“These changes are ill thought out and badly communicated to parents and children” he stated.
“This is a reckless decision made by the Labour/Tory Administration which will impact on children’s health and wellbeing”.
In their wisdom the council decided that the new schools would not have lockers for children’s personal effects. The result is that, like the child with me in the photograph, young people have to physically carry all their needs for the day on their backs. Typically on a full day there could be a musical instrument, gym kit, books and jotters for each class attended, probably lunch and spare clothing. I tried picking up the load that this 11 year old had hefted back from school. It was as much as any fully grown fit adult could be expected to carry. To expect our children to do so for anything close to six miles a day is morally offensive. Young people’s bodies are still developing throughout their teens. Forcing them to carry such unwieldy loads is potentially detrimental to their healthy development. They need exercise – not forced labour!
Tired and exhausted children will find it difficult to learn. Attainment, which has been improving in Midlothian, will suffer.
Some of the routes suggested by the council are secluded and poorly lit and particularly during dark winter months I would not wish a child of mine to walk alone.
The alternative is that parents somehow re-arrange their work schedules and drive their children to the school creating pollution and traffic jams. This would raise the risk level for those children walking to school due to heavier traffic levels and vehicles manoeuvring.
All this to save £ 47,000 per year! What price children’s safety and protecting their health? This is a cut which will impact most on the lives of families with low incomes. Does Labour remember anything of the principles of Keir Hardie?
There has been no consultation with parents. This is an undemocratic diktat.
I call on this administration to think again and to show that they value our young people more than a few pounds savings.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has warned that farmers and food producers in Midlothian North and Musselburgh could be hit by a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump – after the US ambassador reiterated demands for major concessions from the UK.
The Trump administration want the UK to accept lower food safety standards than exist within the European Union, allowing US products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef to be sold in the UK – undercutting our own food producers.
The US ambassador this week confirmed that a future trade deal would require access to “the entire economy”, potentially impacting other sectors such as the NHS.
There are also concerns that Scottish products, such as Scotch Whisky, could lose their protected status after Brexit – allowing cheap-knock offs to be sold.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“Scotland has top-quality food safety standards, in line with the rest of the EU, protecting consumers and our world-renowned Scottish produce.
“But that’s now under threat, with the Tories planning to sell out Scottish food producers as part of a damaging back-room trade deal with Donald Trump.
“As a member of the EU, local products have been protected from cheap market knock offs - we can’t allow the Tories to take a take a wrecking ball to our booming food and drink sector here in Midlothian.
“The UK government’s shambolic approach to Brexit leaves them in an exceptionally weak bargaining position – with Tory leadership contenders competing to be the most reckless with our economic future.
“There’s a real danger that, if Brexit happens, the next Prime Minister will be absolutely desperate to sign whatever damaging trade-deal Trump demands.
“Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit – and the threat of selling out Midlothian’s food producers shows exactly why we need to stop it.”