SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed new figures showing 1,851 households in East Lothian have been helped by the Scottish Government’s Scottish Welfare Fund.
Today’s figures show that in 2014/15 more than £394,500 from the fund was spent in East Lothian.
Grants from the fund are used to help vulnerable people pay for essentials like food and energy costs – and more than a third of the grants were made to vulnerable households such as lone parents, people with disabilities or people with mental health problems.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“Vulnerable people in communities across our area are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a relentless assault on the poor waged by this Tory government – and these grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund are a real lifeline for so many people and families across East Lothian.
“The fund helps people who are struggling to buy essential items like food and clothing and to help pay for energy bills – and while it is worrying that so many people in East Lothian are struggling to make ends meet, it’s absolutely right that the Scottish Government does everything it can to help, with 3,410 people in East Lothian benefitting.
“Of course, Scotland should not be in the position of having to mitigate the social security cuts of a Tory government which people here completely reject – but until full social and economic powers are in Scotland’s hands, the SNP will do everything we can with the powers we have now to protect and support vulnerable people suffering from Westminster austerity.”
Local MSP, Colin Beattie, has offered his congratulations to Roslin Glen, Springfield Mill, King's Park and Vogrie Country Park following the announcement by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the charity for Scotland’s environment, that they have been presented with a prestigious Green Flag Award this year in recognition of their high standards and quality outdoor space.
The Green Flag Award, administered in Scotland by Keep Scotland Beautiful, is a benchmark for quality green space. The winning Midlothian parks are run by Midlothian Council and join more than 60 others from across the country that are celebrating receiving the award. A full list of award winners can be found here.
Mr Beattie commented:
“This is terrific news and a just reward for the great work the Council has done in maintaining these parks.
“In this day and age, when green space is at a premium, it’s highly reassuring to know that Midlothian has no shortage of peaceful and tranquil parks. My strongest congratulations go to all those involved in this award.”
Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:
“We know that local environments define communities. Research shows that poorly maintained spaces have a direct correlation with lower health outcomes for residents.
“The Green Flag Award helps ensure parks and open spaces are well managed so that people have access to good quality open space and are able to build thriving communities around them.
“With more parks flying the Green Flag Award than ever before, this is true recognition of everyone’s hard work in helping to make Scotland greener and cleaner. We are very proud of all our award winners and those who work all year round, rain or shine, to make Scottish parks beautiful.”
To be considered for the awards, the parks managing authority must apply. Further information on how to see your local park involved in the Green Flag Awards can be found at: www.greenflagaward.org.
Commenting on the announcement that the UK Government has launched a cross-party review of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, the SNP have today said the plans are “doubly wrong”.
While the Scottish Government last month announced plans to widen the scope of FOI legislation, the UK Cabinet Office yesterday laid a statement before Parliament setting out membership of the committee tasked with deciding whether the act is too expansive. Members include former Labour MP Jack Straw, who is already on the record calling for the scope of the act to be tightened.
SNP MP Peter Grant today raised concerns about the review, following the UK Government’s failure to properly answer his Parliamentary Questions on the leaked inaccurate memo about First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s meeting with the French Ambassador. A copy of the memo including distribution list has previously been refused under FOI requests.
Commenting, Peter Grant said:
"At a time when the Scottish Government is working to extend the scope of Scotland's Freedom of Information Act, it is doubly wrong that the UK government are seeking to water down the Westminster legislation.
“My current interest is that I have asked the government for a copy of the inaccurate memo leaked on the authority of Alistair Carmichael during the election to attack Nicola Sturgeon - the entire text of which has been reproduced in newspapers - because I want to know whether it was sent to Mr Carmichael and the current Scottish Secretary David Mundell. But my parliamentary questions haven't been properly answered, and FOI requests by others have been knocked back on spurious grounds. If this is the position before the FOI review, things can only get substantially worse after it."
The SNP is today highlighting figures which show that countries ranked highest for workers’ rights also have higher productivity than the UK. These figures underline the folly of the UK Government’s plans to restrict trade union rights and strengthens the case for full powers over employment law being devolved.
According to OECD statistics the vast majority of EU countries, including Germany and France, ranked best by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) for workers’ rights have higher productivity than the UK. Eleven members of the EU are top rated for workers’ rights by the ITUC – the UK is ranked in the third highest category of country.
The UK Government announced in the Queen’s Speech that they would further restrict trade unions right to strike, reforms which Grahame Smith of the STUC has said will “leave Scottish workers as some of the weakest legal protections in the developed world.”
This also follows research highlighted by the SNP on Friday which shows that Scotland is leading the UK on R&D (research and development) spending through universities – highlighting the case for devolving economic powers to foster greater innovation.
Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie MSP said:
“The Tories' desperate claim that they are the workers' party will stick in the craw of working people in Scotland - where the Tories are scarcely anybody's party, having got their lowest share of the vote since 1865 at the general election. This is a government which has restricted access to Employment Tribunals and plans ballot rigging restrictions on the right to strike – it is no friend of working people.
“Now we know that their attack on workers’ rights is not just morally wrong but will also undermine economic progress and hamper efforts to tackle the UK’s poor record on productivity – something the Chancellor has supposedly made a key priority.
“We cannot allow the UK Government to damage industrial relations and hold back our economy in this way. The UK Government must listen to the calls made by the STUC and the Scottish Government for the devolution of employment law.
“With full powers over trade union and employment policy we can work more effectively in partnership with trade unions, the third sector and business to boost growth, to increase productivity, to support employment and to deliver more and better jobs.”
Commenting on news that the Scotland Bill will face amendments in the House of Lords, while the UK Government ignored amendments supported by 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs, SNP spokesperson on the House of Lords Kirsty Blackman said:
“It is an affront to democracy in the 21st century that there remains a legislative chamber completely unaccountable to the electorate – and that this out of touch, unelected group looks set to have more influence on amending the Scotland Bill than Scotland’s MPs is completely absurd.
“Just last week, 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs voted for amendments to the Scotland Bill and were overruled by the Tory government with just a single Scottish MP – the fact that the Tories now look set to take on board amendments from the unelected Lords simply adds insult to injury.
“David Mundell and David Cameron need to understand that they cannot simply bypass the democratic will of people in Scotland. They should recognise the unprecedented mandate given to the SNP at the General Election and deliver the powers that Scotland voted for – rather than demonstrating Tory arrogance in ignoring Scotland’s voice while listening to the democratic absurdity of the House of Lords.”
The SNP is today welcoming the announcement that the abolition of data roaming charges across the EU is today a step closer.
Following a deal between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, it is likely that data roaming charges will end in Europe starting from June 2017. This will help to open up internet access to EU citizens travelling between member states.
During the independence referendum campaign, the No camp claimed that with independence Scots would face roaming charges for using mobile phones in the rUK. However, it soon emerged that plans to put in place a process of abolishing roaming charges across the EU were already underway.
Commenting on the announcement, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who is convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Europe Committee, said:
“News that a deal has been reached on this issue is very positive indeed. The abolition of data roaming charges will help to open up internet access to EU citizens travelling between member states, ensuring people across the EU can stay connected.
“Being able to enjoy the same data conditions at home and in Europe is an undoubted benefit of being part of the European Union.
"As long as the Tories insist on gambling people's jobs on their obsession with a referendum on ripping us out of Europe, the SNP will continue to make the positive case in favour of EU membership.
“And the SNP’s plan for a 'double majority’ will ensure Scotland - or any other UK nation - cannot be dragged out of the EU against its will. The opposition parties must back this common-sense amendment to ensure the democratic will of the Scottish people is respected.”