SNP MSP: FOLLOW GERMANY’S LEAD OR HAND SCOTLAND POWERS IT NEEDS
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has issued fresh calls for the UK government to extend the furlough scheme into 2021 – after Germany indicated that it will look to extend its version of the scheme to 24 months.
The UK Tory Chancellor has already cut back on the Job Retention Scheme, with the furlough scheme set to end entirely on 31st October 2020.
With chains such as Boots, WH Smith and the Royal Mail who employ many staff across Midlothian and East Lothian announcing widescale job loses – the SNP MSP has said a premature end to the furlough scheme in the middle of a global pandemic would be ‘catastrophic’ to the local economy.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“In the past few weeks alone we’ve seen businesses such as Boots, WH Smith and Royal Mail announce substantial job loses that could affect staff here in Mid and East Lothian.
“In European countries like Germany, reports of an extension to their version of the furlough scheme will come as a welcome relief to millions of workers and businesses who are worried about their future.
“Yet in stark contrast, the UK Tory Chancellor at Westminster is choosing to prematurely shut down our furlough scheme and throw thousands of Scottish jobs on the scrap heap.
“The jobs and livelihoods of working families here in Midlothian and East Lothian are on the line. It’s time for the UK government to rethink its catastrophic plans to scrap the furlough scheme early and extend the measures into 2021.
“If they continue to refuse, then the Tories should let Holyrood have these powers so Scotland can take the action we need to save jobs.”
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has said new funding from the Scottish Government will help provide targeted support for care experienced young people in Midlothian and East Lothian.
Midlothian Council has been handed £199,800 and East Lothian Council have received £199,200 to invest in projects designed to boost the attainment of local care experienced children and young people.
The council will work with Chief Social Workers, and Directors of Education, to decide how this year’s funding will be used. Care experienced young people from birth up to the age of 26 are eligible for the support.
Across Scotland, the SNP Government has pledged £11.6 million to support the fund.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“The SNP is determined to give all young people the best start in life.
“The challenges posed by this pandemic mean that the Scottish Government’s efforts to tackle the attainment gap are now more important than ever.
“That’s why I’m delighted to hear that Midlothian Council and East Lothian Council will receive this funding boost to help break down the barriers faced by care experienced young people living in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“Last year the fund was used to support a host of projects - from outdoor learning schemes, to providing looked after children with laptops to study from home.
“I look forward to seeing how the council will put this money to good use, and offer some of our most disadvantaged pupils the support they deserve.”
SNP GOVERNMENT’S ‘JOB START PAYMENT’ NOW OPEN TO APPLICATIONS
Local MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has welcomed a new Scottish benefit introduced today that will help 16 to 24-year olds into work if they have been unemployed for over six months.
The SNP Scottish Government’s Job Start Payment is a one-off grant of £250 to help with the costs of starting a new job.
The upper age limit rises to 25 for care leavers and the payment rises to £400 if the person has a child.
It is estimated around 5,000 young people across Scotland will benefit from this new financial support in its first year.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The job prospects of young people in Midlothian and East Lothian have been hit hard by this pandemic.
“So, this announcement of extra support to help our young people into work really couldn’t come at a better time.
“This payment will help local people with the extra expenses that are often attached to a starting a new job, such as travel costs, new work clothes or even childcare.
“In Government, the SNP is working hard to create new opportunities for work as we rebuild our economy. I’d encourage anyone in Midlothian or East Lothian who thinks they may be eligible to apply online.”
COVID-19 CRISIS PUTS PRESSURE ON UK GOVT TO SCRAP BENEFIT CAP POLICY
The number of households hit by the Tory government's 'harmful' benefit cap has soared by 123% in Midlothian, and by 150% in East Lothian since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
New statistics show that as of May this year, a total of 6,034 households in Scotland were hit by the benefit cap - an increase of almost 76 per cent. In Midlothian, around 155 households saw the money they received cut by this policy and in East Lothian around 157 households were affected by this cut.
Shelter Scotland has warned that the controversial benefit cap, which the SNP has called to be scrapped, is forcing families into poverty during this Coronavirus crisis.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
"Austerity is having a devastating impact on thousands of families in Midlothian, East Lothian, and across Scotland, with vulnerable people hit hard by the benefit cap, as well as a host of other Tory welfare cuts.
"The SNP has long called for an end to the benefit cap, which hits families with children hardest, and leaves people in Midlothian and East Lothian worrying about how they'll pay rent or put food on the table.
"In government, the SNP has done everything it can to support those hit by the benefit cap - but as long as the key levers remain in the hands of Westminster, we are fighting poverty with one hand tied behind our backs.
"Now, more than ever, these shocking figures must serve as a wake-up call to Boris Johnson and his government. If they were really serious about improving the lives of people in Midlothian and East Lothian they would scrap this harmful policy now."
The first meeting of the Esk River Improvement Group (ERIG) took place on the 6th of August. The meeting was hosted by local MSP, Colin Beattie, and was attended by key stakeholders such as SEPA, Scottish Water, the Coal Authority, East Lothian Council, Community Councils, amongst other local, interested bodies. This group has been set up following on-going issues with the river’s cleanliness, as a result of factors such as mine water discharge, sewage, and discharge from Combined Sewage Overflows.
Colin Beattie MSP commented:
‘The issues with the River Esk have been ongoing for a long time and I know that my constituents are frustrated that no permanent solutions have been found. I wanted to establish a group where we look at the overall health of the River Esk and bring together those who are already working to make improvements to the quality of the water. It is much easier to see a result when we are all working collectively to resolve an issue, and that is the exact purpose of this forum.’
‘As well as bodies such as SEPA, Scottish Water and the Coal Authority, it was also important to me that members of the community are involved, and I am pleased that we have many representatives from our community councils working with the group, and also some local establishments such as Newbattle Abbey College and Musselburgh Racecourse. It is heartening that so many people are willing to commit to volunteering their time to make active change on this matter.’
‘I was pleased to discuss what progress is being made on these matters already, as well as thinking forward to establish what we need to do to stop these issues arising again in the future. All constituents also have a part to play in this, by ensuring they understand what not to flush down the toilet and by helping to educate others. Lessening the amount of sewage debris, which is often full of flushed wipes and sanitary towels, is an essential part in maintaining the cleanliness of the River.’
‘I am very pleased that the Coal Authority are putting in place a system to clean the mining discharge from Junkie’s Adit, and also that Scottish Water, supported by SEPA, are actively working to undertake clean ups on the Esk and improve their existing systems to prevent sewage spills going forward.’
‘I would like to remind my constituents that this group is not a substitute for reporting issues, and that if constituents see pollution in the river then they should report this urgently to SEPA via their Pollution Reporting tool at www2.sepa.org.uk/EnvironmentalEvents or get in touch with Scottish Water directly, either through their website or by calling 0800 0778 778. Constituents have a vital role to play by reporting problems when they see them, which allows them to be investigated more quickly and this will allow Scottish Water to undertake an urgent clean up.’
‘Anyone who would like to know more about the group is welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly add you to ERIG’s mailing list.’