SNP GOVERNMENT LEADING THE WAY TO “RIGHT A HISTORIC WRONG”
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has welcomed news that Scottish miners convicted during the year-long strike in the 1980s are to be pardoned by the SNP Government.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, made the announcement in Holyrood today following the publication of an independent review into the matter.
It is believed about 1,400 miners were arrested across Scotland and more than 500 were convicted.
The pardons scheme will require new legislation to be introduced by the SNP Government and passed by the Scottish Parliament in due course.
Commenting, local SNP MSP, Colin Beattie, said:
“A great number of local miners from Midlothian and East Lothian have suffered for years due to the excessive convictions handed out during the strike.
“The strike may have taken place 35 years ago, but there is still much anger in many of our local communities about how the miners were treated – and rightly so.
“For decades, hundreds of men and their families have had to deal with the consequences of the strike and their heavy convictions.
“This collective pardon also applies posthumously and is clear evidence of the SNP Government’s aim to right a historic wrong.”
Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf MSP, said:
“The pardon is intended to acknowledge the disproportionate impact arising from miners being prosecuted and convicted during the strike - such as the loss of their job. It will also recognise the exceptional circumstances that resulted in former miners suffering hardship and the loss of their good name through their participation in the strike.
“It is also vital to acknowledge that many officers involved in policing the strike found it an incredibly difficult time – being rooted in their communities and having family members who were miners.”
16,290 LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND 11,455 LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS IN EAST LOTHIAN SUPPORTED BY SNP GOVERNMENT
CRISIS GRANTS HIT RECORD HIGH OVER LOCKDOWN
The Scottish Welfare Fund made 815 crisis grant payments to people in Midlothian and 665 crisis grant payments to people in East Lothian in the last financial quarter – an increase of 19% for Midlothian and 23% for East Lothian on last year - to help pay for essentials such as food, heating costs, and household necessities.
Latest figures show that the Scottish Welfare Fund has paid out a total of 16,290 crisis grants to households in Midlothian, and 11,455 crisis grants to households in East Lothian since it was established in 2013.
The Scottish Welfare Fund awarded £5.2 million in crisis grants across Scotland between April and June 2020, up 77 per cent on the same period last year - after Scottish Government increased the amount of funding available for the fund.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The Scottish Welfare Fund is an important example of the kind of action the SNP has taken to ensure there is additional financial support in place for people in Midlothian and East Lothian coping with the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This vital support stands in stark contrast to what is happening at Westminster, with Tory MPs voting to deprive children of free school meals, and robbing Scotland of crucial funding to support our most vulnerable.
“While the Scottish Government works to improve provision for families in Midlothian and East Lothian facing poverty, we continue to have to spend money to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from UK government benefit cuts.
“For as welfare decisions remain at Westminster, the SNP will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support people in Midlothian and East Lothian to get through this challenging time.”
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has branded the UK Tory government’s decision to allow the temporary suspension of VAT on personal protective equipment (PPE) to expire as “shocking”.
VAT on PPE was cut to 0% in May following a campaign from trade union groups and opposition parties, with the cut applying to items such as face masks and aprons.
It was initially due to return to 20% in August, but was extended until October 31.
The Tories’ planned changes mean that businesses, charities and individuals in Midlothian and East Lothian will now be slapped with extra charges when purchasing essential PPE to protect against the COVID-19.
Commenting, local SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The UK government’s decision to slap extra charges on the cost of essential PPE in the middle of a global pandemic is absolutely shocking.
“Right now, cases are rising across the UK and the safety of our key workers and care providers in Midlothian and East Lothian is more important than ever.
“Many local businesses are struggling just to get by, and our care sector is already stretched as they deal with the Covid-19 crisis. The last thing anyone needs right now is to be penalised for protecting themselves or their staff.
“Boris Johnson must reverse this decision before these changes come into effect at the end of this week.”
3190 CHILDREN IN MIDLOTHIAN AND 1140 CHILDREN IN EAST LOTHIAN TO BENEFIT AS FREE SCHOOL MEALS EXTENDED
SNP GOVERNMENT PROVIDING £10 MILLION FOR SCHOOL MEALS OVER HOLIDAYS
More than 3190 children across Midlothian and 1140 children in East Lothian will benefit from extra funding to extend free school meals over the Christmas and Easter holidays.
£10 million has been made available by the SNP Government so that councils can continue providing free school meals through the winter breaks with future funding confirmed to extend support over Easter.
On Wednesday, Tory MPs voted rejected a plan to extend free school meals into the school holidays, arguing that it was not the job of schools to “regularly provide food during the school holidays”.
No Scottish Tory MP voted to support the plan, despite recent indications from Douglas Ross that he wishes to end the Tories’ opposition free school meals provision.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Many families in Midlothian and East Lothian are under considerable financial pressure at this time, and with less than two weeks until the UK government prematurely shuts down the furlough scheme, that’s unfortunately only set to get worse.
“This important investment will support around 3190 children and young people in Midlothian and 1140 children and young people in East Lothian, helping families meet the cost of meals over Christmas, February and Easter holidays.
“The Scottish Government’s decision to extend the free school meals scheme will be a great relief for many hard-pressed parents.
“The Tories at Westminster had an opportunity to support thousands of families worrying about how they will put food on the table in the weeks ahead, but they refused to do so.
“It’s clear that Westminster has a lot to learn from the SNP’s approach to tackling food insecurity and building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect.”
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has welcomed the announcement that new legislation which requires all homes in Scotland to have interlinked smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will be delayed until February 2022.
The Scottish Government yesterday confirmed that it will ask Parliament to approve a 12-month delay in the deadline to carry out this important safety work.
If the delay is approved, the new regulations, that extend the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds to all homes in Scotland, will be moved back to February 2022.
The Scottish Government has already made over £15m of loan funding available for Social
Landlords to procure and install the necessary alarms which should help ensure that social
tenants are safe in their homes.
The Scottish Government has also provided additional funding of £870,000 in each year for the last two years to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to support their Home Safety Visits for vulnerable and high-risk people
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Fire safety is an absolute priority for all of us, and these improved regulations will mean that everyone in Midlothian and East Lothian will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.
“However, given the impact of Covid-19, and the difficulties this legislation was likely to cause for people seeking to install new alarms, it’s welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay the deadline by 12 months.
“As MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, I will continue to look closely at ensuring people have the support, information and advice they need to make changes in advance of the new standards coming into force in February 2022.”
£1 MILLION FUND TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY SHOPPING AND PROMOTE TOWN CENTRES
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has encouraged projects in Midlothian and East Lothian to apply for a new £1 million fund, which has been launched by the SNP government to help promote town centres and online businesses and encourage people to spend locally.
Grants of between £500 and £5000 will be given out as part of the Scotland Loves Local scheme, which aims to enable visitors and residents to safely shop, eat and relax within communities.
The funding aims to support small scale improvements that will help motivate people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety, and can be used for measures such as protective screens, physical distancing markers, hand sanitising equipment and PPE.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“We all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s now more important than ever to consider shopping locally and supporting the brilliant local businesses in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“The Scotland Loves Local campaign - which will provide grants of between £500 and £5,000 - encourages people to think how they can safely support people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety.
“This £1 million fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, is an exciting opportunity for local projects and locally-based online businesses to support town centres and promote their community.
"This new fund will be a real boost for communities across Midlothian and East Lothian.”
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has welcomed an announcement that the SNP Government will further extend its funding support for Scotland’s bus operators.
Announced today by Scotland’s Transport Secretary, the SNP Government will invest up to £52.6 million in maintaining Scotland’s bus services between November 2020 and January 2021.
This latest announcement is in addition to the £109.7 million in funding that the SNP Government has been providing since June to support bus services.
Bus travel typically accounts for just under three quarters of all public transport journeys. This funding is to cover the anticipated loss of fare-paying passenger revenue that operators will experience due to physical distancing and reduced carrying capacity during a period when more people would normally be travelling.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“So far the SNP Government has invested over £109 million in maintaining Scotland’s bus services during the pandemic.
“This is a difficult time for bus operators with physical distancing and reduced passenger numbers hitting the industry hard. This further £52 million will go some of the way to alleviating that strain.
“While we must follow the latest guidance and walk or cycle where possible, I want to thank all of our public transport operators and staff here in Midlothian and East Lothian who have helped keep Scotland’s key workers moving in recent months.
“The SNP Government will continue to work with passengers, businesses and bus operators to provide a safe and frequent bus network for those who need to make essential journeys.”
SNP GOV COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING VETERANS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN
Colin Beattie MSP has welcomed a new rail card that will allow Scottish veterans to claim a 34% discount on travel.
The veterans rail card being introduced for purchase from today, initially priced at £21 per year, allows holders to travel across the country at reduced fares.
To encourage uptake, the SNP Government is also funding a further discount scheme whereby anyone resident in Scotland registering between now and 31 March 2021 will be eligible for a £6 rail voucher making the initial cost just £15.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“Veterans are an asset to our communities here in Midlothian and East Lothian and deserve the best possible care and support.
“It is important that we recognise the contribution veterans have made in Scotland and this new railcard will help open up opportunities for those who have served in our armed forces – strengthening employment opportunities and travel links with family and friends.
“The further discount scheme is part of the SNP Government’s ambition to make Scotland the destination of choice for Service leavers and their families.”
Veterans Railcards can be obtained by applying through the RDG website, telesales or via postal application.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has urged constituents who face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate to apply for a £500 self-isolation grant offered by the SNP Government.
The new Self-Isolation Support Grant will help people in Midlothian and East Lothian who would lose income if they needed to self-isolate, such as those unable to work from home.
This grant is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefits, with some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship.
Applications for the Self-Isolation Support Grant opened on 12th October and will be delivered through the existing Scottish Welfare Fund, which is administered by local authorities.
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, said:
“We know that self-isolation can be tough, but it is essential to protect people and reduce the spread of coronavirus.
"To ensure people do not experience financial hardship as a result of doing the right thing, the SNP Government has introduced this new £500 grant for people on low incomes who have been asked to self-isolate.
“It’s essential that we do everything we can to support people throughout this challenging time.
"These payments will help ensure people in Midlothian and East Lothian do not have to make a choice between self-isolating and supporting themselves financially.
"Applications for this new benefit are now open, and I'd urge anyone in Midlothian and East Lothian who is facing a loss of income due to self-isolating to apply for it.”
You can find out more about how to apply for the grant here.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has demanded an urgent meeting with TSB officials after an announcement the Dalkeith branch has been marked for closure.
On the 30th September the bank announced 73 branch closures across Scotland.
The MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has now requested an urgent meeting with TSB bosses to discuss the impact of the decision.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The bank closures from TSB are outrageous and not acceptable in any form. There has clearly been no thought into how this will impact customers, nor how this will affect the local economy. It is simply not good enough.
“Make no mistake, most businesses have been hit hard by Coronavirus – banks are no exception. But at a time when many are feeling isolated, a face-to-face banking service in the local community is indispensable for my constituents.
“I have requested a meeting with TSB bosses regarding the future of services in the area – the bank need to rethink this decision and allow our high streets to fully recover from this pandemic.
“I will fight to keep this branch open. They cannot simply turn their backs on the local communities that they serve. Many people in my constituency rely on this service and will feel abandoned by this closure. I will do what I can to stop this proposal in its tracks and help to keep the services that the people of Dalkeith deserve.”