UK BUDGET LEAVES MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN SHORT-CHANGED AND FAMILIES WORSE OFF
SNP MSP Colin Beattiehas said that the Tory UK Government’s budget, announced yesterday, makes it clear that “independence is the only way to give Midlothian North and Musselburgh a fair recovery from the pandemic.”
Colin Beattie has said that the budget – which has been described by the head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies as “actually awful” for living standards - is failing the people of Scotland by failing to tackle the cost of living crisis, the Brexit crisis and the climate crisis whilst the Tory Government prioritise cuts the cost of champagne and giving tax breaks to bankers.
Commenting Colin Beattie said:
“What the Tory UK Government outlined yesterday does not meet the ambition needed to build a fair and sustainable recovery and to tackle the cost of living crisis.
“It's painfully clear that there will be no fair recovery from the pandemic under Westminster control.
“This Tory budgetfails Scotland as a whole and doesn’t go anywhere near supporting people in Midlothian and East Lothian, who are being hit by an energy crisis, a Brexit crisis, a labour shortages crisis and an inflation crisis Under Westminster control.
“The UK Government budget is leaving families in Midlothian and East Lothian hundreds of pounds worse off next year due to Tory cuts, tax hikes and the soaring cost of Brexit.
“It’s little wonder that, in May’s election, the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly for a different future when they gave the SNP the highest share of the vote since the dawn of devolution and a clear mandate for an independence referendum - Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts."
MSP WELCOMES THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE HONORARY CONSULATE OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC IN MUSSELBURGH
The new honorary consulate of the Czech Republic opened in Musselburgh on 13th October. The new Honorary Consul, Veronika MacLeod has also been appointed.
Local MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie and the Czech deputy foreign minister Martin Smolek were present to cut the tape to officially open the consulate.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“I would firstly like to congratulate the new Honorary Consul General Veronika MacLeod on her appointment and send my best wishes to the previous Honorary Consul General Dr Paul Millar who recently retired.
“I’m pleased to have the Honorary Consulate open in the constituency and look forward to seeing how they work to enhance and strengthen Czech-Scottish links.”
Photo L-R: Denham Mather, Colin Beattie, Martin Smolek and Veronika MacLeod
SNP MSP SLAMS TORY BANK TAX BREAK WHILST 125,854 ACROSS MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN FACE NI HIKE
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has slammed the Tory UK government for its decision to hike National Insurance for 58,528 working age people in Midlothian and for 67,326 working age people in East Lothian.
Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the decision to cut the tax surcharge for banks by more than 60% less than a month after he announced that thousands of hardworking families would face increases in their National Insurance.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“It should be a surprise to no one that the Tories are giving tax breaks to their rich pals in the banks whilst hiking taxes for hardworking families in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland.
“This is inexplicable given that families are facing a cost of living crisis with increasing food bills, energy prices skyrocketing and cuts to Universal Credit.
“The Tories are making it clear that our recovery from the pandemic will be built on the backs of those that can least afford it.
“Under Westminster control, Scotland cannot recover fairly. The only way to protect Scotland from Tory cuts is by becoming an independent country, with the full powers to build a fairer society.”
MIDLOTHIAN NORTH AND MUSSELBURGH MSP DISAPPOINTED AFTER MEETING WITH VIRGIN MONEY OVER BANK CLOSURE
Local MSP, Colin Beattie met today with Virgin Money to discuss the announced closure of the Musselburgh branch. The closure was announced last month with Virgin Money closing 12 branches in total in Scotland.
The reason cited is a 30% drop in footfall which they state was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic with few regular customers now visiting the branch. Virgin Money have stated the alternative for customers is to visit a local Post Office.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“I am furious with Virgin Money’s decision to close the Musselburgh branch. They made a promise to customers after the closure of the Clydesdale Bank branch in Dalkeith that Musselburgh would be the alternative – not a Post Office. They have gone back on this promise and let their customers down with no remorse shown for doing so.
“No thought has been given by Virgin Money on the pressure this will put on Post Offices locally and I am concerned about this being the only alternative. Across my constituency, I am not only seeing bank branch closures but also the closure of Post Offices. This leaves my constituents in a very isolated and disadvantaged position should both their local bank branch and post office branch closes.
“This decision shows the ignorance of banks towards local communities and the vulnerable in those communities. Not every single customer has the skills or equipment to complete banking transactions digitally, and it will also impact the smaller local business which use the branch regularly.
“Around 50 small local businesses will be affected by this decision. It must be remembered that where smaller businesses do have the capability to accept card transactions, many still accept cash. When it comes to simple tasks such as depositing cash, these smaller businesses will now face the burden of travelling further to a local branch or paying for a collection service.
“If banks no longer want serve our local communities then who exactly do they serve? The removal of their services further impacts the economic development of our high streets where people go for convenience that will no longer be offered.
“This continuous pattern of banks deserting local communities is one which must be tackled sooner rather than later. The powers to do so primarily lie with the U.K. Government at Westminster. However, I have myself raised this with the Scottish Government to continue to put pressure on the U.K. Government to prevent this problem from worsening, before our communities, especially the most vulnerable are completely abandoned.”
AROUND 2,735 UNPAID CARERS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN TO HAVE SUPPORT DOUBLED
Around 1,420 unpaid carers in Midlothian and 1,315 unpaid carers in East Lothian are set to have their Carer’s Allowance Supplement doubled by the SNP Scottish Government.
The Carer’s Allowance Supplement (Scotland) Bill passed its third and final stage at Holyrood, meaning unpaid carers in Midlothian and East Lothian and across Scotland will have their supplement doubled to £462.80.
This is the second time the supplement has been doubled – the first time being in July 2020.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“Unpaid carers in Midlothian and East Lothian have had an incredibly difficult time during the pandemic and without their heroic efforts our services would have been under greater strain.
“That is why the SNP Scottish Government has doubled the Carer’s Allowance Supplement, recognising this vital work and the difficulties that these dedicated carers will face as we head into winter.
“Unpaid carers will be facing a squeeze on incomes in the coming months with skyrocketing energy bills and food prices, so the doubling of the carers allowance supplement will provide a vital lifeline for thousands of unpaid carers in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland.
“The passing of this Bill is another example of how we are building a social security system in Scotland based on dignity, fairness and respect. Contrast that with the system at Westminster which has just cut Universal Credit at a time when those on the lowest incomes need it most.
“The people of Scotland must have the choice of a different path in a referendum for recovery to give us the chance to escape Westminster control and gain full powers over social security so we can provide for those that need it most.”
LOCAL MSP WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR SNP COUNCILLORS MOTION TO TACKLE ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN MIDLOTHIAN
SNP Councillors Debbi McCall and Colin Cassidy submitted the motion before Council yesterday calling for a business case to be made for investing in measures to robustly address and prevent antisocial behaviour, including an option to reinstate Community Safety Officers. Midlothian Councillors backed this unanimously.
Midlothian Council ended funding to its Community Safety Team in 2019.
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP, Colin Beattie said:
“I am pleased to see full support for the motion put forward by the SNP Councillors.
“As a local constituency MSP, I am contacted on a weekly basis by constituents regarding ongoing anti-social behaviour issues, many living in fear in their own homes and these cases keep on rising.
“Since the disbandment of the Community Safety Team, anti-social behaviour in Midlothian has been poorly handled with many residents feeling their concerns have not been listened to and they have nowhere else to turn. They are frustrated at the lack of support received.
“Residents need support to help mediate and resolve conflicts before low level disturbance escalates to bigger issues as I have seen over the last few years. The reinstatement of Community Safety Officers can help do just that.
“This is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed in Midlothian and I am pleased to see these concerns are being taken seriously. I hope this is the start of a rigorous approach towards tackling this issue and full collaboration by all parties is required to get it right for all the residents.”
DEVOLUTION SETTLEMENT PREVENTS THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT FROM PROTECTING RIGHTS OF SCOTLAND’S CHILDREN
Today, the Supreme Court has ruled that certain parts of Bills passed unanimously by Holyrood to enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Specifically, keystone Scottish legislation passed by Westminster before 1999 on matters now devolved will no longer be subject to UNCRC.
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP, Colin Beattie commented:
“This ruling today makes evident that Scotland’s parliament does not have the powers it needs to protect our children’s rights. Instead, it is in the hands of the Tory government at Westminster.
“The same Tory government that is scrapping the £20 uplift on Universal Credit, ripping money from the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable families in Scotland.
“We cannot trust the Tories to protect the people of Scotland. The growing anti-Scottish sentiment in Westminster and the lack of respect for devolution demonstrates the urgent need for independence.”
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney also commented:
“While we fully respect the court’s judgment, it lays bare the weakness of, and the limits in, the devolution settlement. The ruling means it is outwith the power of the Scottish Parliament to pass legislation it considers necessary to fully ensure the rights of Scotland’s children are protected.
“The UNCRC Bill was created to deliver a revolution in children’s rights, making sure children and young people are involved in decisions that affect their lives. The Bill was backed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament and celebrated as a landmark by campaigners across the country.
“The European Charter of Local Self-Government Bill strengthens local government by incorporating the Charter into Scots law. Starting as a Member’s Bill, it, too, was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament and it was supported by local government and COSLA.
“Today’s judgment will require careful consideration. I will update Parliament further later today, but one thing is already crystal clear: the devolution settlement does not give Scotland the powers it needs.”
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has welcomed £300m investment to boost Scotland’s NHS recovery from the pandemic – the biggest investment in the NHS in the history of the Scottish Parliament.
The funding will help the NHS through what is predicted to be one of the toughest winters and will ensure a cash injection for Midlothian and East Lothian which will allow our NHS to maximise capacity in hospitals and primary care, reduce delayed discharges, improve pay for social care staff, and ensure those in the community who need support receive effective and responsive care.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“The NHS in Midlothian and East Lothian has experienced incredible pressure due to the pandemic and without our incredible NHS staff we would not be in the situation now where cases are falling and we are living with minimal restrictions.
“The SNP Scottish Government has already reaffirmed its commitment to the NHS with a 4% pay rise – the biggest pay rise in the history of devolution. Now, it will receive the biggest cash injection in the history of devolution.
“These announcements will also ensure that social care staff will receive a 5% pay rise.
“This huge investment not only treats the NHS in isolation but ensures that everyone in Midlothian and East Lothian can receive the treatment they need and as quickly as possible. It will also ensure that hospital capacity is being used to its fullest extent.
“Our NHS, social care staff and social work staff have been remarkable throughout the pandemic and this additional investment will help support them to deliver care to people across Scotland this winter.”