Local MSP Colin Beattie welcomes the impact of Warmer Homes Scotland on fuel poor households in his constituency.
Around 300 households in Mr Beattie’s constituency of Midlothian North and Musselburgh have benefitted from the scheme’s help since it was launched in 2015, each of them saving around £300 on their energy bills per year.
The £224million Warmer Homes Scotland scheme provides a step-by-step service to help make homes warmer and more comfortable. Assistance can include installing new and efficient boilers, fitting new radiators, insulating lofts or even working with partners to install gas mains to make heating homes in hard to reach areas more affordable. All work is carried out by registered and accredited local sub-contractors, who work to rigorous quality standards across the country.
Warmworks is the Managing Agent of Warmer Homes Scotland and receives referrals to the scheme from Home Energy Scotland.
Colin Beattie MSP said: “I welcome the impact that Warmer Homes Scotland has made in my constituency. For too many families, living in fuel poverty is a harsh reality and it is great to know that they are now living in warmer, cosier homes with greatly reduced fuel bills.
“I would encourage others to check if they are eligible to receive help under the scheme, as improvements could make a significant difference this winter and for years to come.”
With the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 now enshrined in legislation, both the extent of the Scottish Government’s ambitions and the scale of the task ahead are very clear. While the end goal for the eradication of fuel poverty may be some years away, there is no question that the help available under Warmer Homes Scotland will play a key role in helping people become warmer, happier and healthier in their homes.
Ross Armstrong, Warmworks’ Managing Director said: “It has always been important to Warmworks that the delivery of Warmer Homes Scotland results in real and lasting benefits for vulnerable people and communities across Scotland. I am delighted to have helped around 300 households in Mr Beattie’s constituency and we hope to build on our success as we continue our efforts to move towards greener, fairer and more affordable ways to heat our homes."
To find out more about Warmer Homes Scotland, or to make an application, you can call Home Energy Scotland free on 0808 808 2282.
Concerns around Covid-19 have led to many of us to shop online, instead of visiting the High Street. Consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First has carried out some research for Electrical Safety Week (23rd-29th November) which shows that three out of five consumers in Scotland will be shopping on online marketplaces for what they see as ‘safer’ Christmas shopping.
But the Charity is warning shoppers that they could be swapping one safety risk for another. Multiple investigations by Electrical Safety First have found dangerous electrical products, which present a serious fire risk, can easily be bought from third party sellers via online marketplaces.
Colin Beattie MSP, as part of their support for Electrical Fire Safety Week, is helping the Charity raise awareness of this risk in the run up to the Christmas shopping period.
“Electrical Safety First’s research has shown that almost 60% of us in Scotland will buy from online marketplaces this Christmas. And 58% are planning to use these websites more than usual”, explains Mr Beattie. “This is essentially because people believe these websites are a safer way of shopping than going to the High Street during the pandemic. But this confidence is not supported by the Charity’s investigations, which have repeatedly found unsafe electricals for sale online, including on Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish.com. Electrical Safety First’s research indicates that over 20% are planning to buy an electrical item as a gift this Christmas – yet it has previously found that in the UK three out of five fake electricals are purchased online, with a third of buyers experiencing major problems with the item.
“So I’m joining with Electrical Safety First to urge my constituents to reduce their chances of buying dangerous electricals by sticking to the stores or websites of known manufacturers and retailers and to beware of buying from third party sellers on these platforms. We all love a bargain and Christmas is always expensive! But with nearly three quarters of fires in Scotland’s homes caused by electricity - and most arising from electrical products - this is a risk you don’t want to take.”
For more advice on how to shop safe this Christmas visit: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/spotthefake
Local MSP, Colin Beattie, has welcomed the changes made by Musselburgh Racecourse to facilitate a Covid-19 safe environment for their customers. The racecourse is currently operating with racing behind closed doors, however the MSP undertook a visit to this local venue to view the changes which they have made to keep those visiting protected against Covid-19.
Colin Beattie MSP commented:
“I was delighted to receive an invite from Musselburgh Racecourse so that I could see the measures they had put in place to keep those visiting the business safe, and to open up options for reopening to the public in the near future. The racecourse is a cornerstone in the constituency, which attracts visitors from far and wide through its strong reputation, and in my mind it is imperative that they are well supported at this time.
“Meeting with some of the management team at the site has filled me with confidence that the racecourse has put in place enough safety measures to easily cope with spectators when this is deemed appropriate by the Scottish Government. I would like to thank both Bill Farnsworth, General Manager, and Phil Duncan, Operations Manager, from the racecourse for demonstrating the efforts the racecourse have gone to in keeping their visitors Covid safe. I understand that, like with other sports, the industry is keen to have spectators once again and I hope that soon it will be safe to do this.
“I also hope that as there is a relaxation of the Covid Level which East Lothian falls into, there may be a wider choice of entertainment and hospitality at the venue, which would certainly be a positive for the business.
“Musselburgh Racecourse is yet another excellent example of how local businesses are adapting to the necessary changes to protect clients against Covid-19, and I hope to continue working with them until they can have visitors once more. I am sure we are all looking forward to a time where this venue can once again welcome crowds of people and provide the opportunity for excellent entertainment in the area.”
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has held his fourth annual Christmas Card Competition for school children within his constituency. The school children are invited to submit their designs to Mr Beattie, who then selects his favourite design to be used as the Christmas card which he sends across the area to constituents, businesses, colleagues, charities and local organisations. Book vouchers are awarded to the winner and the two runners up, as well as to the three best overall classes. The top prizes this year were a £60 book voucher for the Individual Category and a £100 book voucher for the Best Class Overall Category.
Judging for the Christmas Card competition took place with Monica Patterson, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council, and Jo Stewart, Co-Founder of Stewart Brewing. The competition was very popular once again this year, receiving a large number of entries from schools across Midlothian and East Lothian.
This year’s winner was Amelia Luckyn-Malone, a P5 pupil from St Matthew’s RC Primary School. 2nd place was Beth Pitcaithly from Wallyford and 3rd prize was Debbie Lawal from Loretto RC.
For the overall class prizes, winners were 1st place - P6H at Wallyford Primary School, 2nd place - P3P at Lasswade Primary School, and 3rd – P5 at Paradykes Primary School.
Colin Beattie MSP commented:
“I always thoroughly enjoy holding the Christmas Card Competition for school pupils across the constituency, as it highlights the level of skill and creativity our local children possess. The card designs are always imaginative and unique, and choosing a winner is always a tough decision.
“I hoped this year especially to provide local youngsters with something to look forward to, following what has been a very challenging year with Covid-19.
“I would like to thank all the schools who got involved in the competition, and to thank all the children who worked hard on their designs. It was certainly a difficult competition to judge! A special congratulations to Amelia on winning – I am sure that all those who receive my Christmas card will be delighted to receive such a special card, designed by a local child.”
I know that many of my constituents in Midlothian will be hugely disappointed to hear that we are not able to leave Level 3 of Covid-19 restriction today as planned. I completely understand the frustrations, especially as a Midlothian resident myself - no one wants these restrictions. From the data presented to me, there has been a drastic acceleration of cases in the last few days, which has shown a 61% increase in cases in Midlothian, despite the fact the cases across the rest of Scotland are going down. The only right step forward to take is one which protects public health and our community has to come first. We need to think about the most vulnerable locally, and protecting the NHS, as well as opening up the possibility to see loved ones at Christmas.
I hugely sympathise with my constituents, in particular business owners, and I made urgent representations to ask what support would be put in place. From a discussion with the Deputy First Minister, I have been made aware that Midlothian Council are going to be given a discretionary fund to support businesses who put measures in place ahead of reopening, for example when a business has stocked up on food in preparation for reopening in Level 2. I would urge those businesses who need support to get in contact with myself or directly with the council.
We need to continue to follow the guidance, continue to work together and do what we can to get these stubborn infection rates down. I completely understand that people are frustrated, angry and upset, however we need to do the right thing to protect those who need it most.
Local MSP, Colin Beattie, has said the new Scottish National Investment Bank will help encourage economic growth across Midlothian and East Lothian, after the bank officially opened for business this week.
The SNP Government has committed at least £2 billion of investment to support the UK’s first mission-led development bank over the next ten years.
The bank will now begin investing in local businesses and communities, and will play an important role in helping Scotland meet its ambitious climate change targets - forming part of the SNP’s Green New Deal and helping create high quality jobs in the process.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“The Scottish National Investment Bank will help us tackle some of the biggest challenges we now face, as we transform, grow and decarbonise Scotland’s economy.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, that’s why the bank will invest in firms and community projects that are looking to play their part in tackling the global climate emergency.
“Individuals, and small local businesses, across the country will benefit from this historic move and help us reach our world-leading climate change targets. I look forward to seeing the bank’s impact in Midlothian and East Lothian.”
Thousands of people in Midlothian and East Lothian will be plunged into poverty as the UK government plans to end vital coronavirus support to people receiving benefits such as Universal Credit.
Currently around 7,000 are receiving Universal Credit in Midlothian, and just under 8,000 in East Lothian, but are set to lose out on the £20-a-week uplift brought in to provide a lifeline during the pandemic.
The Tory government is set to take away the uplift and reinstate the Minimum Income Floor by April 2021. A Scottish Government report calculates that the decision will cost households in Scotland up to £476million.
Commenting on the news, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“The Tories’ proposals to withdraw this £20 uplift in April would pull the rug out from thousands of families in Midlothian and East Lothian at a time when they need support the most.
“The pandemic is not over yet - so the UK government needs to reconsider these plans and tailor them for the needs of people who are either out of work or whose income has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19.
“I would urge the UK government to take into consideration the impact this decision will have on people in areas like Midlothian and East Lothian and urgently reverse it.
“The SNP Government is doing all it can to support families who are struggling, by introducing game-changing benefits like the Scottish Child Payment, and we will continue to build a benefits system that is kind, caring and compassionate with the limited powers we currently hold.
"An independent Scotland would have full social security powers to build a fair social security system that gives families the support they need.”
COLIN BEATTIE MSP DELIGHTED AS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO DELIVER BENEFITS TO MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN
Colin Beattie has expressed his delight at the news that the SNP Scottish Government continues to press ahead with delivering Scotland’s new benefits system despite the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville, announced this week that Social Security Scotland will continue to press ahead with rolling out a raft of new benefits that will benefit those in Midlothian and East Lothian.
The next benefit that will be rolled out across Scotland will be the Child Disability Payment, with applications opening in the Summer of 2021.
This will be followed by the Adult Disability Payment, which is set to be piloted from Spring 2022 and rolled out across the country by the Summer of that year.
Once the Adult Disability Payment is fully rolled out, those who are on Personal Independent Payment or Disability Living Allowance will be automatically switched to the new system, and not have to face another DWP face-to-face assessment.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government can continue with the rollout of its game-changing social security system, despite the challenges presented to it by COVID-19.
“Alongside the Job Start Payment, Child Winter Heating Assistance and the Scottish Child Payment, Scotland continues to develop a benefits system which benefits those that need it most.
“The transition from the UK government benefits to the new Scottish benefits will be stress free and people in Midlothian and East Lothian will have peace of mind that they will not have to go through what can be a distressing DWP assessment.
“As the pandemic continues, it is vital that the Scottish Government continues to support people in Midlothian and East Lothian, especially into the winter months.
“The SNP and the Scottish Government will continue to develop a benefits system which is kind, compassionate and caring.”
OVER 1,250 NEW TEACHERS AND SUPPORT STAFF RECRUITED SINCE SUMMER
Local MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed news that 1,250 new teachers, and 155 support staff, have been recruited in schools across Scotland in recent months.
The SNP Government pledged £80 million of support this summer to help local authorities’ recruitment for the safe re-opening of schools.
Councils across Scotland indicate that an estimated further 200 teachers are also in the pipeline with 100 extra support staff also expected to follow.
Last month, figures from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) showed that the number of newly-qualified teachers going straight into employment has risen by nearly 30% under the SNP’s leadership.
Analysis also revealed that the number of teachers in Scotland under the age of 45 has risen to 61.5% of the workforce as of 2019. In 2009, the majority of teachers were over 45.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s absolutely vital that local authorities are fully supported to ensure that our schools remain safe for pupils, teachers and staff.
“Thanks to significant investment from the SNP Government this summer, we now have hundreds of extra teachers and staff in our schools to support their safe re-opening.
“These additional teachers and support staff will not only bring much needed resilience to Scotland’s education system, but they will help compensate for the loss of learning suffered by pupils during lockdown.
“I want to express my appreciation once again for our amazing teachers, and wider school’s workforce, right here in Midlothian and East Lothian, who are helping to ensure our young people continue to get the education they deserve during these tough times.”
Local SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has welcomed calls for a fundamental shift in the way fireworks are bought and sold in Scotland.
The independent Firework Review Group, established by the Scottish Government, has called for the introduction of no firework zones and tighter restrictions on the use of fireworks to help tackle anti-social behaviour at this time of year.
The group, chaired by former Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay, also recommended:
• the introduction of mandatory conditions when fireworks are purchased from retailers
• restricting the times of day fireworks can be sold and volume of fireworks that can be purchased at any one time
• restricting the days and times fireworks can be set off
• the creation of a proxy purchasing offence to prevent adults from buying fireworks on behalf of those under the age of 18
Welcoming the recommendations, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Here in Midlothian and East Lothian, and right across Scotland, there is widespread public support to crack down on the negative impact of anti-social firework use.
“This SNP Government is determined to make these recommendations a reality and help keep our local communities safe from the harmful use of fireworks.
“Tomorrow is Bonfire Night, and I would ask those who plan on using fireworks to do so responsibly and be mindful of their neighbours – the noise of fireworks can have a real impact on those with sensory issues, on pets and on livestock. Stay safe.”
Chair of the Review Group and former Chief Fire Officer, Alasdair Hay, said:
“I am pleased to set out the recommendations from the Firework Review Group. We have carefully considered the available evidence and believe a step change is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used by the general public.
"This is not to prevent adults using fireworks sensibly and safely – rather, to ensure all safety requirements are fully understood and adhered to, and the impact on others has been fully considered.”