SCOTLAND HELD BACK BY WESTMINSTER CONTROL AS FIRST GOVERNMENT PAPER PUBLISHED
Local MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed the publication of the first in a series of documents from the Scottish Government, which shows how Scotland in the UK compares to other similar-sized independent European nations on key comparators.
The paper outlines how other comparable nations are wealthier, happier and fairer than Scotland currently is under Westminster control.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
“Scotland has everything it takes to be a hugely successful nation - yet Westminster control has held it back while comparable countries of a similar size prosper.
“Independence gives Scotland the opportunity to fulfil its full potential to be a fairer, greener and more equal nation. It puts the power into the hands of Scotland - not Tory governments that Scotland didn’t vote for.
“A decade of Tory austerity coupled with a Brexit that Scotland didn’t vote for has made us poorer. As the cost of living crisis deepens for people across Midlothian and East Lothian, it’s right that the Scottish government lays bare the cost of living with Westminster in this series of papers
“Scotland has the ambition to be a better nation - but it’s only with the full powers of independence that we can make that hope a reality.”
More information: https://www.gov.scot/publications/independence-modern-world-wealthier-happier-fairer-not-scotland/
MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN PAYING OVER £1500 PER YEAR ON ENERGY BILLS, RANKING IN TOP 200 MOST EXPENSIVE IN GREAT BRITAIN
HOUSEHOLDS IN SCOTLAND PAYING MORE COMPARED TO ENGLAND AND WALES
Households in Midlothian are paying an average of £1,574 per year paying over £1500 per year, making it the 196th most expensive place in the UK for energy bills. Households in East Lothian are paying an average of £1,613 per year making it the 148th most expensive place in the UK for energy bills.
Out of 408 local authorities in Great Britain, Midlothian and East Lothian ranked in the top 200 most expensive.
According to data from comparethemarket.com, households in Midlothian are already paying 18.9% more than the price cap that is set to be introduced in October this year with households in East Lothian paying 20.8% more.
The data also shows that people across Scotland are paying more on their bills than compared to England and Wales.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
"People across Scotland, including in Midlothian and East Lothian are paying the price for sky high energy bills, despite Scotland having an abundance of resources in oil and gas and renewables.
"Under Westminster control, the vast revenue from Scotland's oil and gas industry has been squandered by UK governments for decades and now it is consumers in Midlothian and East Lothian who are getting hammered with higher average energy bills, with bills here being in the top 200 most expensive in Great Britain.
"This is also a result of the outrageous and expensive transmission charges that are charged in Scotland for companies to access the national grid here.
"The measures announced by the Chancellor last month – welcome though they were - will barely scratch the surface of the rocketing energy bills crippling households now and in the winter months to come.
"High fuel bills in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland lies squarely at the door of the Westminster government and shows why Scotland needs the full range of powers that will come with independence."
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed £15.2bn of resource investment in education and skills across Scotland, benefitting children and young people in Midlothian and East Lothian.
As set out in the Scottish Government’s Spending Review this week, £1bn will be invested in this term of parliament in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap.
After the successful rollout of 1140 hours of free childcare in Midlothian and East Lothian, the SNP Scottish Government will progress work to build a system of school age childcare that is free to those on the lowest incomes and consider how we can most effectively invest in early years support for the families who need it most.
There is also a commitment to recruit 3,500 teachers and 500 support staff across Scotland and expanding free school meal provision, continuing to provide funding for school clothing grant, roll-out of digital devices and connectivity to Scotland’s school pupils, a curriculum free of core charges and free music tuition.
Commenting SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The SNP Scottish Government continues to support children and young people in Midlothian and East Lothian and ensure that every child has the best possible start in life.
“Progress has already been made across Scotland in closing the attainment gap with experts describing the Scottish Government’s work as an ‘unambiguous success’. A further investment of £1bn across the term of this parliament will continue that work.
“With the expansion of free school meals and the scrapping of extra-curricular charges and music tuition fees we can ensure that every child in Midlothian and East Lothian can meet their potential without financial barriers.
“This demonstrates that is only the SNP that has the track record on improving young children’s experiences and will continue to do so.”
ADDRESSING CLIMATE CRISIS KEY PRIORITY FOR SNP GOVERNMENT SPENDING
The SNP Scottish Government’s spending review has put Scotland’s transition to net zero and ensuring Midlothian and East Lothian benefits from a greener, fairer economy at its heart, with around £6.8 billion investment.
In the Resource Spending Review, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, underlined the SNP Government’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Ms Forbes outlined measures including over £5 billion investment in rail infrastructure, £1.8 billion to deliver the Heat in Buildings strategy and expansion of the Just Transition fund to over £150 million by 2025-26. The review also set out the establishment of an Investor Panel, chaired by the First Minister, to attract investment to a pipeline of projects in Scotland that support our transition to net zero.
The SNP Government’s plans are underpinned by an approach to addressing climate change whilst crucially creating a more cohesive and resilient economy that improves the opportunities, life chances, and wellbeing of people across every party of Scotland including Midlothian and East Lothian.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“As Midlothian and East Lothian recover from the last two years and we look to the future, it is undeniable that tackling the climate emergency and transitioning to a more sustainable society is going to be hugely important.
“Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation which sets a target date for net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045 is something we should be proud of but we must also be realistic that meeting these targets will not be easy. They present significant challenges but they also present significant opportunities for people in Midlothian and East Lothian that we must grasp – and having an SNP Scottish Government that understands and supports this transition is key.
“I was delighted to hear the SNP Finance Secretary outline investment in many areas that will have a direct and positive impact for people in Midlothian and East Lothian – from energy efficiency and zero emissions heating and supporting public transport and record investment in active travel to protecting our natural environment and supporting the creation of green jobs.
“The SNP’s commitment to create a stronger, fairer, greener economy benefits everyone is, however, in stark contrast to the Tory UK Government who are doing nothing to invest in the transition we need.
“We cannot afford to let the Tories hold us back from building and benefiting from the sustainable future we are capable of creating. The Scottish Government is putting its money where its mouth is to make sure this happens and if Westminster isn’t willing to step up then it's clear we need the full levers of independence to secure the greener, fairer and more sustainable that we deserve."
MSP WELCOMES SPENDING REVIEW BOOST FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE
Colin Beattie MSP has welcomed nearly £4.7 billion of extra investment for Scotland’s Health and Social Care portfolio over the next 4 years.
The Resource Spending Review, outlined by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes this week, invests in frontline services and outlines over £70 billion of investment in the Health and Social Care budget between 2023/24 and 2026/27.
This investment will increase capacity in the health service, help establish the National Care Service, help deliver care in the community, and tackle health inequalities.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“The SNP Scottish Government has invested significantly in difficult financial times to ensure our NHS and social care sector are fit for the 21st Century.
“I’m delighted that this week’s Resource Spending Review will see significant investment in the Health and Social Care budget - which will help health services in Midlothian and East Lothian as Scotland recovers from the pandemic, where there will undoubtedly be pressures on the healthcare sector.
“The SNP Government's twin approach of delivering record investment and taking forward vital reforms will help ensure that the people of Scotland get the care they need in the right place at the right time.
“None of this would be possible to deliver without our hard-working NHS and social care staff working across Midlothian and East Lothian. I’d like to extend my personal thanks for their tremendous efforts over a very difficult few years.”
HOUSEHOLDS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN TO BE SUPPORTED BY £23 BILLION
As communities across Midlothian and East Lothian recover from the pandemic and face a Tory made cost of living crisis, yesterday the SNP Government’s spending review outlined record social security spending to help households facing increasing pressures. The Scottish Government allocated around £23 billion for social security over the course of the parliament.
The focus on supporting households under increasing pressure reflects the SNP’s commitment to create a fairer Scotland by tackling child poverty, reducing inequalities and supporting financial wellbeing in Midlothian and East Lothian and builds on current efforts to help families and mitigate Westminster welfare cuts.
The Resource Spending Review outlined over £23 billion worth of payments, with a total of almost £1.8 billion for the ‘game changing’ Scottish Child Payment alone. By 2026-27 the budget for Social Security Assistance will have increased by £6.3 billion.
This is despite the Scottish Budget for this year being cut in real terms by 5.2 per cent by the Tory UK government and the SNP government already spending almost £770 million on cost of living support, including several measures for families in Midlothian and East Lothian not available elsewhere in the UK, such as:
Additionally, the Scottish Government is making investment in areas like energy efficiency to bring down costs and the spending review set out how SNP will build on these over the coming years.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, said:
“I am very glad to see this record investment in social security by the SNP Government, putting such a strong focus on tackling child poverty and helping households in Midlothian and East Lothian who are facing severe pressures right now which seems likely to only increase for the next while.
“Many families across Midlothian and East Lothian are already benefitting from support like the Scottish Child payment, a £150 council tax reduction, the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments which mitigate Westminster’s cruel bedroom tax.
“These are policies that built on the SNP’s current efforts. They will make a real difference to people’s lives and build on long standing measures that we benefit from every day – such as free prescriptions, free university tuition, free personal care, and 1,140 hours of free early learning and childcare which will continue to be maintained.
“When times are tough, Governments have to make tough decisions and I’m grateful the SNP continue to focus on what matters most to people but it is acting with one hand tied behind its back as Westminster continues to inflict its cruel austerity agenda at a time when people need support the most.
“Once again, it is clear that only with the full powers of independence that we can stop spending a fixed budget on protecting households against Tory cuts and start to properly build a fairer, more equal Scotland.”
4,615 children in Midlothian and East Lothian have been supported by the Scottish Child Payment since its introduction by the SNP Scottish Government.
Since the support started putting extra money in the pockets of families over £2.12million has been spent supporting families in Midlothian and East Lothian since February 2021.
Children across Midlothian and East Lothian are already benefitting from further support after the Scottish Government doubled the payment to £20 per week per child in April and will increase it further to £25 by the end of the year.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“During a Tory-made cost of living crisis, the SNP Scottish Government has supported more than 4,615 children in Midlothian and East Lothian with the Scottish Child Payment – which is a payment that is not available anywhere else in the UK.
“The Scottish Child Payment is just one of a raft of support payments that have been introduced in Scotland to build a social security system that is built on dignity, fairness and respect.
“Families in Midlothian and East Lothian are already benefitting from further support after the Scottish Child Payment was doubled in April and is set to be increased even further by the end of the year.
“The Scottish Government continues to support households in Midlothian and East Lothian with one hand tied behind its back as most of the levers of power are held by a Westminster government that has cut Universal Credit at a time when people need it most.
“That is why it is only with the full raft of powers that independence would bring that we can start to build a fairer, more equal Scotland.”
£2.5MILLION SPENT IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN PROTECTING HOUSEHOLDS FROM CRUEL TORY CUTS, INCLUDING BEDROOM TAX
£2.5million has been spent this year in Midlothian and East Lothian mitigating cruel Tory cuts including the disgraceful bedroom tax.
In 2021/22 £2.5million was provided by the SNP Scottish Government in Discretionary Housing Payments to protect families from cuts, with over £2million spent mitigating the impact of the cruel Tory bedroom tax in Midlothian and East Lothian.
Across Scotland £82million has been used to mitigate Tory cuts, with £71m spent to protect households from the bedroom tax.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“The introduction of the bedroom tax has been one of the cruellest policies introduced by this UK Tory government as it targets the most vulnerable in our society.
“The SNP Scottish Government has spent millions across Scotland, including in Midlothian and East Lothian to protect households from the most devastating impacts of Tory cuts and policies. This is money that could be invested on pulling people out of poverty but instead the Scottish Government has to mitigate against the Tories pushing people further towards poverty.
“This demonstrates the tale of two governments facing the people of Scotland as we have one in London implementing cruel policies such as the bedroom tax, whereas we have one in Edinburgh investing in a social security system built on fairness, dignity and respect.
“However, the Scottish Government should not have to clean up the mess left by the Tories. That is why we must have the full powers of independence to build a fairer, more equal Scotland.”
£50,000 EILIDH'S TRUST FUND TO SUPPORT SCOTLAND'S YOUNG MUSICIANS
East Lothian MSP, Paul McLennan, and Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP, Colin Beattie, are inviting East Lothian youth music groups to bid for financial support from the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust to help them grow and develop their music tuition capacity and ensure lessons continue to be available to all.
The Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust - established in memory of the 14-year-old musician from the Isle of Barra who died in the 2017 Manchester Arena attack - has launched its largest ever funding round for youth music group.
Charity trustees agreed to create the fund to remember Eilidh on the fifth anniversary of the arena attack. The fund is especially timely as many households across the country struggle with increased living costs with the potential to impact on their ability to continue to pay music lesson fees and expenses.
The special anniversary fund seeks to ensure young musicians across the country are supported in their tuition by providing funding across a range of areas such as teaching costs, equipment, travel costs and venue hire.
To date, the trust has funded over 30 youth music groups and individuals from Orkney to the Borders, supporting budding artists to grow their skills, thrive in a fun learning environment and, in many instances, allowing them to restart their lessons as we emerge from the pandemic.
Welcoming the fund, East Lothian MSP, Paul McLennan said:
“Music has the power to completely transform lives. It brings together entire communities, and it is a vital way for all of us to connect with one another – across generations, language barriers and borders - through the sharing of our stories, feelings, and cultures.
“Eilidh was a talented young musician who adored music. This fitting tribute will ensure that the special place music had in her life will be carried through to others by empowering young people across Scotland to achieve their own dreams through music. Eilidh’s legacy, and the benefits of this funding, will change lives for years to come.”
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP, Colin Beattie said:
“Music is an important part of many young people’s lives and it is essential that we continue to make it accessible to all.
“Eilidh’s passing was incredibly tragic. The work that has been done to set up the fund has been excellent and will go some way to creating Scotland’s future musicians, which will be a fitting tribute to Eilidh’s life.”
Youth music groups that are keen to be considered for small grant funding should contact Eilidh’s Trust outlining the following details:
I have recently been made aware of a number of pollution events occurring on the River Esk. As chairman of the Esk River Improvement Group, this rise in incidents is of great concern to me.
My office have been regularly monitoring social media pages in order to identify any issue being raised by constituents and bring these to the attention of the relevant authorities.
However, I would like to remind my constituents that SEPA do not respond to reports of incidents being made on social media, it is therefore of the upmost importance that members of the public who witness any pollution incidents are reporting these through the correct channels.
Should you witness any pollution taking place this must be reported using SEPA’s 24-hour online form at sepa.org.uk/report or by calling the Pollution Hotline: 0800 80 70 60.
Similarly, if you see an animal in danger or which appears to be injured, call the SSPCA’s animal helpline immediately on 03000 999 999.