LOCAL MSP WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT TAKING OVER SCOTRAIL
Local MSP Fulton MacGregor has welcomed the announcement that the SNP Scottish Government is taking over the running of the country’s rail franchise.
ScotRail services will move into public sector control when the current franchise with Abellio expires – expected to happen in March 2022.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson announced that rail services will be run by an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government’s decision to run our railways through what it known as the ‘Operator of Last Resort’ has been shaped by a number of factors, including faults with the current franchising system, uncertainty from a year-long delay in the UK Government’s rail review and the effects of the Covid pandemic.
Commenting on the announcement Fulton MaGregor, SNP MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston said:
“This bold move by the SNP Scottish Government will bring welcome stability and certainty to those who use our railway for work and leisure, both in North Lanarkshire and across the country.
“And the news that current ScotRail staff will transfer to the new Scottish Government owned company, with their terms and conditions protected, will also provide much-needed security to those who rely on our railways for their livelihoods.
“The SNP have long argued that the future structure of Scottish railways should be in Scotland’s hands. It’s well beyond time that the Tory UK Government listened and devolved rail powers to Holyrood.
“However, this move is both bold and welcome and will ensure Scotland’s rail users are provided with the well-run and reliable and service we rightly expect.”
SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has welcomed a report which has found that crime in Scotland has halved under the SNP Scottish Government with violent crime down nearly two-fifths.
The Scottish Crime and Justice Report interviewed people in Scotland and shows people are less likely to be a victim of crime. Since 2008-09, the number of adults experiencing crime has fallen from 20.4% to 11.9%.
The survey also revealed that people in Scotland are less likely to be a victim of crime in Scotland than in England and Wales, with 11% and 13% respectively of those interviewed experiencing crime.
The report means SNP policies have made streets across Scotland safer and people in North Lanarkshire are less likely to be victims of crime.
Commenting on the Fulton MacGregor said:
“The findings of this report are very much to be welcomed and is testament to the hard work and dedication of our police and community volunteers in North Lanarkshire who have contributed to a phenomenal effort to make our streets safer.
“The SNP Scottish Government has introduced ambitious projects to tackle crime, particularly violent crime, and it is satisfying to see these are paying off.
“Although these figures are encouraging, this report does show there is work to be done to ensure that people feel safe on our streets – especially so that women feel safe walking the streets at night.
“While we will never be complacent when it comes to tackling crime on the streets of North Lanarkshire, these figures show that the SNP continues to have a solid record of progress and, unlike the Tories, a positive vision to make our communities safer.”
Marking Scottish Apprenticeship Week, that runs from 1st to 7th March, the MSP has encouraged employers to make the most of the fund which would provide £5,000 for taking on or upskilling a 16 to 24-year old apprentice for those aged up to 29 years who are disabled, care leavers and minority ethnic and £3,500 for taking on or upskilling an apprentice over 25.
The grant will help increase the number of employers able to take on an apprentice or upskill an existing staff member. The fund closes on 25th March or until funding levels are exceeded.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the jobs and opportunities available for young people and employers have faced incredible challenges due to the pandemic – that’s why the SNP Government has introduced the Apprenticeship Employer Grant.
“To mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week, I am encouraging local businesses in North Lanarkshire to register for the scheme and take on apprentices – creating jobs and teaching our young people new skills.
“Alongside the Young Person’s Guarantee the SNP Scottish Government is taking steps to ensure we build a resilient recovery. To do that we need a resilient workforce and our young people will be at the very heart of that.”
SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has welcomed the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, which is set to make a difference to families across North Lanarkshire at a time when they need it most.
The new SNP Scottish Government benefit will provide families with a much-needed boost as it will give eligible families and carers £40 every four weeks for each child under six.
Payments are due to start at the end of this month and Fulton MacGregor is urging parents who have not applied yet to do so as soon as possible.
Commenting, Fulton Macgregor said:
“The introduction of the Scottish Child Payment will be a welcome boost for families in North Lanarkshire and I would urge anyone who hasn’t applied to do so as soon as they can so they can receive this benefit that is unique to Scotland.
“The Scottish Child Payment has been described as ‘game-changing’ as it will make a difference to the lives of thousands of children across Scotland.
“As the Scottish Government rolls out this new benefit it is in stark contrast to the Tories at Westminster who are planning on taking away the £20 uplift to Universal Credit at a time when families need it most.
“Along with the Best Start Grant and other benefits rolled out by Social Security Scotland, the Scottish Child Payment is forming part of a benefits system built on dignity, fairness and respect, working for the people of Scotland, not against them.”
SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has welcomed millions of pounds of funding from the Scottish Government for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, including those in North Lanarkshire.
Announced by Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, £145.3m will be committed to alcohol and drugs services, including £50m to reduce drugs deaths in Scotland.
Last week, the SNP Government provided £3 million for NHS boards to increase provision of residential drug rehabilitation placements and improve access to treatment and harm reduction services – including £196,779 for North Lanarkshire HSCP.
The Scottish Budget 2021-22 commits £16 billion in total to improving the nation’s health and supporting the NHS in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commenting SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:
“The millions of pounds committed in the Scottish Budget to tackling drugs deaths demonstrates how seriously the SNP Scottish Government is taking the issue,
“Over the past year, the pandemic has presented an incredible challenge for our health and support services and that has been recognised by the Scottish Government with a commitment of £145m into drug and alcohol services.
“We have some fantastic services in North Lanarkshire, some of which are run by volunteers who give up their time to help the recovery of others. I am sure this funding will be a boost to them.
“We know that action is needed now to tackle the drugs death emergency Scotland faces. Along with the appointment of the new Drugs Minister, the SNP Government is making significant steps to tackle Scotland’s drugs crisis.
“The SNP will continue to provide investment for direct interventions to address health inequalities, exacerbated by COVID-19, to create a Scotland where we can all live longer, healthier lives.”
DIRECT INVESTMENT TO INCREASE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IN COATBRIDGE & CHRYSTON
MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor has welcomed direct investment in mental health services in the Scottish Budget, which will increase by £139m and take overall spending in mental health to over £1.1 billion.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes confirmed that the Scottish Government will be making £15 million available to support the continued establishment of local mental health services.
An additional £500,000 will also be made available to health boards this financial year to provide dedicated mental health support for health and social care staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Samaritans said they “welcome the recognition by the Scottish Government of the impact of Covid-19 on Scotland’s mental health and wellbeing in today’s Scottish Budget. We are pleased to see this recognition matched with an increase in direct investment in mental health services.”
SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:
“This Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on many people’s mental health – and it’s welcome that the Scottish Government has recognised this and committed to investing over £1.1billion into mental health services.
“Lockdown restrictions, although vital for stopping the spread of the virus, have themselves had a negative impact on many people’s health and wellbeing, with more people experiencing financial insecurity alongside social isolation and the anxiety of living through a pandemic.
“As such, mental health support is an absolute priority for this SNP Government, and this Budget supports overall mental health spending of more than £1.1 billion, which will contribute hugely to our recovery from the pandemic in Coatbridge & Chryston.
“This is a significant step forward in the SNP government’s package of measures to improve the mental health support available for children, young people and adults across Scotland.”
SNP COMMITTED TO TACKLING POVERTY WHILE TORIES DUCK RESPONSIBILITIES
MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston has called on local politicians from all parties to get behind historic funding to continue the delivery of a social security system which places fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.
SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has committed a £3.5billion allocation for benefit spend in the next year – including £68 million to deliver the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment, which is forecast to benefit 163,000 eligible children under 6 in 2021-22.
This budget will support Social Security Scotland’s delivery of the new Child Disability Payment for the families of children with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
The SNP Government will also invest £41 million in the Scottish Welfare Fund – which will enable local authorities to continue to support the most vulnerable people in our communities and help mitigate the additional impact of COVID-19.
SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:
“The SNP’s plan to commit £3.5 billion to social security is central to our commitment to tackling poverty and creating a social security system with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.
“This money will put money directly into the pockets of people in Coatbridge & Chryston who need it most – including through the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment which will ease the struggle some families in Coatbridge & Chryston are facing due to the Covid-19 crisis and tackle child poverty across Scotland.
“Tory cuts are driving too many families into poverty – but the SNP is determined to use every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet.
“MSPs across Coatbridge & Chryston should now get behind these budget proposals, and secure substantial funding to support the most vulnerable people in our communities and help mitigate the additional impact of Covid-19.”
FULTON MACGREGOR BACKS INCREASED SUPPORT FOR VITAL LOCAL SERVICES
Local MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, has backed draft budget proposals that commit £691.2M for North Lanarkshire in 2021/22.
Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced this week that the SNP Government will hand North Lanarkshire an additional £18.1M on last year’s spending – an increase of 2.7%. The plans will provide the council with an increase in day-to-day revenue spending.
£90 million has also been set aside to scrap rises in Council Tax and compensate local authorities who had planned to increase charges by up to 3% – allowing hard-pressed householders to keep more of their money to spend on other essentials.
Across Scotland, councils are set to receive £11.6 billion with £259 million added in one-off funding to support ongoing COVID-19 pressures on local services.
Welcoming the announcement, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:
“In these uncertain and challenging times, the SNP Government has offered stability with a budget that protects vital local services and supports our economy.
“Local council workers have been working around the clock during this pandemic to keep Coatbridge and Chryston moving and ensure essential services continue to operate.
“So it’s great news that North Lanarkshire is set to receive a funding boost of £18.1M for the coming financial year.
“In these tough times, I know that local residents will also be delighted that the SNP Government has taken the significant step of supporting local authorities to introduce a freeze on Council Tax bills.
“I’ll be backing these draft budget proposals to secure this cash for North Lanarkshire!”
LOCAL TORY MSPS URGED TO BACK U-TURN ON REMOVAL OF £20 UPLIFT
Local Tory MSPs have been urged to back a U-turn on Tory plans to cut Universal Credit in the middle of an economic crisis – after new figures revealed that Boris Johnson’s plan to remove the £20 per week uplift in April would hit 33,766 people in North Lanarkshire.
Latest statistics show that in November 2020 there were 33,766 people claiming Universal Credit in North Lanarkshire. in November. If all these people remain on Universal Credit until April, then they will be affected by the removal of the £20 uplift.
The SNP has repeatedly called on the Westminster Tory government to maintain the £20 boost to Universal Credit and extend it to legacy benefits – yet all six Scottish Tory MPs abstained on a vote which would have ensured that.
Anti-poverty think-tank the Resolution Foundation estimates that the cut to Universal Credit by £20 a week could see the incomes of low-income families fall by more than four per cent (4%) and plunge a further 820,000 children into poverty across the UK.
SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:
“By slashing social security payments by £1000 a year, in the middle of an economic crisis, the Tories could push 33,766 people here in North Lanarkshire further into hardship and poverty.
“There must be an immediate U-turn on this, to avoid worsening poverty and inequality across the country during the Covid-19 crisis – and I would urge local MSPs to support this.
“Although the SNP government has led the way in tackling poverty, with new benefits like the Scottish Child Payment and a social security system based on dignity and respect, this progress is being severely undermined by Tory cuts.
“It is crucial that the £20 uplift to Universal Credit is made permanent and extended to legacy benefits, as part of a wider package to boost incomes after a decade of damaging Tory austerity cuts.
“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act to protect the incomes of the most vulnerable in our society. The only way to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery is for Scotland to become an independent country – with the full powers needed to build a fairer society.”
MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, has given his backing to calls for the UK Tory government to provide compensation to Scotland’s food and drink sector after weeks of Brexit related trade issues.
The sector has faced a series of new challenges, with hospitality supplies essentially suspended, as a result of the Tory Brexit deal – after Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will. The seafood industry has been hit particularly hard.
In an interview with the BBC this week, Scotland Office Minister David Duguid was asked how long it will take to fix supply chain problems caused by Brexit. He responded “how long is a piece of string?”
Now, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing MSP, has written to the Tory government demanding that Scotland’s exporters are compensated for their losses and for reputational damage.
Commenting SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, said:
“Despite Tory promises of seamless trade with Europe after Brexit, Scotland’s food and drink sector has been hit hard by crippling increases in red tape causing gridlock at ports.
“The incompetence of the UK government is clear for all to see.
“Local export firms were already struggling to get by in the middle of a pandemic, but the double blow of this Tory Brexit threatens to put many companies out of business for good.
“These issues sit squarely at the door of Boris Johnson and his Scottish Tory enablers. They must now compensate local businesses for the financial disaster they have caused.
“These jobs and livelihoods might not matter to the Tories – but they matter to Scotland and the SNP.”