SNP BUDGET HANDS NORTH LANARKSHIRE £18.1M BOOST

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!”

33,766 PEOPLE IN NORTH LANARKSHIRE HIT BY TORY PLANS TO CUT UNIVERSAL CREDIT

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.”

SNP MSP: “COMPENSATE LOCAL EXPORTERS FOR TORY BREXIT GRIDLOCK”

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.”

SNP GOVERNMENT TRIPLES SUPPORT FOR TAXI DRIVERS IN COATBRIDGE & CHRYSTON

London Taxi England - Free photo on Pixabay

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor MSP has expressed his delight that taxi and private hire drivers in Coatbridge & Chryston will have access to three times the amount of Scottish Government support than they did last year.

Eligible drivers will be able to claim a £1,500 grant to cover fixed costs, boosting the support available to them by the Scottish Government.

A total fund of £57million has been available to taxi and private hire drivers – three times more than the allocated funding in December.

Commenting Fulton MacGregor MSP said:

“I am delighted the SNP Scottish Government has increased the funding available to taxi and private hire drivers. Many of these drivers in Coatbridge & Chryston have gone above and beyond the call of duty by providing transport for key workers and taking people safely to hospital appointments.

“This substantial increase in support for them is the recognition they deserve in what has been a tough time for the industry due to the lockdown restrictions.

“Despite the restrictions, many fixed costs have still remained for drivers, such as general maintenance, licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments and the increase in funding will cover these expensive costs.

“I would urge the local council to contact firms quickly to ensure they can receive the money in their account as soon as possible.”

Business Minister Jamie Hepburn confirmed that the change would come into effect immediately to ensure that drivers on the lowest incomes can access support.

Mr Hepburn warned that UK Government Universal Credit rules mean that drivers could lose out overall if the grant is considered to be income by DWP. However, the change will allow people to make a decision based on their individual circumstances.

The Minister has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions requesting a guarantee that taxi drivers in receipt of state benefits would not be penalised for receiving the grant, which is intended to cover fixed business costs.

Councils will start contacting eligible drivers this week to brief them on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details. They do not need to apply, or contact the local authority.

Mr Hepburn said:

“This week local authorities will directly approach an estimated 38,000 private hire and taxi drivers inviting them to claim this grant, which is intended to assist with fixed costs and expenses.

“We have responded to the concerns of drivers and we have removed grant conditions relating to state benefits. However, we remain justifiably concerned that any payment would simply be deducted from an applicant’s benefits. That is why I am urging the Secretary of State to do the right thing by drivers on the lowest incomes.

“Without a change by the UK Government, making these payments would benefit the Department for Work and Pensions budget, not the drivers, and risk using Scottish Government resources in a way that fails to provide additional support to many taxi drivers struggling to deal with the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We will keep drivers updated on the outcome of our engagement with the DWP.”

SPORTS IN COATBRIDGE & CHRYSTON TO BE GIVEN SHARE OF £55M SCOT GOV SUPPORT

Spectator sports in Coatbridge & Chryston will receive a share of a £55million package announced by the SNP Scottish Government.

The support will help teams such as Albion Rovers cope with a difficult period where they have been unable to welcome fans to matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amongst the funding, £30m will go to football, £20m to rugby and £2.2m to ice hockey and rinks.

The money goes over and above what has been provided by the UK government in Barnett consequentials and means the SNP Scottish Government can provide the funds each sport needs.

Commenting, Fulton MacGregor said:

“Sport is an integral part of the lives of the people of Coatbridge & Chryston and I know the strength of feeling there has been from fans of different sports as many have contacted my office with their concerns.

“That is why I am delighted the SNP Government has responded by engaging with our sporting bodies and tailoring a funding package to each sport and has gone above and beyond what was provided by the UK government in Barnett consequentials.

“This has been a difficult time for many sports in the area, this will provide the support they need. I would urge everyone in Coatbridge & Chryston to ensure we keep following guidelines and doing our best to suppress the virus. If we can all do that then we can eventually return to stadia and watch our favourite team play.”

BUSINESSES IN COATBRIDGE & CHRYSTON TO RECEIVE SHARE OF £185 MILLION SCOTGOV FUNDING

NEW SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO TARGET SECTORS IN NEED

Businesses in Coatbridge & Chryston will receive their share of targeted Scottish Government coronavirus funding worth £185million. 

The funding was announced today by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and will benefit a wide range of sectors, such as taxi drivers, arts venues and the hospitality sector. 

The Scottish Government is developing grant schemes for hospitality, the events sector, live music, arts, indoor football centres and the food and drink sector. A further £60 million will also be provided to the tourism sector. 

In addition, there will be additional one-off payments of either of £2,000 or £3,000 available for hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand.

Commenting on the announcement Fulton MacGregor MSP said: 

“This Scottish Government funding, which is designed to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this health crisis, is welcome.


“There is now light at the end of the tunnel, but we are coming into a notoriously difficult period for businesses as we head into the winter months, and this package should help support local businesses struggling to get by and support the sectors worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Local businesses and industries here in Coatbridge & Chryston are understandably concerned about the impact that coronavirus will have on our economy, but the Scottish Government will continue to listen to the needs of business and review and refine the Covid-19 support on offer.

“I’d encourage all businesses in Coatbridge & Chryston to continue to ensure they are receiving the support they’re entitled to.”

FULTON MACGREGOR MSP BACKS CALLS FOR TIGHTER CONTROLS ON FIREWORKS

Local SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, 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 Fulton MacGregor said:

“Here in Coatbridge & Chryston, 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.”

“GAME-CHANGER” SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT OPENS EARLY FOR APPLICATIONS

SNP TACKLING CHILD POVERTY WHILE TORIES DUCK RESPONSIBILITIES

The new Scottish Child Payment – which has been described as a “game-changer” in the fight to tackle child poverty – will open early for applications this month.

MSP Fulton MacGregor has encouraged parents and carers in Coatbridge & Chryston who are eligible to apply now so that the Scottish Government can process and start making payments as quickly as possible once the benefit starts in February next year.

The SNP Government has prioritised the early introduction of the new benefit, which will provide eligible families on low incomes with a child under 6, an extra £10 per week for each child. 

Latest figures estimate that 194,000 children aged under-6 in Scotland will be eligible for the new Scottish Child Payment – with over 13,000 children set to benefit in North Lanarkshire.

MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor said: 

“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious, game-changing new benefit which will directly tackle child poverty in Coatbridge & Chryston and across Scotland. 

“This support is needed more than ever, and it’s early introduction for under 6s – almost two years ahead of the original commitment for a new payment – will be a lifeline for so many families in North Lanarkshire.

“While the SNP does everything it can to tackle poverty, the Tories at Westminster are still helplessly trying to defend their shameless decision to deprive children of free school meals over the holidays. 

“Children and families simply shouldn’t have to depend on the whim of Boris Johnson’s callous Tory government to get through this Covid-19 crisis. 

“This benefit will be a lifeline for many children, young people and their families in [Area]. I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to apply as soon as possible.”

COVID PROTECTION LEVEL: 3

The assessment of what level of protection should be applied to each local authority is broadly based on an analysis of five key indicators:

  • number of positive COVID-19 cases per hundred thousand people over the last week
  • percentage of positive tests
  • forecast for new cases in the weeks ahead
  • capacity of local hospitals
  • capacity of local intensive care facilities

Socialising

We will not ask you to distance from people within your own homes or to stop taking outdoor exercise.
  • no in-home socialising  (limited exceptions)
  • outdoors and in public places, e.g. hospitality settings – 6 people from up to 2 households
  • different rules apply to children – more information available soon

Hospitality (food and drink)

  • eating and drinking while seated at tables is required at all levels
  • takeaways permitted for alcohol and food at all levels, as per existing arrangements
  • exceptions (e.g., hospitals, schools, student accommodation, airside premises, and hotel room service and meals for residents) apply at all levels

See a PDF table of the hospitality measures across all levels.

Indoors (restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses)

  • No alcohol
  • 17:00 last entry
  • 18:00 closed

Outdoors (restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses)

  • No alcohol
  • 17:00 last entry
  • 18:00 closed

Accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan and camp sites)

  • open – socialising and hospitality rules apply
  • guidance advises non-essential (leisure/tourism) use only by locals
  • essential, e.g. work-related  use can continue

Travel

  • no non-essential travel into or out of the level 3 area
  • exemptions for essential travel for work, education, shopping health etc; outdoor exercise; weddings and funerals; shared parenting, and transit through restricted areas
  • international quarantine regulations apply

Transport

  • Active travel (walk, run, cycle, wheel) where possible
  • Avoid car sharing with people outside extended household wherever possibl
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport
  • face coverings are compulsory on public transport

Shopping

  • Open

Close contact services – e.g. hairdressers, barbers, tailors and beauticians

  • Open, but may be subject to additional protective measures
  • See guidance on which mobile close contact services are permitted

Public buildings – e.g. libraries

  • open (with protective measures)

Stadia and events

  • events not permitted                                                       
  • stadia closed to spectators

Places of worship

  • open – restricted numbers (50)

Life events (weddings, and civil partnerships, funerals)

  • Weddings/ civil partnerships – 20 person limit
  • Funerals – 20 person limit
  • Wakes and receptions permitted, subject to 20 person limit

ELC / formal childcare

  • Open –  with enhanced protective measures in place

Informal childcare

  • Permitted in line with household/numbers restrictions

Schools

  • Open – with enhanced protective measures in place

Colleges

  • Restricted – blended

Universities

  • Restricted – blended

Driving lessons

  • permitted

Sports and exercise

  • Indoor: individual exercise only (exemption for under 18s)
  • Outdoor – all except adult (18+) contact sports (professional permitted)

Leisure and entertainment

  • Closed

Visitor attractions

  • Open with protective measures

Public Services (health following NHS remobilisation plan)

  • Essential face-to-face services only (online where possible)

Unregulated (children’s) activities (e.g. youth clubs, children’s groups)

  • Differentiated restrictions apply

Support services (mental health, counselling, day services, child contact centres)

  • Permitted/online where possible

Offices and call centres

  • Essential only/work from home (WFH) 

Other workplaces

  • Open – work from home (WFH) default where possible

Shielding

Contact with others

  • limit meeting people outside your own household, avoid indoor public spaces

Shopping

  • strictly follow the guidelines when shopping and limit the number of times you go to a shop
  • shop at quieter times

If you cannot work from home

  • speak to your employer to ensure all appropriate protections are in place
  • the majority of workplaces can be made safe. Where you have a concern you should discuss this with your employer. If your workplace cannot be made safe, you can discuss whether you need a fit note with your GP or consultant

School/formal childcare

  • parents or guardians should discuss with their GP or clinician whether children should still attend

See a PDF table showing advice at all levels for those at higher risk from coronavirus.

This information is for reference purposes only and may be adjusted.  Regulations in relation to each level will be published on legislation.gov.uk and relevant public health advice (such as physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures) applies.  Find relevant guidance on www.gov.scot/coronavirus.  All restrictions will be kept under review to ensure that they remain proportionate and necessary to address the ongoing public health emergency.

LOCAL MINERS CONVICTED DURING STRIKE TO BE PARDONED

SNP GOVERNMENT LEADING THE WAY TO “RIGHT A HISTORIC WRONG”

MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, 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, Fulton MacGregor, said:

“A great number of local miners from Coatbridge and Chrytson, and across North Lanarkshire, have suffered for years due to the excessive convictions handed out during the strike.

“My constituency has a rich mining history which can be seen at local museum Summerlee Heritage Park. Coatbridge and Chryston was a major Scottish centre for iron works and coal mining, and there were plenty other mines nearby including Auchengeich which sadly experienced a disaster.

“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.”