BEDROOM TAX continues to be an absolute nightmare throughout my
constituency. Forgive me if you feel Iíve been guilty of talking too
much about this but it honestly horrifies me how constituents are being
abused by Westminster policy.
few people in Scotland voted to put this Government into power in
London. In fact, there is just one Conservative MP in Scotland out of a
total of 59 seats.
itís true that we get the governments we vote for, then why does
Scotland keep getting governments it doesnít vote for? While the
London-based parties Ė Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats Ė see the
Scottish Parliament as a step on the way to Westminster, the SNP has an
entirely different view. It is our own Parliament in Scotland that
youíre a social housing tenant in London, your options are very limited.
Thereís a nice advertisement for a five bedroomed flat on the new Hyde
Park development at the moment. See it here:
Thatís right, itís £45,000 PER WEEK!
of course, thatís not where social housing tenants are going to be given
accommodation but it does give you a general indication of rental prices
Scottish rentals, at least outside of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and
certainly in my constituency, are a bit more realistic. You can have a
luxury, furnished two bedroomed flat in The Fairways, a modern
development in Hamilton, for about £200 a week, or one in Caird Garden
for £110 a week.
live in the real world around here.
find Londonís so-called Welfare Reforms (a synonym for welfare cuts)
imposed upon us. I can understand why a local authority in London might
want to consider moving a family of five from private rented
accommodation that costs, say, £2,000 a week to something a bit less
expensive but these are situations that just donít apply here.
week I met with Maryjane Morrison in Hamilton. Sheís a single parent of
two children, a boy aged eight and a little girl of eight months. She
has just been told that because she gives her two children a bedroom
each she has to pay £44 a month in bedroom tax.
because the Westminster criteria state that you can have two children of
different gender sharing a room until one is 10 years old. The daft
thing is that if the Clyde Valley Housing Association carries through
its eviction order, Maryjane will be forced to move, probably into
private and more expensively rented accommodation, for two years, at
which point she is then entitled to the very house she is being forced
Maryjane is distraught. She canít find an additional £44 a month out of
her already limited benefits and she clearly canít work with an eight
month old baby, nor should she be forced to.
the power levers to do it, a SNP-led Scottish Government would approach
cases like Maryjaneís in a quite different way. We would not penalise
people who are already struggling. We would work to reduce the gap
between rich and poor, not increase it.
another shocking example, South Lanarkshire Council is taking a social
housing tenant to court for arrears of less than £130. Angela Buskie, a
mum of three, was told Ďpay up or get outí but she canít do that. The
deductions would leave her with £10 a week to feed her family, pay for
their clothes and other vital expenses.
Labour council leader, Eddie McEvoy, who was tracked down by the
newspaper in his local bar, said he didnít know anything about it.
Thatís not good enough. Mr. McEvoy needs to be in touch with his own
Angelaís solicitor says he knows of at least seven other cases in South
Lanarkshire Councilís area so there are going to be more people slapped
against the wall for daring to be vulnerable.
Conservation-Lib Dem coalition need to get thinking about a whole bunch
of people theyíll make homeless in Scotland. Where will they go?
lighter note, there are of course other aspects of bedrooms than taxing
them. I donned some bedroom kit at the Parliament last Friday in a bid
to raise awareness of National Onesie Day.
sure youíll agree I look very fetching sitting in the Think Pod in my
office tucked up in aliens and robots!
Scottish Sunday Mail newspaper organised the event to raise money for
17 charities across the country including Chest, heart and Stroke,
Breast Cancer Care and Childline. They encouraged schools, nurseries,
colleges, universities and businesses across the country to take part in
a fun day and raise money for the Sunday Mail Centenary Fund.
delighted to be invited to visit the Scottish Gas Training Academy in
Hamilton on Wednesday. It was great to see some of the fantastic work
thatís going on there, both in up-skilling the workforce and helping to
create a greener environment for all of us Ė something very close to the
heart of the Scottish Government. The young apprentices were a fantastic
bunch, especially Jackie who was very impressive.
last few years, this government has increased the number of Modern
Apprenticeship from 15,000 to 25,000 a year and will continue to do that
for the lifetime of this Parliament. Thatís good news for companies like
Scottish Gas in its drive to tackle climate change and build a greener
and more prosperous country.
hugely encouraging to see those young people grasping the opportunity to
build a career for themselves in the green energy sector. There is a
huge appetite for it and a growing recognition that these kinds of
skills are just as crucial as academic ones.
seen Scotland present the largest rise in employment on record with an
increase of 54,000 people in work. Thatís a good indicator of our
capacity for prosperity and a fairer society.
Speaking of vulnerable people, Iíve been struck by the devastation felt
by 3,500 people with disabilities who have lost their jobs in England.
The decision to close all of the Remploy factories has wrecked the lives
of people who had worked there for years.
reason they were closed? They werenít making a profit.
Scotland, we have taken a different approach. Where people want and are
able to work, we want to help them to do so.
was pleased when Transport and Veterans Cabinet Secretary, Keith Brown,
came to visit the Remploy Veterans Employment Project in Hamilton this
Remployís Quarry Street office has found jobs for 185 people who have
complex barriers to employment during the last year, in spite of the
work with ex-armed forces personnel is caring, sensitive and important
to those individuals and their families.
Brown said: ďThere is more to a working life than making profits. I
believe the Veterans Employment Project shows, in its actions, that
people with disabilities have a real contribution to make and it is one
that matters hugely to the confidence and self-esteem of each
individual. No government should just write that off and say Ďno good,
you arenít delivering a profit.í
is especially true of those who have given their services in the armed
forces. We owe it to them to provide the onging support they need and
SNP-led Scottish Government will want to continue making the option for
people with disability issues available. I have seen today just what
Remploy means to the people who work here and I am horrified by
Westminsterís Ďcut and runí attitude.Ē]
Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy FM Nicola Sturgeon released a new
document on the Scottish economy after independence on Tuesday. See it
report was launched at manufacturing company, Alexander Denis, in
Falkirk Ė a company you in the US may well be familiar with because it
exports a lot of buses to you, including those Greyhounds!
First Minister was talking not only about manufacturing but also sectors
such as renewables, life sciences and food and drink. He made the clear
point that Scotland is being constrained, held back, by Westminsterís
constant cutting and mismanagement of the economy.
had the fiscal levers to do it, we could have created something like
19,000 jobs in the five years up to 2014. Instead, weíve been subjected
to Westminsterís refusal to go ahead with shovel-ready projects in
infrastructure. We need to be able to instigate those projects
ourselves, but at the moment, we canít do that.
old Ďtoo small, too weak, too poorí argument collapsed once again under
the figures. Nicola Sturgeon pointed out the massive strengths and
advantages that the Scottish economy has and how readily it could move
to doing much more with independence.
2011-12, Scotland generated 9.9 per cent of UK tax receipts with 8.4 per
cent of the population. That is worth £56.9 billion in tax take. Now,
just think what we could do with that.
slightly depressed by the fact that Norway now has a fund worth £450
billion based on its oil production. Now, if Scotland had been able to
set up a fund like that back in the 1970s, think where we might be now?
course, there is no point in lamenting history but letís get it right
from here on in.