Linda Fabiani MSP seconded East Kilbride SNP’s resolution brought forward by party member Craig Lundie, denouncing the Tories attack on local HMRC offices. She reminded delegates that it was the Labour Government’s Gordon Brown who sold off Centre One in East Kilbride to the Guernsey-based Mapley Group.
“Gordon Brown’s decision to sell the offices of the UK’s tax collectors to Mapely in a PFI deal has given the Tories a perfect excuse for the slash and burn approach they are taking to reorganising HMRC.
“Today, there are about 3,000 HMRC staff working in East Kilbride, contributing millions of pounds to the local economy. Under these plans, within 10 years, there will be none and the iconic Centre 1 may be lying empty, or possibly even demolished.
“This is a betrayal of the people of East Kilbride who were urged to vote No in the referendum as the only way to keep Tax Office jobs safe.”
Later, Linda Fabiani said:
“Going forward, we need to combine our efforts with all those who have a genuine desire to pressurise the Treasury to change its plans. I have already raised this with the East Kilbride Task Force.”
The text of the motion to conference by East Kilbride SNP:
Conference condemns the proposed closure of HMRC offices in Scotland, contrary to the assurances given to communities prior to the independence referendum and considers that these closures will result in a reduced service to the public and even less focus on enforcement action against persistent tax avoiders. Conference is concerned at the devastating impact of this ill-conceived programme on HMRC’s existing workforce, especially those unable to commute to Glasgow or Edinburgh, and the communities within which existing offices are located. Conference calls on the UK Government to consult with its workforce, the Scottish Government, other devolved administrations, and other stakeholders on a more effective and efficient tax collection structure as an alternative to the current fundamentally flawed closure programme. EAST KILBRIDE BRANCH
The Great Daffodil Appeal, which takes place in March every year, has raised over £80 million for the charity across the UK. Last year the money raised was spent in Scotland to provide over 30,000 hours of nursing care and emotional support – supporting over 7,500 people living with a terminal illness.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Linda Fabiani said:
“Marie Curie does fantastic work supporting people and their families at the most difficult and emotional time – I am pleased that I can highlight this important work in the Scottish Parliament.
“That the Great Daffodil Appeal has now run for thirty years is testament to Marie Curie’s hard work and their dedication to helping people living with a terminal illness.
“As well as raising awareness for their work, the appeal also raises a substantial amount of money – last year funds raised in Scotland helped support a remarkable 7,500 people.
“I hope that my debate will help raise the profile of this year’s Daffodil Appeal and ensure that Marie Curie can go on helping people across Scotland.”
Richard Meade, Marie Curie Head of Policy & Public Affairs Scotland added:
“The Member’s Debate is an important opportunity for MSPs to discuss issues around end of life and palliative care. Sadly we know that nearly 11,000 people in Scotland don’t have access to good quality palliative care and there’s an opportunity to help them sooner. We know there’s excellent work happening across Scotland which is only possible thanks to local providers, such as Marie Curie, working in partnership. We hope this integrated working will only improve as the new health and social care partnerships move forward.”
Members of the Scottish Parliament will debate the following motion:
S4M-15287 Linda Fabiani: Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal 30th Anniversary—That the Parliament welcomes Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal, which is now in its 30th year and runs throughout March 2016; understands that, since 1986, the Great Daffodil Appeal has raised over £80 million for the charity across the UK; applauds what it sees as the substantial contribution made by over 80 local Marie Curie fundraising groups, such as the East Kilbride Fundraising Group, to the Great Daffodil Appeal every year to support Marie Curie services across Scotland; believes that money raised in Scotland in 2015 funded over 30,000 hours of nursing care and emotional support; understands that this means there is support for over 7,500 people living with a terminal illness, and their carers and families, in their own homes in 31 local authorities and in Marie Curie hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow; considers that fundraising allows the charity to work in partnership with NHS boards and local authorities to develop new and innovative, integrated services that provide person-centred care; applauds the work of staff and volunteers across Marie Curie who, it considers, work toward its vision of a better life for people and their families living with a terminal illness, and notes calls to encourage as many people as possible to support the campaign this year.
The service, which is celebrating its first anniversary has allowed up until now deaf people across Scotland to contact public sector groups, voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and individual volunteers.
The Scottish Government funded project is unique in the UK and is the first nationally funded public sector Video Relay Service (VRS).
Commenting, Linda said:
“It has been estimated there are around 6,500 people living in Scotland who use British Sign Language and they should be able to access services, same as everyone else.
“The Scottish Government just last year extended the pilot of this programme which covered all public sector services in Scotland.
“The fact it has been extended is great news, as such a worthwhile and invaluable service which gives BSL users equal access to public sector services allows them to enjoy greater participation in daily and public life.
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SVCO) said:
“This is an important step forward for thousands of people in Scotland using British Sign Language who will find it easier to access the vital services and support provided by third sector organisations across the country, and for charities and other third sector organisations who will have a new way to communicate with deaf BSL users. This service will make a real difference to people’s lives by making sure they receive the information and support they need when they need it.”
Notes to Editors:
The service is free and can be used to contact all public and voluntary services in Scotland. It is not for emergency 999 calls. More information on how the BSL Video Relay Interpreting service works can be found on the contactSCOTLAND website www.contactscotland-bsl.org.
The service was initially piloted by NHS 24, before expanding to cover the rest of the public sector in Scotland in March 2015.
Following an initial six monthly review of the expanded service, it was agreed in September 2015 that the service had been successfully implemented and was starting to deliver real outcomes for the Deaf community. A further review on usage and potential improvements was conducted with the support of the Deaf Sector Partnership.
As a result, the pilot will move to full implementation when the current contract expires in September 2016. A procurement exercise to secure a new Scottish Government contract is underway and an Invitation to Tender will be issued shortly via the Public Contracts Scotland website.
BSL executive summary: http://contactscotland-bsl.org/exec-summary/
I’ve had a few queries this week about folks wondering if they’re still on the Electoral Register since the UK Government shifted us to individual electoral registration instead of the old way when the ‘head of the household’ registered everyone who lived there.
Constituents are right to be concerned because there has been a worrying fall in the number of registered voters in Scotland – the number of people registered to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary election has fallen by 100,000 since March 2015.
One of the great successes of the independence referendum was the level of voter engagement that swept across every community in the weeks and months before the vote and then the voter turnout on the day itself. We really don’t want to lose that. Easy to check online, or call South Lanarkshire Council’s Voter Registration Service.
Much of last week’s parliamentary business was concerned with the Fiscal Framework covering more powers for Scotland to come in 2017. John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon did a good job negotiating with the Tories in the UK Government and making sure that the agreement made did not disadvantage Scotland financially. I’m looking forward this week to scrutinising the Agreement made before my Committee recommends to our Parliament whether or not to allow Westminster to legislate for us. Exciting stuff – honest!
Alongside that though there were a few other announcements that didn’t get much coverage at all:
On Health, new figures published show that over 1 million NHS patients have now benefited from the 12-week Treatment Time Guarantee, introduced by our SNP Government in 2012. Official waiting time statistics for October to December 2015 show that 95.2% of inpatients and day-case patients were treated within 12 weeks – up from 94.6% during the previous quarter and testament to the hard work of those who work for our National Health Service.
On a sad note related to the NHS, NHS Health Scotland has found that “the association between trends in mental health problems among low-income working-age adults and the level of sanction activity is striking”. This is awful, and unfortunately no surprise to those who meet and deal with people affected by the heartless and rigid policies being imposed through the Department of Work and Pensions. We have called for the UK Government to halt all benefit sanctions until a full independent review is carried out. The system is cruel and must be changed.
The Children’s Minister told us last week that the Scottish Government has provided £500m funding to local authorities since 2014 to expand free early learning and childcare; also, close to 50 nurseries have been built or expanded to help accommodate the additional hours, flexibility and of course the children! Our Government has increased free childcare provision by 45% since 2007 and committed to go further – the early years are so important, and all the studies have shown that money and time spent then, means benefit further on. I’m glad that all parties now seem to recognise that.
Housing is of course a big issue in East Kilbride and I know that residents welcome seeing housebuilding, especially Council and other social housing, in the town. To compliment that, the Social Justice Secretary announced plans for a Private Rented Sector Rental Income Guarantee scheme which was estimated could directly support construction of thousands of additional homes in the newbuild-to-rent sector. When you couple this with the measures to help first-time buyers by imposing a tax supplement on those purchasing additional homes as holiday homes or investment properties, then we are tackling the housing shortage from all angles.
All issues that matter for our town’s residents, and that’s why everyone should make sure they’re registered to vote.
For our Scottish Parliamentary election of course we agreed the vote for 16 and 17 year olds. Those currently 15 years old, but with a birthday on or before the election date of Thursday 5 May 2016, should register to vote now too.
Nobody should find themselves turned away at a polling station this May.
PLANS WILL SEE LOCAL AUTHORITIES MORE FINANCIALLY ACCOUNTABLE WITH PORTION OF INCOME TAX DEVOLVED
East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani has today welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans for an ambitious, progressive set of reforms to the Council Tax, which will see the rates paid by those in the highest bands pay more. That money will then be invested in schools across the country.
As announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon:
The SNP has also been clear that if re-elected in May, councils will be consulted on the assignment of a portion of devolved income tax raised in Scotland. This will reduce local authorities’ reliance on funding from central government and make councils more accountable to local people. It is estimated that when the planned changes take effect, 75 per cent of local government funding will be locally grounded.
“The First Minister’s council tax announcement will make the system not only fairer, but more progressive, too, with those who can afford to pay a bit extra, doing so. That money will then be invested directly in schools.
“Those living on the lowest banded properties – A, B, C and D will pay no more than they do now. For the people of East Kilbride, that means over 78% of households will either be paying the same or less. It is most welcome that when the council tax freeze is lifted, councils will only be able to increase the tax by a maximum 3% a year.
“Support for low-income families will be available across all tax bands as the council tax child allowance will increase by 25%, benefiting 77,000 low income households by an average £173 next year.
“I am really pleased with the announcement that if re-elected in May, the SNP will consult with councils on a bold plan to assign a portion of devolved income tax. Our local authorities will then be more financially accountable as 75% of their funding will be locally grounded and the other 25% coming from central government. That is a huge shift which I am sure most councils will welcome.
“The changes are fair, progressive and sensible, and I am sure the people of East Kilbride will support them.”
East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani has this week welcomed the most recent figures which highlight the number of patients seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours at Hairmyres stands at 96.6%.
The statistics mark the first anniversary of weekly publication of A&E data. Compared to the same week of 2015, the figures are an impressive 14.9% higher this year.
Last February, the average 4 hour Accident and Emergency hour wait at Hairmyres was met 81.7% of the time. For the first three weeks into February to date, that figure is an impressive 92.7%.
The improvements in performance also come at the same time it was revealed the NHS has its highest ever staffing levels.
Commenting on the news, Linda said:
“It is well documented that during winter months, Accident and Emergency performance can fluctuate from week to week, determined by a number of factors.
“As we note the one-year anniversary of weekly reporting, it is most welcome that waiting times this winter have been consistently better than the same period as last year. That is down to the hard-work and dedication of our NHS staff, and they should be recognised for making these gains possible.
“Latest figures show that since the SNP came to power there has been an increase of 11,000 more staff working in our NHS, and it continues to rise. In Lanarkshire, the number of medical and dental consultants is up 63.2%, and the workforce overall has increased by 13.3%.
“To reflect board boundary changes in 2014, and with annual increases from the Scottish Government to NHS board funding, NHS Lanarkshire’s budget has risen locally by 61% since 2007 to £1,106 million. With growing demands on our NHS, and an increase in the number of patients, it is quite right our government’s priorities are to invest in our health service and the staff to continue to provide the excellent quality of care for the future and making it as healthy as it can be.”
|Emergency Department Activity and Waiting Times data (Excel file) at http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Emergency-Care/Publications/data-tables.asp?id=1609#1609|
For the month of February, 2015 in Hairmyres, the figures for A&E are as follows:
|Episode and aggregate level data||Feb-15|
|Number of attendances||4,345|
|Total attendances for year to month||57,362|
|Rolling average attendance||4,780|
|Over 4 hours in A&E||796|
|% within 4 hours (month)||81.7%|
For the month of February 2016 to date, Hairmyres figures A&E figures are as follows:
Budgets for NHS Lanarkshire since 2006-07 are as follows:
* the figures for Lanarkshire and Glasgow will reflect the boundary changes that took place in 2014, with NHS Lanarkshire’s budget increasing to reflect the wider geographic area covered and Glasgow’s budget decreasing. The changes are reflected from the 2015-16 budget onwards.
“Lanarkshire Business week is an opportunity for start-ups and established companies alike to get together and participate in an exciting programme of events, workshops and general networking. I’m disappointed though that there aren’t events scheduled for East Kilbride and I hope this will be rectified in the future.
“Local statistics show how successful local businesses are – the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme has provided relief to local businesses and the number of enterprises with fewer than 50 employees benefiting from that relief has increased by 11% since January 2011 – 4000 jobs in total. In East Kilbride, the business count has increased by almost a quarter from 1435 to 1760 in the past five years. We should be supporting local businesses to help stimulate growth, sustaining much-needed jobs.
“Latest statistics from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre show that under the SNP government, the number of apprentices is just shy of 200,000.
“The government’s original target of reaching 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships each year has been met, and the target is now 30,000 per year by 2021. Those gains have resulted in the highest percentage of school leavers in work, training or education reaching an all-time high, with youth employment at its highest for a decade.
“Later this week I look forward to visiting two local businesses – the TUV NEL and East Kilbride Group Training Association to learn about the benefits of taking on apprentices.”
East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani has today welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s backing for the package of funding for South Lanarkshire in 2016-17.
The local finance deal will deliver a wage rise for social care workers, the protection of the pupil-teacher ratio, action on tackling education attainment and funding for the continuation of the council tax freeze.
Commenting, Linda said:
“The settlement agreed by Parliament will see the Council Tax frozen for the ninth consecutive year, saving the average band D household East Kilbride £1,174.
“I was pleased too that additional funding will deliver a Living Wage for social care workers and to support the biggest reform in our health service since 1948 by integrating health and social care.
“With more funding to improve educational attainment and to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio in our schools, the Scottish Government have taken steps to ensure that every child can reach their full potential.
“Despite Tory cuts from Westminster, the Scottish Government have passed a budget which reflects the public’s priorities. This is a settlement that delivers a pay rise for people on low wages, and that should be welcomed.”
East Kilbride MSP and Smith Commissioner Linda Fabiani has today welcomed news that the Scottish and UK Governments have agreed a deal which will enable new powers to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.
The fiscal framework, after almost a year of negotiation, was eventually agreed between the Scottish and UK Governments on February 23rd.
Full details of the deal will be published soon to allow Linda, who sits on the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee and parliamentary colleagues to fully scrutinise the proposals.
Commenting, Linda said:
“John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon have worked hard to negotiate a deal which ensures not a single penny will be lost to the Scottish Government’s budget, with a review after a parliamentary term. Considering the Treasury’s original offer was a cut over ten years of £7 billion, this is an excellent result. The “no detriment” principle which John and I agreed to during the Smith Commission has at last been met.
“New powers should be in place by 2017, and I look forward to scrutinising the detail on Income tax, borrowing and powers over disability living allowance, carers allowance and some of the Work Programme.
“The focus of the debate is now on how we will use the new powers to ensure we are as fair and progressive as we can be, and Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the SNP will soon set out our longer term intentions. I trust that other parties will do likewise.”