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Margaret McDougall MSP has blasted the Scottish Government for denying public services in North Ayrshire vital funding
Figures released this week revealed the annual underspend in Scotland’s budget for last year is £376 million.
Of this amount, £151 million is the amount of cash the Scottish Government has chosen not to spend funding our schools, hospitals, housing and other public services.
West Region MSP, Margaret McDougall blasted the decision, saying it was “astonishing” that local services were being underfunded whilst the Scottish Government sit on millions
In 2008 SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney boasted that the days of hundreds of millions in underspends were over – but for the second year he has been sitting on millions whilst local communities suffer brutal cuts to budgets.
Margaret McDougall MSP said:
“It is absolutely astonishing that, during a time of unprecedented austerity, the SNP Government in Edinburgh has decided to deny millions of pounds worth of funding for public services in North Ayrshire
“Across Scotland we are seeing a NHS which is failing on nearly every measure, an unacceptable attainment gap between rich and poor children in education, and a social housing crisis which sees waiting lists stretch into decades – why isn’t the available money being spent to help communities in North Ayrshire and across Scotland?
“Underspending a budget is a sign of poor financial management, and it is vulnerable people in our poorest communities who feel the effects.”
This year’s underspend is the second highest under the SNP, beaten only by last year.
This year: (2014-15): £376m in total
Last year (2013-14): £444m in total
John Swinney previously said: “Long gone are the days when hundreds of millions of pounds of government money would be underspent each year, doing nothing to help communities around the country.”
Margaret McDougall MSP calls for Football Act Review
Margaret McDougall has called for the Scottish Government to conduct a review of the controversial ‘Football Act’
The MSP believes that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 is not tackling Scotland’s problem with sectarianism.
The Act has attracted criticism previously, with one Sherriff describing it as “mince”
Last week the SNP Government backed away from plans to conduct a review of the legislation.
Margaret McDougall MSP, said:
“The Football Act has been a huge source of controversy, criticised not just by football fans but by legal experts too. It has created a culture of mistrust between football fans and the authorities which does nothing to help Scotland have an honest debate about how we tackle, and beat, sectarianism.
“The reality is that bigotry and intolerance are not confined to 90 minutes on a Saturday at football matches. If we want to be the generation that makes sectarianism a thing of the past we must address the issue head on, in our classrooms and communities in North Ayrshrie
“That is why I am calling on the Scottish Government to deliver what they promised – a thorough review of the Football Act.”
Sheriff Richard Davidson has previously described the Football Act as “mince”
The previous Minister for Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham said that a review should wait until August 2015, once the research released today was complete
“Minister for community safety Roseanna Cunningham had earlier insisted that the review would not be moved from August 2015; when Stirling University researchers are due to publish findings.
Local MSP Margaret McDougall has backed more support for carers in the West Region
The Labour MSP will back amendments to the Carers Bill to beef up the powers of the Care Inspectorate.
Under Scottish Labour plans the Care Inspectorate will be given responsibility for inspecting the standards and provision of carer services across Scotland.
This will mean that support groups, information and advice centres for carers meet a national standard.
There are an estimated 72795 carers in West Region. Margaret McDougall said that too often carers feel isolated, and that Labour’s plans will deliver the extra support carers deserve.
Speaking ahead of Carers Week, Margaret McDougall MSP called on Scotland’s other political parties to back their plans.
Margaret McDougall MSP said:
“Carers Week is one of the most important weeks of the year, as for too long the work of Scotland’s unpaid carers goes unrecognised and unsupported.
“Carers UK estimate that Scotland’s carers save Scotland £10 billion a year, the absolute least we can deliver is more support for the estimated 72795 carers in the West Region and across Scotland.
“That’s why I will be voting to beef up the powers of the Care Inspectorate, to make them responsible for carers services and support. I am calling on the other political parties at Holyrood to put people before politics and deliver a better deal for Scotland’s carers”
The Scottish Government should work with Scottish Labour to deliver better bus services.
That’s the message from West Region MSP, Margaret McDougall
Scottish Labour have written to SNP transport Minister Derek Mackay asking him to adopt the Bus Regulation (Scotland) Bill as a government bill after parliament officials said it would not have the time to be delivered as a private members bill.
Scottish Labour plans would have given more powers to local councils to set up bus networks as rail style franchises.
It would also have given transport authorities the power to combine profitable and loss making routes for tender, potentially saving local routes which have been routinely under threat. Communities would have more say in routes, timetables, ticketing and fares.
Prior to 2007 the SNP supported bus regulation, however they u-turned on this position ahead of the 2007 election and have opposed attempts to re- regulate since.
Margaret McDougall MSP said:
“I believe our buses should serve the communities they drive through, not merely line the pockets of private companies. Scottish Labour plans would have allowed local routes to be protected.
“There is cross party support for re-regulating the industry. The SNP used to agree with Labour on this but u-turned in 2007 on it. However I believe they should look again at our plans, it would benefit people in West Region and across Scotland.
“Bus companies may not support these measures, but passengers do. Scottish Labour believes that buses should be run in the interests of passengers rather than the industry. It’s time for the SNP Government to pick a side.”
To mark Volunteer Week, Volunteer Scotland and the Scottish Parliament’s Cross- Party on Volunteering & the Voluntary Sector today organised a photo-call for Volunteers and MSPs in the Garden Lobby area of the Scottish Parliament.
The photo-call provided an opportunity for MSPs to show appreciation of the fantastic work carried out by volunteers in Scotland and the contribution that they make to the Scottish economy and Scotland’s civic society.
Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Justice & Pensioners Rights attended the event and spent time with the volunteers to hear of their experiences.
The event was hosted by Margaret McDougall MSP, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross- Party on Volunteering & the Voluntary Sector.
Margaret McDougall MSP said “I am delighted to have hosted the event. It is important that, as politicians, we recognise the terrific contribution made by volunteers across Scotland. Also, it important that volunteers see that we appreciate the role that they play in our society”
The NHS is falling short on every measure because of the SNP’s inability to fund it properly.
The most recent figures show that:
- A&E waiting times missed for the 294th week in a row
- More than 150,000 beds unavailable to delayed discharge in the first quarter of 2015, up on last year
- Failure to meet the 18-week referral to treatment target for the sixth month in a row
- The SNP breaking their own Treatment Time Guarantee law almost 5,000 times, with performance worse than last year
- Significant rise in patients waiting more than six weeks for key diagnostics tests
In NHS Ayrshire and Arran waiting times for key diagnostic tests have sky rocketed, according to the statistics in March 2013 only 2 people had to wait more than six weeks for key diagnostic tests while in March 2015, 1123 people were waiting more than 6 weeks for the same tests. This was the second highest in Scotland with over 21.1% of patients having to wait six weeks.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran was also one of 7 health boards that missed the 62-day standard for Cancer waiting times, furthermore it was the worst performing health board in terms of meeting the 90% target for 18 Weeks Referral to Treatment coming in at 78.4%
Speaking about the figures, Labour MSP Margaret McDougall said:
“Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to all the hard working NHS staff who are being asked to do more with a lot less, the staff are being put under immense pressure and these missed targets are not a reflection on them.”
“What we are seeing here is our NHS creaking under the strain of a failure to resource frontline services adequately and it is patients who are paying the price with longer waiting times.” “
“The SNP Government is squeezing the health budget harder than even the Tories and this has left NHS staff without the funds or in some cases equipment to do the job properly.”
“We need an open and honest debate in to the state of our NHS, it’s not appropriate for our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon or Shona Robison, current Health Secretary to tell us the everything is under control when the facts and figures say otherwise.”
“It’s time for the SNP to admit that the Health Service is under strain and as this is a devolved matter the buck stops with them. After eight years in government, there are now no more hiding places. It was their decision to target our NHS for a deeper spending squeeze than even the Tories managed in England and now patients are waiting longer for treatment as a result.”
Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall, is calling on North Ayrshire council to provide an enhanced funding settlement for Cooriedoon Care Home on Arran, after it was revealed that the care home may have to close due to reductions in its funding.
In 2004 the care home received £75 per resident; this was reduced to £35 in 2014, and now has been reduced further to just £14 per resident, this means that after 28 years the care home may have to close its doors.
This will lead to job losses, residents being rehomed on the mainland and future islanders not being looked after on the Island.
Margaret McDougall MSP, said: “Cooriedoon Care Home structured its business model on receiving £35 per council residents and although £14 is a 2.39% enhanced rate it is simply not enough subsidy for Cooriedoon to remain open, as operating a care home on an Island comes with much higher costs than operating one on the mainland.”
“This reduction in cost will see staff lose their jobs, elderly couples being split up and elderly residents being moved further away from their families, losing, what for some will be crucial and much needed support of their family and friends.”
“I’d urge North Ayrshire council to look at this situation again, Cooriedoon are clear, cutting their funding to this level will force them to close their doors on council residents. This cut in income could also see the care home close its doors completely.”
“It’s imperative that North Ayrshire council now sit down with Cooriedoon and come to a funding arrangement that allows the care home to remain open on the Island.”
Watch my speech during the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill, starts at 1:17:12
Speaking during her member’s debate on rising awareness of Group B Streptococcus, Labour MSP Margaret McDougall demonstrated how routine testing can dramatically reduce incidence of Strep B, despite this, the Scottish Government has no intentions to introduce routine testing, quoting the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret McDougall MSP, said; “In the UK it has been estimated that Strep B infects over 500 babies a year. Sadly, 50 babies die as result of contracting Strep B and around 30 suffer life-long physical and mental disabilities.”
“Currently 22 developed countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany and Spain, offer routine testing for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. While 60% of obstetric units in the UK are offering testing to some or all pregnant women while 76% are carrying out tests at the mothers request. This is despite the advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who do not recommend routine testing.”
“Routine screening of GBS has proven to be effective, for example in the US, where screening was introduced in 1996, and incident rates fell from 1 to 0.24 per 1,000 live births in 2013. In addition to this the University of Birmingham, carried out studies into the cost effectiveness of introducing routine screening for GBS and they founded that £427,000 would be saved for every baby death avoided and £32,000 would be saved per infection avoided.”
“I was therefore disappointed that the Scottish Government refused to move on the issue and won’t carry out a cost benefit analysis, they instead told me what the guidelines were. However, in my view the guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has being overtaken by events, with more and more maternity units offering testing, and it’s time both the Scottish Government and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reviewed them.”
Figures have revealed that colleges such as Ayrshire College are facing a massive shortfall in Student Funding.
Over this financial year there has been an £11m shortfall in student support funding in Further Education. The Scottish Government has advised colleges to make up the shortfall by using Depreciation Funds, money which is not meant to be used for this purpose, and some colleges don’t even have this money to spend.
Even taking in to account Depreciation Funds, there is still a £7 Million shortfall.
Labour MSP Margaret McDougall, said:
“The Scottish Government keep telling us students in further education have never had it so good, buts in student support funding which the Scottish Government just doesn’t want to face up to.”
“Take Ayrshire college for example, they have a shortfall in bursary funding of over £1 million, this is after receiving additional funding and viring £328,000 from discretionary funds. This impacts significantly on students from our most deprived areas and where there are high numbers of mature students as is the case in Ayrshire College. This shortfall is set to increase to £1.7m. This could translate into a loss of 600 student places”
“It’s clear that Student Support in Further Education is underfunded and in crisis, the Scottish Government needs to face up to this harsh reality, address the shortfall and stop treating college students like second class citizens.”
“I shall be submitting question to the Scottish Government to find out what they are going to do to tackle this crisis.”
Question submitted to the Scottish Government.
To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to address the reported £7 million shortfall in student support funding.
To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers it appropriate to advise colleges to use depreciation funds to cover shortfalls in student support funds and what it is doing to assist colleges that do not have such funds available.
To ask the Scottish Government what the total budget for further education student support funding has been (a) across Scotland and (b) for Ayrshire College in each year since 2007.
To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to ensure that college students are receiving sufficient financial support.