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I will be holding constituency surgeries on the last Monday of each month in my office. Just telephone the office to arrange an appointment.
Question I asked in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. (3/2/16)
“While I welcome the news that overall the situation in Scotland has improved we need to face the harsh reality that locally jobs are being lost. Recently Howco in Irvine announced a further 31 job losses, after already cutting 19 staff 3 month previously. The announcement of redundancies comes just after the group received investment from the Scottish Government.”
“While in Kilmarnock, Mahle laid off 170 staff and 42 agency workers, while concerns grow for the remaining 230 staff. Both these companies employ workers throughout Ayrshire and I’m sure that it’s no comfort to them that national employment figures have improved.”
“It’s insensitive of Kenneth Gibson MSP, who instead of mention the plight of these workers, some of which will be his constituency; chose to focus on national figures. Unlike Kenneth Gibson I will be asking questions over these job losses and standing up for the workers, we need MSPs even of the same party who will hold the Scottish Government to account not MSPs who are simply there to stand up for their party at any cost and at the expense of their constituents.”
Margaret McDougall MSP recently presented a cheque for £75 to Janet Wallace for Breast Cancer Care. Janet Wallace, from Beith is a very active campaigner and volunteer, who is still battling cancer herself but goes out of her way to support other women deal with cancer while raising money for Breast Cancer Care.
Margaret McDougall said: “It was a pleasure to donate £75 to a great cause and Janet Wallace, who is a local volunteer from Beith, deserves every praise for the work she has been doing often while not always in the best of health herself. Janet Wallace is an inspiration; she fought back against cancer and now fund raises, supports and educates to help other women deal with cancer.”
“Janet is currently working with Breast Cancer Care Scotland to promote their Team B-Aware camping, which is designed to highlight the importance of catching Breasts Cancer early, the team hold talks on this issue throughout the country”
Nicola Sturgeons own poverty advisor, Naomi Eisenstadt, published a report on how to tackle the growing poverty and inequality across Scotland.
The report included 15 different recommendations about what we could be doing differently in Scotland, these recommendations include being bolder on the local tax reform, or in other words, ending the council tax freeze; providing more childcare and ensuring current child care commitments are met; building more social housing and ensuring more is down to tackle fuel poverty.
The above recommendations, plus the others in the report are bold and sensible, and we need a Government that will deliver them. However, it has become obvious that the SNP has no intention to meet the recommendations laid out in the report.
Over 8 years in Government the SNP have presided over some of the deepest, harshest cuts ever seen to local Government Budgets with a further £500 million in cuts incoming. With the Council Tax freeze still in place and cuts to budgets, local authorities are at breaking point, they are struggling to maintain vital services and suffering heavy job losses. Make no mistake, I’m not calling for an end to the Council Tax freeze, the SNP have broken the system, the council tax needs to be scrapped and replaced by a completely new system, as the report has recommended.
When councils suffer, services suffer. Take childcare for example, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre has confirmed that the 2016/17 allocations to councils to deliver on the SNP Government’s childcare pledge has fallen by £10.5 million (5.3%). This includes a cut to the capital budget for nurseries of 57%. Despite this, Nicola Sturgeon has promised every child 1140 hours of free childcare by 2020. However, the campaign group Fair Funding For Our Kids has confirmed this would require the equivalent of 650 new nurseries to be built, to accommodate an extra 26,000 children.
This promise made by the First Minister on childcare is not credible; parents are struggling to access their entitlement to free childcare right now, further commitments while cutting the resources available is only going to make the situation worse.
While on housing and fuel poverty the SNP’s record is poor, despite having no chance of meeting their legally binding target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016 the Scottish Government has seen fit to cut the fuel poverty budget by £15million in this year’s budget. With 39% of households in North Ayrshire suffering from fuel poverty, I believe this is simply unacceptable.
On housing over 150,000 Scots are stuck on housing waiting lists with over 6000 in North Ayrshire alone, and the Scottish Government responds by cutting the capital budget for housing by 30 per cent which saw the number of new social houses built last year fall by 21 per cent. A further 6000 families are stuck in private rents, many suffering from rip off rents which the Scottish Government has so far refused to deal with.
This reports highlights areas that the Scottish Government are failing on, it gives them the opportunity to consider the points and respond, it requires them to be bold and radical to deal with the problems that face us. Yet, instead of laying out a bold and radical agenda the Scottish Government responds with further cuts, more distractions and empty promises.
This government is no longer credible, Scottish Labour have plans to cap private rents, build more social housing, be bold on fuel poverty, ensure childcare provisions are met and extended and finally that local Government is properly resourced. Labour has a positive and radical vision for Scotland, the SNP are content, because of their huge majority, to stay with austerity and blame Westminster. I think Scotland has had enough of the blame game and warm words from the SNP, after nearly nine years in government it’s time to step up to the plate , take responsibility and use the powers we have to address the issues which are important like housing and child poverty.
At a Cancer Pledge Event in the Scottish Parliament Mrs McDougall signed a pledge board committing to the following: “I pledge to support new and exciting advances in the treatment of cancer which offer patients the prospect of improved long-term survival from cancer across a range of tumour types.”
The event was organised by charities Kidney Cancer Scotland, Melanoma UK and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers-Squibb.
Mrs McDougall MSP said: “I was happy to pledge my support to new advances in the treatment of cancer at an event in the Scottish Parliament. Cancer touches the lives of so many people and families across my region it its vital we invest in new research and treatments.
While there is much more work to be done, the good news is that cancer survival rates have doubled in Scotland over the past 30 years and those diagnosed are now more likely to survive for 10 years. This is thanks to further advances in research and better awareness of the symptoms leading to cancer being diagnosed earlier.
Margaret McDougall MSP has backed Scottish Labour’s call for a National Guarantee for care workers. Putting more money in the pockets of care workers will help make it a career rather than a job with a high turnover rate. At the moment, one in five care workers leave their job each year.
The minimum wage is currently £6.70 per hour whilst the living wage is paid at £8.25 an hour, an increase would benefit hundreds of care workers through North Ayrshire and the west region. Scottish Labour proposed yesterday (9 December), during a Scottish Parliament debate, that we invest the majority of our extra health spending on social care and to pay care workers a living wage. The SNP voted against providing a living wage for care workers.
Other plans include ensuring care workers are paid for travel cost & time, abolishing Zero hours contracts and making sure everyone gets appropriate training.
Speaking on the proposals, Margaret McDougall MSP said; “We know that retention of care workers is a serious issue throughout Scotland, due to the constant turn over in the sector vital skills are lost. Working in the care sector is an extremely demanding and sometimes emotional job and we also need to ensure the best care is provided to our elderly and vulnerable. This is why I back calls for a National Guarantee for all of Scotland’s care workers.
“If Scottish Labour is elected next year, we will ensure all care workers in Scotland are paid the living wage through our fully funded manifesto commitment. Many companies in other sectors, such as retail, have already committed to paying staff the living wage. However, the care sector which depends on public funding is lagging behind as the funds have not been made available by the Scottish Government. Care work is quickly becoming one of the most important, yet one of the lowest paid jobs in the country and this will only serve to deepen the crisis in retaining workers
“This issue has went on far too long and it is time it should be addressed. As councils are increasingly cash strapped, due to underfunding from the Scottish Government and the destructive council tax freeze, the Scottish Government should met this increase in funding.
“However, having voted against our motion yesterday it’s would seem that the SNP don’t feel the same, it’s disgraceful that they don’t value Scotland’s care workers enough to ensure they are paid the living wage. While the SNP push Scotland’s care workers to one side, Scottish Labour will be the carers’ champion.”
On the 9 December the SNP voted against Scottish Labours motion to ensure all care workers across Scotland would receive the living wage. This motion was proposed during the Health and Social Care debate. The motion the SNP voted against is below as is the motion they voted for.
S4M-15098 Jenny Marra: Health—That the Parliament acknowledges the fine work being done by hard-working health and social care staff across Scotland to keep people safe and well; notes the Audit Scotland report that highlights important issues that need to be addressed for the successful integration of health and social care to be delivered; calls on the Scottish Government to allocate the majority of the health-related Barnett consequentials from the Comprehensive Spending Review to social care, and urges it to introduce a living wage for care workers.
The motion that was passed, had all calls for the Scottish Government to introduce the living wage deleted: That the Parliament acknowledges the fine work being done by hard-working health and social care staff across Scotland to keep people safe and well; recognises that NHS staffing and funding are at record high levels; supports efforts locally and nationally to successfully implement health and care integration; shares Audit Scotland’s analysis that good progress has been made toward integration and that it has widespread support; welcomes the recognition that the Scottish Government has provided significant investment to improve integrated care, and endorses working with COSLA and the care sector in progressing the living wage, noting that additional funding has been provided toward its achievement and associated fair work measures.
Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall has backed Scottish Labour plans for a Warms Homes Act.
Nearly 1 million homes in Scotland live in fuel poverty, and the latest statistics show that approximately 39% of households in North Ayrshire are suffering from fuel poverty. It now seems that the statutory duty upon the Scottish Government to Eradicate Fuel Poverty in Scotland by 2016 is well out of reach.
Margaret McDougall MSP said it was a ‘national disgrace’ that more than half of all low income families in Scotland are struggling with energy bills despite family members being in work.
Labour’s commitment to a Warm Homes Act will overhaul planning and building regulations so Scots can take advantage of home-grown sustainable heating technologies and place a duty on landlords to improve properties and address fuel poverty.
“It is a national disgrace that in modern day Scotland more than half of our low income families are struggling with energy bills despite being in work.
“I know that applies to families in North Ayrshire that’s why I want to see action.
“Scottish Labour would introduce a Warm Homes Act which would overhaul regulations and get Scotland ready for an energy efficiency revolution so that no one has to live in a home which they can’t afford to heat.
“This is hat trick for a better Scotland. A Warm Homes Act will create jobs, tackle fuel poverty and mean we live up to our aspirations to be a world leader in tackling climate change.
Labour MSP recently paid a pre-Christmas visit to Irvine’s Royal Mail delivery office .
Speaking about the the visit Margaret McDougall MSP, said:
“There is a huge amount of effort and dedication that goes into delivering a first class Christmas at Royal Mail’s busiest time of year. It was great to meet the team in Irvine.”
Bruce Connell, Royal Mail delivery office manager at Irvine added:
“Our postmen and women are working extremely hard to deliver Christmas cards, letters and parcels to people in Irvine.”
“We’d like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas Greetings.”
Whilst we are all busy buying presents for loved ones far too many children go without. Please help make their Christmas and ensure every local child wakes up to a present this year.
Photo from my recent visit to Street League, to see the good work that they do through their academies changing lives through football.
I recently provide a comment for this article on North Ayrshire taking some of the first refugees coming to the UK.
Margaret McDougall MSP said: “I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the first refugees arriving in Scotland and I’m glad to see Ayrshire is playing its part.
“The refugees arriving here have been properly vetted and we must remember that they are fleeing the same horrors that we saw in Paris over the weekend. Their home country is no longer safe and I hope that we in Scotland can welcome them with open arms in to our communities and show the rest of the world that Scotland is a welcoming and inclusive nation.”