Record number of students from deprived areas at university

A record number of full time first degree students at Scottish universities were from the most deprived areas in Scotland last year. 

New figures show that, in 2017/18, 15.6% of students entering university were from the 20% most deprived areas. This is 0.4% short of the Government’s target for 2021. 

Last year also saw an increase in the total number of Scottish students enrolling in Scottish universities. 

The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show the latest progress in the drive to widen access to higher education.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education. I’m pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas.

“Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance.

“It is also great to see a record number of enrolments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/18. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“We are lucky in Paisley to have the University of the West of Scotland right on our doorstep, and for years UWS have been leading the way on widening access to higher education for all.

“Back in 2015, 27% of Scottish-based students were from the 20% most deprived postcodes and UWS are the UK’s number 1 university for accepting students from further education. Additionally, the University have achieved a 43% rise in applications from young people leaving care – with an enrolment increase of 500%. “These are very promising statistics and as Paisley’s MSP, I’m proud to have such an inclusive institution in my constituency. I can only encourage more and more young people across Scotland to apply to University and know that they will be welcomed and supported regardless of background.”

ONE STEP CLOSER TO SCOTTISH NATIONAL INVESTMENT BANK

George Adam MSP for Paisley has said SNP plans to establish a Scottish National Investment bank will help transform inclusive growth across Renfrewshire.

Last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP announced plans for an initial investment in the bank of £130 million as part of his draft budget proposals for 2019/20.

Subject to regulatory and legislative approval, the national investment bank will aim to begin investing in Scottish businesses and communities from 2020 – investing at least £2 billion in its first ten years.

The investment bank will provide loans of up to £10 million for small to medium sized local enterprises with high growth potential.

In advance of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s establishment, a £150 million Building Scotland Fund announced in 2017 will provide debt and equity support to the private sector and organisations, such as housing associations and universities, to support the development of housing across all tenures, develop modern industrial and commercial space and support industry-led research and Development.

MSPs are set to vote on the Scottish Government’s budget proposals at Holyrood next month.

Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:

“A national investment bank has enormous potential to transform communities here in Paisley and across Scotland. Operating within a core set of principles, the bank will deliver sustainable growth – with both individuals and small local businesses set to benefit. 

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy here in Paisley so it’s very exciting that we are one step closer to providing historic investment for projects the length and breadth of Scotland.

“I would urge MSPs of all parties to get behind the plans.” 

SCDI’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs Matt Lancashire said:

“We welcome announcement of £130 million to support the creation of the Scottish National Investment Bank, which will deploy patient capital to back long-term investment in business scale-up and innovation, and could have a positive impact. We also welcome the decision not to progress the out of town Business Rates levy and additional support for our struggling town centres to help them adapt in light of continued change.”

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) Policy & Campaigns Officer Paul Bradley said:

“The Bank provides the opportunity for Scotland to establish itself as a global leader in moving to a high-performing and modern economy, one built on sustainable finance to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy where the benefits are realised across all groups in Scottish society. SCVO will continue to monitor and feed into the process of setting up the Bank.”

SCOT GOV BUDGET PLAN IS GREAT NEWS FOR PAISLEY TOWN CENTRE SAYS LOCAL MSP

Paisley’s MSP George Adam, has called on Renfrewshire Council to make the most of the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce a £50 million Town Centre Fund.

Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, announced the new ring-fenced fund – that will be available through the local authority settlement – during his draft budget statement last month.

The proposal aims to drive local economic growth by helping town centres fund projects such as re-purposing buildings for retail, business and community enterprise, while improving access and infrastructure.  

Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:

“The Finance Secretary’s plans to introduce a new £50 million Town Centre Fund could help transform towns like Paisley and others across Renfrewshire.

“The fund will be passed on through the local authority settlement, so it’s up to Renfrewshire Council to make sure our local town centre sees the benefit of this substantial investment through community improvement projects.

“All high streets across Scotland face challenges as online retail changes the way we shop. This fund has the potential to stimulate real development in our town centres and to help communities thrive.

“I hope my parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide will get behind these Budget proposals to ensure our town centres across Renfrewshire can benefit.”  

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland Policy Chair, said:

“Over the last few years, independent businesses have been leading a fightback on our high streets. But local traders can’t prop up our town centres on their own. That’s why we’re pleased to see Derek Mackay back the FSB’s idea for a new Scottish town centre diversification fund. Similarly, a below inflation increase to business rates will give many smaller firms outside existing help much needed breathing space.”

RENFREWSHIRE SEES RISE IN ULTRA-LOW EMISSION AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES

MSP WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO CLEAN AIR

George Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP George Adam has welcomed the news that Renfrewshire has seen a significant rise in the number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) since 2017.

Figures released by the Department of Transport reveal that the number of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles in Renfrewshire increased by 179% between 2017 and 2018.

Across Scotland, the number of people driving electric vehicles has almost tripled since 2016 – rising by 130% in two years.

The Scottish Government has pledged to introduce low emission zones in Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020, and phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 – 8 years ahead of the UK government’s target.   

The SNP in government has also committed to delivering 20 electric towns by 2025, and work to electrify the A9 trunk road with the provision of charging points along the route recently began.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

“I welcome the news that the number of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles in Renfrewshire is continuing to rise.

“These figures are testament to people’s commitment to clean air and clean energy in Scotland, and will help to make our towns and cities more accessible – and are an important part of the fight against climate change.  

“Ultra-low emission vehicles give us the opportunity to set a path for less pollution and improve the quality of air in the places that we live, work and visit.

“I have contacted multiple car companies and engaged in quite a few productive discussions about how they as manufacturers are making progress. It is clear that car companies are moving in the right direction too therefore, we, as legislators, must ensure that we work with them to achieve a positive outcome.

“The SNP will continue this progress and maintain Scotland’s reputation as a global leader on tackling air pollution and climate change.”

LOCAL COUNCILS SPEND MILLIONS MITIGATING UNIVERSAL CREDIT

SNP MSP CALLS ON IMMEDIATE HALT TO FAILED TORY POLICY

George outside the old St Mirren ground on Love St

SNP MSP George Adam has renewed calls for an immediate halt to Universal Credit after it was revealed that councils are spending millions of pounds attempting to undo the damage of this failed Tory policy.

 

A series of Freedom of Information requests discovered that local authorities in Scotland have spent more than £24 million to mitigate the harmful effects of Universal Credit, which has faced huge backlash since its introduction.

 

Renfrewshire Council has set aside 1,596,000 for spending related to UC, with extra funds being reserved to manage the impact of Universal Credit on council housing tenants finding themselves plunged into rent arrears and poverty.

 

Universal Credit has been beset by problems since its rollout. This week, one of the UK’s biggest housing associations said that more than 100,000 children could face hardship over Christmas because families are being forced to wait for more than five weeks for their first benefit payment, and the Trussell Trust has warned that they are preparing for their busiest month ever – after a 15% rise in foodbank use in Scotland in the past year.

 

SNP MSP George Adam said:

 

“Universal Credit is a broken system – it’s leaving people destitute, driving kids into poverty and forcing families to rely on foodbanks in Paisley.

 

“And these latest eye-watering figures show that Renfrewshire Council has been left picking up the pieces, being forced to shell out 1,596,000.

 

“Money is being diverted away from key public services to cover the costs and mitigate the damage caused by this appalling change being imposed by the UK Government on Scotland. That is fundamentally unfair.

 

“But there’s an easy solution – halt the rollout of Universal Credit and fix this broken policy. Or better still, put all welfare powers in the hands of the Scottish Parliament – so we can build a social security system which puts dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.”

 

BEST START GRANT TO COME INTO FORCE FOR CHRISTMAS

George Adam MSP

LOWER-INCOME FAMILIES IN PAISLEY TO BENEFIT FROM EARLY PAYMENT

SNP MSP George Adam has welcomed the announcement that the first payments of the Best Start Grant will be delivered to families in Paisley in time for Christmas.

The Best Start Grant – which provides low-income families with financial support during the early years of a child’s life – will see eligible applicants receive £600 for their first child, £100 more than the UK government’s equivalent in England.

Best Start Grants replace and expand on the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant by providing eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children.
SNP MSP George Adam said:
“I am delighted that families in Paisley will be eligible for their first payments of the Best Start Grant in time for Christmas. These new payments will ensure that our under 5’s get the best possible start in life.

“It’s vital that the SNP government can provide help at a time when families in Paisley are seeing UK government social security support drastically reduced, and Universal Credit is causing hardship across Scotland.

“By reversing and mitigating the Tory cuts that have been so damaging to families in Paisley and ensuring that we support those on the lowest incomes, the SNP are building a social security system based on dignity and respect.

George Adam

PAISLEY MSP: UK GOVERNMENT BUDGET DOES NOT DELIVER FOR SCOTLAND

George on Paisley High StreetSNP MSP George Adam has criticised the UK Government for failing the people of Paisley following this year’s Budget announcement.

After promising to end austerity, the UK Government’s budget has in fact failed Scottish people, with Scotland’s resource block grant almost £2 billion lower in real terms next year than it was less than a decade ago.

The Budget does not deliver on the promises of a rise in public spending – Scotland’s NHS has been short-changed, the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit has not been halted, and the richest 10% of the UK population will be the ones who benefit most from Tory tax cuts.

George said:

“This Tory Budget falls a long way short of delivering for the people of Scotland.

“Working people will be £1,600 worse off thanks to their mishandling of Brexit, and the changes in this year’s Budget do nothing to alleviate the untold damage this will do.

“The reality of this Budget is that the Tories have dug themselves a deeper hole, with no clue how to get out of it. People in Paisley, and across Scotland, are getting a bad deal with the Tories.

“The SNP will not support Tory tax cuts for the richest at the expense of the poor.

“Instead of ploughing on with more harmful austerity, the UK Government should commit to a realistic plan for investment in public services, to grow the economy and to boost jobs, incomes and living standards.

“This budget has exposed in stark terms the democratic deficit of the UK, and why we need full powers over Scotland’s finances to grow our economy and build a fairer country.”

 

 

Geroge Adam MSP

TORY MSP IN WARNING OVER UNIVERSAL CREDIT

George outside Paisley's East End Branch of the Bank of Scotland

ADMISSION OVER DISASTROUS POLICY UNDERLINES NEED TO HALT ROLLOUT

A Tory MSP has written to the editor of the Herald newspaper, warning that her own party’s Universal Credit policy risks “failing those who the system set out to support”.

In a remarkably frank letter, which will make difficult reading for many of her Tory colleagues, Annie Wells details the scale of the issue facing her constituents in the city of Glasgow “who are worried about the impact the rollout will have on their lives”.

Ms Wells calls for reassurances from her colleagues in the UK government that the views of the “most vulnerable in our society . . . will be listened to” and the rollout of Universal Credit does not continue to adversely impact families across Scotland, who are being driven into poverty and relying on foodbanks as a direct result of this disastrous Tory policy.

Commenting, the SNP’s George Adam MSP who sits on Holyrood’s Social Security Committee said:

“This is an incredibly frank, yet welcome, admission from a Tory MSP that the rollout of Universal Credit is having a damaging impact on people’s lives. There is no doubt has been a disaster – driving kids into poverty and forcing families to rely on foodbanks.

“But Annie Wells cannot hide from the fact it is her own party which is responsible for Universal Credit, and it’s her party which is refusing to back down in face of truly devastating evidence of the human cost.

“You have to wonder why on earth she’s writing to the Herald editor, instead of persuading her Tory colleagues to bring a halt to the rollout of this failed policy.

“And if Annie Wells can speak out, it simply exposes the deafening silence on this issue from Ruth Davidson and her 13 Scottish Tory MPs.”

FAR FROM A ‘BORING’ VISIT AS SCHOOLCHILDREN WELCOME ‘TUNNELLING TANYA’ TO PAISLEY

It was quite a different morning for a group of schoolchildren from Paisley as they began their day learning about Scottish Water’s major engineering project in the town.

Earlier today the pupils from St Charles Primary were on site to welcome the second, eagerly anticipated, Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) from Germany onto site. The children heard all about the project and had the chance to see ‘Tunnelling Tanya’ up-close.

The project team ran a competition at the end of last year’s school term asking pupils to come up with a name for the TBM. It was Hope Hunter, now a primary 6 pupil at the school, who impressed the judges with the name ‘Tunnelling Tanya’.

Headteacher Grace Hannigan accompanied the schoolchildren to site and was delighted for them to be there. She said: “It’s been amazing for the pupils to see first-hand what’s involved in a project of this scale and nature. Tunnelling Tanya certainly is an impressive piece of equipment and it’s such an honour that one of our pupils has named her. We’d like to thank everyone involved for providing this unique opportunity.”

One and a half metres in diameter (5ft) and weighing in at an impressive 23 tonnes, Tunnelling Tanya will tunnel at depths of up to 27 metres and will remove 5,000 tonnes of rock as she makes her way under Saucelhill Park in Paisley.

Brian Boland, Project Manager, welcomed everyone to the site. He said: “We’d like to thank you all for coming along today to help mark this important milestone for the project. We’re sure you’ll join us in wishing Tunnelling Tanya well as she sets to work, tunnelling for around eight weeks before emerging at the other side of Saucelhill Park. She’ll undertake the longest drive on this project.”

Working alongside Donegan Civil Engineering, Scottish Water contractors Amey are constructing the large interceptor sewer in Paisley which, once completed, will substantially reduce the frequency of spills from the sewer network into the Espedair Burn and White Cart Water in storm conditions. The project will therefore improve the river water quality in the two watercourses and, in turn, the River Clyde.

Paisley’s MSP George Adam also joined the local schoolchildren on their visit. He said: “It’s not every day you get to see a Tunnel Boring Machine in Paisley – it was a fascinating visit for us all. And what a brilliant name Hope came up with!

“I’m extremely encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the pupils; they’re so keen to learn and perhaps having had the chance to find out about this major engineering project will spark their interest in a future career in engineering.”

He added: “I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the work that’s being done here and the environmental benefits the project will bring for our vibrant town of Paisley.”

The investment, which is the biggest of its kind Scottish Water has ever made in Renfrewshire, is part of the company’s £250m, five-year programme of work, launched in 2013, to improve river water quality and the natural environment and tackle flooding across the Greater Glasgow area.

SNP’S Programme For Government Drives Progress In Paisley

This year’s SNP Programme for Government will help contribute to a successful and vibrant Paisley, driving progress in health, social security, the environment and the economy, the Paisley’s MSP, George Adam has said.

 

Paisley will benefit from ambitious action in a wide range of areas throughout 2018-19, including:

  • Empowering head teachers to lead improvements to their schools with more power over their own budgets; developing ways for parents and pupils to ensure their voices are heard in decision-making; giving £10m to schools and councils to work together across regions; continuing to support teacher recruitment; and investing £33 million over three years to help children in care with education.
  • A National Export plan ‘A Trading Nation’, backed by £20m, will boost the value of Scottish exports, help Scottish companies succeed in emerging markets, and provide additional help to those considering overseas trade.
  • The National Infrastructure Mission, the most ambitious infrastructure spending plans yet, will invest £1.5 billion more infrastructure each year by 2025-26, including for faster broadband, improved transport and more low-carbon energy.
  • £250m will be invested to reform the way we treat mental health in children and adults – delivering 430 new school, college and university counsellors, and fast-track specialist treatment systems for those with serious mental illness.
  • A new Scottish Social Security System with dignity and respect at its heart will deliver 11 benefits, including the first Best Start Grant payments for low income families with young children by Christmas, 6 months earlier than planned; a 13% increase in the Carers’ Allowance – an extra £442 per person this year – as well as funeral expense assistance.
  • New legislation to introduce a Scottish National Investment Bank.
  • A major package of reforms in the justice system – with a new support system for victims, witnesses and families of those affected by crime, including a dedicated case worker for families of murder victims, improved information and support about prisoner release, as well as support for engagement between victims and offenders to help the victim and to prevent reoffending.
  • £1bn investment a year including funding for low carbon transport solutions and to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032 – creating at least 20 electric towns across Scotland by 2025; adding 1500 new charge points in homes, businesses, and in public; investing £20 million to help people switch to electric vehicles; adding more than 1500 new ultra low emission vehicles to public sector fleets; and investing £1.7 million to add over 100 green buses.

 

George said:

 

“The SNP’s plan for Scotland signals a major boost for jobs and the economy in Paisley, including an additional £7 billion infrastructure investment in schools, hospitals, transport and digital connectivity over the next five years.

 

“We are continuing the major reforms in our health, education and justice systems over the course of 2018-19 – with a significant £250 million extra funding for mental health , increased support for teachers, head teachers, parents and pupils, as well as a major package of reforms for the justice system, increasing support for the victims of crime and their families.

 

“With Scottish exports up 12% – the fastest growth in the UK – a £20m National Exports Plan this year will ensure Paisley’s businesses in Renfrewshire continue to thrive in the face of the Tories’ despite their damaging hard Brexit plans.

 

“Despite Brexit, we will ensure Scotland remains an attractive place to live and work and provide advice and support for those EU citizens already living in Paisley that are dealing with the Tory government’s unfair plans to charge them for the right to live and work here.

 

“And our global climate change ambition will continue to be matched by realistic action, with £1billion funding in low carbon and public transport over the next year.

 

“These bold and ambitious plans for the year ahead are just some of the reasons why the SNP is the second biggest party in the whole of the UK.”