BUDGET FOR A FAIRER SCOTLAND GIVEN HOLYROOD BACKING

SNP MSP for Paisley, George Adam, has this afternoon voted to back the Scottish Government’s budget for the coming financial year – securing a cash boost for the NHS while offering economic stability in the face of Tory Brexit chaos.

Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2 billion over the last decade to Scotland’s block resource grant, the SNP has committed £729 million extra for health and care services – with spending on NHS frontline boards rising by £430 million. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde alone is set to receive a 76.7m rise in spending.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also announced an £8 billion investment in Scotland’s education system, including £120 million delivered directly to head teachers – helping schools address the poverty related attainment gap. Scotland’s colleges will benefit from a £606 million investment over 2019-20, while universities will receive more than £1 billion.

As part of the Scottish Government’s plan to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1,140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, the budget also commits £500 million to support the expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland.

The SNP’s plans also ensure local councils receive a fair funding settlement, delivering a total local government settlement of £11.1 billion next year – that includes an additional £90 million to the core spending grant.

This budget will ensure Scotland remains the lowest taxed part of the UK – keeping council tax increases below the 5% cap in England while ensuring 55% of income taxpayers will pay less in Scotland than they would elsewhere in the UK.

Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:

“With Westminster in complete chaos, the SNP has delivered certainty and stability for Scotland’s economy with a budget that protects our cherished health service and supports our schools here in Paisley.

“I am delighted that Holyrood has given its backing to a progressive budget that will help create a more prosperous and equal society for all.

“This budget confirms Scotland as the fairest taxed part of the UK, with most income tax payers paying less than they would elsewhere.

“Brexit remains the biggest threat to Scotland’s economy, which is why the Tories should rule out a no-deal outcome before it’s too late. “This Brexit shambles simply reinforces the case for an independent Scotland, where we could take real control of our own future, continuing to build one of the world’s most successful economies on a firm foundation of strong and dependable public services.”

NO-DEAL BREXIT WILL HAVE DRAMATIC IMPACT ON PAISLEY

The Scottish Government has warned that a no-deal Brexit would hammer Scotland’s economy, with national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) predicted to fall by up to 7%.

Geroge Adam MSP

The Chief Economic Advisor to Scotland reports that a no-deal Brexit has the potential to push the Scottish economy into recession, with unemployment rising and trade and investment disrupted. If prolonged, the shock of Scotland’s departure from the EU could lead to significant structural change in the economy.

The report warns that Renfrewshire will face economic shock and possible job losses, noting that 20-24% of the workforce in Renfrewshire will be exposed to economic damage from a no-deal Brexit.  

Previous research has already shown the damage of the Tories’ proposed Brexit deal, which would see a 6% fall in GDP by 2031, costing each person in Paisley £1,600.

SNP MSP George Adam said:

“These new figures are yet another warning that a no-deal Brexit would be devastating for communities in Paisley.

“A no-deal Brexit is not inevitable – but we know that Theresa May’s deal is dead in the water, with even her own party refusing to accept it. The SNP has fought tooth and nail to seek an extension to the Article 50 process, and find compromise to protect Scotland’s interests.

“But Scotland is being ignored by Westminster and it’s no wonder people have completely lost trust in the UK Government.

“As Tory and Labour politicians ignore Scotland’s interests and stand in the way of us making decisions over our future, more and more people are drawn to the opportunities and hope for the future that independence offers.

“We need to stop the clock on Brexit, rule out No Deal, which would cause economic damage to our town, and prevent the Tories dragging Scotland out of the EU against our will.”

FAMILIES IN PAISLEY BENEFIT FROM SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Families in Paisley have benefitted from £2.7 million paid through the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment scheme since it opened for applications.

Since December, Social Security Scotland has made payments to more than 7,000 low income households. The support provided to families across Scotland, as of 31 January 2019, totals £2.7 million.

The Best Start Grant, which provides low-income families with financial support during the early years of a child’s life, sees 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.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

“I am delighted that more Scottish families are receiving help from the Scottish Government’s new social security system, which puts dignity, respect and fairness at its heart.

“£2.7 million worth of payments – more than the DWP paid out in a full year under the previous system – will ensure that all Scottish children get the best possible start in life.

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

“By reversing and mitigating Tory cuts that have been so damaging to families in Paisley and ensuring that we support those on the lowest incomes, the SNP is building a social security system which provides a safety net for the most vulnerable in society.”

HOLYROOD COMMITTEE CALLS FOR URGENT WELFARE REFORM

Geroge Adam MSP

A report published this week by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee has called for the urgent reversal of UK government welfare cuts that have caused “significant damage” to the income of working Scots.

Introduced by the Tories in 2016, the working-age benefit freeze gives a real-terms cut to households claiming benefits such as Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Child tax credits, and Tax Credits – forcing families to bear the brunt of what will be an estimated £3.7 billion in cuts by 2020.

The report found that, “the benefits freeze has a disproportionate impact on the poorest and those in most need.”

While the SNP has pledged almost £100 million for the coming year to continue mitigation of the Bedroom Tax and the UK government’s reserved welfare cuts, the committee has said it should not be left for only the Scottish Government to ensure the income of claimants north of the border does not drop in real terms.

The report, ‘Social Security and In-Work Poverty’, has also urged the UK government to re-think its controversial Universal Credit system, backing calls to end the five week waiting period for first-time claimants to receive a payment – suggesting a maximum of two weeks would be more appropriate.

The report continued, stating that “Universal Credit is a significant cause of the rise in demand for food bank services.”

The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest foodbank charity, recently came forward with figures that show a 52% increase in demand at local foodbanks in the 12 months after the roll-out reaches an area.

Neither the Work and Pensions Secretary nor the UK Employment Minister accepted the committee’s invitation to give evidence during this inquiry.

Commenting SNP MSP for Paisley, George Adam said:

“Here in Paisley and across Scotland, families are falling behind on rent payments and daily living costs thanks to the Tories’ damaging welfare policies.

“In Paisley alone, I have seen numerous families plunged into poverty after waiting months for their first payment, only to come up against a brick wall when attempting to contact the DWP for help. This is simply not acceptable.

“More and more households simply can’t get by – forcing many of those on Universal Credit to rely on emergency welfare support and foodbanks to feed themselves.

“The UK government cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand – it’s time to listen to the pleas from claimants, campaigners and charity groups for fundamental reform of Universal Credit and an end to the benefits freeze.”

BUDGET GETS HOLYROOD BACKING WITH BOOST FOR LOCAL SERVICES

SNP SUPPORT INCREASE IN INVESTMENT IN PAISLEY

George Adam MSP

Holyrood has backed the SNP’s budget plans, offering economic stability in the face of Brexit while giving a cash boost to the NHS, schools and other vital services.

Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2 billion in a decade to Scotland’s block resource grant, the SNP is proposing additional funding of almost £730 million for Scotland’s health and care services – including £76.7m for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

Under the Finance Secretary’s plans Renfrewshire will receive £342m from the Scottish Government – an increase of £10.8m on last year’s settlement.

Councils will receive a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding with a total overall settlement of £11.1bn, plus an additional £90 million for the core local government grant.

The budget also includes more than £180 million to raise attainment in schools, and almost £500 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare.

SNP MSP George Adam said:

“With the UK government in complete chaos, the SNP in government are offering certainty and stability with a budget which protects public services, supports the economy, and helps build a fairer country.

“This budget uses our powers in a progressive way in order to protect and invest in our public services – with a major boost for the NHS.

“Giving our schools, hospitals and other vital services in Paisley the money they need to deliver better services for our communities is vital to this government. This is why I welcome Holyrood’s support for the budget.”   

SNP INVESTMENT IN CREATIVE INDUSTRIES A BOOST FOR PAISLEY

SNP MSP George Adam has hailed plans for a significant investment in Scotland’s art, screen and creative industries – urging local groups across Paisley to make the most of funding.

Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, last month outlined the Scottish Government’s draft budget proposals for 2019/20 – announcing a £6.6 Million investment in Creative Scotland, and a further £10m to support the film and television sector, bringing support for screen to £20m.

Local organisations, staging anything from one off events to two year work programmes, can apply for project funding of £1,000 to £150,000 from Creative Scotland.

Under the draft budget proposals National Galleries of Scotland, National Library of Scotland and National Museums Scotland will also receive additional funding. Support for non-national libraries will be provided through continued funding for the Scottish Library and Information Council of £655k.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam, said:

“This £6.6 million investment in Creative Scotland will help provide a platform for artists and local groups here in Paisley to flourish.

“Scotland’s cultural sector benefits immensely from the free flow of artists across Europe – in the face of the Tory government’s Brexit shambles, investment in our screen industries will also come as welcome news for the sector.

“With local groups across the whole of Renfrewshire having so much to gain from this investment, I hope MSPs from all political parties get behind the Finance Secretary’s plans next month.”

CALL FOR ALL MSPS TO GET BEHIND ADDITONAL FUNDING FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES

SNP MSP for Paisley, George Adam, has challenged other parties to get behind plans that will enhance investment in Scotland’s emergency services.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP outlined his draft budget proposals for 2019/20 – which delivers over £1.2 billion for policing and increases spending on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service budget by £5.5 million to invest in service transformation.

£11.2 million will also be invested in the police workforce in 2019/20, directly benefiting police officers and police staff.

The Scottish Government has previously committed to protecting the police resource budget in real terms in every year of this Parliament – amounting to a boost of £100 million by 2021.

The SNP Government is also clear they will continue to press Westminster for return of the £175 million paid in VAT by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland, which will be re-invested in services.

MSPs will vote on the Finance Secretary’s draft budget proposals next month.

Commenting, SNP MSP George said:

“The Finance Secretary’s plans will offers real terms protection of the police resource budget, while providing over £5 million of additional resources to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to support their transformation.

“Both our police and fire service have been reformed in recent years, delivering greater efficiency as result – their work in Paisley and across the wider community is invaluable.

“Our police officers and firefighters are some of the most heroic and dedicated public servants – I am urging all MSPs to get behind plans that deliver for them.”

PENSIONERS IN PAISLEY COULD LOSE OUT ON £7,000 PER YEAR

SNP MSP George Adam has slammed the Tory government for ‘sneaking out’ changes to state pensions, which could affect older couples in Paisley to the tune of £7,000 per year.

Changes to benefits for mixed-age couples – which will be introduced from 15 May 2019 – were quietly released by Tory ministers on the eve of Theresa May’s humiliating Brexit deal defeat

Currently, couples can claim Pension Credit – an income related benefit meant to top up the state pension as long as one partner is of pension age. Universal Credit will reverse this – meaning a mixed-age couple will be defined by the working-age person, not the pensioner.

Experts have claimed that the changes could leave some pensioners almost £7,000 worse off per year, and Age UK warned that it could leave “some of the poorest pensioners paying a hefty price for having a younger partner.”

Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:

“It’s concerning that the Westminster government tried to quietly bury the news that pensioners with younger partners are set to lose out on hundreds of pounds each month. People on low incomes and receiving pension credit should not be forced to pay the price for the Tories’ welfare cuts and chaotic Universal Credit.

“Amid the chaos and distraction of Brexit, those who may be affected by this change in Paisley deserve to know about it, and have been let down by UK government attempts to ‘sneak out’ the news at 7.20pm on the night of the Brexit vote – when attentions were directed elsewhere.

“Serious concerns over the Tory government’s welfare policies have already been raised by my SNP colleagues at Westminster and, at Holyrood, the SNP will continue to tackle poverty and create a social security system based on equality, fairness and dignity. I will be writing to the DWP to ask for a reverse to this appalling cut which will hit those on the lowest incomes.”

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.”