New figures released by the Scottish Government estimate that businesses across South Lanarkshire will save £4.2m thanks to an SNP policy to protect small businesses.   

The Scottish Government’s decision to cap increases in poundage rates to below inflation will result in lower business rates for firms across Scotland.

The move will save businesses in Scotland a total of £35.2 million - leaving 90% of businesses facing a lower poundage than in England.

MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie, has said small businesses in the local area will also benefit from a host of targeted rates relief measures worth more than £750 million.

Announced by SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in his 2019/20 budget, businesses across Scotland will continue to benefit from the Small Business Bonus, ensuring that 100,000 businesses pay no rates whatsoever.

Commenting, Christina said:

“It’s great news that businesses across South Lanarkshire will save £4.2m thanks to the SNP’s latest measure to protect small businesses.

“In the face of Westminster chaos, this SNP Government has delivered a package of new initiatives that deliver for Scotland’s economy while safeguarding the future for small businesses.

“With the Scottish Government continuing to support Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse through the Glasgow City Region Deal, and £2.5m on its way to South Lanarkshire as part of the  new Town Centre Fund, this policy is just one of many introduced by the SNP that ensures South Lanarkshire remains a great best place to do businesses and invest.”

Walk around 1

Christina McKelvie MSP organised a walk-around in the Burnbank area on 15th March due to the recent acts of anti-social behaviour. She was joined by Inspector Derek Hamilton and Councillor Stephanie Callaghan.

Meeting locally they spoke about what work was ongoing and what new kinds of work would be required to improve security in the area. Ongoing work discussed included extra police patrols, extra CCTV coverage, improved secured entry in local flats and a whole host of other preventative actions.

The group also visited the local shops in Burnbank and spoke to owners who have noted interest in meeting to discuss ways forward.

Commenting, Christina said: “The kind of behaviour we have seen in the previous weeks has been totally unacceptable. It was helpful to hear first-hand the concerns of those living and working in Burnbank. Having spoken to Councillor Callaghan and Inspector Hamilton it is clear to me that the Police and Council are taking these problems very seriously indeed.”

Stephanie said: “It was helpful to speak to business and residents in the local area about their concerns and what they want to see happening to improve the problems they are facing. The Council and the Police are totally committed to tackling this unacceptable behaviour and will be working together closely to ensure this happens.”

Inspector Hamilton said: “In recent months Burnbank has been a priority area for local police in relation to acts of anti-social behaviour and violence.  We have worked with South Lanarkshire Council Housing Department and Joint Problem Solving Team, local business owners and elected officials to improve CCTV provision and directly address the behaviour of known individuals.  We have carried out daily hi-visibility patrols in Burnbank and engaged with parents of young people frequenting the area.  A number of arrests and have been made and alcohol seized.  We will continue to work with partners, consult with the members of the community and elected officials, and carry out additional patrols in the coming days and weeks.  I would encourage anyone experiencing problems to contact Police via '101', or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

If you have any information you think Police should know then do not hesitate to call them on 101, or if it is urgent 999



As Theresa May and her ever battling Cabinet hang their heads – and ours – over that dark abyss that is crash out of Europe, they apparently love the excitement so much they want to spin it out a bit longer. As we wait for yet another vote on her deal that has already failed twice, I do wonder what kind of democracy that is while ordinary voters are disallowed the opportunity to vote in a fresh referendum very unlike the 2016 fake promises.

In just a week and a few days before the crash out date, the Prime Minister has lost all credibility as she struggles to persuade MPs that her deal is better than no deal. No deal isn't an active choice, it's not something you decide you won't take. It's just what happens after failure. What would it really mean?

Cut off everything. The open market, agreed standards for food and drink, for drugs, toys, driving, employment rights, clothing, the right to be educated and work elsewhere in Europe, to drive without special permission, to enjoy the 60% of our fresh fruit and vegetables that come to us overnight,  to name just a handful.

The UK is going to have to establish its own bespoke package of agencies which is not only going to be expensive but will also take time. In December, the Centre for European Reform research claimed that Brexit was costing the UK economy an enormous £500 million a week. The research suggested that the UK economy was 2.5% smaller at that point and public finances were taking the £26 billion a year hit. At this estimate, Brexit has cost the UK £64.5bn since the referendum in June 2016, a lot more than the £39 billion for our Brexit debts.

I prefer the 85p a week membership of the EU costs me.

In Scotland, our own GDP could drop by 7% according to a new report by the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist. At present, the UK is at number 23 at 2.20% in the league table compared, say, to Ireland at number 2 and 7.8%.

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit could have a dramatic impact on Scotland’s economy, with the potential for national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to fall by up to 7%, according to a new report by the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist.

The paper, ‘No Deal’ Brexit – Economic Implications for Scotland, sets out two potential ’No Deal’ scenarios, one of which would see short term disruption to supply chains lasting for a number of months, with the second scenario looking at an extended period of disruption.

Gross Domestic Product – or GDP – measures the state of the economy. The predicted fall of 7% would mean a drop of up to 20% in our exports. Uncertainty, in turn, frightens off the investments we need to the tune of £1bn in this year. A fall in international net migration would likely lead to lost revenues, further falls in the value of sterling will make our imports more expensive and everything we currently get tariff-free in the single market is going to cost up to 45% more under World Trade rules.

Even worse than that, there will be pressures on the Scottish economy that could push us back into recession. Austerity-Plus is looking increasingly likely.

These new figures are yet another warning that a no-deal Brexit would be devastating for communities in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

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.

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 South Lanarkshire and prevent the Tories dragging Scotland out of the EU against our will.



Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

My door is open to anyone who seeks advice and support, so you can  phone or email me at any time.

You also have the option of visiting  constituency surgeries on Mondays. You don't need to make an appointment.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter, which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do  sign up here.

Back to School, back to costs!

Pupils from across all of South Lanarkshire have been helped out with the price of school uniforms. COSLA confirmed that all 32 local authorities have implemented an increase for school clothing grant. 

The £100 minimum grant to all eligible families was put in place for the start of the academic year, relieving the financial pressure for South Lanarkshire families and pupils as they return to school. 

This announcement from the Scottish Government will provide real, tangible help to families feeling the strain. 

We all know the stress and pressure that the return to school can bring, with clothes, shoes, bags and all the accessories. 

In South Lanarkshire, we have already made great strides in providing pupils with school clothing through the Back to School Bank. 

It's great to see our Scottish Government taking an action that provides real help.

Motor Neurone Disease 

Some of you already know that I take a close interest in living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as my own father did for many years before he died.

In June, just before we went off for the summer holidays, we marked MND Awareness Week. 

The Scottish Government has invested £2.5 million annually in the Specialist Nursing and Care Fund since 2015, more than doubling the number of MND specialist nurses across Scotland.

The new Health and Social Care Standards, introduced in April, seek to provide better personal outcomes for everyone and to ensure that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.

Everyone is entitled to care that meets their needs and upholds their rights.

The Euan MacDonald Centre, at Edinburgh University, was started up with funds from Euan - just 29 when he was diagnosed - and his father, Donald. It's a fantastic resource, and I was directly involved with Euan on the building of a voicebank for patients to access, allowing them to pick out a voice sound that is closest to their own natural voice.

The Scottish Government recognise that research is essential for the development of new and effective approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of Motor Neurone Disease – investing in both research capacity and in bringing MND studies to Scotland.
Are you being scammed?

Watch out! What do you know about skimming or fake ATMs? The cleverer technology gets, the cleverer online scammers get to keep up. Phishing, harvesting, identity theft, hacked information such as BA's embarrassment last week. British Airways is facing a possible fine of around £500 million over a data breach that compromised 380,000 card payments after regulators said they were "making inquiries" into the incident.


So I took up the cause at Larkhall Trinity Church last week and invited in experts to explain more.

The ‘Scam Awareness Surgery’ was designed to make sure the citizens of Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse are made more aware of the latest scams and frauds. 

Research from Citizens Advice Scotland had shown that over 61% of over 65s have been approached by a scammer. Other schemes include computer repair/ phishing scams and home and identity fraud

Scammers can target anyone, but especially older people and anyone who has a vulnerability that makes them an easier target.

I thought it was important to give you the opportunity to ask questions and find out how best to protect yourselves against this ever more sophisticated form of theft.

Thanks especially to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards and Police Scotland for coming along to give east to understand help and guidance that will make sure people here are more protected and secure whether that's at an ATM or purchasing something online.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks with more news.