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.
The 2020-21 Budget
The Scottish Government has announced a progressive and ambitious budget that demonstrates the vision and leadership of the SNP in Government – supporting our public services, helping family incomes and tackling climate change.
The backdrop is of heightened uncertainty and risk created by the UK Government following its decision to delay the Westminster budget until March.
That means Scotland has to estimate the Barnett consequential that could be forthcoming for Scotland. The promises the Tories made to Scotland during the election campaign need to be delivered upon in full.
I am pleased to see South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) announce that it plans an ambitious programme of investment in homes is at the centre of spending plans approved by councillors.
Chair of South Lanarkshire Council's Housing and Technical Resources Committee Councillor Josh Wilson said: “We are committed to delivering the highest possible standards in public housing, giving people quality homes to live in and helping them save money and protect the environment by investing in energy efficient, well insulated homes.”
The Council has approved the 2020/21 Housing Capital Programme which will see £97 million being invested into maintaining and improving council houses across South Lanarkshire and in continuing to build new homes to the highest standard.
“From an online survey of council tenants 84% of the returns felt that the rent they pay represents good or very good value for money.
“The coming year will also see the continuation of South Lanarkshire’s rent harmonisation with the Committee agreeing that tenants currently paying less than the harmonised level should not face an additional increase of more than £2 per week."
It’s fantastic to see support for public services reaching a record investment of £15 billion in health and social care services. There is an additional £645 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare, £117 million for mental health services and £37 million to help Police Scotland.
Local authorities will receive total funding from the Scottish Government of £11.3 billion in 2020-2021.
Majority of Scots think UK is undemocratic
A Panelbase poll, commissioned by The National newspaper, found that 49% of voters in Scotland now agree it is undemocratic for the UK Tory government to block Scotland's right to choose its own future.
The poll also found that 53% of voters believe the SNP’s overwhelming victory in December’s general election gives the party a mandate to hold a referendum – with 52% now backing a ‘Yes’ vote.
SNP Depute Leader, Keith Brown commented: “Support for independence is growing every day, with the latest polling showing a majority for Yes. Boris Johnson’s position is simply unsustainable – he cannot indefinitely stand in the way of democracy.
“The Tory excuses for blocking Scotland’s democratic right to decide its own future are becoming more desperate by the day – and also betray the fact they are running scared of the verdict of the people.”
Funeral support payment to be increased
The Funeral Support Payment’s rate for expenses such as funeral director fees, a coffin, and flowers, is to be increased from £700 to £1,000 for all applications received from 1 April.
Introduced in September last year, the Funeral Support Payment replaced the UK Government’s Funeral Expense Payment in Scotland, greatly increasing eligibility. It is intended to help alleviate the burden of debt faced by those on low income benefits when paying for a funeral.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, said: “This increase, alongside the extended eligibility we have introduced, means the Funeral Support Payment is there to ease the pressures on up to 5,000 people annually at such a difficult time in their lives. So far the total average pay-out has been around £1,500.”
Dundee Women’s Festival
A small promotion to all of the women in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse. Here is the small and committed board of the annual festival explaining what’s coming up ahead.
“A diverse programme of events for Dundee Women’s Festival has been unveiled ahead of the extravaganza’s 20th anniversary.
“Beginning on February 29, a fortnight of events will include arts and crafts workshops, STEM discussions, child-friendly sessions and a rowing expedition on the Tay.
“There will also be comedy, film, art, history and international food and dance events.
“Meanwhile a more sombre series of talks and debates will address issues such as reproductive loss, mental health, domestic abuse and learning difficulties.
“One of the keynote speakers will be Christina McKelvie MSP, the Scottish Minister for Older, People and Equalities, who will deliver the opening address.
“This year’s theme is Women Making Waves, celebrating the achievements of Dundee women in the past and present in a variety of fields.
“Festival committee chair Prue Watson said: “We usually get about 3000 people coming to the festival and we are hoping to get a few more this year.
“We’re in the process of giving out 5000 programmes.
“Like always, we’re putting on a diverse range of events to appeal to families, older people, anyone really.
“There are hands-on workshops, talks, rowing, a silent disco, music, comedy, you name it.”
Between February 29 and March 14 there will be a total of 75 events in venues across Dundee.
Prue said that this year there would be more STEM events than usual because the committee has taken over the running of the Women’s Science Festival.
She added: “There are lots of new things this year.
“We’re partially sponsored by Dundee City Council and now we’re also getting funding from the Wellcome Trust through Dundee University.
“We’d like to acknowledge that help – funding is always a problem for us because there are quite a few costs to putting on this festival.
“There are only five of us on the board.”
Dundee Women’s Festival has grown over the past 20 years, from humble beginnings as just a handful of celebrations at community centres for International Women’s Day on March 8 to a major event on the city calendar.
Programmes are available from local libraries, community centres and other venues throughout Dundee or from the festival’s website www.dundeewomensfestival.org.uk