gavin newlands mp

DRIVING BOSSES TOLD TO GET A GRIP ON LORRY SHORTAGE 

Transport chiefs have been told to “get a grip” of the lorry drivers’ crisis, as the shortage of drivers now threatens Christmas.

Renfrewshire MP Gavin Newlands, the SNP’s Westminster Transport Spokesperson, challenged the Government at Transport Questions on Thursday.

gavin newlands mp 

Recent weeks have seen pubs run low on beer, while high street stores like Halfords and Dunelm have reported issues with their supply chains as fears grow the lorry driver crisis could impact Christmas. 

Long-term industry problems, such as driver recruitment and training, have been compounded by the effects of Brexit, which has seen thousands of drivers leave the industry and the cost of transport shoot up as red tape mounts up. 

And despite months of industry groups warning the Government of the driver crisis, it took until yesterday for changes to be made to the testing process to speed up driver testing and licensing.

Gavin said:

“It’s now over nine months since the challenges facing the haulage industry were made crystal clear as border checks caused by Brexit cost Scotland’s industries millions of pounds. 

“I and many others called on the Transport Secretary and the UK Government to get a grip then, yet here we are in the run-up to Christmas and our shops are becoming emptier by the day.

“Industry has been crying out for the Government to take this issue seriously, yet it’s only this week they’ve made some minor changes to the testing process.  That simply isn’t enough to resolve this growing crisis.

“At every step of the way the Government have pretended that Brexit would have no negative effects on our economy, that only sunlit uplands awaited.

“Perhaps if they’d been honest with voters and admitted ditching the EU would mean food shortages and delays in medical supplies reaching this country, Scotland would not have been dragged against its will out of the EU, and the problems caused by Brexit wouldn’t exist.”

rolls-royce

Rolls-Royce at Inchinnan won’t be getting help to save hundreds of jobs – that’s the message from the UK Government. 

Following calls from local MP Gavin Newlands for urgent intervention to save jobs at the site, the UK Minister for Business and Industry refused to act, saying, “our focus is on securing the medium and long-term future of the sector.” 

The response raised fears that the UK Government has given up on saving the 700 jobs under threat at Inchinnan and is staying quiet as work is moved overseas. 

Since Rolls-Royce’s announcement of job losses in May, unions and workers have made clear that they want to work with management to save jobs and save production at the site, which employs around 1,500 people in total.  

But company bosses have refused to discuss plans to reduce costs without reducing jobs, and the UK Government’s refusal to intervene  

Newlands hit back at the Minister, slamming the inaction so far and calling for help that could save the jobs, even at this late stage. 

rolls-royce

Gavin said: 

“To say I am disappointed with the UK Government’s response would be putting it mildly – it is a disgrace.  700 workers at Inchinnan and their families are facing huge financial hardship and uncertainty and instead of promising action, we are left yet again with platitudes and empty gestures.  

“In a 700-word letter the Minister mentions Inchinnan just once – that is indicative of a Government that has already written Inchinnan off and appears to have acted as part of the Rolls-Royce PR team from the beginning.  

“He says they are interested in securing the medium and long-term future.  So am I.  But without a short-term future there will be no future at Rolls-Royce for the staff who face losing their jobs. Let’s face it, Rolls-Royce have been off-shoring jobs for many years now with nary a word from its Government cheerleaders. 

“We are hearing a great deal from Boris Johnson and company about rebuilding the economy, but they seem content to let what has already been built crumble and leave our economy here in Renfrewshire to ruin.  

“Rolls-Royce Inchinnan is world-class site with a world-leading workforce and there is still time for the UK Government to step up and recognise that fact with support and action to keep these jobs at Inchinnan and build a long-term future for all who rely on the plant for their livelihoods 

rolls-royce

Commenting on the job losses announced at the Rolls-Royce base at Inchinnan, the SNP MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire North Gavin Newlands said:

“The workforce at the Rolls-Royce Inchinnan base have been integral – both in the UK and abroad – to the success of the firm over many years. The job losses announced today is devastating news which will hit workers, their families and the wider community during these difficult times.

“Throughout the period since the proposed job losses were first announced, the Scottish Government has made clear many times that it is keen to sit down with Rolls-Royce and support the operation at Inchinnan in whatever way it can. That remains the case and it is vital that the firm engages meaningfully and in good faith to protect jobs and people’s livelihoods.

“Even at this late stage, there is still time for management to have substantive discussions with unions and the wider workforce about what action is needed to weather the current economic storm.

“There is no denying the unprecedented challenges the aviation and aerospace industry finds itself in during this health pandemic. However, those challenges are best met by a collective effort by management, workers and unions to map out a future that secures employment and potential long-term growth once we are through the worst of the current crisis.

“It is also extremely disappointing that since the start of the difficulties facing the workforce, not a single UK government minister has contacted me to discuss the future of the plant.

“I urge the UK government to roll up its sleeves and join in efforts to work out a strategy that encourages high-skill, high-value jobs to be safeguarded rather than allowing them to be slashed.”

Tom Arthur, MSP for Renfrewshire South, added:

““Many of my constituents work at the Inchinnan site, and I have written to the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills urging the government to do all that it can to support employees at the site.

“The workers at Rolls Royce are highly skilled and we must work to retain their talent and skills sets as the Scottish economy moves forward following this pandemic.  My office is ready to help any workers affected by this news.

“It is imperative that the Scottish and UK Governments engage with employees to ensure that they are redeployed and repurposed so that we retain their enormous talent and skill.”

rolls-royce

Calls have been made for urgent clarity on job losses at Rolls-Royce – and a promise to sit round the table with workers and unions to plot a way forward.  

 The company announced plans for 9,000 redundancies worldwide but have left UK workers – including those at the Inchinnan plant – in the dark about where and when the axe might fall.  

The Renfrewshire site employs hundreds directly and hundreds more in supply chains and local businesses, and any reduction in jobs would be a blow to the Renfrewshire economy.  

But so far management have refused to consult with unions and workers about the plans, which could result in job losses at sites across the UK.  

MP Gavin Newlands, whose constituency covers the plant, will continue to engage with the company and the unions as he has done on a regular basis in recent weeks, and called for management to rethink again on their plans. 

 

Gavin said: 

“The workforce at Inchinnan deserve better than the rumour and conjecture that have swirled around since the management’s announcement of job losses. 

“Unions across Rolls-Royce have consistently offered to work alongside the company to find a way through the current situation, and it’s completely unacceptable those offers have been ignored by management. 

“I also understand that the company have failed to make full use of the various government support schemes in place to help business through the Coronavirus pandemic which makes their announcement of job losses in the near future completely bewildering. Situations like this are exactly why these schemes were set up.  

“Moreover, the fact that it is always the UK workforce that bears the brunt of any Rolls Royce “restructuring” is a little galling when the company holds its hand out for UK Government R&D funding. It’s also more than galling that the company seems to be attempting a British Airways style raid on the terms and conditions of those loyal workers lucky enough to survive the cuts. 

“The Inchinnan plant has a well-deserved reputation for high-quality, highly efficient output exported around the world and it would be crazy for Rolls-Royce to throw that global reputation for excellence away.  

“For years the workforce at Inchinnan have shown loyalty to the company, and that loyalty must be repaid by management – at the very least they deserve clarity on Rolls-Royce’s plans and real, meaningful engagement on what the future holds.” 

Glasgow Airport exterior

Government ministers have been urged to step in to save local jobs – before it’s too late. 

The call came after UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, could not confirm which aviation companies or how many had made use of special support promised by the Chancellor over two months. 

With Glasgow Airport and Rolls-Royce both major employers in Renfrewshire, any loss of jobs at either would have major implications for the local economy. 

British Airways have already announced 12,000 proposed job losses, representing over one third of their total staff, with Chief Executive Willie Walsh appearing before the Transport Select Committee last week to face a grilling from MPs. 

MP Gavin Newlands, whose Paisley and Renfrewshire North seat includes the airport, and who sits on the Committee, hit out at the UK Government for their lack of action to help employees and employers. 

 

Gavin said: 

“Two months ago the Chancellor promised a bespoke support scheme for the aviation sector, and two months later we are still waiting for detail. 

“Vague answers about letters received just aren’t good enough – tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country are on the line and people’s livelihoods are too important to simply make vague promises.  We already know BA want to axe 12,000 jobs, including 130 at their Edinburgh base, and there can be no doubt that hundreds of jobs in Renfrewshire are under threat if BA go ahead with their plans.  

“Meanwhile road haulage and logistics firms are weeks from bankruptcy, while the coach industry is on its knees – both key sectors for the economic recovery we all need to see happen once the current crisis is over. 

“Transport is a fundamental building block of our national and international economy, and the lack of answers or a clear plan from the UK Government is deeply worrying.  Leaving our transport future up to Willie Walsh to plan is a recipe for disaster.” 

BrexitSpeech gavin

Gavin Newlands MP has said the UK government must introduce urgent health measures for people travelling to the UK – including health checks and quarantine measures at the border. 
 
The Renfrewshire MP has written to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps raising concerns about the UK Government’s failure to act, which has meant hundreds of thousands of people have entered the UK without appropriate checks and measures in the months since the pandemic began. 

 
The SNP Shadow Transport Secretary said the Government must finally bring the UK into line with other countries, where tighter measures are being placed on travel in response to coronavirus. 

Fellow SNP MP Joanna Cherry, Shadow Home Secretary, followed suit in writing to the Home Secretary asking for similar action to stop coronavirus at the border and halt the virus in its tracks. 
 
Gavin said: 
 
“The UK government must urgently introduce coronavirus health checks and quarantine measures at the border for people travelling to the UK. 
 
“It is deeply concerning that UK Government has failed to act – and is still allowing thousands of people to enter the UK without appropriate checks and measures in place. 
 
“Other countries in Europe and across the world have already introduced these measures – leaving the UK as an outlier. The UK government has been far too slow to act and must now step up to prevent an increased risk of transmission. 
 

“It’s crazy that people can travel from coronavirus hotspots like Italy and Spain into Scotland and UK with no checks, no quarantine, and no action from the border or transport authorities. 

“It’s also putting the staff who remain working at airports at greater risk of contracting the virus and hindering efforts to stop the spread of this disease. 

“For people to have confidence in the UK government’s approach, it is crucial they put these long-overdue measures in place and set out how this will form part of a considered exit strategy.” 

gavin newlands

Charities across Renfrewshire are being encouraged to apply for emergency funding to help cope with the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The £50 million Wellbeing Fund is part of a £350 million package announced by the Scottish Government to support those most affected by the pandemic and enable a swift response according to local need. 

Of this, £10 million has been allocated for immediate priorities and £7 million committed to support around 2000 charities through small grants.  

This leaves £33 million of the Wellbeing Fund now open to bids from third sector organisations, with the application process run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).

Over 500 charities are registered in Renfrewshire with many more headquartered elsewhere but providing services across the county.

The huge impact of coronavirus is being felt by charities with normal donations from the public dropping sharply, combined with a rise in demand for their services as the country battles through the current situation.

Organisations are being urged to visit scvo.org.uk and register their interest soon.

 

Gavin said: 

“Charities are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with donations down and a sharp increase in the demands on their services, so this news from the Scottish Government is particularly welcome. 

“Our third sector is working incredibly hard to help individuals and communities who need help the most, and this new fund is aimed at making sure local groups can carry on the tremendous work already going on in towns and villages across Renfrewshire and beyond. 

“Every charity, big or small, can apply for funding and I urge every local group who needs financial support to continue helping communities across Renfrewshire to make sure their application is in as soon as possible. 

“If your local group needs a helping hand through this unprecedented time, visit the SCVO website and start the process today.” 

BrexitSpeech gavin

Renfrewshire MP Gavin Newlands has hit out over the narrow scope of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced on Wednesday.

While many initially welcomed yesterday’s announcement that the scheme would be extended to those employed by 19th March, it is now clear from the detail that the UK government’s strict criteria on Real Time Information (RTI) submissions will prevent many businesses and employees from benefiting at all.

The Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP has called on the Chancellor to make meaningful changes so anyone with a contract of employment by 19th March is covered.  The SNP is also calling for the Chancellor to reconsider his refusal to introduce a comprehensive financial package, including a guaranteed minimum income, to ensure no one is left behind.

Gavin said:

“It’s now clear from the detail that this announcement is not what it seemed. Thousands of businesses and workers will continue to lose out – unless the UK government makes meaningful changes to fix the serious gaps in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“SNP MPs have been contacted by many businesses and employees who say the narrow criteria being imposed has dashed their hopes of help. Frankly, that’s not good enough. Further changes are now required so that anyone with a contract of employment by 19th March gets the support they need.

“From the start of this crisis, I’ve urged the UK government to introduce a comprehensive financial package to ensure no one is left behind. It’s vital the Chancellor now fixes the gaps in these schemes, and looks again at introducing a guaranteed minimum income and strengthened welfare protections – so everyone gets the help they need.”

BrexitSpeech gavin

The Chancellor was today warned – help our local travel workers or thousands will pay the price.  

BrexitSpeech gavin

The call came as SNP MPs backed travel workers in their campaign to secure UK Government support to save their jobs and those of thousands more. 

 

Local MP Gavin Newlands spearheaded the effort, which calls on the Chancellor to make sure workers affected by the holes in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme aren’t left behind, including those employed in a travel sector which has been devastated by the current situation. 

 

As Shadow Transport Secretary, Newlands has pushed the authorities since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis to make sure key industries and workers who’ve been hit hard by the massive economic impact aren’t left behind.

 

With Renfrewshire a key hub for travel jobs, the Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP has teamed up with other SNP frontbenchers to call for quick government action to save the industry and save jobs. 

 

Gavin said:

 

“I’ve welcomed many of the UK Government’s support measures, but linking them all is a failure to understand that complexity is the enemy of the urgency we need Government to show right now. 

 

“Every industry is under immense pressure and the travel sector is no different. If tour operators go under it’ll ultimately be the UK Government that has to compensate customers, so getting the policies right now could save the taxpayer millions down the line.  This isn’t a bailout – it’s doing the right thing for workers and consumers. 

 

“It can’t be beyond the imagination of the UK Government to implement a scheme that protects consumers and supports an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people – and particularly here in Renfrewshire where the airport and related companies are major employers. 

 

“The Scottish Government has taken the lead in ensuring businesses are given immediate help with business rates, but it’s the UK Government that has the powers to make sure jobs and livelihoods are safeguarded. 

 

“The Chancellor’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, while welcome, has too many loopholes in it to be a proper safety net for those who need support. It’s time for a minimum income guarantee to make sure every citizen gets what they need to help make it through these unprecedented times.” 

gavin newlands

NEW SURVEY REVEALS ONE IN THREE SCOTS WORRIED ABOUT BEING ABLE TO PAY FOR FOOD

Local MP Gavin Newlands has renewed calls on the UK government to provide urgent support to families and households across the UK who are struggling to make ends meet due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after a Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) survey revealed that one in three Scots expressed worries over how they would continue to pay for bills, food and other essentials. While four in ten living in rented accommodation said they were concerned about future payments on their home.

gavin newlands

Earlier, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford wrote to party leaders urging the UK government and opposition parties to hold an urgent meeting with utilities companies to ensure households have the support they need as unemployment rises, incomes are reduced, and utility costs and usage increase.

Meanwhile the Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP has asked the Chancellor to amend the furlough scheme to allow thousands more workers to qualify, with many falling through the safety net.

Gavin said:

“The coronavirus crisis has pushed many families and individuals across the UK, through no fault of their own, into hardship and financial difficulty.

“With a significant number of people in Scotland worried about how they will pay for food, essential items, bills, and payments on their homes, it is vital that the UK government sets out measures to support people in their time of need.

“Household costs are rising at the same time as millions of people are seeing a reduction or complete loss of their income. The financial strain facing many people is becoming unbearable. The UK government must urgently take steps to alleviate the burden, including through introducing a guaranteed minimum income, an Emergency Coronavirus Energy Grant, a six-month reprieve on utilities being cut off, and a freeze on prices.

“These are difficult times and no family or household should be left behind or struggling to heat their home, pay their bills, or put food on their table.

“The UK government has worked constructively with the devolved governments on measures that have been brought forward so far, but much more needs to be done to help those households who are on the brink and struggling to make ends meet.”

Gavin Newlands MP

MP Gavin Newlands today laid down the law to businesses continuing to operate outside the law during the Coronavirus outbreak – and promised that the people of Renfrewshire will remember who they are.

While most non-essential businesses have closed their doors following Monday night’s announcement of a lockdown, some are still operating in defiance of public health and safety.

Gavin Newlands MP

Only essential services should be open as the country fights to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus and stop the NHS being overwhelmed by serious cases.

And the Renfrewshire MP left no doubt that those who insist their business is more important than people’s lives will pay a price.

Gavin said:

“The vast majority of businesses across Renfrewshire and Scotland have acted responsibly and put people first – but I am afraid a small minority are acting as if they are above the law.

“Businesses flouting the Government rules are putting their employees’ lives in danger – and the lives of thousands of others.

“Anyone keeping non-essential workplaces open just for a quick buck should be in no doubt that the people of Renfrewshire have long memories.  We will remember those who put their profits and shareholders ahead of our citizens.

“The Scottish Government has published clear guidance for every single business in the country to follow, freely available on their website.  There is no excuse for ignorance.

“Business owners who ignore this should be very clear that they are breaking the law and will suffer the consequences of that.  But they should also think long and hard about the vulnerable people across this country who will suffer even more from their selfishness and greed.

“We need to be clear – these people will be responsible for unnecessary death and suffering across our communities if they don’t stop now.”

Gavin Newlands MP

Government ministers have been urged to see sense and roll back changes to visa rules which are costing churches thousands of pounds, and threaten the future of religious groups across Renfrewshire.

New rules forced through by the Home Office earlier this year mean religious workers now face a massive 150% increase in fees for priests and ministers visiting Scotland – with Renfrewshire churches such as St Conval’s in Linwood having to freeze plans for the future.

Gavin Newlands MP

Traditionally churches and other places of worship have used overseas clergy to cover for holidays and sick leave taken by longer-term religious leaders.

But the UK Government’s changes have left churches struggling to cope with skyrocketing fees and bureaucratic processes.

Gavin Newlands MP, Paisley and Renfrewshire North, raised the issue in Parliament last week, and slammed Government ministers for their approach.

He said,

“Not only can individual churches not afford these elevated costs, but wider dioceses can’t absorb the full cost imposed on dozens of parishes and places of worship.

“For years our communities and society have been enrichened and supported by religious workers coming to Scotland on a short-term basis to help parishioners and worshippers.

“Places of worship play a vital role in our local communities, and for the Home Office to sneakily place obstacles in the way of those who want to help their fellow human beings is truly shameful.

“The SNP and I are urging the Minister to see sense, listen to the voices across the political and religious spectrum condemning this move, and scrap this piece of bureaucratic nonsense.”