mhairi black

Today during Prime Ministers Questions local MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black asked the Prime Minister if she thought it was appropriate that one of her constituents had been sent away from an ESA medical assessment and made to arrange a new appointment.

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The SNP MP said to the Prime Minister –

“My constituent arrived early to her assessment as requested by her assessors only to be told she would have to wait another 90 minutes to be seen. Now she has an open wound so sitting for any amount of time causes her great distress and pain. So after her 90 minute wait she was then told she would not be seen and would have to make another appointment altogether and I believe this is happening right now.

So does the Prime Minister think that it’s right that my constituent has to go through this humiliating process all over again?”

Prime Minister Theresa May replied –

“Can I say to the honourable lady obviously she has raised what sounds like a very distressing individual case, I will ensure the appropriate Minister writes to her about it.”

Those who claim Employment Support Allowance have to go for medical assessments. These assessments have been criticised widely as being unfair and demoralising for claimants in the past.

Mhairi Black MP said –

“The Prime Minister’s response to my constituent was insincere. I am sure my constituent will welcome the letter from the Minister apologising for this error however I do not believe a letter makes up for yet another horror story form the DWP. A letter from a Minister does not give my constituent the time and stress back that this horrible ordeal has caused her.

“If the solution to issues such as this is letters of apology from Ministers then I am afraid the Minister will be writing letters for a long time to come. This austerity obsessed Tory government goes from one low to the next without remorse.”

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Mhairi Black MP has pledged her support to a campaign to prevent child abuse and neglect in Paisley and Renfrewshire South. The 70/30 Campaign, created by primary prevention charity WAVE Trust, aims to reduce child maltreatment and other ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) by at least 70% by the year 2030.

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The charity defines child maltreatment as abuse, neglect or children witnessing domestic violence. The 70-30 campaign is part of a UK wide Initiative established in 2009.

A series of international and UK studies have shown these and other adverse childhood experiences, known collectively as ‘ACEs’, can do lasting harm to children that burdens many throughout their lives – harming their education, health, mental health, job prospects and future relationships.

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, which commissioned the original ACE studies in the 1990s, identifies 10 specific ACES (the most prevalent ones) damaging to life: physical, emotional and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; growing up in a home with domestic violence or parental substance abuse or mental health problems; losing a parent; and having a member of the household incarcerated.

Over half of Scottish MSPs, and over one third of Westminster MPs now endorse 70/30 and are taking actions in their parliaments to promote a fairer life for our children.

Mhairi Black MP said:

“I support the 70/30 campaign to reduce child abuse, neglect and children witnessing domestic violence by 70% by 2030.

“There is compelling evidence we can prevent harm to thousands of children in Paisley, Renfrewshire South and all over Scotland. We should act on this.

“We need to support vulnerable families. If a mum or dad has mental health issues, or an addiction, this can lead to things going wrong for the whole family. The 70/30 Initiative shows how preventing ACEs could prevent children from being harmed. This would have countless positive knock-on effects: higher productivity, less inequality and of course most importantly those children going on to live healthy lives.”

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MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black has today applied for a Westminster Hall debate after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced they will introduce changes to the pension age state benefits that will have an impact on couples of different ages.
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Currently couples can claim pension credit of £255.25 when one of them reaches the pension age of 65. However the new rules being implemented by the UK Government mean that couples where only one person is over the state pension age will no longer be able to claim pension credit.
These changes to pension age state benefits will be introduced from May 15, 2019 and mean that in some cases people might only be able to claim Universal Credit which could see some of the poorest pensioners around £7,000 per year worse off.
Mhairi Black has also criticised the timing of this announcement from Monday evening.
“I think the Government had hoped that these scandalous changes would simply go unnoticed by announcing this on the eve of the Brexit deal vote.”
“I have applied for a Westminster Hall debate to let the Minister know these changes are not reasonable. It won’t have legislative power but will be a good opportunity to let the UK Government know that this is unacceptable.”
“If these pension changes go ahead some of our poorest pensioners will be punished simply for having a younger partner. This policy puts couples in the absurd position that they are actually financially better off living apart. Yet again the UK Government have botched a pension policy and targeted those financially worse off.”
Mhairi Black Guide Dogs

Mhairi Black MP attended an event in the UK Parliament run by the charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of discrimination against guide dog owners. The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South heard from guide dog owners about the impact of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. They also collected a Christmas card with messages highlighting Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign.

Mhairi Black Guide Dogs

It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances.  However, a Guide Dogs survey found that three quarters of assistance dog owners reported that they had been refused entry by businesses.

Businesses that closed their doors to assistance dog owners included shops, supermarkets, gyms, campsites, places of worship, public transport, taxis and minicabs, pubs and hotels.

Mhairi Black MP said:

“I was shocked to hear about cases of guide dog owners being turned away by businesses. This isn’t just poor customer service; it’s discrimination and it’s unacceptable. Disabled people have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local pub.

“Guide Dogs’ is a brilliant service that supports so many people. I am happy to support the Access All Areas campaign to open all doors to guide dog owners this Christmas.”

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said:

“It’s against the law for a business to close their doors to someone because of their assistance dog, but it’s still a daily concern for many guide dog owners going about their lives.

“When you rely on your guide dog to get around, leaving the dog outside is not an option. Businesses shouldn’t be allowed to make guide dog owners feel like second-class citizens. That’s why we’re calling for better enforcement of the law, and better staff training in some sectors to stop this discrimination from happening in the first place.”

gavin newlands mp


Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi Black has welcomed the news that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have today banned banks from charging “rip-off” unarranged overdraft fees under new proposals. The FCA will ban fixed daily or monthly fees. They will also make banks advertise single interest rate overdrafts.

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Research by Which? Showed that some fees that have been imposed by banks can make this form of debt more expensive than payday loans. Overdrafts costs can reach 10% a day while Payday loans are capped at 0.8%.

It was revealed that in some circumstances, High Street banks were charging ten times more than that of payday loans companies for unarranged overdraft fees, with those in some of the most deprived areas hit hardest. These findings were part of the UK regulator’s high-cost credit review and the impetus for fundamental new reforms on the way banks charge for overdrafts.

Mhairi Black MP had been a supporter of consumer watchdog Which? #EndRipOffOverdrafts campaign demanding that the financial regulator, the FCA, take urgent action to end this unfair practice by restricting unarranged overdraft charges to the same level as arranged overdrafts.

Mhairi Black MP said

“This is good news as the research was showing that incredibly some of these overdraft fees had actually been above the cap that has been put in place for payday loans. In many cases these charges had been penalising some of the poorest people, I welcome this decision today by the FCA.

“I was happy to support this campaign but we need to go further to make sure that banks and lenders are not leaving people in overpriced debt through borrowing especially when it is targeting people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

“This move by the FCA will come as a massive relief to many people in Renfrewshire who find themselves thousands of pounds out of pocket due to rip-off overdrafts every year.”

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North has welcomed today’s proposals to ban banks from charging rip-off unarranged overdraft fees that regularly penalised the most vulnerable customers and cost some people thousands of pounds a year.

gavin newlands mp

Newlands joined with consumer champion Which? and over 80 fellow parliamentarians in May in signing a letter calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to bring an end to these excessive charges. Which? has been campaigning on this issue for years and welcomes today’s strong action from the regulator.

Today the FCA announced that banks will no longer be able to charge higher prices for people who go over their arranged overdraft limit, in radical new proposals set down by the UK’s financial watchdog.

Newlands said:


“Excessive overdraft fees are unfair and are extremely unhelpful, as they often plunge people deeper into debt when they are already in difficult financial situations.

“These proposals are a significant step forward towards a financial system which is fairer on the most vulnerable in society.

“I was glad to add my name to the letter from Which? and I would like to congratulate them on this carrying out this vital work.”

Jenni Allen, Managing Director, Which? Money, said:

“Finally, banks will no longer be able to charge rip-off unarranged overdraft charges, which have long penalised their customers, many of whom can afford it the least.

“Which? has campaigned on this issue for years and today’s strong action from the regulator will come as a massive relief for all those regularly hit with such extortionate charges, which cost some people thousands a year.

“The regulator must now ensure these important changes are swiftly introduced and enforced to finally stop this unfair practice and put an end to these excessive fees.”

universal credit

Renfrewshire Councillors have approved £30,000 funding to Renfrewshire Food Bank to reduce the impact of Universal Credit.

universal credit

The proposals to give the food bank the money over a three year period were agreed at a meeting of the Council’s Leadership Board today (December 5).

The funding follows the introduction of Universal Credit in Renfrewshire in September 2018.

Administered by the Department of Work and Pensions, Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits with a single monthly payment.

However, research by Trussell Trust has shown that there has been a 52% increase in demand at food banks in areas where the new system has been in place for 12 months.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener for Finance, Resources and Customer Services, Councillor John Shaw, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit by the UK Government in other areas has put a lot of additional pressure on food banks with more demand from those most in need. This funding will help Renfrewshire Food Bank cope with any increased demand that may come, allowing it to continue supporting anyone in Renfrewshire that needs its help.”

Renfrewshire Council has provided the food bank with funding in recent years, working flexibly with them to provide extra money when needed from its Tackling Poverty Fund.

The Tackling Poverty Programme has been at the centre of many projects to help struggling families and households in Renfrewshire since launching in 2015.

The Healthier, Wealthier Children Service, which is funded by the programme, helped 219 families in Renfrewshire boost their household incomes by a total of £300,000 between April and September 2018. The service gives financial, debt and welfare rights advice to new and expectant parents and helps families check what benefits they are entitled to before and after the arrival of their baby.

The Tackling Poverty Initiative’s energy advice service, which provides support to people who need to reduce their energy bills, has also helped 177 households in Renfrewshire save a total of £49,220 since July 2018.

In March 2018 Renfrewshire Council announced £5million funding for the Tackling Poverty Programme over five years to deliver key projects and activities that will support people and families on low incomes.

Projects within the programme are designed to provide support for families that need it most, remove barriers to participation for children and young people, and support health and wellbeing for young people.

Councillor Shaw said: “The work that the Tackling Poverty Programme is doing is making a real difference to the lives of families in Renfrewshire who are struggling to make ends meet.

“This additional funding will ensure that these crucial services can help families in need in Renfrewshire for years to come.”

mhairi black toy bank
MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black is asking people to support the Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank this Christmas. The Toy Bank will help provide Christmas presents to children in Renfrewshire who may otherwise not receive any gifts on Christmas day.
mhairi black toy bank
Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank has been set-up by local mum Lauren Roy-Sutherland. She has been working with many businesses, charities and organisations around Renfrewshire to act as drop-off points for people to donate toys.
Mhairi Black is the latest supporter to get behind this cause and is now a drop off point for people to donate toys for those who may not have any presents to open this Christmas Day.
Lauren Roy-Sutherland from Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank said:
“I cannot thank everyone who has already donated enough. The local communities support has been vital in already completing over 200 referrals however we have hundreds more to do.
“If anyone is able to donate gifts or money it would really help ensure all Renfrewshire children enjoy the magic of Christmas.”
“Thank you to Mhairi Black for being our latest supporter and offering her constituency office to be used as a drop off point for Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank”
Mhairi Black MP said:
“It was a pleasure to meet with Lauren and hear about this fantastic cause. It is an unfortunate truth that some families will find themselves struggling this Christmas leaving some children in Renfrewshire with nothing to open on Christmas Day. Every child deserves the joy of opening a gift on Christmas morning and my hope is that the work being done by Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank will make sure that kids have something to be cheerful about this Christmas.”
“The Toy Bank have done a fantastic job of making sure many local businesses and organisations in Renfrewshire take part by acting as drop off points for people to donate gifts. My constituency office on Wellmeadow Street in Paisley already welcomes donations for Renfrewshire Food Bank and now it will also be a drop off point for any gifts that you wish to donate to the toy bank.”
The Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank cannot accept second hand gifts and all donations of toys must be new.
You can drop off donations from October 20th to December 17th at the following drop off points –
RENFREWSHIRE LIBRARIES – All libraries across Renfrewshire will collect toys and gifts
RSA CONVENIENCE STORE, 27B Moss Street, Paisley, PA1 1DJ
COMICRAZY CAFE, 45 Old Sneddon Street, Paisley PA3 2AN
C ALLAN AND SON ACCOUNTING FIRM, 102, Embroidery Mill Abbey Mill Business Centre, Seedhill Road, Paisley PA1 1TJ
OLD SWAN INN, 20 Smithhills St, Paisley PA1 1EB
THE GANTRY, New Street, Paisley
NISA LOCAL, 45 Hazel Avenue, Johnstone, Pa5 0BP
OUR PLACE OUR FAMILIES, 234 Paisley Road, Renfrew, PA4 8AA
INTU BRAEHEAD SHOPPING CENTRE, King’s Inch Road, Renfrew (collection point located near the customer service desk in the upper mall) –
JIMS FOOD & WINE, 1 Stoddard Square, Elderslie, PA5 9AS
THE VILLAGE PAPER SHOP, North Street, Houston, PA6 7HF
Gifts the Toy Bank are currently short of –
mhairi black
MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black, along with a cross-party group of 200 MPs, including the majority of Scottish MPs, are calling on the MP’s Pension Fund to stop investing in fossil fuel companies, such as Shell and BP, following growing concerns about their role in fuelling climate change.
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SNP, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat current and former MPs have signed a ‘pledge’ calling for the MP’s Pension Fund to review and phase out fossil fuel investments. The call follows growing concern among Parliamentarians about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by climate change.
29 out of the 35 SNP MPs have now signed the pledge, including the SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, Mhairi Black, Angus MacNeil, John McNally, Dr. Philippa Whitford and all of the Glasgow and Edinburgh SNP MPs.
The UNs recent report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees demands additional effort from world leaders to enact rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society within the next few years.
Mhairi Black, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, said:
“The current generation of children, and their children and grandchildren will face devastating weather impacts if we don’t take action on climate change now. This means a rapid phasing out of fossil fuels and investing in a progressive and just transition to a zero-carbon economy. Scotland is already leading the way in this: we have set ourselves ambitious climate protection goals, and are rapidly scaling up renewable energy technologies. I am very pleased to join my fellow MPs from Scotland and around the country in urging the UK Parliament to show climate leadership and remove their pension investments from fossil fuel companies.”
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion, who first established the campaign, said:
“We’re now a 200 strong cohort of cross-party MPs who believe it is morally indefensible for Parliamentarians to be investing in companies which profit from wrecking our planet. MPs have a duty to take action to prevent the worst of climate change. One simple step we can take is ditching our investments in fossil fuels – and instead invest in clean, renewable energy, and low-carbon technologies”.
Sally Clark, a Scotland Divest Parliament campaigner, said:
“It is extremely encouraging that so many Scottish MPs from all political parties are speaking out about the urgent need to divest from fossil fuels in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.”
Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“People across the world are rising up to demand action on the climate crisis and its biggest cause in fossil fuels. We need our leaders to respond to this call, and cleaning up their own pension funds is a great place to start. By going fossil free investors like pension funds can help the world break free from fossil fuels and invest in a brighter future for everyone.”
If successful, the campaign would see Parliament joining the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the New York State Pension fund and two thirds of UK universities, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, in committing to fossil fuel divestment.
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A UN expert has said that UK ministers are living in a “state of denial” over the extreme poverty existing around the country, and has welcomed the Scottish Government’s attempts to counteract Westminster welfare cuts.
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The UN Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said today that he was extremely surprised that UK Ministers were “happy” with the way in which their welfare policies were playing out. Mr Alston was speaking at the end of his ten day investigation into poverty in the UK.

The human rights expert visited areas across the UK, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, during his investigation, and has reported on the effects of the UK Government’s failing efforts to tackle poverty in the UK, the impact of austerity measures, welfare cuts, Universal Credit, and Brexit.

Mr Alston also highlighted that many of the flaws in the social security system were a result of political choices, saying that “if a new minister was interested, if a new government was interested, the worst aspect of these policies could be changed overnight and for very little money”.

Esther McVey – who has steered the shambolic roll-out of Universal Credit since January – resigned yesterday in protest at the Prime Minister’s handling of a Brexit deal, after facing months of criticism for her refusal to scrap the botched policy.

MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black said:

“the UN Rapporteur has confirmed what many have been saying all along, the UK Governments austerity programme targets societies most vulnerable people and has shifted thousands of people into absolute poverty.

“In Renfrewshire we have seen a drastic rise in food bank use since the rollout of universal credit. Food banks are not part of the welfare state. They are a symbol that the welfare state is failing.

“It is time for the Scottish Parliament to have the full powers to prevent even more people being dragged into hardship. We can have a fair welfare system that puts people’s dignity at the forefront.”


Yesterday [Wednesday, 14th November ‘18], it was announced that Bank of Scotland intend to close local branches in Burnside, Dundee, Glasgow, Keith, Kirriemuir, Lossiemouth, Paisley and Stonehouse.


The Paisley South Bank of Scotland branch on Neilston Road is expected to close in February 2019.

MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black has now written to Bank of Scotland’s Managing Director, Robin Bulloch, calling for an urgent re-think of the plans.

Mhairi Black MP said on the closure –

“I was disappointed to learn that Bank of Scotland have the intention of closing the Paisley South branch on Neilston Road in February 2019.

“I have written to the Bank’s Managing Director urging them to reconsider this move. This is an indispensable service for many of my constituents and I hope that Bank of Scotland will rethink this decision.

“It is outrageous that banking officials believe they can just up sticks and leave behind the communities and loyal customers that they are supposed to serve.”

Communities across Renfrewshire have paid tribute to those lost while serving with the Armed Forces as services took place to mark Remembrance Sunday and 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The standard bearers line the Cenotaph

The largest service was held in Paisley and saw hundreds turn out to pay their respects at the Cenotaph.

The 102 Field Squadron parade to the Cenotaph

Military personnel from the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy took part in a parade around the town centre before readings were undertaken by local ministers and the Royal British Legion presented their standards.

A bugler played a moving rendition of the Last Post shortly before a two-minute silence was observed and wreaths were then laid on behalf of the Armed Forces, schools, local organisations and community groups.


Kenny Lipton, Chairman of the Royal British Legion – Paisley Comrades Division, said: “It’s so important that we remember the fallen as we don’t ever want this to happen again.

Service personnel lay a wreath at the Cenotaph

“Remembrance is what the Legion is there for, our ethos is all about remembering and honouring those who have gone and those who are still with us.

A young cadet stands at attention

“Walking up towards the Cenotaph carrying the standard, or just being part of the parade, honouring those who have gone before you, it’s one of the proudest things you can ever do.”

Another nine events were held across Renfrewshire, including a special evening service held in Paisley Abbey to mark the centenary of the Armistice.

A short church service was followed by a concert of music, song and poetry performed by the Starlight Youth Music Theatre, Chamber Choir and the Johnstone Brass Band, and Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron was joined by a young person to light a candle of remembrance

Provost Cameron, who also attended the 10:45am service in Paisley, said: “Renfrewshire has a vast military history and it is fitting that we recognise the sacrifices that have been made to give our lives today.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron prepared to lay wreath of remembrance

“It was great to see so many people attending services across the area to mark the occasion, especially on the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War.

“Our thanks and prayers are with all our service personnel, past and present, for the outstanding work they do to keep us safe and I’m delighted we were able to honour them once again this year.”

Renfrewshire’s also hosted its annual Children’s Remembrance Service on Friday 9 November at Mossvale and St James Primary School in Paisley.

Pupils performed poetry and sang as they showcased their learning about Remembrance Day and paid their respects to those who have been lost.

Veterans from the Royal British Legion Scotland (Paisley Comrades Division) were also there to give pupils the opportunity to ask questions about their experiences and the work of the Legion, before a two-minute silence was observed at 10am.

For more information on why we mark Remembrance Day every year, visit

mhairi black
The SNP has said the Tory government must urgently get a grip of its “appalling record of failure and mismanagement” on social security – after it emerged 180,000 disabled, sick and terminally ill people lost an average of £5,000 each in a £1.5billion Tory benefits error.
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The UK government was today forced to admit that it must now pay out more than £1.5billion after mistaken calculations left tens of thousands of people without the money they were entitled to when they were moved onto the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
 Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi Black called on the UK government to make the backdated payments as soon as possible, and give support to those affected, while using the Budget to deliver a long-overdue boost to incomes after a decade of failed Tory austerity.
Commenting Mhairi Black MP said:
“The Tory government must urgently get a grip on its appalling record of failure and mismanagement on social security, which has left millions of people poorer and worse off.
“It is frankly disgraceful that a staggering 180,000 disabled, sick and terminally ill people have been left without the financial support they desperately need – as a result of a £1.5billion UK government blunder, that has cost people an average of £5,000 each in lost income.
“These payments must be made as soon as possible, and those affected must be given the support they need. It is simply not good enough that people in crisis situations have been left without money to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads due to Tory mistakes.
“After a decade of failed Tory austerity, incomes have fallen while poverty and inequality have risen. The Chancellor must use the Budget to deliver a major and long-overdue boost to incomes and reverse the decline in living standards that the UK government has caused.”