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) – http://bit.ly/2zh53DV
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.
mhairi black
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.
mhairi black


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.
mhairi black

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 www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance.

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.
mhairi black
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.”
mhairi black
Thousands of women descended on London yesterday as part of the WASPI campaign. Protesters marched from Hyde Park to Parliament square to show their disdain for the UK Government over their handling of women born in the 1950’s pensions.
mhairi black
The march included women from across the West of Scotland and Renfrewshire. This issue impacts 3.8 million women across the UK including 340,000 women in Scotland and over 6,200 in Renfrewshire. The aim of the WASPI campaign is to highlight the injustice that has occurred for women born in 1950’s who have seen delays and cuts to their pensions due to the Pension Acts of 1995 and 2011.
After the march campaigners met with SNP MP’s to discuss plans for going forward with the campaign and how they can raise awareness for the Government to take action on this issue.
Local MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black MP who is also the SNP Spokesperson for Pensions addressed the crowd in Parliament square along with SNP leader Ian Blackford.
Mhairi Black MP said –
“I have so much admiration for the WASPI women. The determination that has been shown throughout the campaign is not letting up. This issue is not going away, we will not give up on this injustice for these women.”
“It was a pleasure to address the crowd and show solidarity with the WASPI women. It was also good to see some of our local campaigners involved in the march.”
“The Tories have robbed these women of their pensions. I have lost count of the amount of times that we have debated this issue in Westminster with no resolution to this issue. However the resilience that has been shown by the WASPI women is spectacular.”
MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black has warned that the Renfrewshire food bank are predicting a huge 30% increase in local people in Renfrewshire needing access to the service. This increase is due to the full rollout of Universal Credit that will be implemented in Renfrewshire in September.
The Trussell Trust’s predicted rise in people needing assistance from the food bank is due to similar rises in service users in other areas across the UK that have seen Universal Credit being rolled out in full.
Mhairi Black MP visited the Renfrewshire Foodbank on Lady Lane in Paisley recently. Volunteers and staff in the foodbank echoed these warnings to Mhairi.
Mhairi Black MP said:
“I had the chance to go and visit the volunteers at the Renfrewshire Foodbank last week. The rollout of Universal Credit across Renfrewshire is approaching and the food bank are predicting that we will see a massive 30% increase in residents needing help.
“The delays and errors that have been seen in other areas across Scotland will be inevitable in Renfrewshire unless the UK Government goes back to the drawing board regarding this particular benefit. Various reports, audits and experts have called for a halt in Universal Credit until it is properly fixed and this has been entirely ignored by this Tory government.
“The reality is that people are being left destitute and vulnerable due to this benefit and that is why we are seeing an increase in food bank usage across areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out. Renfrewshire will be no different so it is vital, now more than ever, that we support the food bank.
“The Renfrewshire Foodbank is already busy all year round due to mismanaged disability assessments, unfair sanctions, benefit delays, DWP administrative errors and many other issues that constituents visit my office looking for assistance with every single day.
“The Conservatives are not living in the real world and cannot relate with the fact that food poverty is increasing across Scotland due to idealistically driven Tory austerity.
“This will be a really busy time for the food bank and if you need support from the foodbank or you would like to help or volunteer, you can call them on 0300 102 2500 or email info@renfrewshire.foodbank.org.uk “

Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi Black has become the latest Scottish MP to join a growing body of UK political leaders adding their support to the global movement for fossil fuel divestment.

Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South has joined over 160 cross-party politicians to sign the Divest Parliament pledge, calling for the MPs Pension Fund to move its £733 million of assets away from fossil fuels owing to concerns about climate change.

Mhairi Black MP said: Scotland is leading the way in formalizing a low carbon economy. We have already seen the Scottish Government reach ambitious climate change goals and renewable energy targets, it is important that we continue down this progressive path as climate change is one of the biggest threats to the planet as we know it.

Black’s pledge comes as constituents across the UK are urging their local MPs to show they care about climate change by calling on their pension fund to align its investments with the UK’s climate change commitments.

According to Colum Scriven, local Renfrewshire resident and director of fair trade charity, Rainbow Turtle:

“I applaud Mhairi Black’s stand on calling for her pension to be moved away from fossil fuel investments. As a supporter of fair trade in Renfrewshire, I also believe in preserving the future of our planet’s environment by moving away from fossil fuels to more sustainable methods of energy production.”

The last Annual Report for UK Parliament MPs Pension Fund revealed 5 out of the top 20 investments were in fossil fuel companies such as BP, Shell and Total. The investments are a stark contrast to the UK government’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2oC.

Campaigners and climate scientists argue that keeping this commitment would mean leaving most known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. If fossil fuel companies cannot use their reserves, they become stranded assets, so there is also major financial risk for continued investment in fossil fuel companies, considering international efforts to tackle climate change.

The Scottish Government is demonstrating its commitment to tackling climate change with its recent ban on fracking in Scotland and its plans for a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050 in its landmark Climate Change Bill.

Supported by the ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign, UK citizens have been writing to and organising meetings with their MPs to raise awareness of the issue.

For more information: Contact Sally Clark at divestparliamentscotland@gmail.com | 0775 1967 222