The latest figures from Renfrewshire Food Bank show that between 1st April and 30th September 2017, 4190 emergency food supplies were distributed in Renfrewshire.
This is a sharp rise from the 3038 food parcels that local people were given in during the same period in 2016. These figures show an increase of over 1000 families and people in Renfrewshire having to rely on the Food Bank. Of the 4190 supplies given out 1152 of these were for children. The Trussell Trust have indicated that the main reasons people are relying on Food Banks is down to continued issues with benefit payments, the roll out of Universal Credit, low wages and insecure jobs.
Local Renfrewshire MP Mhairi Black blames the continuing rise in Food Bank usage and poverty levels increasing on the UK government’s austerity measures.
Mhairi Black MP said –
“These latest figures from the Trussell Trust highlight how the Tory austerity agenda is nothing more than an attack on society’s most vulnerable people.
“Poverty levels are reaching record highs, food banks are running out of supplies and the UK government continue to make welfare cuts, austerity has failed.
“The UK Government are steamrolling ahead with the full roll out of Universal Credit and this is going to mean more people will be reliant on food banks all over Scotland”
Mhairi Black MP is urging deaf people in Paisley and Renfrewshire South who have queries about benefits decisions to use a charity’s specialist welfare rights advocacy service.
The service, which is run by the charity Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, can provide people who are Deaf or have hearing loss – including British Sign Language (BSL) users – with information, advice and, where possible, formal representation to challenge benefits decisions.
Mhairi Black MP said: “Information about welfare and social security can often be difficult to understand and navigating the systems to ensure you get the support you are entitled to can put many people off applying.
“I’m pleased to see Action on Hearing Loss Scotland providing this service and encourage deaf or hard of hearing people in Paisley and Renfrewshire South to use the charity’s support if you have queries, claims or want to make an appeal about social security benefits.”
Delia Henry, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, said: “Our welfare rights advocacy service can provide details and advice about a range of benefits including Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
“If you are Deaf or have hearing loss and need some help to understand what processes to follow to apply for support you may be entitled to, or are confused about letters you have received regarding your benefits, we would be delighted to help you make sense of it all.”
For information about Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s social security advice service, call telephone: 0141 341 5346, textphone: 0141 341 5350, email: SocialSecurity@hearingloss.org.uk or visit www.hearingloss.org.uk/SocialSecurity. British Sign Language users can contact via the ContactSCOTLAND-BSL service.
The Scottish Government have pledged to invest £96 million to help people find and stay in work through the Fair Start Scotland programme which will launch in April 2018. Nine areas in Scotland will benefit from the scheme, including Renfrewshire, which will receive a share of the investment, which aims to help 38,000 people into work.
The Fair Start Scotland is a voluntary programme which differs from similar schemes implemented by the UK Government previously, removing the threat of cruel and infective benefit sanctions. The service will also be tailored to an individual’s needs and will help those taking part find relative employment that is sustainable. Additional support will be available for those with disabilities that wish to take part in the scheme.
Local MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black has welcomed the investment, saying:
“Employment support provided by the government should be seen as an opportunity to find work and not as a redundant task surrounding filling out forms as has been the norm with similar programmes we have seen from the DWP.”
“Making this service voluntary is a vital step forward as people will not be forced to take part under the threat of their money being sanctioned, which have been proven not to work, or save the tax payer any money.”
“The UK “workfare” schemes have been compared to modern day slavery for some benefit claimants and introducing an individual approach for each person looking for employment that is tailored to their skills is common sense from the Scottish Government.”
Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has received a show of cross-party support – having been backed by all five party leaders on Renfrewshire Council.
The final bid document is due to be submitted to the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the end of the month – and elected members are set to consider it when the council meets on September 28.
Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish bidder on the shortlist for the 2021 competition, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.
The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage offer to make it a key visitor destination within Scotland, and transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area.
And support crosses party lines – with council leader Iain Nicolson (SNP), Labour’s Eddie Devine, James MacLaren of the Conservatives, Lib Dem Eileen McCartin and independent Andy Doig all gathering outside Paisley Abbey to give their backing, joined by children from Williamsburgh Primary.
The bid has already enjoyed public support from national political figures including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Secretary David Mundell and outgoing Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
Councillor Nicolson – who also chairs the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board said: “The potential benefits of a successful bid are absolutely massive – for example, the activity before, during and after our planned UK City of Culture year is predicted to create 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period.
“When dealing with something of that scale it is important we as elected members put our party differences aside and do all we can to make it happen – so I am delighted to be joined by my fellow councillors today to show our collective support for the bid.”
Councillor Devine said: “Over the past two years, the Paisley 2021 bid has energised people throughout the town and given them a reason to believe in Paisley again – Buddies have driven the campaign to date and they deserve this title and all the benefits it will bring them.”
Councillor MacLaren added: “We have already seen from previous winners Derry-Londonderry and Hull how winning this title can boost local business and drive investment in infrastructure and industry. I am happy to get behind anything which could do the same for Paisley and Renfrewshire.”
Councillor McCartin said: “Paisley was once the centre of the world’s textile industry and the legacy of that is still around us in wonderful buildings such as our town hall and Sma’ Shot Cottages. That story should be told to as many people as possible and I back anything which will help do that.”
And Councillor Doig added: “Renfrewshire has some great heritage attractions and huge potential as a visitor destination – and a successful Paisley 2021 bid will bring huge numbers of people to the area, giving all our towns and villages a chance to benefit.”
The winner of the competition is due to be announced in December. For more info, see www.paisley2021.co.uk
The Scottish Government has given its financial backing to Scotland’s bid if Paisley is named UK City of Culture 2021.
Commenting Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay, who also serves as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, said:
“The Scottish Government is backing Paisley’s bid, and I am delighted to play my role and add my support as local MSP and Finance Secretary.
“Winning UK City of Culture will benefit all of Renfrewshire, and as the only bid from Scotland shortlisted – the eyes of the country are on Paisley and Renfrewshire.
“It has been a fantastic, positive and energised campaign which is all about people, and great credit must go to everyone involved.”
Scotland’s Westminster politicians have come together to back Paisley’s bid to be named the UK City of Culture in 2021.
Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, brought together politicians from all political parties to highlight the cross-party support for Paisley securing the title of the UK’s City of Culture.
Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:
“Paisley’s bid to be named as the UK City of Culture is now Scotland’s bid and all of the country’s Westminster-based politicians are right behind the campaign to bring this title to Paisley.
“It’s not often that all of Scotland’s main political parties will agree on an issue, but the Paisley 2021 community-led campaign is a special cause that has united us.
“There isn’t a town in the UK that has had a bigger cultural impact on the world than Paisley. The Paisley pattern is famous the world over and the town’s famous performance heritage includes modern day music and acting stars like Paulo Nutini, Gerard Butler and David Tennant.
“Paisley is a town not without its challenges but we’re ready to help seize this opportunity to transform our town for the better, helping to improve the lives of all our citizens. Paisley’s case to be named the UK’s City of Culture is as strong as it gets, and I am delighted that all Scots politicians are united in backing Paisley’s bid to be named as the UK’s City of Culture.”
Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “As the only Scottish place to make the shortlist, Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is now very much Scotland’s bid.
“If Paisley wins the title we will host a year-long programme of world-class cultural events, with the best part of a million visitors expected over the year – and there is a recognition the economic, social and cultural benefits of that would be felt throughout Scotland.
“We are thrilled Gavin Newlands was able to pull together such a great show of cross-party political support from MPs – one of the wonderful things about the bid is the way it has brought people together, and we thank everybody for their backing.”