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Scottish Labour has launched a public consultation on their proposed ‘Mary Barbour’ law, which will cap annual rent increases in private sector properties at one percentage point above inflation.

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There are an estimated 10,000 private sector renters in Renfrewshire

The Member’s Bill, named after campaigner Mary Barbour who led the 1915 Glasgow Rent Strikes, will cap increases on private sector rents and give more power to tenants.

The proposed law will cap annual private sector rent increases across Scotland at one percentage point above inflation.

The number of people living in private rented accommodation has increased in recent years, with more and more families negatively affected by soaring rent costs.

Scottish Government figures show that 60,000 children living in private rented accommodation are also living in poverty.

The proposed Bill would introduced a package of measures including:

  • Capping annual private sector rent increases at one percentage point above inflation
  • Giving tenants more power in rent appeal processes
  • Expanding the landlord register to include the level of rent charged.

Members of the public have until the 31 July 2019 to make their views known on the proposal.

 

Neil Bibby MSP said:

“Too many families are being unfairly targeted by rip off rent increases.  A lack of social housing is forcing people to rent privately, which is hammering their cost of living and worsening child poverty across Scotland.”

“Labour’s Mary Barbour law will tackle exploitative landlords by capping private sector rent increases – giving people the opportunity to have secure, affordable tenancies – and ensuring that landlords are transparent about the level of rent they are charging.

“Only Scottish Labour has a plan to tackle the housing crisis and transform our economy for the many.”

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Gavin Newlands MP welcomes local apprentice to House of Commons

Rolls Royce Apprentice, Chris Wight, was joined by Gavin Newlands in the House of Commons this week to celebrate the 12,000 apprenticeships provided by the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries.

There were 100 apprentices from some of the UK’s leading aerospace, defence, security and space companies who attended the ADS Parliamentary Reception.

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Organised by the trade organisation ADS, and sponsored by Collins Aerospace, the event recognised the valuable contribution apprentices make to our important, high-skill manufacturing industries, and highlighted the world-leading technologies that many of the apprentices are working to develop.

Newlands said:

“I was delighted to welcome apprentice Chris Wight, who works at the Inchinnan Rolls Royce plant, to the House of Commons on Tuesday evening for a reception held by ADS Group.

The reception was an excellent opportunity to meet young people working towards highly-skilled and rewarding careers and to celebrate the huge talent working in these world-leading sectors.

Chris is a testament to the skilled workforce and the high level of training in our local area. We are rightly proud of Scotland’s advanced manufacturing industries, much of it based right here in Renfrewshire.”

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said:

“The UK’s aerospace, defence, security and space industries contribute £30 billion in value added to our economy and apprentices play a key role in businesses, large and small. Today’s Parliamentary reception is a great opportunity to celebrate their contribution and allow MPs to hear directly about the exciting career opportunities that exist across our industries. A modern apprenticeship is the route to a high value and long-term career.”  

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Neil Bibby MSP has called on NHS Greater Glasgow and the Scottish Government to provide significant additional car parking spaces for patients, staff and visitors at Paisley’s RAH.

Over the last week there has been parking chaos in and around the hospital after a barrier has been used to prohibit staff from parking at the hospital. Mr Bibby has met with GMB and UNISON trade unions, written to the Health Board Chief Executive and has also requested an urgent meeting with health board oneil-bibbyfficials.

Mr Bibby said “I have been contacted by many RAH staff with serious concerns about the impact of new parking arrangements at the hospital. Our RAH staff do a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and our local hospital can’t run without them.

The woeful lack of car parking at the RAH for staff, patients and visitors has been an issue for several years. It is unacceptable, it has been ignored for too long and the status quo is not an option.

However, the Health Board must ensure the solution to the problem is the right one. The parking chaos we have seen over the last few days, if continued, will impact on local residents, and on patients if staff are forced to park far away and can’t get to their work on time.

The Health Board have claimed that the RAH is “well served” with parking spaces but I know that local people strongly disagree that this is the case.

It is clear that the solution needed is for there to be additional parking for staff, patients and visitors on the hospital grounds and that must be initiated as a matter of urgency. The Scottish Government has spent £842 million on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow whilst cutting services from our local hospital – it’s about time Paisley’s RAH got the investment it deserves.

The Health Board should halt the use of the barrier until they have reviewed its effectiveness over the last few days and completed a full consultation with staff on the future of parking arrangements at the hospital.

I am also calling on the Health Board and the Scottish Government to immediately carry out a full assessment of where more parking spaces could be provided on the hospital grounds and to put in place the funding needed to make this happen.”

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CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY TO END VIOLECE AGAINST WOMEN

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has given his backing to White Ribbon Scotland’s new training initiative. The campaign, which highlights the male tole in ending gender-based violence, has been training local bookmakers to speak with their punters.

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Since the launch, staff at Renfrew’s Coral and Ladbrokes branches have signed up 83 men to the White Ribbon Pledge. The pledge asks men to never commit, condone, or excuse violence against women of any kind.

Newlands has been an Ambassador for White Ribbon UK since 2015, and for White Ribbon Scotland since last year. On top of this, his work to support the campaign includes his role as Chair of the White Ribbon All Party Parliamentary Group where he leads the support of the campaign from MPs.

Commenting, Newlands said:

“I am proud to support the White Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women. White Ribbon Scotland’s new campaign will make a real difference in Renfrewshire by encouraging men to recognise and act upon their responsibility for challenging gender based violence.

“Thanks to this training, staff like Joyce are addressing the problem at the route. I hope that the initiative is successful elsewhere.”

Joyce Breen, Coral staff member who has received the training, said:

“I felt that I could make a difference by highlighting the campaign to my customers, thereby increasing awareness of the White Ribbon Campaign in Renfrew.”

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Councillor Natalie Don has welcomed the Scottish Government commitment to giving EU students the same support and the same tuition fees as Scottish students, for the entirety of their courses. This will apply to EU citizens who start studying a Further or Higher Education course in Scotland in the 2020/21 academic year.
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The Scottish Government have confirmed that tuition fee support will be granted even if current legal obligations to EU students cease to apply when the U.K. leaves the EU. Scotland is the first nation in the UK to offer this commitment.
Councillor Don has submitted a motion to Renfrewshire Council for the forthcoming Full Council meeting welcoming this decision by the Scottish Government and highlighting the contribution academically, culturally and economically that EU students bring to Renfrewshire.
MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Mhairi Black, has also praised the decision and welcomed Councillor Don’s motion. Last week during Prime Ministers Questions, SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford MP asked the Prime Minister if the UK Government will ensure that students will have access to four year visas in the event of Brexit as repeatedly requested by Scottish universities. The UK Government currently plans to restrict EU student visas to three years even though most courses in Scotland are taught for four years. Theresa May refused to give any commitments to Mr Blackford, dismissing the concerns of both Scottish Universities and the Scottish Government.
Cllr Don said:
“We have UWS and West College Scotland in Renfrewshire and these institutions bring so many talented people to our county. It is important that we recognise them and make sure we are welcoming of EU citizens across Renfrewshire.”
“Brexit is the biggest threat facing our further education institutions and this move by the Scottish Government highlights how we are a progressive welcoming country. I hope that Councillors will support this motion and join me in highlighting the contribution that EU students make to Renfrewshire.”
Mhairi Black MP said:
“This is a positive motion that is being discussed by Renfrewshire Council and I would hope that everyone in Renfrewshire appreciates the contributions EU students bring.
“The UK government have showed nothing but contempt for our overseas students during this Brexit fiasco. This was made evident last week when the Prime Minister completely ignored the concerns of Scottish further education at PMQ’s.
“As the MP that represents UWS it is always heartening to see the cultural benefits overseas students bring to the area. Brexit uncertainty still looms over our universities and colleges so this commitment from the Scottish Government is welcome news.”
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Gavin Newlands MP is backing a charity’s campaign which aims to ensure that Renfrewshire residents who are Deaf or have hearing loss are not left out of everyday conversations.

Gavin Newlands MP DAW 2019

During Deaf Awareness Week (6-12 May), the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North is urging constituents to get involved in Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s #DontBeADonut #BeDeafAware conversations on Facebook and Twitter at @hearinglossSCO and on Instagram at @actiononhearinglossscotland.

 

The MP is also encouraging everyone to take on board the charity’s deaf awareness top tips to help include people who are deaf in chats, discussions or meetings:

  • Before you start speaking with someone who is deaf, get their attention first by waving or tapping them on the arm.
  • Find a suitable place to talk, away from loud noise or distractions.
  • Ask the deaf person if they lipread and, if they do, don’t exaggerate your lip movements or cover your mouth and have the conversation in a well-lit area.
  • Don’t shout as it can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users and look aggressive.
  • Speak clearly and check the person you are speaking to is following the conversation. If they don’t understand, try saying it in a different way.
  • If you’re using communication support, such as a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, always remember to talk directly to the person who is deaf.

 

Gavin Newlands MP said: “I’m delighted to back Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s Deaf Awareness Week #DontBeADonut #BeDeafAware campaign calling on everyone in Paisley and Renfrewshire North to follow the charity’s top communication tips which can make a huge difference in helping local people who are Deaf or have hearing loss to have better opportunities to participate in everyday chats and discussions.”

For details about how you can get involved in the charity’s Deaf Awareness Week activities, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/DAW19, call/text: 07388 227407 or email: scotland@hearingloss.org.uk. Donations of £3 can be made by texting ‘GIFT’ to 70099.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has encouraged EU nationals in Renfrewshire to register to vote.

EU nationals can vote in this month’s European Elections, which are taking place on the 22nd of May, but if they don’t have UK, Irish or Commonwealth citizen, they must apply for the right to vote, even if they are on the electoral register. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 7th. However, as Monday is a public holiday, anyone who is sending away extra paperwork should make sure to post it today.

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The MP is encouraging everyone to get registered regardless of voting intention.

Everyone who needs to apply should have received a letter from Renfrewshire Electoral Registration Office last month asking them to do so. You can visit www.renfrewshire-vjb.gov.uk for more information.

Commenting Newlands said:

“I am pleased we will be voting in these elections, as not long ago it looked like this wasn’t going to happen.

“I want us to send a strong nesage that Scotland is FOR Europe, but no matter your favoured party, I encourage everyone to get registered.

“With the deadline being Tuesday 7th May, you still have time, so make sure you do so and you will be able to exercise your right to vote!

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Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby has backed calls from SAUWS and NUS Scotland to ensure students are ‘free to graduate’ following their shock FOI revelation on graduation costs.

The West of Scotland region MSP was joined at the Scottish Parliament by University of West of Scotland (UWS) Students Association President Emma Shotter and Vice President Societies and Citizenship & President-Elect Franklin Jacob as well as NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe.

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Within the West Scotland region, UWS can charge up to £40 per student just to attend their own graduation ceremony. The Students Association of UWS (SAUWS) recently launched their own petition directed at UWS Principal, Craig Mahoney, receiving over 2,000 signatures.

Following a Freedom of Information request to all of Scotland’s colleges and universities, NUS Scotland has revealed that fees, mandatory robe hire, photography packages and ceremony tickets will see university student forking out anything from £80 to £225 to graduate.

Some institutions even charge students for graduating in absentia, meaning students are still charged to graduate even if they have been priced out of attending their own ceremony. Many institutions were also found to receive commission from each gown or robe hired by their students – a mandatory requirement to attend graduation ceremonies.

NUS Scotland’s ‘Free to Graduate’ campaign calls for an end to graduation charges. Since January, several institutions have scrapped their fees, Including the Universities of Aberdeen, Strathclyde, Robert Gordon and Stirling.

Neil Bibby MSP for West Scotland has called on UWS, to scrap their fee.

Neil Bibby MSP said:

 

“Education in Scotland should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. The news from NUS Scotland that some students could be out of pocket by as much as £225 is stark reading. Though their ‘Free to Graduate’ campaign, NUS Scotland revealed that UWS within my region charges students up to £40 just in order to graduate.

I would strongly encourage the University to engage with their student membership and to work constructively with NUS Scotland, ensuring every student throughout Scotland is free to graduate.”

NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe labelled the fees as a ‘stealth tax’.

Commenting, Liam stated:

 

“A student’s graduation should be one of the most memorable days of their life as they celebrate their hard-earned achievements.

 However, NUS Scotland’s FOI and our ‘free to graduate’ campaign has revealed many institutions are putting a price on success through disgraceful graduation fees, effectively taxing students by stealth.

Not only do many institutions – particularly universities – demand payment to graduate in the first place, they also require their students to hire and wear expensive academic robes from third party providers. Stunningly, some institutions even get a kick back on these transactions, receiving commission from the involved companies.

We would appeal to all institutions across the country to reflect on their graduation fee policies and the impact they have on their least affluent students. Institutions must ensure that, in future, their graduations are free and accessible to all those who have earned the right to celebrate their academic successes.”

 

Commenting, the Students’ Association of the University of the West of Scotland:

“The Students’ Association of the University of the West of Scotland (SAUWS) is determined to ensure that access to money is not a barrier to any student, particularly when UWS has the highest rate of students from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds in Scotland. Students have worked so hard to successfully complete their studies and should not be excluded from graduation which is such an important celebration of all their accomplishments.

This year alone the Students’ Association has given out over £11,000 in emergency hardship, 46 food bags, and 26 toiletries bags. The fact that even one student is in need of a food bag is appalling and yet for some reason UWS continues to charge for graduation when some of its students are in a dire financial situation.

We have met with the university executive team and agreed to interim measures of a reduction of the in absentia fee and the establishment of a graduation hardship fund. While this meeting was constructive, we believe that the interim measures suggested by UWS do not go far enough and we will continue to fight for the scraping of Graduations Fees for all UWS Students.

“Working in partnership with NUS Scotland, SAUWS will continue to campaign on this matter until a satisfactory outcome is reached. Students are clear at UWS that they do not want graduation fees and we are going to fight to ensure that we get rid of this unfair burden.”

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APPLICATIONS FOR NEW SCOTGOV BENEFIT OPEN THIS WEEK

360 families in Renfrewshire received a payment of £600 on the birth of a first child, and £300 on the birth of any siblings, thanks to the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant scheme.

Since opening for applications in December, nearly 10,000 low income families across every area of Scotland got help from the new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby payment, with the new benefit paying out £3.5 million in the first three months.

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This week, the First Minister announced a brand-new benefit as part of the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant package, which will build on the success of the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.

Applications are open for the new payment, which will see low-income families paid a further £250 when their children start nursery and school.

The Early Learning Payment is for children aged between two to three and a half and can be used for anything from children’s clothes and shoes to toys, books or days out.

 

SNP MSP for Paisley, George Adam said:

This substantial increase in support for families and new babies shows what can be achieved if we take a different approach to social security – using Scotland’s new powers to support families across the country. 

“In just the first two months of the Best Start Grant, the Scottish Government got more money into people’s pockets than the DWP had managed under the old system in an entire year.

“The SNP in government has consistently demonstrated a commitment to increasing financial support for families, bringing equality to Scotland’s children by helping them towards the best possible start in life.

“With full powers over social security, Scotland can be the best place for a child to grow up.”

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Neil Bibby MSP has backed local students at the University of West Scotland (UWS) who are campaigning to scrap graduation fees at the university.

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A petition started by UWS Student Representative Janel Muir from Paisley has already received over 2,000 signatures.

UWS charges students £40 to graduate in person or absentia along with compulsory gown hire at £42 for a few hours.

Mr Bibby has today tabled a parliamentary motion in the Scottish Parliament supporting the calls of students and the Students’ Association UWS (SAUWS).

Neil Bibby MSP said “I do understand the financial pressures that UWS are under and the Scottish Government do need to step up and provide proper funding for them. I recognise that universities like UWS are at the forefront of getting more young people from deprived backgrounds into higher education and need financial support from government to achieve this, but this cannot justify graduation fees for those same young people.

The charges being imposed on students at our local university are a singularly unfair tax. I note that a number of other universities such as Glasgow, Strathclyde and Stirling have already scrapped these charges. The SAUWS and students like Janel Muir are to be congratulated for campaigning on this issue and they have my support. I hope that the university listens and that the students are successful in their campaign.”