derek mackay MSP

New benefit will increase eligibility by around 40%.

A new benefit providing help for people on low-incomes to meet the costs of a funeral is on course to be delivered by the Scottish Government through Social Security Scotland by summer 2019.

derek mackay MSP

The move has been welcomed by Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay.

Funeral Expense Assistance (FEA) will replace the current DWP Funeral Payment in Scotland and improvements mean around 40% more people will be eligible to apply. FEA will provide financial support directly to those who need it most at the point of bereavement. Regulations enabling delivery of this new system have been laid in Parliament today.

As with all Scottish Government benefits, Funeral Expense Assistance has been developed with input from those with experience of the present system – helping identify and address the parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing and improving the process and removing barriers to apply.

Mr Mackay said:

“Coping with the death of a loved one is a very difficult time for anyone, and it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“The new assistance, being backed by around £2 million of additional funding, being introduced by the Scottish Government will increase eligibility for help by around 40%.

“Help will be provided towards burial or cremation costs, certain transport costs, plus £700 for other costs such as funeral directors fees or flowers. We have committed to annually uprating the £700 to take account of the impact of inflation – something the UK Government has not done since 2003.

“I am pleased that this benefit will be available later this year and will deliver an improved scheme to help those on lower incomes pay for the cost of a funeral. This fits well with our wider work to tackle funeral poverty and the cost of funerals.”

Background

View the Funeral Expense Assistance regulations.

mhairi black
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.
mhairi black
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.”
andy murray

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Scottish Sport, has echoed Andy Murray’s criticisms of the Lawn Tennis Association as they have failed to build on his historic success.

The APPG for Scottish Sport has previously criticised the governing body of British Tennis and provided recommendations, as they done in their 2017 ‘Scottish Tennis Funding and Establishing a Murray Legacy’ report, which frustratingly remains relevant today.

andy murray

The Murrays have been regularly critics of the lack of support offered by the Lawn Tennis Association to support Scottish tennis and have frequently called on a Murray Legacy to be established to help produce the tennis stars of tomorrow.

The APPG for Scottish Sport hosts evidence sessions to ascertain the support offered to tennis in Scotland to help establish a Murray Legacy. This included evidence sessions with the Scottish Sport APPG, Tennis Scotland, The LTA, and sportscotland.

Welcoming Murray’s comments, Newlands said:

“Andy Murray is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes that any UK country has ever produced, and although I am sad that he may soon retire, Scottish tennis should be extremely proud of him and his brother Jamie.

“Scottish tennis could be said to be in an unrivalled position to expand and produce more world beating athletes. But the LTA is failing to ensure that this happens.

“The APPG on Scottish Sport has highlighted the lack of indoor tennis courts in Scotland. In fact, whereas 30% of all tennis courts in Europe are indoor, shamefully there is only 110 indoor tennis courts in Scotland.

“We cannot miss this golden opportunity to build on the success of Scottish tennis. Given the LTA’s ample revenue’s and Scotland’s contribution to the game in the UK, it is a crying shame that the LTA has not invested anywhere near enough to establish a legacy from this unrivalled sporting success. It should do so now, before it is too late.”

BrexitSpeech gavin

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North,  has called for the Ministry of Defence to provide veteran’s support after shocking figures revealed the number of army homes left empty in Scotland has skyrocketed.

BrexitSpeech gavin

The figures, which have been uncovered through Freedom of Information, show that the number of vacant MoD properties throughout Scotland have increased from 690 in 2013 to 1136 this year.

Commenting on these worrying figures, Newlands said:

“Military veterans are a group that are unfortunately at risk of homelessness. Many veterans struggle to re-adapt to civilian life and often suffer from mental illness such as PTSD.

“The UK Government should look to the action being taken by the Scottish Government to tackle homelessness as well as their targeted and their drives to address veteran homelessness. As a result, homeless applications in Scotland have reduced by 39% in the last 8 years.

“Recent figures show that there are currently 1136 properties owned by the Ministry of Defence that are currently sitting completely empty when there are still many homeless veterans.

“Some of these properties may need redecoration or repair, but many fall within the ‘surplus’ category and could quite easily be used to house veterans temporarily while they are on en route to a permanent tenancy.

“The UK Government, and the Ministry of Defence, have a duty of care to those who have served in the armed forces, they must use their housing stock to help those veterans who are desperately in need.”

BrexitSpeech gavin

GAVIN NEWLANDS: THERESA MAY ASKING OR A BLANK CHEQUE FOR HER BLIND BREXIT DEAL

Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has accused the Prime Minister of asking MPs to sign off a blank cheque for her Brexit deal, despite the fact that she has failed to provide any details of the so called concessions she has received from Brussels.

BrexitSpeech gavin

The SNP MP argues that Theresa May was no further forward today than the last time she addressed Parliament last year.

Following Prime Minister’s Questions, Newlands said:

“At the last minute, the Prime Minister delayed the doomed Brexit vote with the promise of achieving new written concessions from the EU, but there are no new concessions.

“Last night, the Tory Government suffered another humiliation as they were defeated when MPs showed that they were opposed to a No-Deal Brexit. When will she stop kidding herself and admit that there is no support for her deal or no deal in Parliament?”

“The Prime Minister and the Tory Government are stuck in abject, and I and other MPs will not back her blindfold Brexit Deal”

BrexitSpeech gavin

LOCAL MP IN BREXIT SPEECH: SCOTLAND MUST BECOME AN INDEPENDENT NATION TO AVOID FUTURE DISASTERS

Yesterday, Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, stood up for Scotland and Paisley and Renfrewshire North’s overwhelming vote to Remain in the European Union during the debate ahead of the ‘Meaningful Vote’ on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.

BrexitSpeech gavin

During his speech to Parliament, Newlands stated that it would be a ‘betrayal unlike anything ever seen before’ towards young people if MPs ripped away the opportunities of EU membership after they voted to remain in the European Union.

The MP maligned the Prime Minister’s decision of delaying the vote last month in order to receive concessions from the European Union, just to return with nothing. He then criticised Jeremy Corbyn for holding his own party to ransom and refusing to get behind the option of a second EU referendum.

But the main focus of Newlands’ speech was on the benefits of Freedom of Movement, the MP argued that the chance to live, work, and build relationships freely across the continent was a privilege that older generations have taken for granted and that more people should stand up for.

Gavin commented following his speech:

“Scotland voted to Remain in the European Union, and I believe that we would surely do so again. The withdrawal date draws nearer and yet the Tory government continues to ignore our compromises.

“People from across the EU have come to Scotland to build their lives, they help keep our NHS running, they work hard building businesses and contributing to our economy, and most importantly they enrich our way of life. And Scottish people benefit just as much from the ability to freely travel across the EU.”

During his speech, Gavin mentioned his constituent Ivan’s story. Ivan was born in Spain, studied in Italy, and eventually found his way to work for Scotland’s NHS. His wife is Irish, and has worked for the United Nations in Denmark, and now lives in Scotland.

Upon hearing that Gavin brought up his story, Ivan said:

“I believe that membership of the EU is the best chance we have at guaranteeing my family and I’s civil liberties while maintaining prosperity and freedom in Europe.

“I also hope and wish for my children to have all the same opportunities that I enjoyed, not less.”

In closing the speech, Gavin said:

“The UK has lurched from crisis to crisis for years and the UK, it’s clear, is broken. No Westminster will make meaningful strides towards a brighter future. That leaves one inescapable conclusion: to ensure good governance and the chance at building an economy and a society that is open to the world, tolerant, and gives everyone the opportunity to flourish, Scotland must become and independent country.”

gavin newlands

NEWLANDS: SCOTTISH LABOUR PREPARE TO ‘SELL-OUT’ SCOTLAND ON BREXIT

LABOUR LET DOWN PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND WITH REFUSAL TO OPPOSE BREXIT

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has criticised Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn for their Brexit ‘incompetence’ and inability to confirm whether the Labour Party would support or oppose Brexit in a general election.
gavin newlands

In an interview with BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader repeatedly failed to give a view on Brexit and whether he favoured EU membership.

This week, an opinion poll conducted for the People’s Vote campaign found that support for the Scottish Labour party would plunge to just 15 per cent if Labour help deliver a Tory Brexit deal.

Commenting, Newlands said:

“Time and time again, Labour sells out Scotland for the sake of potential popularity south of the border. This time it is on the most important issue of our time; Brexit.

“I would not like to be a Labour member right now as the party demands a general election while having no position on Brexit, this is embarrassingly incompetent.

“Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn dodged questions on why he was ignoring young people’s wishes to remain in the EU and Richard Leonard couldn’t give a straight answer in whether he would oppose Brexit in a general election.

“Labour haven’t changed, and are still happy to stand side by side with the Tories with their plans that would decimate Scotland’s economy by ripping us out of the EU when we don’t want to leave

“Voters won’t forgive Labour in Scotland.”

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

Scottish armed force veterans with life changing injuries are amongst thousands of Scots set to benefit from £3 million of National Lottery funding.

 

New social enterprise, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (SBMC), will now be able to provide manufacturing training opportunities for 150 disabled or long term unemployed over three years, thanks to a grant of £120,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

gavin newlands mp

Run by the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI), the Renfrewshire based factory gives armed force veterans, like 38 year old triple amputee Gary Jamieson, the chance to earn a living while developing new skills in manufacturing activities including printing, signage and product engineering.

 

Welcoming the news, Gavin Newlands, local MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, commented:

 

“I’m delighted that this funding is being delivered to Renfrewshire and I am proud that this excellent work takes place in my constituency; it makes a real positive impact on people’s lives.

 

“Social enterprises like this can play a very important a part in promoting an inclusive society by providing people with vital training and skills in highly employable areas.

 

“Although the UK Government should do more to make veteran’s lives easier, which would be helped by a reversal of their brutal austerity measures, it is immeasurably encouraging to see people like SBMC work hard to help.

 

“This funding will ensure that these worthwhile efforts can continue.”

 

Gary, from Strathaven, lost both of his legs below the knee and his left arm above the elbow whilst on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010 with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.  Through SBMC, he has been trained as a water jet cutter and will soon be passing on his skills to other veterans.

 

He said: “Coming from an army background I am used to being busy and surrounded by other people. I never thought I would get the opportunity to do this kind of work and that all these opportunities might be open to me. Not only am I getting specialised skills but real experience of working in a busy factory, learning about how the business operates.

 

“Working here has given me a real structure to my life and I look forward to coming in every day, not only for the work but for the camaraderie that I have really missed. I look forward to helping other veterans and being an example to them.  If I can do it with no legs and one arm then they can do it too.”

 

Michelle Ferguson, Director of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, added: “The vast majority of veterans leave the Armed Forces and transition relatively easily to civilian life, while for some, they can face immense difficulty in adapting when facing challenges with life-changing injuries and mental health conditions.

 

“Ex- servicemen and women however do leave with a tremendous skill which is unfortunately overlooked by employers, and this backing from the National Lottery, will be crucial in our  ability to offer a real lifeline to veterans living in Scotland, helping us to develop a Learning an Development Department – headed by a trained welfare professional.

 

“We can now ensure that our veterans are given the bespoke welfare support and training they need to develop their talents, acquire new skills and go on to reach their potential in the world of work.”

 

The project is one of 18 across Scotland sharing in £3,066,902 from the Big Lottery Fund

Announcing the awards, Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, today’s £3m investment reaches into many communities across Scotland, transforming the lives of local people.  I am delighted to see some of this funding will help veterans learn new skills through a unique social enterprise in the grounds of Erskine Hospital. This will equip them for future employment and a positive transition to life out-with the armed forces.”

gavin newlands mp

MHAIRI BLACK WELCOMES RIPOFF OVERDRAFT CHARGES BAN

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.

mhairi black

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.”