TOM ARTHUR MSP: “SCOTLAND’S NHS NOT FOR SALE”

SNP MSP BACKS NHS PROTECTION FROM US TRADE DEALS


SNP MSP, Tom Arthur, has backed a bill to protect Scotland’s NHS from privatisation or increased drug fees as a result of UK trade deals.

Peter Grant MP for Glenrothes will bring the ‘NHS Protection Bill’ to the House of Commons tomorrow – aiming to prevent future UK Governments from signing up to trade agreements that could threaten the foundations of the health service.  

The SNP’s bill would also give the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parliaments and Assemblies a final say over whether trade deals impact on their NHS.

The proposal was a key pledge in the SNP’s manifesto in the recent General Election, which saw the party win overwhelmingly in Scotland.


Commenting, SNP MSP for Renfrewshire South, Tom Arthur said:


“Each of the four UK Health services are precious to those who use them and it is our duty, as elected representatives, to do everything we can to ensure our health services are protected.
 
“But while the Scottish Parliament has control of most aspects of health policy, we currently cannot stop Westminster governments from entering into trade deals that potentially put our NHS here in Renfrewshire South at a variety of risks.
 
“That is why I’m backing this proposal to protect our NHS from US style privatisation. “If parties are genuine in their commitment to keep the NHS out of trade deals, then there should be no politician that can’t back this bill– helping us stop any future Westminster government from trading away our most cherished public resource.

“Our NHS has been there to care for and protect us for the last 70 years – now it’s our turn to stand up and protect the NHS.”

SNP REACH MILESTONE IN DELIVERY OF NEW SCHOOLS

LOCAL MSP SAYS SNP MAKING SCHOOLS “FIT FOR THE FUTURE”

SNP MSP Tom Arthur for Renfrewshire South has hailed attainment improvements in refurbished or replaced schools as the SNP open the 100th School for the Future this week.

A total of 842 jobs have been supported by over £560 million of work awarded to small and medium enterprises working on projects as part of the £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme. By summer 2020, 117 schools will be replaced or substantially refurbished through the programme.

Under the SNP, the proportion of pupils educated in good or satisfactory condition schools has risen by nearly a third to 89.6%.

Commenting, SNP MSP Tom Arthur said:

“The SNP’s track record in investing in improving our school estate is second to none – benefitting pupils in Renfrewshire South and across the country.

“This milestone proves our commitment to giving children the best possible environment to learn in – but we’re not stopping there with even more new or refurbished schools set to open over the summer.

“In the local area, we’ve seen the positive impact the Schools for the Future programme on pupils at Barrhead High & Riverbrae School.

“While the other parties continue trying to put our top-class teachers and pupils down the SNP will continue working hard to improve our school estate and ensure our young people remain top of the class.”

Notes: https://www.gov.scot/news/milestone-in-delivery-of-new-schools/

TORY BREXIT TO HIT MOST VULNERABLE IN RENFREWSHIRE SOUTH

TORY BREXIT TO HIT MOST VULNERABLE IN  RENFREWSHIRE SOUTH

A new report has warned that Brexit will hit the most vulnerable people in Renfrewshire South – highlighting negative consequences such as the loss of legal rights, employment protections and healthcare rights.

The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, identified 137 potential impacts on those already facing inequality, discrimination, or social exclusion in society.

It warns that a “hard” Brexit, along the lines of the deal which is being proposed by Boris Johnson, could lead to a slowdown in the economy with job losses increased, the cost of living and food prices pushed up and reductions in public spending.

The Social and Equality Impacts of Brexit” also warned that Brexit could negatively affect the supply and access to food, fuel and medicines.

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said:

“Any form of Brexit will be bad for Scotland – and will hit jobs and household incomes in Renfrewshire South.

“With just days until the UK is due to leave the EU, people and businesses in Renfrewshire South will be understandably concerned with the complete lack of clarity coming from Boris Johnson’s government.

“Far from delivering extra cash for the NHS, as was infamously promised by the Leave campaign bus – those on low-incomes face losing access to public services, the ability to buy daily essentials in the case of price rises, and access to affordable housing.  

“Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire voted to remain in the EU – just like every local authority in Scotland – and yet we’ve been entirely side-lined and ignored by the Tory government ever since. 

“It is clearer than ever that the best future for Scotland is one as an equal, independent European nation.

Notes: https://www.gov.scot/publications/social-equality-impacts-brexit/

SCOTTISH NATIONAL INVESTMENT BANK GIVEN GREEN LIGHT BY MSPs

HOLYROOD PASSES PLAN TO TRANSFORM RENFREWSHIRE SOUTH’S ECONOMY

SNP MSP Tom Arthur has said the new Scottish National Investment bank will help encourage economic growth across Renfrewshire South after the bill to introduce the body was formally agreed to in Holyrood today.

MSPs from all parties gave their backing to the Scottish Government’s blueprint for the investment bank that will begin investing in businesses and communities later this year – committing to invest at least £2 billion in its first ten years.

The bank will have an important role in helping Scotland meet its ambitious climate change targets – forming part of the SNP’s Green New Deal to kick-start investment and build the momentum needed to reduce emissions and create high quality jobs in the process.  

Commenting, SNP MSP Tom Arthur said:

“The Scottish National Investment Bank will help us reach our world-leading climate change targets while transforming communities here in Renfrewshire South.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, that’s why the bank will invest in firms and community projects that are looking to play their part in tackling the global climate emergency.

“Individuals, and small local businesses, the length and breadth of Scotland are set to benefit from this historic move as we move towards a low carbon economy fit for the future. I look forward to seeing the bank’s impact in Renfrewshire South.”

PROTECTING RESIDENTS IN RENFREWSHIRE SOUTH FROM SCAMS

Residents in Renfrewshire South have been urged to avoid scams by following advice from Scotland’s new consumer advice service.

Tom Arthur met with Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the consumeradvice.scot service, in the Scottish Parliament to discuss how to protect residents in Renfrewshire South.

Common scams include bogus callers who are offering services such as landscape gardening or maintenance work in a bid to gain access to properties; online marketplace traders selling fake goods; and fake emails claiming to be from companies including Amazon, banks, or government departments. Scams cost the UK economy up to £10billion a year, and 53 per cent of people over 65 have been targeted by scams. However, only 5 per cent of scams are reported.

If more potential scams are reported to consumeradvice.scot, the organisation can work with Trading Standards and Police Scotland to raise awareness and prevent more people being scammed.

consumeradvice.scot was launched in April this year with financial support from the Scottish Government following the devolution of consumer powers, and is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland. It provides free, impartial and practical advice directly to consumers in Scotland.

Tom Arthur MSP said:

“Hundreds of people in Renfrewshire South fall victims to scams every year.

“By following advice from Scotland’s new consumer advice service, people can spot the tell-tale signs and avoid being left out of pocket.

“But there is no shame in being conned as scammers use sophisticated techniques to trick people, so it’s important to report any suspicions to consumeradvice.scot so that action can be taken.’

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of consumeradvice.scot, said:

“Realising that you may have been the victim of a scam can be extremely upsetting and worrying.

“As Scotland’s new consumer advice service, we are working hard to make people more aware of scams, and advise those who are scammed.

‘It’s very important that any potential scams are reported to us as soon as possible so that we can raise awareness with Trading Standards and the public.”

Advice for residents in Renfrewshire South on how to avoid being scammed:

  • A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account.
  • If an uninvited trader knocks on your door and tells you that urgent work needs carried out, don’t take their word for it. Always get at least three quotes from trusted companies and look up reviews of the cold caller’s company online.
  • Only give your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
  • If you have made a payment, some scammers will continue to contact you to try and talk you into making further payments. As soon as you realise that it’s a scam you should stop all contact with the scammer.
  • If you’ve paid on a credit or debit card, then you can ask your card provider if they’ll refund the payment. If you paid through PayPal then you can raise a dispute and ask if they will claim the money back.
  • It’s very important that you report any potential scams as soon as possible to consumeradvice.scot, as this helps the organisation to work with others such as Trading Standards and the police.

consumeradvice.scot is the country’s national consumer advice service, and was launched in April 2019 with Scottish Government funding following the devolution of further powers to Holyrood. It provides free and impartial advice to people on any consumer issues. Experts advise people of their legal rights and can also refer complaints to Trading Standards Scotland for investigation, but cannot carry out legal action on a consumer’s behalf. The service is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland.

OPPOSITION PARTIES MUST RULE OUT THREAT TO UNIFORM BUSINESS RATES

SNP ONLY PARTY STANDING UP FOR BUSINESSES IN RENFREWSHIRE SOUTH

Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur has challenged opposition MSPs to oppose proposals that introduce risks and uncertainties for businesses – after 27 business organisations signed a letter raising concerns over an opposition amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill.

The SNP was the only party which opposed the amendment to the Bill – which would mean that rates would no longer be set nationally and business rates reliefs, including the Small Business Bonus and rates relief for nurseries – would automatically end.

If the Small Business Bonus scheme was abolished, some smaller businesses in Renfrewshire South could face a business rate hike of more than £7000.

Tom Arthur is now calling on politicians from all parties to reverse amendment 9 to the Bill that seeks to end nationwide-rates reliefs and introduce local rates multipliers.

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said:

“The move to scrap over £308 million of relief – which is strongly opposed by the SNP – could impact more than 100,000 businesses across Scotland, and cost smaller businesses £7,000. 

“Abolishing the Universal Business Rate is bad for all businesses. These plans would deliver a blow to businesses in Renfrewshire South and could risk the delivery of vital local services, the work of charities and third-sector organisations.

“Experts and business organisations have now raised concerns over the impact of the proposed changes, warning it could create added costs and deter investment in Renfrewshire South and across Scotland.

“Opposition parties must heed those warnings, and backtrack on this disastrous move at the final stage of the Bill – in order to support our economy and make Renfrewshire South the best place for business to invest.”

TOM ARTHUR CELEBRATES THE WORK OF LEVERN VALLEY DEFIBRILLATOR PARTNERSHIP

Tom Arthur, MSP for Renfrewshire South, celebrated the work of Levern Valley Defibrillator Partnership in a debate in Holyrood this week.

A particular vote of thanks was made to Douglas Yates who established the life-saving partnership in 2018 and who worked to bring on board organisations such as East Renfrewshire Council, Barrhead, Rotary, Barrhead Housing Association and Field Electrics from Neilston.

The work of the partnership has seen the installation of 18 life-saving Public Access Defibrillators across the area to date.

Commenting after the debate, Tom said:

“This community-based initiative will save lives in the Levern Valley. For someone who is in cardiac arrest, it is essential that a defibrillator is found as quickly as possible, as the chances of survival reduce by up to 10% for each minute delay.

“I am pleased to see the collaborative work that has taken place to ensure these easy to use devices are made available, and it is great to see work taken to publicise their location.

“This project represents the best of my home town Barrhead and I want to recognise the hard work and commitment of the Partnership, and Douglas Yates in particular, for making this happen.”

Douglas Yates also added:

“The partnership was developed by the motivation to protect people in Barrhead and provide the opportunity for people to survive cardiac arrest.

 “Too many people die because life-saving equipment can’t get to them quickly enough and we aim to keep expanding the project until we are satisfied that there are a sufficient number of devices to help people wherever they are in the town.

 “Barrhead has become a much safer place and the community are responding positively to our work and looking after this essential equipment, and we hope this support will continue as we seek sponsorship to maintain our defibrillators.”

TOM ARTHUR SLAMS TORY DEVOLUTION DISRESPECT

Tom Arthur, MSP for Renfrewshire South, has today slammed the UK Tory Government for its shambolic and disrespectful decision to deliver their budget on 11th March.

With the Scottish budget dependent on forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) as well as figures from the block grant, this leaves the Scottish Government having to look at emergency measures.

Local councils are also due to set their budgets on this date – throwing up serious issues on funding for vital public services.

Commenting on the plans, Tom stated:

“The Tories in Westminster cancelled their pre-Christmas budget to call an election, and have chosen to delay their new budget in a move to frustrate devolved nations.

“In saying that they would provide ‘approximate figures’ for any settlement, they are showing the greatest disregard for our public services here which rely on detailed analysis and spending clarity.

“A Scottish budget cannot be set without knowing tax rates and thresholds for the rest of the UK along with detailed forecast analysis.

“This is a deeply worrying development that shows the Tory desire to undermine devolution and erode the power of the Scottish Parliament.

“It is clear that this concerted attempt to frustrate devolution shows that Scotland faces a choice: a diminished role in a Brexit Britain or as an independent country.”

TOM ARTHUR MSP BACKS SCOTLAND’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE

Local SNP MSP Tom Arthur has welcomed news that the democratic case for Scotland having the ability to choose its own constitutional future has been published today in a new document.

The paper – entitled “Scotland’s Right to Choose: Putting Scotland’s Future in Scotland’s Hands” – lays out the detailed case for how and why the country should be able to have the choice of independence in a referendum.

The document includes a specific call on the UK Government to “enter discussions about the Scottish Government’s mandate for giving the people of Scotland a choice, and to agree legislation with the Scottish Government that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.”

Launching the document at Bute House in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“It is a fundamental democratic principle that decisions on Scotland’s constitutional future should rest with the people who live here.

“As this document lays out, the Scottish Government has a clear democratic mandate to offer people a choice on that future in an independence referendum, and the UK Government has a democratic duty to recognise that. Last week’s General Election has only strengthened that mandate […]

“Of course, I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK Government’s opposition. But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter […]

 “It is for the Prime Minister to defend why he believes the UK is not a voluntary union of equal nations. It is for him to set out why he does not believe people in Scotland have the right to self-determination.

“And it is for the Prime Minister to explain why he believes it is acceptable to ignore election after election in Scotland and to over-ride a democratic mandate stronger than the one he claims for his Brexit deal.”

Renfrewshire South’s MSP said:

“This document marks an important step in Scotland’s journey towards choosing its own future, and supports an argument that I hope an increasing number of people will now unite behind.

“The people of East Renfrewshire voted overwhelmingly to reject Brexit, first in the EU referendum in 2016 and again in last week’s General Election, and it is only right that this decision be respected going forward. As the First Minister said this morning, we live in a democracy, and ultimately democracy must and will prevail.”

Kirsten Oswald, MSP for East Renfrewshire added:

“Scotland overwhelmingly rejected Boris Johnson at the ballot box, and we did not choose Brexit. It is right that the people in Scotland should decide on the kind of future they want. Boris Johnson must not stand in the way of their ability to choose.”

ENDS

Notes:

Scotland’s Right to Choose: Putting Scotland’s Future in Scotland’s Hands” is available online

AUCHENBACK ACTIVE PRAISED IN SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

Local SNP MSP Tom Arthur has praised the work and dedication of local community group, Auchenback Active.

On Wednesday (18 December), he asked Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government how the Scottish Government supports communities in tackling inequality, as well as to join him in commending the work of Auchenback Active, based at the Auchenback resource centre in Barrhead.

In her answer, the Cabinet Secretary highlighted various measures from the Scottish Government to tackle inequality. For example, in 2018, the Scottish Government invested over £1.4 billion on support directed at low-income families, including investment to deliver more affordable homes, tackle fuel poverty and support the Attainment Scotland Fund, as well as more than £100 million to mitigate the worst impacts of the UK Government’s welfare cuts.

In addition, the new £11.5 million Investing in Communities fund will provide vital support and investment to around 250 organisations to enable them to tackle poverty, inequality and rural disadvanted across our communities.

Going on to join Mr Arthur in commending Auchenback Active, the Cabinet Secretary said:

“Like Tom Arthur, I pay tribute to Auchenback Active for the work that it is clearly doing across its community and for its effort and endeavour. I wish that it did not have to make some of that effort; if only severe welfare cuts had not been imposed in too many of our communities, such work would not be necessary.

“The work of community-led organisations such as Auchenback Active is truly inspiring. They deliver tangible positive outcomes for local people, and I am happy to commend the good work that they do.”

Commenting, Renfrewshire South’s MSP said:

“The Auchenback Active group is a vital local resource that does a power of work to tackle inequality in our local community, including distributing Christmas presents so that children from across the area receive a gift over the festive period.

“I’d like to thank them for all the work they do all year round. I’m also delighted that the Cabinet Secretary has also accepted my invitation to visit the Auchenback Resource Centre next year to see the brilliant work first hand, and look forward to getting this arranged soon.”