Regan welcomes Budget that puts Scotland on path to a Just Transition

MULTI-BILLION POUND INVESTMENT IN MAKING SCOTLAND GREENER

Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Regan has welcomed commitments in the 2021-22 Scottish budget that set Scotland on a path to a Just Transition while securing hundreds of thousands of oil and gas jobs.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced the first £20m of the 10-year £500m being invested by the SNP Scottish Government into a Just Transition. The investment will increase year-on-year.

There were also other spending commitments in the budget to make Scotland greener, including £350m towards decarbonising one million homes across Scotland, and the equivalent of 500,000 domestic homes by 2030.

Commenting, SNP MSP Ash Regan said:

“The SNP Scottish Government continues to recognise the importance of our Just Transition away from fossil fuels – bringing jobs, communities and business along on that process to ensure that lessons are learned from the past and no one is left behind.

“The SNP is serious about our responsibility to move workers into green jobs for the future with £500m investment in the Just Transition fund.

“We have already seen workers benefitting from the Green Jobs Fund – with 750 green jobs already created through the project.

“It is disappointing that we do not see the same commitment to green jobs from the Tory UK government as they failed to invest in carbon capture, letting down the people across Scotland – they must immediately reverse that decision.

“This shows why we cannot trust the Tories to protect the future of energy jobs in Scotland. We must be able to choose a better future in an independent country.”

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Ash Regan chairs first meeting of Edinburgh Eastern Action Group on mental health

Ash Regan MSP recently chaired the first meeting of the Edinburgh Eastern constituency mental health action group, which took place via a video conference.

The organisation of the Group was a re-election pledge of Ms Regan ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections last May. It is believed this may be the first time an MSP has formed such a group looking specifically at mental health in their constituency.

Locally-based charities Carr Gomm, Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre and The Thistle Foundation were in attendance alongside NHS Lothian where a discussion was held over a range of issues, including identifying the mental health needs of Edinburgh Eastern compared to other parts of the Capital and the country.

Ms. Regan said:

“I was pleased to chair this meeting to bring local charities together, alongside NHS Lothian, to understand the specific mental health needs of the Edinburgh Eastern constituency and if there’s more that can be done on a local level to meet those needs.

“Edinburgh Eastern includes some of the areas of highest deprivation in Scotland and because there are known links between poverty and issues relating to mental health, we may need a greater level of support than other constituencies and areas.

“The Scottish Government made mental health a key priority in September’s Programme for Government announcement by pledging to increase mental health investment over the course of this Parliament by at least 25%. In addition, over the next 12 months the government will complete the commitments to recruit 800 additional mental health workers, ensure community wellbeing services are available in every local authority, and to expand the Digital Mental Health Programme.”

Helena Richards, Carr Gomm’s Edinburgh Community Projects Manager, said:

“This was a really good opportunity to meet with our local MSP and share our concerns about the provision of services in our area. As a charity which works in the local community with people around their mental health issues it was great to see Ash taking a lead in finding out more about what the needs and gaps are. We look forward to continuing to engage with her on these issues.”

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Edinburgh Eastern MSP promotes benefits of real Living Wage to local employers

Ash Regan MSP has written to businesses across her Edinburgh Eastern constituency to promote the real Living Wage and has encouraged them to consider signing up to the scheme.


The real Living Wage, which is a scheme supported by the Scottish Government, is an independently calculated rate based on the costs of living and is paid voluntarily by employers. The rate is currently £9.50 and is calculated each year in November by The Resolution Foundation on an analysis of the wage that employees need to earn in order to afford basics such as housing, childcare, transport and heating costs for a decent standard of living.​


The real Living Wage is higher than the National “Living Wage” and, unlike that UK government-set rate, applies to everyone aged 18 and older. Studies have shown the numerous benefits to employers of paying the real Living Wage, including a higher quality of work, improved morale, lower absenteeism, and retaining more staff.


Ms Regan has been a champion of the real Living Wage scheme in Edinburgh Eastern, regularly highlighting local employers who have become accredited, writing to the Council to see Edinburgh become a Living Wage City, and holding an event at the Scottish Parliament to recognise local employers, and their employees, who are part of the real Living Wage family.


Commenting, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:


“I am delighted to support the real Living Wage by writing to local employers asking them to consider signing up to the scheme which would see them pay their employees and all contracted workers a wage which can afford the costs of living.

“Studies have demonstrated the numerous benefits to both employers and employees of paying the real Living Wage, with businesses reporting a higher quality of work, better morale, lower absenteeism, and being able to retain more staff.

“In return, employees feel more valued and crucially can afford the basics in life and can have that opportunity to save money or even to give up an extra job so they can spend more time with their loved ones.

“It has been encouraging to see 7 local employers become newly accredited in the past 12 months so I hope we can see even more signing up as part of this local campaign.”

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Photo: Taken in February 2020 at a real Living Wage event Ms Regan held at the Scottish Parliament.

Westminster control threatening rights of children

Ash Denham, MSP for Edinburgh Eastern has said being under Westminster control is threatening the rights of children in her constituency and across Scotland and only independence can ensure we protect everyone in Scotland from the Tories.

After a legal challenge by the Westminster Tory Government, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament could not enshrine the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law, a bill that was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament. The judgement laid bare the limitations of the devolution settlement in Scotland.

On the same day, the Tories at Westminster cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, taking away from the most vulnerable at a time when they need it most.

Commenting, Ash Denham said:

“The SNP Scottish Government introduced the UNCRC Bill to put the needs of children here in Edinburgh Eastern and across Scotland at the very heart of every decision made by Government and local authorities.

“However, those noble intentions have been scuppered by the Westminster Tories’ challenge. The court judgment lays bare the limits placed on the Scottish Parliament and within the devolution settlement that we cannot introduce vital protections for our young people – leaving them at the mercy of a callous Tory UK government.

“We cannot trust the Tories to protect future generations in Scotland as they cut Universal Credit this week and plunge 20,000 children into poverty.

“Families in Edinburgh will face a decision of whether to heat their homes or feed their children as the cost of living skyrockets with energy bills increasing and food bills going up.

“The only way we can ensure we protect the future of Scotland from this uncaring Tory UK government is with the full powers of independence.”

ASH DENHAM WRITES TO COUNCIL OVER DISCONTINUED NUMBER 69 BUS SERVICE

Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham has written to the City of Edinburgh Council asking the local authority to engage with community transport charities HcL (HandiCabs) and LCTS (Lothian Community Transport Services) to support members of the public affected by the loss of the number 69 service, which was discontinued last year.


The written request comes following a public meeting organised and chaired last night by Ms. Denham which allowed local community councils and constituents to ask questions directly of Lothian Buses and the City of Edinburgh Council regarding bus services.


Representatives from HcL and LCTS were both in attendance at the meeting and stated a willingness to look at all possible solutions to ensure members of the public with mobility challenges in this part of the Capital can more easily access essential services.


Speaking following the meeting, Ms. Denham said:


“I was pleased to organise and chair a meeting to give my constituents and community councils in Edinburgh Eastern an opportunity to ask questions they had for the Council and Lothian Buses regarding bus services.

“A number of issues were raised, including the number 69 service which was discontinued early last year to the disappointment and frustration of bus users in the Northfield and Willowbrae community council area.

“It was clear during the meeting that community transport charities working in Edinburgh are open to engaging with the Council to help find a much needed solution. I have now written to the Council to ask if such an engagement can be made a priority.

“I will also engage with the Council and Lothian Buses with the other questions and suggestions highlighted to me in advance of the meeting by local community councils that we didn’t have time to cover.

“I wish to thank community councils, Transport Convener Lesley Macinnes, council officials, Lothian Buses, community transport charities, and constituents for taking part in the meeting.

“I would also like to thank Lothian Buses and the many bus drivers across the Capital for all they have done and continue to do as key workers to keep our capital city moving during the pandemic – not least ensuring NHS staff and other key workers were able to attend work during the lockdowns.”


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Ash Denham writes to Council to see Capital become a Living Wage City

Ash Denham MSP has written to the City of Edinburgh Council to ask if and when it intends to commit to moving the Capital towards becoming a Living Wage City.

Such an announcement would follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s only current aspiring Living Wage City, Dundee, which made the move in 2019 after launching a city-wide action plan in collaboration with Real Living Wage Scotland to drive uptake of the accreditation scheme.

The Real Living Wage scheme is one supported by the Scottish Government and encourages businesses to pay their employees and all regular third-party contracted staff a wage which at a minimum has been independently calculated based on living costs.

Now the MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, who has been a champion for the Real Living Wage within her constituency and made it a key re-election commitment to encourage more businesses to sign up, has requested a timescale for when it is hoped the City will move towards becoming Scotland’s second Living Wage City.

Ms. Denham said:

“This scheme makes a real difference because instead of employees struggling to make ends meet every month being paid the real living wage helps to lift more people out of in work poverty.

The benefits to employers cannot be overstated too as evidence shows paying employees the real living wage leads to increased productivity, better morale, and lower sickness absence.

“For these reasons and others I have worked to champion businesses in my constituency who have become accredited Living Wage employers and I held an event in Parliament in February 2020 (pictured) to meet local employers and their employees to hear first hand how this scheme has improved their lives.

“My office wrote to the council in 2019 stating that I would fully support making Edinburgh an aspiring Real Living Wage City and I am optimistic we are now close to realising that ambition. I have written to the Council to ask if any timescales have been put in place to move towards this objective and have offered to do anything I can to support it.”

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Denham encourages eligible families to apply for school uniforms grant

Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham is encouraging eligible families in her constituency to apply for a grant to help with the cost of school uniforms.

The Scottish Government and local authority leaders have recently reached a new agreement to increase the national school clothing grant to a minimum of £120 per eligible primary school pupil and £150 per eligible secondary school pupil. This will be supported by £11.8 million of additional funding to local authorities.

The announcement marks another delivered manifesto commitment in the first 100 days of the SNP in government following May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

Since first being elected in 2016, Ms. Denham’s constituency office has been used as a drop off point for those wishing to donate to the Edinburgh School Uniform Bank.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“I’m delighted to see that an agreement has been reached that will increase the national school clothing grant to a minimum of £120 per primary school child and £150 to those attending high school, for eligible families.

“This school clothing grant will help to relieve some pressure for around 145,000 families across Scotland – including many in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency – and it will help to ensure that all children can go to school feeling comfortable, confident and ready to learn.

“I encourage all constituents who believe they may be eligible to apply through the City of Edinburgh Council.”

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Constituents can apply on this link: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/food-clothing/free-school-meals-school-clothing-grants