ASH DENHAM WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT THAT BEST START GRANT IS TO COME INTO FORCE FOR CHRISTMAS

LOWER-INCOME FAMILIES IN EDINBURGH EASTERN TO BENEFIT FROM EARLY PAYMENT

SNP MSP Ash Denham has welcomed the announcement that the first payments of the Best Start Grant will be delivered to families in Edinburgh Eastern in time for Christmas.

The Best Start Grant – which provides low-income families with financial support during the early years of a child’s life – will see eligible applicants receive £600 for their first child, £100 more than the UK government’s equivalent in England.

Best Start Grants replace and expand on the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant by providing eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children.

Ash Denham said:

“I am delighted that families in [area] will be eligible for their first payments of the Best Start Grant in time for Christmas. These new payments will ensure that our under 5’s get the best possible start in life.

“It’s vital that the SNP government can provide help at a time when families in Edinburgh are seeing UK government social security support drastically reduced, and Universal Credit is causing hardship across Scotland.

“By reversing and mitigating the Tory cuts that have been so damaging to families in Edinburgh, and ensuring that we support those on the lowest incomes, the SNP are building a social security system based on dignity and respect.

Ash Denham: As usual, it’s the poor who fail to benefit

Last week, the headlines were focused on the Chancellor and his autumn Budget. Philip Hammond used his speech to declare that “austerity is coming to an end,” but it turns out that only half of the cuts to Universal Credit work allowances are being reversed, and the Westminster government will continue with their contentious two-child cap on tax credits.

This month will see the controversial Universal Credit scheme rolled out across our city. The new system – which has been condemned by charities and trusts across the country – merges six benefits into one, and will come into effect in Edinburgh on 28 November.

Universal Credit has been blighted by problems from the very start. All claimants have to wait a minimum five weeks before their first payment – with many having to wait for much longer. These delays are causing real hardship, with families being forced to use food banks and falling behind with their rent.

In really shocking evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, MSPs were told about a young boy in Glasgow who was so hungry he was mixing ketchup sachets with hot water to make soup before a concerned teacher referred his family to a food bank. It’s a tragic case, and one which should shock us all. Nobody should be living like this in one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world. But that is the sad reality of Tory welfare cuts.

Charities and food banks – those who deal with the victims of welfare cuts first hand – are clearly worried about the potential impact of Universal Credit. Earlier this year it was reported that food bank use in Scotland had hit a record high and cited Westminster’s benefits cuts as a major reason for this rise.

Edinburgh City Council expect to lose £9million in unpaid rent over the next five years due to the system – money which should be spent on delivering public services in the city.

This cruel policy means that families across Scotland are being forced to make the stark choice between paying their rent and feeding their children. It’s callous, heartless and clearly a broken system. The UK government should halt the rollout of Universal Credit, and fix its fundamental flaws.

After a recent debate in parliament on poverty and inequality, one of my Conservative colleagues came under fire for defending Westminster’s two-child cap. The Tory MSP said that “it is fair that people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like” while those in work “have to make decisions” on this. As well as ignoring the fact many people on tax credits and Universal Credit are of course working, this ignores the basic tenet we should not be putting a cap on our children and the two child limit is a policy which simply should not exist. Any of us could who have three or more children, and due to illness or redundancy have to rely on tax credits, yet would be subject to the cap. That is devastating and will risk pushing 150,000 Scottish children into poverty – and I cannot stand for that.

The UK government had a real chance to call a halt to a number of their harmful welfare policies last week, but not taking that opportunity means that thousands more people will face real hardship and financial difficulty over the Christmas period. Unfortunately, it seems that austerity is not over – it has simply been recast. But it’s still austerity for all that and – as ever – the poorest will bear the cost.

This article was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News.

 

 

BONFIRE NIGHT PRECAUTIONS

Last year parts of my constituency was subjected to extreme antisocial behaviour. Residents were terrified and property badly damaged by large groups of youths. Police Scotland officers and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) fire officers had fireworks thrown at them.

The Scottish Government has been working in partnership with Police Scotland, the SFRS and two HM Inspectorates to ensure that services are well prepared for this year’s celebrations and can respond robustly to any antisocial behaviour.

Within my capacity as Minister for Community Safety, I recently met with local community partnership members who have been working to promote the safe and responsible use of fireworks in Edinburgh to discuss on-going preparations. I also met police officers and fire officers who have previously experienced unacceptable abuse on or around Bonfire Night.

Bonfire Night is an opportunity for local communities to come together and for families to enjoy fireworks responsibly and I would encourage people to attend officially organised displays where fireworks are controlled in a safe environment.

I have had an update from Police Scotland and I have been informed that in order to meet the challenges better this year, that from Wednesday 31st October to Tuesday 6th of November 2018, significant additional conventional resources will be deployed to support Local Area Commanders deliver their locality plans. In 2017, the majority of the disorder occurred in the North East and North West localities. In particular, the areas Muirhouse, West Pilton, Portobello and Loganlea. In response to this, and in consultation with the Local Authority, officers will enforce dispersal zones (under the terms of S.19 ASB etc. (S) Act 2004) in these areas between 1400 hours and 0000 hours each day from Friday 2nd November 2018 until 0000 hours on Tuesday 6th November 2018 inclusive. In respect of groups of two or more persons in these areas (in public), officers will be empowered to:

  • Direct persons in the group to disperse;
  • Direct those who do not reside at the locality to leave it, or any part of it;
  • Direct those who do not live in the locality from returning to it, or any part of it, for up to 24 hours from the time direction was given;
  • Arrest without warrant any person reasonably suspected to have committed or be committing such an offence;

 

The safety of the public is paramount and we need to ensure a selfish minority do not spoil the celebrations for others. The use of fireworks as a means of inflicting injury on individuals, including members of our emergency services, is completely unacceptable and illegal. I must stress that robust action will be taken against anyone who puts lives at risk.

I would strongly urge members of the public to report any criminal or antisocial behaviour to Police Scotland on 101 or if someone’s life is on danger 999, or otherwise you can anonymously report through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.

This article first appeared in The Speaker.

 

“MSP gets Ministerial Role” The Speaker

This year’s summer break has not followed the usual recess script. Following my promotion to Minister for Community Justice in June, the past couple of months have felt like something out of Yes Minister- a whirlwind of meetings, reports and civil servants as I become familiar with my new role.

 It is a huge privilege to be part of the Scottish Government, and I am looking forward to overseeing a variety of areas including improving access to justice, tackling anti-social behaviour, a review of the Child Scotland Act 1995 and interacting with the legal profession to keep communities across Scotland safe.

Continue reading

Ash Denham MSP commends contributions to Edinburgh School Uniform Bank

Ash Denham MSP has commended the generosity of her constituents for their continued donations to the Edinburgh School Uniform Bank over the summer holidays.

The Edinburgh School Uniform Bank provides good-quality school uniform and other clothing, equipment and supplies required for the school to children affected by poverty across the capital.

The charity aims to provide the children most affected by financial hardship go to school with dignity and the right uniform to make the most of their education.

Continue reading

Ash Denham MSP commends Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company

Ash Denham MSP has commended Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company, located in her constituency of Edinburgh Eastern, on being chosen as the Scottish Parliament’s new tea and coffee supplier.

Based in Portobello beside The Firth of Forth, Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company has over 200 years of experience and remains one of Scotland’s oldest tea and coffee companies.

The new tea and coffee blends will be served throughout Scottish Parliament catering services from 30th July 2018.

Continue reading

Ash Denham MSP calls on constituents to have say on bottle deposit return plans

SNP MSP Ash Denham has called on people across Edinburgh to get involved with the latest series of events to gather views on the proposed bottle deposit return scheme.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the scope of a deposit return scheme, to boost recycling and cut plastic waste – with the proposal being that customers would pay a deposit when they purchase a product, which would be refunded when the item is recycled. The scheme already operates in many other parts of Europe.

Zero Waste Scotland will be holding an event at Edinburgh Mela on the 1st and 2nd of September, to give people across Edinburgh the chance to put forward their views on the scheme.

Continue reading

“Ash Denham MSP: Fort Kinnaird sale is asset stripping” Edinburgh Evening News

Fort Kinnaird retail park sits in my constituency of Edinburgh Eastern. A buzzing shopping centre, it boasts a great selection of restaurants and cinema screens – attracting 14 million visitors last year alone.

Until June, it was part owned by the UK Crown Estate, which manages a variety of businesses, properties and land assets.

Every Crown Estate property and asset in Scotland were devolved to Crown Estate Scotland two years ago following the Scotland Act 2016 – except for Fort Kinnaird.

Continue reading

MSP calls on beachgoers to exercise inflatable toys caution

Ash Denham MSP has called on beachgoers to listen to the advice of the coastguard following several recent incidents concerning inflatable pool toys.

The coastguard have advised beach swimmers not to take inflatable swimming toys to the beach after several call outs over the past week, with a young girl drifting out to sea last weekend and fears that children had been blown out to sea at Portobello on Sunday.

Rescue crews responded, with lifeboats and a helicopter deployed to search the area. Ash Denham commended the work of the rescue crews in responding to the emergency call outs.

Continue reading

Vandalism drops by 60% in Edinburgh over past decade

Cases of vandalism across Edinburgh City have fallen sharply since the SNP came to power in 2007, latest figures have revealed – proving that the SNP’s approach to crime and justice in the community is working.

In 2007/08, there were 265 instances of vandalism per 10,000 of the population in Edinburgh – which has fallen sharply to 106 by 2016/17, a drop of 60%.

The latest figures back up Tory Justice Minister Rory Stewart’s comments that the rest of the UK “has a lot to learn from Scotland”.

Continue reading