ANTI-POVERTY PAYMENT COULD BENEFIT 17,500 CHILDREN IN EDINBURGH

“GAME-CHANGER” BENEFIT CENTRAL TO SNP AMBITION TO TACKLE CHILD POVERTY

An estimated 17,500 children across Edinburgh could benefit from the Scottish Government’s ground-breaking anti-poverty payment, new figures have revealed.

The Scottish Child Payment will be worth £10 per child for low-income families by the end of 2022, with introduction for under-6s starting by early 2021.

Latest figures from the Scottish Fiscal Commission estimate that 194,000 children aged under six in Scotland will be eligible for the new Scottish Child Payment – with 17,500 children and families estimated to benefit in Edinburgh.

The brand new benefit was described as a “game changer” and a “lifeline” by anti-poverty campaigners and is central to the SNP’s ambitions to tackle child poverty.

Commenting, SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious and ground-breaking new benefit which will directly tackle child poverty across the country.

“This support is needed more than ever, and when this additional £10 per week per child becomes available in February, it will be a lifeline for many such families in Edinburgh.

“It will help reduce financial pressures and demonstrates the potential of social security to make a positive difference and reflect our society’s shared values of compassion and fairness.

“Tory cuts are driving too many families in the Capital into poverty – but the SNP is determined to use every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet.”

ENDS

ASH DENHAM PRAISES GOODTREES AS ‘LOCKDOWN LOCAL HEROES’

Ash Denham MSP has hailed the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre as one of the Capital’s ‘lockdown local heroes’ after the tremendous efforts of young people, led by project manager John Beatson, ensured vulnerable families in the Moredun and surrounding areas were supported during the lockdown period.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP recently visited Goodtrees to meet with some of the young people involved in the food delivery programme to praise their selflessness and to thank them for helping the community in its time of great need. During the lockdown, Goodtrees volunteers were delivering 500 food parcels per day to families and individuals of all ages.

At the beginning of the lockdown, Ms Denham had written to the Scottish Government which resulted in the Centre being able to secure in the region of £24,500 to fund their programme.

Speaking at the visit, the MSP said:

“I have so much admiration for Goodtrees and the young people who volunteered their time during the lockdown to support families in the local community who were in need of help. While the lockdown was an extremely hard time for many people across the capital and the country, it was heartening to see the response from people in our communities, not least from Goodtrees.

“It was a pleasure to meet some of the young people involved and to praise them for their selfless efforts in helping so many. It was also great to talk to John Beatson, the Centre’s project manager, to hear about all the different additional ways they have been supporting people in the local community through zoom chats and online cooking classes.

“I was only too happy to write to the Scottish Government on the Centre’s behalf highlighting the importance of the programme they had put together and was pleased to see significant funding allocated to support the work of Goodtrees. I will continue to engage with John to do anything I can to support Goodtrees into the future.”

John Beatson, Project Manager at Goodtrees, said:

“We are incredibly grateful to the ongoing support from Ash and her office. The funding enabled us to widen our support to so many families across the locality as well as our partnerships with Social Bite, Cyrenians and the local Morrisons meant that we were able to provide 40,000 packed lunches, over 15,000 bags of food & 10,000 hot meals.

“Of course, it goes without saying, with such a small team this wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our young people, who worked long hours to make sure could maximise our reach. The real thanks goes to them, because without them this would not have been possible.”

ENDS

EDINBURGH EASTERN MSP TO TAKE ON SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN THIS WEEKEND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE CHARITY

Ash Denham MSP and her constituency office staff will be ascending one of Scotland’s highest mountains this coming weekend to raise money for a much-loved Edinburgh-based animal welfare charity.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP and her team are aiming to hike up Ben Vorlich in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to raise money for the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, which was founded in 1883 and welcomes lost, stray and abandoned pets from all corners of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Ben Vorlich is one of the most southerly of the Munros (Scotland’s 282 mountains over 3,000 feet in altitude) and stands tall at 3,232 feet – over two times the height of the Empire State Building and four times the altitude of Arthur’s Seat. The fundraising page has already raised over £550 for the cause.

Ash Denham MSP said:

“My office team and I are looking forward to pulling on our walking boots and hiking to the summit of our first Munro to raise money for a much-loved charity in my constituency.

“I’ve visited the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, one of Scotland’s oldest animal welfare organisations, a number of times to learn more about their work to rescue, reunite and rehome hundreds of dog and cats each year from across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

“The Home has had to adapt to face the challenges brought on by the pandemic, which makes it more important than ever for fundraising events such as this to take place so the charity can continue to care for lost, stray and abandoned animals well into the future.

“I will also be promoting Mountaineering Scotland’s #TakItHame anti-litter campaign while ascending the mountain by taking a bag with me to collect any rubbish found along the way. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world so it’s important we keep it that way by taking all rubbish home when accessing the outdoors whether it’s up a mountain or somewhere closer to home.”

For anyone who would like to donate, the fundraising page can be accessed here: https://give.everydayhero.com/uk/ash-denham-msp-munro-hike-for-edinburgh-dog-and-cat-home/

ENDS

SNP GOVERNMENT’S ‘JOB START PAYMENT’ NOW OPEN TO APPLICATIONS

NEW SUPPORT TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE IN CAPITAL INTO WORK

Local MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, Ash Denham, has welcomed a new Scottish benefit introduced today that will help 16 to 24-year olds into work if they have been unemployed for over six months.

The SNP Scottish Government’s Job Start Payment is a one-off grant of £250 to help with the costs of starting a new job.

The upper age limit rises to 25 for care leavers and the payment rises to £400 if the person has a child.

It is estimated around 5,000 young people across Scotland will benefit from this new financial support in its first year.

Commenting, SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“The job prospects of young people in my constituency and across Edinburgh have been hit hard by this pandemic.

“So, this announcement of extra support to help our young people into work really couldn’t come at a better time.

“This payment will help local people with the extra expenses that are often attached to a starting a new job, such as travel costs, new work clothes or even childcare.

“In Government, the SNP is working hard to create new opportunities for work as we rebuild our economy. I’d encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to apply online.”

ENDS

7,659 EDINBURGH BUSINESSES GET £96.4M CASH SUPPORT THROUGH CRISIS

New figures show that 7,659 businesses in the Capital have received support from the Scottish Government to support them through the coronavirus crisis.

A total of £96.4m has been awarded to businesses in Edinburgh through a Scottish Government scheme designed to support small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.

Across Scotland, over 83,000 grants valuing £942 million have been awarded through the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Scheme.

Commenting, SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“This pandemic has put real pressure on businesses in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency and across Scotland.

“The SNP Government has provided swift and substantial financial help to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this unprecedented crisis.

“This package of support for businesses is welcome, and will help alleviate the hardship some individuals and businesses in Edinburgh may be facing.

“I’d continue to encourage any eligible businesses facing economic instability to apply for the support offered by the Scottish Government.”

ENDS

DENHAM DEMANDS TORY U-TURN ON TV LICENCES FOR ELDERLY

Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, has again called on the UK government to ensure that her constituents over the age of 75 will not be forced to pay for a TV licence.

Despite the Conservatives making the retainment of free TV licences a key pledge of their election manifestos in 2015 and 2017, over-75s not in receipt of pension credit will be demanded to pay an extra £154.50 per year.

Restrictions were due to come into force from 1 June this year but this date was delayed by two months due to the coronavirus pandemic but have not been extended any further past 1 August.

Denham has supported calls in Scotland for the licence to remain free and last year visited Age Scotland to support their petition to the UK government to see the disgraceful decision over-turned.

Commenting, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“When a political party makes a promise, people expect those promises to be kept – particularly to our elderly, who have worked hard all of their lives and deserve dignity and our immense respect.

“If these restrictions are brought forward, free licences will only be available to households with one person aged over 75 who receives pension credit, totally contradicting Tory manifesto promises in 2015 and 2017 and ending almost 20 years of free licences for this age group.

“After years of Tory austerity and after the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the last thing our older people need is money being taken out of their pockets. The extra burden of £154.50 to their household bills could have a serious impact on already hard-stretched finances.

“In the UK, over half of over-75s live alone and many – two fifths of older people according to an Age UK survey – say the television is their main company. A television is something which has the ability to make someone who lives alone feel less lonely as it helps connect them with what is going on in the country and the rest of the world. For the Tories to remove this free service to the elderly is cruel.

“It’s vital that we keep TV licences free for over-75s as the cost of buying a TV licence could be a real barrier to many people.”

ENDS

IMMIGRATION SALARY THRESHOLD WOULD HARM ECONOMY & NHS AND SOCIAL CARE IN EDINBURGH

50.9% OF CAPITAL WORKERS INELIGIBLE UNDER TORY IMMIGRATION PLANS

The UK’s proposed new immigration system could halve the number of people coming to Scotland, risking labour shortages in key sectors, an independent expert group has warned.

New research shows that 50.9% of migrants who want to work in Edinburgh would be ineligible to come to the UK under Westminster proposals – shutting the door on our ability to recruit talented, skilled and dedicated workers from Europe and elsewhere.

According to previous analysis by the Expert Advisory Group, 53% of roles filled by employees in Scotland earn less than £25,000, including up to 90% of jobs in the care sector.

Holyrood’s Finance Committee has also warned that demographic changes could pose risks to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.

SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“The COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated the UK’s reliance on key workers who have come to Scotland from all over the world.

“This pandemic has shown beyond doubt that people working in the roles which the Tories describe as ‘lower-skilled’ are absolutely vital to our communities.

“Without migration, the Capital could face a demographic crisis that could hammer public services like the NHS – as an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers.

“But despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans which will be immeasurably damaging to Edinburgh and Scotland.

“We need the power to attract and retain the workers we need to fund our public services, and allow our economy to flourish.”

ENDS

HOLYROOD BACKS £19.27 MILLION FOR EDINBURGH TO TACKLE COVID-19

SNP MSP Ash Denham has welcomed a Holyrood vote approving £19.27m extra funding for The City of Edinburgh Council in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost £258 million extra funding has been approved for vital local services across Scotland, such as food provision for those in need, education and social care.

The Scottish Government is in discussions with local authorities over providing a further £72 million – which will bring the total additional funding to almost £330 million.

This extra funding is on top of the local government finance settlement of £11.4 billion, which already provided an increase of £589.4 million (5.8%) compared to the previous year.

SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“The pandemic has put real pressure on families and local services, and it’s right that the Scottish Government has ensured The City of Edinburgh Council has more cash to deal with this.

“This funding boost is supporting access to food, welfare payments and frontline services.

“I also welcome the additional flexibility given to councils in how money is spent, allowing resources to be diverted to the COVID-19 response if required.”

ENDS

DENHAM WELCOMES “AMBITIOUS” INDEPENDENT REPORT ON SCOTLAND’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY FROM COVID-19

Ash Denham MSP has welcomed the findings of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, which was tasked with recommending solutions to ensure a transition towards a greener, net-zero and wellbeing economy, and to advise on measures to address different challenges the economy will face as Scotland recovers from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among the recommendations with the report, ‘Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland’, were:

  • an urgent need to access low cost debt requires an accelerated review of the Fiscal Framework, and a significant increase in access to capital investment to support an investment-led recovery
  • a Scottish jobs guarantee, in partnership between business and government, should be introduced to address unemployment, with refocused skills strategies and decisive steps to align teaching and learning in universities and colleges to the needs of business
  • prioritisation of sector plans to deliver a green recovery, where the coincidence of emissions reductions, the development of natural capital and job creation are the strongest
  • critical investment in the country’s digital infrastructure to improve connectivity, reduce inequalities and build the country’s resilience
  • urgent action to develop a stronger relationship between business and government on the strategy for Scotland’s economic recovery

The Group, led by Benny Higgins, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is an independent advisory group which was set up on 17 April 2020 to provide expert economic advice to the Scottish Government in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Commenting, Ms. Denham said:

“I welcome the findings of this report by the Advisory Group which set out to provide expert advice to the Scottish Government with a strong and comprehensive set of recommendations, which are both ambitious and far-reaching.

“It is particularly pleasing that the Group recognised that Scotland’s economic recovery should be based upon four pillars of ‘capital’ – business, people, communities and environment – and the report sought to treat each pillar as equally important.

“Benny Higgins has said that “radical intervention” is needing to transform our economy to stop inequalities in our society from widening with long-term “scarring” for communities, and for young people in particular. We cannot allow this to happen.

“I look forward to the Scottish Government’s detailed response to this report which will be published before August. I will continue to work with local people and businesses in Edinburgh Eastern to deliver the action needed to ensure recovery from the impact of the coronavirus.”

ENDS

The report of the advisory group: https://www.gov.scot/publications/towards-robust-resilient-wellbeing-economy-scotland-report-advisory-group-economic-recovery/

Scottish Government press release: https://www.gov.scot/news/working-towards-economic-recovery/

EDINBURGH EASTERN MSP WELCOMES RETURN TO FULL-TIME SCHOOLING

Ash Denham, MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, welcomed the announcement last week by Deputy First Minister John Swinney that schools will return full-time in August if Scotland continues to make progress on suppressing COVID-19.

The move comes after significant progress was made in reducing incidence rates of the virus, putting Scotland on a more positive trajectory than previously expected.

As a result, the Scottish Government has now made it a central planning assumption that pupils will return to class full-time, without distancing, in August. This is conditional on infection rates being sufficiently low to continue to control the virus, public health and testing systems being in place and protective measures and risk assessments being carried out in schools.

Mr Swinney also revealed that an additional £100 million will be invested over the next two years to tackle the impact of lockdown on schools and pupils, including ensuring every current probationer teacher who meets the standard for full registration having a teaching post for the year ahead.

Commenting, Ash Denham said:

“This is extremely welcome news and it is thanks to the significant sacrifices of people here in Edinburgh and across Scotland during the lockdown that pupils can return to a school setting full time in August, if the virus continues to be suppressed.

“I will continue to engage with The City of Edinburgh Council, as I have already been doing in recent days, on the safe return of our pupils and staff to ensure our young people get the education they deserve.

“I want to send my gratitude to our amazing teachers, school staff, pupils, and their families for their patience and their help during these uncertain times.

“I am also delighted to see an additional £100m, to be invested over the next two years, to tackle the impact of lockdown on schools and pupils, which will ensure every current probationary teacher who meets the standard for full registration will have a teaching post in the year ahead.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but this announcement is another important step in our recovery from this pandemic and shows the Scottish Government is doing all it can to support families and communities across the country.”

ENDS