Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that a new benefit will be introduced for low income families to reduce levels of child poverty in Scotland.

The Scottish Child Payment will give eligible families £10 a week for every child under 16 by the end of 2022. For a family with two children under the age of 16 this is an additional £1,000 a year.

According to figures published in May this year by the End Child Poverty coalition, 3,946 children (30.1%) in Ms. Denham’s Edinburgh Eastern constituency live in poverty, and almost one in four children in Edinburgh as a whole.

Commenting on the announcement, Ms. Denham said:

“The Tories should be ashamed that half a million more children across the UK are living in poverty compared to when they took office in 2010.

“It’s a disgrace that almost one in three children in my constituency are living in poverty after housing costs.

“Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to be absent from school due to illness, to have a long standing illness, and are nearly three times more likely to suffer mental health problems.

“This announcement from the Scottish Government to create a new Scottish Child Payment benefit is another landmark moment for our Parliament and will help families like many in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency who are struggling to make ends meet – often with at least one working parent in the household.

“The SNP is determined to eradicate child poverty. That’s why we are the only UK country to have set statutory income targets to end child poverty in the Child Poverty Act, we then brought forward our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and have spent £527 million across all government policies to support low income families with children.

“This latest announcement shows the SNP is working for families across Scotland.”



Read more about the new payment on the Scottish Government website:


Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, visited the Debra-Ann Dancers at the Jack Kane Centre in Niddrie last week to congratulate them on their success in performing a fundraising dance across the Forth Road Bridge earlier this month.

The group, made up of girls aged between four and 20 years old, welcomed the MSP by performing a number of dance routines.

The practice session was one of the last before the group departs at the end of June to take part in a Highland Dancing competition in Canada.

Next year the dancers are also set to compete in the Highland Dancing Champion of Champions event in Brisbane, Queensland.

Ash Denham MSP said:

“I was delighted to meet Debra-Ann and her fantastic school of Highland dancers, who put on an amazing show when I arrived.

“It really wanted to come and congratulate the girls on their recent fundraising dance across the Forth Road Bridge and to hear about their upcoming trip to Canada to compete at the Scot Dance Canada Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick.

“I wish the group well at the championships and I’m sure they’ll do Niddrie and Scotland proud!

“The group relies on fundraising to travel to national and international competitions so I would encourage constituents to donate to Debra-Ann’s School of Dance and to follow their success on the group’s Facebook page.”

Debra-Ann Brown added:

“The dancing group started at the Jack Kane Centre more than 40 years ago now and currently we have around 15 girls who train and compete, many of whom are the daughters of previous dancers in the group who hail from the Niddrie area.

“The recent event on the Forth Road Bridge was a fantastic occasion and the kids had an amazing day. It was a real family event where the girls’ parents and brothers and sisters came along too.

“It was really, really lovely for our local MSP, Ash Denham, to come to our practice session and meet the girls. The girls don’t get enough recognition so it’s nice whenever someone visits us to see how good the dancers are.”



Learn more about the group on their Facebook page:

Donate to their fundraising page here:



Latest figures from the Scottish Government show that school leavers in the capital continue to go on to positive destinations after finishing secondary school – with the latest figures showing 93.6% of young people in Edinburgh are going into further or higher education, employment or training nine months after leaving school. A rise on 2016/17 levels that sat at 92.3%.

Across Scotland, the number of school leavers reaching a positive destination has risen to 93.2% – the highest level since comparable figures began in 2009/10 when 85.2% of young people entered a positive destination.

Of those in positive destinations across Scotland, 39% are at University and 22.7% are at college, while 28.3% are in employment.

The proportion of looked-after children entering further and higher education is now also at a record high. The proportion of looked-after young people in positive destinations nine months after leaving school has increased to 76% over the past five years.

Commenting on the latest stats, SNP MSP Edinburgh Eastern, Ash Denham, said:

“Education is the Scottish Government’s number one priority and these figures show that the SNP’s approach is working for young people here in Edinburgh.

“More young people across Edinburgh are going on to positive destinations than before – up from 92.3% to 93.6% over the last year.

“This is fantastic news for our community and testament to the hard work of our teachers here in the capital and across Scotland.

“While these figures are extremely encouraging – this SNP Government will keep working tirelessly to improve Scotland’s education.

“Perhaps it’s now time for local politicians to stop sniping and get behind the SNP’s positive efforts to ensure all our young people have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential.”





Following the UK Government’s announcement that agreement has been reached with the EU on the terms of withdrawal, SNP MSP, Ash Denham has written to organisations across Edinburgh Eastern to hold urgent discussions on the needs and concerns of businesses in their constituency.

This week the Scottish Government published an assessment of the deal, putting forward alternatives that would secure a better outcome for Scotland and the UK as a whole.

The SNP supports full EU membership, but has also put forward a compromise proposal to keep Scotland in the European Customs Union and Single Market, which is around eight times the size of the UK alone.

Nearly 6,800 companies operating in Scotland exported goods to the EU last year and over 10,000 companies were reliant on imports from the EU.

The UK’s deal would take Scotland out of the Single Market, erect trade barriers, and end free movement, inevitably making it harder for Scottish businesses to access skills and talent from Europe – resulting in higher costs, a loss of competitiveness and production delays.

Commenting, SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“Since Scotland voted emphatically to remain part of the EU in 2016, the SNP has been leading discussions to explore all possible options that protect our place in Europe.

“Based on the current Withdrawal Deal that’s being put forward by Theresa May, business investment, productivity, earnings and employment in Scotland will all suffer.

“Compared with continued EU membership, Theresa May’s proposal could cost the equivalent of £1,600 for each person in Scotland by 2030.

“It is vital that the voices of organisations here in Edinburgh Eastern are heard, and respected, as we look to secure a bright future for Scottish business.

“I would urge businesses to get in touch to make their views known on how Brexit will affect their interests and the economy here in the Lothians.”


Notes to editors:

Scotland’s Place in Europe: An Assessment of the UK Government’s Proposed Future Relationship with the EU 







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.




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.

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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.

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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.

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