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.”
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.”
Constituents can apply on this link: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/food-clothing/free-school-meals-school-clothing-grants
Ash Denham MSP has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to seek the establishment of a Community Bus Fund.
The Fund was a pledge within the SNP Holyrood manifesto and the Edinburgh Eastern MSP would like to see it rolled out as soon as it is practical.
Last month Ms. Denham met with the Community Transport Association charity and the Lothian Community Transport Services to hear how such a fund could support even more people across the Capital and Scotland to access vital public service and employment opportunities.
The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:
“People across Edinburgh rely on transport services to enable them to lead independent lives – whether that’s accessing public services, going to work or to volunteer, buying food and medicines, or meeting with friends and family.
“I was re-elected on a local campaign pledge to improve public transport services in the constituency and so I have written to the Scottish Government to ask for a Community Bus Fund to be established as soon as possible.
“This Fund – which was a pledge within the SNP manifesto – will support the provision of services across the Capital by allowing the City of Edinburgh Council to look at delivering bus services in a different way.”
Rachael Murphy, Director for Scotland of Community Transport Association, added:
“Delivered by charities and community groups, community transport supports people to live independently, participate in their communities and access local services, amenities and health services.
“At the Community Transport Association, we know that long term investment from Scottish Government, plugged into community transport operators will empower them to serve their communities and be part of a thriving, integrated transport system for Scotland.”
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Newly re-elected Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, is taking forward proposals to chair a Mental Health Action Group within her constituency.
Forming the Group was a key local pledge in her re-election campaign and its aims include identifying the specific mental wellbeing needs of the constituency and to ensure there is more support in place for those struggling with poor or ill mental health.
Ms Denham intends to invite a number of local and national third sector organisations who provide support in the area as well as NHS Lothian to be members of the Group and to contribute to its meetings.
Commenting on the plans for the Group, Ms. Denham said:
“One in three Scots are affected by ill mental health every year and in this next session of Parliament we will need to do more than we have every done before to support them.
“The SNP in government will increase mental health spending by at least 25% over the course of this Parliament and will put a dedicated mental health link worker in evert GP practice across the country.
“But it’s incumbent on all MSPs to take individual actions on a local level as well. I will do that by organising and chairing an Edinburgh Eastern Mental Health Action Group to identify the specific needs of the constituency and take urgent action to improve access to support and services.
“I will be inviting a number of stakeholders – including third sector organisations working in mental health and NHS Lothian – to take part and contribute.”
I opened and closed the stage one debate on the Damages (Investment Returns and Periodical Payments) (Scotland) Bill.
The Justice Committee held a debate on remand. I spoke to open and also close the debate for the Scottish Government.
I responded on behalf of the Scottish Government to the Members’ Business Debate: The Cycle to Syracuse to Mark the 30th Anniversary of the Lockerbie Disaster.
I answered two Justice and the Law Portfolio Questions.
Jamie Halcro Johnston asked what action the Scottish Government is taking in response to the reported increase in incidents of antisocial behaviour.
Margaret Mitchell asked when the Scottish Government last met the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.
I answered two General Questions in September as Minister for Community Safety.
Jenny Gilruth asked me asked me to provide an update on the implementation plan in the national missing persons framework for Scotland.
Gordon Lindhurst asked me what the Scottish Government’s response is to the conclusions of the independent review “Rethinking Legal Aid”.
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.