SNP MSP, Ash Denham, has warned the Tory government against increasing the state pension age, which would have dire and disproportionate consequences in Edinburgh Eastern and across Scotland.

The Tories’ threat comes following a report published by the Centre for Social Justice – chaired by close Boris Johnson ally, Iain Duncan Smith – which concludes that the state pension age should rise to 75 over the next 16 years.

SNP MSP Ash Denham has said that any further increases in the state pension age could have a hugely disproportionate impact on Scotland due to its unique demographic needs.

The MSP also called on the UK government to heed warnings raised in a new report that found the proportion of elderly people living in severe poverty in the UK is five times what it was in 1986 – the largest increase among western European countries.

SNP MSP Ash Denham said:

“The Tory government’s approach to the UK’s elderly population and state pension policy has been cruel and callous.

“From the burning injustices facing the WASPI women who have been denied the right to their state pension, to the stripping away of free TV licences for the over 75s, this government’s attitude towards its older people is shameful.

“Instead of taking on board policies written up by one of the architects of Tory austerity, the new Prime Minister must take action to address the dire levels of pensioner poverty in the UK.

“The Tory government must take a step back and tackle these injustices – rather than ramping up the threats.”




Ash Denham MSP has called on businesses and charities in Edinburgh to follow Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’s ‘lead’ by signing up to become an accredited Living Wage employer, which ensures staff and third-party contractors are paid a wage independently calculated each year on what employees and their families need to live on.

The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home became Living Wage employers in June ensuring everyone working at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, regardless of whether they are direct employees or third-party contracted staff, receive a minimum wage of £9 per hour. This rate is significantly higher than the UK Government’s minimum of £7.70 for under-25s and £8.21 per hour for over-25s.

Hundreds of employers in Edinburgh have signed up for the Living Wage Scotland scheme since it was established in 2014 by the Poverty Alliance and the Living Wage Foundation – an initiative funded in Scotland by the Scottish Government.

Ms. Denham, who is also a Living Wage employer, said:

“I was delighted to visit Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home recently to congratulate the charity on becoming a real Living Wage employer, which now sees their staff and third-party contractors paid a minimum of £9 per hour.

“The Home is one of the oldest animal welfare charities in Scotland and is used by thousands of people every year when looking for a lost pet or to re-home one of the residents they care for, so it’s great to see such an iconic Edinburgh charity adopting this important initiative.

“It’s fantastic they have decided to become Living Wage employers, which will see someone who was previously earning an annual wage of £15,015 now receive £17,500. It allows employees to perhaps spend more time with their children, to give up a part-time job, or not to worry about affording the basics to get by.

“It also significantly helps in the fight to tackle the rising tide of in-work poverty, as 67% of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work. Paying the real living wage is a welcome boost to family incomes and can make a real difference to people’s lives and their wellbeing.

“I hope other employers in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency and across the capital follow Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’s lead by becoming accredited Living Wage employers too.”

Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, Director of Operations/Deputy to the CEO at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, said:

“We at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home feel enormously proud that our organisation has taken the lead on Living Wage in the Scottish animal welfare sector. The real Living Wage represents the empowerment and betterment of staff in a world where inequalities continue to grow. It’s the right time to acknowledge that valuing staff should not only be set in organisational statements but also in organisational action.

“We’re aware that animal welfare and animal care roles as a sector and profession are often not well paid, they can often be described as careers of passion rather than financial reward. We have changed that notion by embracing the real Living Wage and by doing this moving the sector to recognising the skill, professionalism and expertise that is required to work with animals – particularly rescue animals.

“Ultimately by valuing our people and what they do, we are valuing our animals, the quality of their care and the second chance at life that we hope to give them with a new family. Happy people means happy animals.”

Jack Evans, Living Wage Scotland Manager added:

“We are delighted to have welcomed Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home to the Living Wage movement.

“We are a movement of over 1,500 Scottish employers who together want to go further than the government minimum to make sure that all their staff earn enough to live on. We have lots of smaller employers as well as larger and iconic Scottish employers like SSE, Standard Life, Barrs, Mackies, Johnstons of Elgin, D.C. Thomson and many more.

“These businesses recognise that the Living Wage accreditation is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like Edinbugh Dog and Cat Home, join us because they too believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”


Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home was founded in 1883 and works in partnership with Police and local authorities to rescue, reunite and rehome lost, stray and abandoned dogs and cats across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

It has an open-door policy, accepting any dog or cat that comes through the door in need, whatever shape, breed or size, and staff work tirelessly to find a permanent loving home for every animal, however long it takes.

It costs around £2.4 million a year to run Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.

In 2018, the Home cared for 2,367 dogs and 771 cats.

Edinburgh Evening News column 9/7/19

Later this month, 120,000 Tory members will choose the next leader of their party, the replacement for Theresa May, and as a consequence, the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Looking ahead at who is running to fill the vacancy in Number 10, the options make for depressing reading. Unfortunately, this Tory leadership contest has been a horror show from beginning to end.

The next Prime Minister could be Boris Johnson – who once argued that “a pound spent in Croydon will generate more for the economy than a pound spent in Strathclyde,” and said that Muslim women looked like “letterboxes”, among a long list of outrageous comments.

The other option is Jeremy Hunt, who as Health Secretary ran the National Health Service into the ground – forcing junior doctors to strike for the first time in 40 years, called for the abortion limit to be halved from 24 weeks to 12 weeks, and previously said he wanted the NHS to be dismantled and replaced by a run-for-profit system.

Each of these would-be PMs is mired in controversy, and their extreme views will rightly spark concern with voters across the UK.

On the 23 July, one of these men will be foisted upon Scotland – ready to deny the people of Scotland a chance to decide their own future, but also ready to lurch even further to the right in an attempt to pander to Nigel Farage and his right-wing Brexit Party.

Edinburgh voted three to one to remain in the EU – so did Scotland – but the next Prime Minister is intent on delivering a Brexit that Scotland didn’t vote for, and which will wreak enormous damage on our businesses and our economy.

Beyond the hollow rhetoric about protecting the Union, both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are two peas in a pod, who are both willing to drive Scotland and the UK off an economic cliff-edge with a no-deal Brexit – no matter the cost.

Neither of the candidates are fit to lead the country out of the dire situation in which we find ourselves. The prospect of Johnson or Hunt becoming the next Prime Minister illustrates the divergent paths that Scotland and the rest of the UK are on.

The people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the shambles offered by a Westminster government which has let Scotland down at every turn – ignoring our people and locking our government out of crucial discussions that would shape our nation’s future.

It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is by taking our place as an equal, independent European nation.


Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, has written to Lothian Buses asking the company to reconsider changes to the number 15 bus service which are set to take effect from Monday 14th July.

The Service 15/X15 route from the City Centre to Lochend is due to be withdrawn due to “low customer usage” and the Saturday service will also be withdrawn.

However, several of Ms. Denham’s constituents have contacted her office complaining the changes to the number 15 service, which travels between Lochend and Penicuik, would force elderly bus users to walk a longer distance to access an alternative bus route to take them into the city centre.

She said:

“A number of constituents in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency have contacted me to express their anger that the number 15 service bus they rely on to travel into the city centre is due to be withdrawn.

“Many constituents who use this service are elderly and may have disabilities which prevent them from walking a longer distance to reach the next bus stop to take them into town. Walking a longer distance will also be particularly difficult in bad weather or in the winter months.

“I have now personally written to the Managing Director of Lothian Buses, Richard Hall, asking for the company to look again at this route and for the service from Lochend to the city centre to be reinstated when this new timetable takes effect from July 14th.”

Constituent, Fraser Renton (pictured on the right in the attached photo), 78, said:

“This service is essential for older people like myself in what is a heavily populated area to get up into the town and access the train station.

“It saves people walking all the way along to Restalrig Road or down to Sleigh Drive, which can be a considerable walk for a lot of elderly people in the area – and would be even more challenging in the winter.

“I believe the number 15 service is a popular one and if they’re taking it away it’s in the interests of profit and not of the local people from this area who rely on it.

“I and others made this point to Ash, our local MSP, and we’re really pleased she has taken this up and contacted Lothian Buses. At the very least we’re looking for some form of compromise where perhaps the bus could be changed to a single-decker or as a last resort could be made an hourly service.”


Bus timetable changes:


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.”