SNP CAMPAIGN WIN FOR COATBRIDGE & CHRYSTON AS CHANCELLOR U-TURNS ON POLICE AND FIRE VAT

BUT TORIES STILL OWE SCOTLAND £140 MILLION

 

Intense SNP pressure on the UK government has paid off for Scotland’s emergency services after the Chancellor finally backed down to allow Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue to reclaim VAT after years of unfairness.

 

Scotland’s emergency services had been the only territorial forces in the UK unable to reclaim VAT – which costs the forces £35 million annually. While the overdue reversal is welcomed by the SNP, the refusal to repay the £140 million already paid by Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue means the Tories continue to short-change North Lanarkshire’s emergency services.

 

SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor who is a member of the Justice Committee has criticised the UK government for this betrayal of Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland – and is calling on them to give Scotland the £140 million we are owed to help bolster police and fire services in Coatbridge & Chryston.

 

Commenting, Fulton MacGregor said:

 

“We of course welcome the news that the UK government will no longer unfairly take £35 million from our Police and Fire budgets every year – and constant pressure from the SNP on this issue has made this win possible.

 

“However, the Chancellor does not go nearly far enough – and his refusal to refund the money Scotland has already paid shows how little the Tories care about Coatbridge & Chryston’s emergency services.

 

“If they finally agree that it is unfair for Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue to pay VAT, how can they possibly justify keeping the money they have already taken?

 

“The £140 million owed to Scotland’s emergency services is a drop in the ocean compared to the £1 billion the Tories threw to the DUP to prop up a weak and wobbly Prime Minister and government.

 

“The Chancellor has come up short in his commitment to Coatbridge & Chryston’s police and fire services. The refusal to repay the £140 million we are owed is simply yet another Tory betrayal of Scotland – and proves just how useless the band of Scottish Tory MPs really are.”

FULTON MACGREGOR WELCOMES SUPREME COURT MINIMUM PRICE RULING

POLICY WILL HELP IMPROVE SCOTLAND’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ALCOHOL

 

SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor has welcomed the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that the Scottish Government’s minimum unit pricing policy is legal, allowing the legislation to proceed as part of efforts to improve Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol.

 

The policy was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, but has been delayed due to a long-running legal challenge. Today’s ruling allows it to go ahead, setting a minimum unit price on alcohol of 50 pence.

 

Minimum unit pricing is backed by academic research, which suggests that the policy will cut alcohol-related deaths and reduce hospital admissions linked to alcohol misuse, which costs Scotland £3.6 billion every year.

 

Commenting, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:

 

“This is excellent news, and a clear vindication of the Scottish Government’s policy.

 

“This ruling now allows us to go ahead with the policy that was overwhelmingly backed by the Scottish Parliament five years ago and take the action that is needed to cut alcohol-related deaths and reduce hospital admissions

 

“The health and wellbeing of people across Scotland is absolutely paramount – and the fact that alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion every year shows how damaging our relationship with alcohol is.

 

“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.

 

“We will continue to support the whisky industry and work alongside them to ensure their economic success, while maintaining our commitment to promote safe and responsible alcohol consumption.

 

“Scotland is the first country in the world to implement such a policy – and we should be proud of our pioneering approach that will benefit North Lanarkshire and Scotland for generations.”

SNP TAKES THE LEAD ON INCOME TAX DISCUSSION

TAX MUST “PROTECT LOW EARNERS, BE PROGRESSIVE AND PROPORTIONATE”

SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor has welcomed the publication of a discussion paper on the role of income tax in Scotland and praised the Scottish Government for taking the initiative to discuss the issue in an open and honest manner.

The Scottish Government’s paper includes proposals from all of Scotland’s political parties – with progressive parties backing varied measures in order to support public services, and Tory proposals supporting tax cuts for highest earners at the expense of public services.

The First Minister also outlined that any changes to income tax in Scotland must pass four key tests – including supporting public services, ensuring the lowest earners don’t see their taxes increase, making the system more progressive, and supporting the economy.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor said:

“This discussion paper outlines the various proposals of Scotland’s political parties and where we stand heading towards the budget.

“It is perfectly clear that the Tories are isolated on taxation, as they are on so many other issues – with their proposals only offering a tax cut for the wealthiest and continued austerity for the rest of us.

“People in Coatbridge & Chryston and across Scotland have the right to an open and honest discussion about the income tax that they will pay – and this is exactly what the Scottish Government is delivering.

“We need to be prepared to ask these difficult questions and to work with other parties to find an answer that means individuals and businesses are treated fairly and pay the right amount for the services that they receive in return.

“And as we work towards delivering a budget that works for Coatbridge & Chryston and all of Scotland, we can rest assured that the Scottish Government will bring forward policy proposals that are in the interests of everyone, protecting the lowest earners and our public services in Coatbridge & Chryston as opposed to just standing up for a wealthy few and putting our education and health services on the bonfire.”

 

FULTON MACGREGOR MSP WELCOMES FRACKING BAN

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SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that fracking will be banned.

North Lanarkshire was one of the local authority areas identified as potentially having significant shale oil and gas reserves or coal bed methane, particularly the area of Moodiesburn in my constituency.

 

The Scottish Government previously announced a moratorium while it ran a public consultation and examined evidence over health and public safety.

 

The consultation was the second largest ever run by the Scottish Government, receiving 60,535 valid responses – of which 99% were opposed to fracking.

 

Commenting, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:

 

“People in North Lanarkshire and across Scotland had deep concerns about the development of fracking, which is why the Scottish Government put in place a moratorium while the evidence was carefully examined.

 

“The Scottish Government has now undertaken one of the most far reaching investigations into unconventional oil and gas of any government in the world.

 

“The judgement is now clear – we could not pursue fracking in confidence that it would not undermine public health or our climate change targets.

 

“And, importantly, the public consent in the communities like Moodiesburn that would be affected simply isn’t there.

 

“I’m delighted that the Scottish Government are putting the interests of communities first.”

20 YEARS ON – DEVOLUTION HAS DELIVERED FOR NORTH LANARKSHIRE

scot parlSNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has praised the success of devolution twenty years on from the referendum on a Scottish Parliament.

82.6% of voters in North Lanarkshire backed the plans in the 1997 referendum, which saw 74% of Scots vote for a devolved parliament. The Scottish Parliament was then reconvened in 1999.

Commenting,  Fulton MacGregor said:

“Devolution has been an enormous success for North Lanarkshire and for Scotland.

“A whole generation of Scots has now grown up with a Scottish Parliament – and because of devolution those young people have votes at 16 for Scottish elections, the Educational Maintenance Allowance, free university tuition and one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe.

“And whether it’s effectively ending the Bedroom Tax, providing free personal care for the elderly or having the best performing A&Es in the UK, devolution has benefited people across Scottish society.

“But we should always be restless in our ambition to make life better for the people who live here.  And the more powers our Parliament has, the more we can, collectively, do for Scotland.

“Over coming months the Scottish Government will bring forward proposals for further devolution of powers over employment, social security, immigration and trade.

“But the Tory Brexit plans threaten to undermine the very principle of devolution by reserving powers over areas such as agriculture, fishing and the environment as they return from Brussels.

“That would be an unacceptable power grab – and we shouldn’t stand for it.”

MSP URGES MONKLANDS EMPLOYERS TO SIGN UP TO LIVING WAGE

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SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has urged businesses in Coatbridge & Chryston, and wider Monklands, to sign up to the Scottish Living Wage – as the number of accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland hits 900.

 

The Scottish Living Wage is independently calculated based on the cost of living – with the real Living Wage currently at £8.45, above the minimum wage of £7.50 for workers aged over 25.

 

There are currently 31 accredited Living Wage employers in North Lanarkshire.

 

Fulton MacGregor pointed to the benefits of accreditation, with research showing paying the real Living Wage leads to a fall in absenteeism and a significant impact on recruitment and staff retention.

 

Commenting, Mr MacGregor said:

 

“The real Living Wage can make a huge difference to both workers and employers.

 

“For business, paying the Living Wage makes sense – it’s an investment in people and all the evidence shows it leads to increased productivity and reduced staff absence and turnover.

 

“Around 20 per cent of Scotland’s workforce earn less than the real Living Wage. With low pay one of the main drivers of in-work poverty, it’s vital that employers who can pay the real Living Wage do so.

 

“I would strongly encourage all employers in Coatbridge & Chryston to look into the real benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer.”

SNP MSP DEMANDS TOUGHER UK GOVERNMENT ACTION ON FOBTS

OVER £89,979,230 LOST ON GAMBLING MACHINES IN NORTH LANARKSHIRE SINCE 2008

SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor has called on the UK government to take tougher action to tackle the scourge of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in our local communities – after figures from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling revealed that over £89,979,230 had been lost on the gambling machines since 2008 across North Lanarkshire.

Over £1 billion has been lost on the machines, known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’, since 2008 across Scotland – with £13,281,361 lost in North Lanarkshire in 2015/16 alone.

gambling

The figures have led to calls from SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor for the UK government to take action to tackle FOBTs, which remains reserved to Westminster – including by reducing the numbers allowed in betting shops, limiting the stakes that can be bet, reducing the time that can be spent on the machines, and also taking action to ban the machines altogether if people continue to lose out.

Commenting, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:

“These are incredibly concerning figures – and show that the Tory government cannot continue to ignore this issue that is having such a negative impact on our communities.

“People across North Lanarkshire have lost out to the tune of over £89 million since 2008 – and over £13 million in 2015/16 alone. This is a huge problem – and the UK government need to get serious about tackling it.

“FOBTs are known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ – and it is no wonder given how much people have lost out from using these toxic machines. The impact of these machines and the problem gambling associated on individuals and their families’ physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing is also quite evident. We must do more to protect these people.

“That is why I believe the UK government must take action to stop people losing out even more – by reducing the number of machines allowed in bookmakers, limiting the stakes that can be bet, reducing the amount of time that can be spent on the machines, and taking action to ban the machines altogether if people continue to lose out.

“I have raised these concerns directly with the regional director of Ladbrokes / Coral Bookmakers who have numerous shops across my constituency, but I feel that ultimately the UK government hold a responsibility for regulating FOBTs. The Tories have dug their heels on this issue for long enough – it is time for them to take action to help people across North Lanarkshire.”

SCHOOLS IN NORTH LANARKSHIRE GET FUNDING BOOST

Schools in North Lanarkshire will receive £7,774,966 in 2017/18 to help close the poverty-related attainment gap, the Scottish Government announced this week.

More than £45 million of dedicated funding will be provided to primary and secondary schools across Scotland in 2017/18 to help pupils from low-income backgrounds succeed at school.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge is providing £750 million during the course of this Parliament to tackle the poverty related attainment gap. It prioritises improvements in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing of children adversely affected by poverty in Scotland’s Primary and Secondary schools. This funding takes the Challenge Authorities and Schools Programme into its third successive year.

Nine local authorities and an additional 72 individual schools have been allocated funding from the Scottish Attainment Challenge, for education initiatives and projects targeting Scotland’s most deprived children.

Commenting, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:

“Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people is the defining mission of the SNP in government.

“The Scottish Government are providing £750 million during the course of this Parliament to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap – and schools in North Lanarkshire will benefit to the tune of £7,774,966 this year through our Attainment Challenge.

“This latest round of funding will ensure that schools where the need is greatest have substantial additional funding for the coming year to improve literacy, numeracy and health and well-being.

“I’m delighted that schools in Coatbridge & Chryston are benefitting from this funding, which is targeted to improve the life chances of children and young people in Scotland.”

NHS LANARKSHIRE HITS FOUR HOUR A&E TARGET

The most recent data for NHS Scotland reveals that 96.3% of patients in NHS Lanarkshire’s emergency departments were seen, admitted or discharged within four hour – beating the 95% target.

 

Scottish hospitals have now had the best performing emergency departments in the UK for more than two years.
Commenting, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor for Coatbridge & Chryston said:

“Scotland has had the best performing emergency departments in the UK for more than two years – which is testament to the hard work of our NHS and social care workers.

“It is extremely encouraging that Emergency Departments in NHS Lanarkshire are frequently meeting the four hour waiting times target, with the latest figures published showing that 96.3% of patients are being seen within four hours.

“We will always value the vital work done by our NHS staff – and we should always celebrate their success and continue to support their efforts.”

SCOTTISH ECONOMIC GROWTH OUTSTRIPS THE UK

New GDP figures show that Scotland’s economy has grown 0.8% in the first quarter of 2017, four times the UK growth rate for the same quarter.

 

Production grew by 3.1%, accounting for most of the growth in Scotland, and the services industry grew by 0.3%.

 

Since 2007, productivity in Scotland – the key driver of economic performance  –  has grown by more than 7%. In the UK as a whole productivity growth has been close to zero (0.4%).

Commenting on the latest GDP figures, SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor – Coatbridge & Chryston said:

“We are seeing an improving picture across Scotland – the economy is growing, the number of people in employment is rising and unemployment is at historic lows.

 

“Coatbridge & Chryston has lots to be confident about. The SNP Scottish Government’s £6 billion infrastructure plan, £500 million Scottish Growth Scheme and record investment in Modern Apprenticeships and education will continue to support the local economy.

 

“However Brexit, and being removed from the world’s largest single market, poses the biggest threat to this progress and Scotland’s economy. A blind crusade towards a hard Brexit cliff edge could cost our economy around £11 billion a year by 2030 and result in 80,000 fewer jobs, and the fall in Sterling since the referendum is already pushing up prices and squeezing household incomes. This, accompanied by relentless Tory austerity, means we cannot be complacent.
“The SNP has a plan to grow our economy and we will continue to work hard to support it through difficult times ahead – determined to remain an open, European nation inside the world’s largest single market.”