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.”

MSP CALLS ON PROVOST TO RECONSIDER

North Lanarkshire Labour Provost has blocked SNP motion to save Classroom Assistant posts

 

SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, has today (Wednesday) called on the Labour Provost of North Lanarkshire to allow an SNP motion to save 198 Classroom Assistant posts.

 

The council announced on 19 May, one day after the new Labour/Tory administration was formed, that they would be ‘deleting’ 198 classroom assistant posts throughout the local authority, leaving primary schools with just one each and secondary schools with none at all.

 

The SNP group on the council put forward a motion to reverse the decision, which was due to be debated at the next meeting of the council on 22 June.

 

However, the Provost has blocked the motion, describing it as ‘not competent’ without explaining further. This means that the item will not be on the agenda at the council meeting and cannot be discussed.

 

Commenting, Fulton MacGregor MSP said:

 

‘I am absolutely disgusted that a Labour Provost, elected after a deal with the Tory group, would block such an important motion from being discussed. If the administration truly believe that this is the right decision, they should have no fear about allowing the issue to be discussed and voted upon.

 

‘Classroom assistants play a vital part in our education system and while the SNP Government are working to increase attainment, the Labour/Tory North Lanarkshire Council seem to have the opposite aim.

 

‘Not only are people going to lose their jobs as a result of this decision, children who require additional support in school will suffer as a result of this awful decision.

 

‘I have submitted a motion to the parliament calling on this decision to be reversed. I have also been contacted by many concerned parents and staff who are working together on a large-scale campaign to save these posts. I hope the council will take notice and come to the right decision on this issue.’

 

motion

ONLY A STRONG SNP CAN STAND UP FOR SCOTLAND

TEN TIMES WE’VE STOPPED THE TORIES

Over the past ten years, the SNP has repeatedly stopped Labour and the Tories at Westminster from inflicting harmful policies on families across the country – showing why now, more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland.

The SNP’s strong record of standing up for Scotland over ten years in government and as the real opposition at Westminster has forced u-turns on damaging Tory policies and blocked Westminster Tory attempts to cut Scotland’s budget by £7 billion.

The SNP in Government has taken action to protect Scotland from the full force of Tory policy.

1.      We stopped the Tories at Westminster cutting Scotland’s budget by £7 billion – and won new tax and social security powers.

2.      We effectively ended the Bedroom Tax in Scotland – and have spent nearly £400m since 2013 mitigating Tory cuts to household incomes.

3.      We kept and expanded the Education Maintenance Allowance – scrapped by the Tories in England – to support even more school pupils and college students from low income families.

4.      We have protected education based on ability to learn not ability to pay, saving students in Scotland up to £27,000 compared to the cost of studying in England.

5.      We abolished prescription charges helping low income households, while patients in England are forced to pay £8.60 per item.

6.         We forced the UK Government to ditch cuts to Tax Credits that would have cost low income households with children in Scotland around £3,000 per year.

7.         We have safeguarded the rights of 2,800 of the most severely disabled by establishing the Scottish Independent Living Fund when the Westminster Tories closed the UK wide fund in 2015.

8.         We’ve kept nursing bursaries and free tuition for nurses while the Tories have scrapped both in England.

9.        We’re locking out ATOS-style private profiteering in the Scottish Social Security System – rejecting the failed Tory model.

10.     We helped forced the Tories to u-turn and accept unaccompanied child refugees – and are now pressing them to keep their promise.

Commenting, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The SNP has been, and will continue to be, Scotland’s bulwark against the dangers of an unopposed Tory government. Now more than ever, we need strong SNP voices to stop the the Tories dragging Scotland backwards.

“When the Tories tried to cut Scotland’s budget by £7 billion, it was SNP MPs and a strong SNP government that stopped them.

“When the Tories wanted to cut Tax Credits – hitting low income households by around £3,000 a year – the SNP helped to stop them.

“When the Tories inflicted the hated Bedroom Tax on the disabled, the SNP stood in their way.

“In Scotland it is only the strong voice of SNP MPs at Westminster combined with an effective SNP government that has protected Scotland from the full force of the Tories at Westminster.

“In government, around the country and at Westminster it is only the SNP that always puts Scotland’s interests first.

“Now more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland.

“Only then can we protect Scotland from the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster and continue to make Scotland the best country it can be.”

MSP CALLS ON TORY MSPS IN NORTH LANARKSHIRE TO CONDEMN FAMILY CAP AND RAPE CLAUSE

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has called on Tory MSPs in Central Scotland to stop acting as mere mouthpieces for the UK government and oppose the shocking and inhumane two child limit and rape clause.

The family cap limits tax credits to only two children per family – unless the mother can prove that a third child was conceived as a result of rape or during an abusive relationship.

The Tories railroaded through these policies without a parliamentary debate or vote – leaving many outstanding questions with regards to womens’ rights, the impact on child poverty, as well as how the hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals will be trained to assess evidence of rape.

Many sexual violence support charities such as Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid have said they will refuse to act as third party verifiers for the UK government, not least due to the trauma and stigma that the rape assessment process will cause both survivors and children of rape.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has led the campaign to scrap the grotesque two child policy and rape clause.

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor of Coatbridge & Chryston said:

“The Tory policy that has become known as the rape clause, requiring women to disclose deeply personal information and prove that a third or subsequent child was conceived as a result of rape in order to claim tax credits, is both disgraceful and disgusting.

“Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories should be thoroughly ashamed of their party but instead they are defending the indefensible welfare cuts coming from Westminster.

“The two child policy will mean a loss of up to £2,800 every year per child for hardworking families – driving up child poverty after the UK government scrapped their child poverty targets.

“I will continue to fight these heartless policies and I have written to the Conservative MSPs for the local area – asking them to stand up for the dignity and human rights of Women in Scotland and condemn these utterly appalling Tory Government policies.”

LABOUR PFI SCHOOL SHAME AS NORTH LANARKSHIRE COUNCIL COUNTS COST

£425 MILLION TO BE PAID OUT THIS YEAR ACROSS SCOTLAND – ROBBING MONEY FROM VITAL SERVICES

 Labour’s disastrous PFI schools scheme continues to cost North Lanarkshire council millions of pounds every year, analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre has revealed – proving they are a party which cannot be trusted to manage vital public services.

The duff deals made by Labour during their time in power at Holyrood will cost local authorities across £426.8 million in this financial year – with North Lanarkshire facing a £22.5 million bill, demonstrating Labour’s short-term thinking and profligate use of public money.  

SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor has slammed Labour’s toxic legacy, which continues to rob our local authority of vital funding for education and other public services. The total nationwide cost of the toxic PFI legacy across all projects topped £1 billion in 2015/16, with this figure continuing to rise.

 

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

“The toxic legacy that Labour’s PFI deals have left our schools and North Lanarkshire Council continues to cost millions of pounds every year – and proves once again that only the SNP can be trusted to deliver on education and local funding.  

“While Labour carp from the sidelines about the SNP’s record, it is increasingly clear that we are still paying for the mess that Labour left over a decade ago – with payments in 2017/18 to be as high as £426.8 million across all our council areas, and North Lanarkshire Council facing a bill of £22.5 million. 

“Labour’s spendthrift and reckless handling of our public finances continues to rob North Lanarkshire Council of funds which could be put towards delivering better local services. And let’s not forget the potential consequences of Labour’s dodgy deals on jerry-built schools across Edinburgh – forced to close for nearly 500 days because of fundamental safety concerns.   

“It’s high time that Labour apologised for this toxic legacy that they’ve left for our schools, North Lanarkshire Council and local authorities across the country.”

 

 

INCREASING NUMBERS OF PROBATION TEACHERS IN EMPLOYMENT

There has been a 21% rise in the number of newly-qualified teachers going straight into employment in Scotland since 2007.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Coatbridge and Chryston MSP Fulton MacGregor, the Deputy First Minister confirmed that the cohort of probationers gaining employment as soon as they qualify has risen from 66% in 2007 to 87% in 2016.

Outlining the Government’s vision for Scottish education earlier this week, Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney announced a £4.5m head teacher training programme as well as a partnership with the Hunter Foundation to create head teacher leadership academies.

 

Commenting, Fulton MacGregor MSP said:

 

“It’s not always easy to match newly-qualified teachers with their chosen school or local authority area so it’s great to see more than a 20% rise in the number of probationers getting jobs in Scottish schools as soon as they qualify.

 

“The SNP Government’s number one priority of increasing attainment can only be achieved with the support of a strong cohort of teachers and head teachers looking after our education system.

 

“For the sixth year in a row the SNP has increased student teacher intake targets while targeting specific subject areas where there are skills gaps.

 

“Last year’s Inspiring Teachers campaign helped drive a 19% increase in PGDE applications to Scottish universities compared to the previous year, and John Swinney’s Teaching Makes People campaign has committed £3m funding to train an extra 371 teachers over the next year. On top of that – the Scottish Funding Council will be funding 400 more secondary teacher training places teachers than last year.

“Our education system is fundamental to helping Scotland thrive in the future and our Deputy First Minister is working hard to ensure that the necessary change is happening to help tackle the attainment gap and drive achievement.”

FIVE YEARS OF THE DAILY MILE

INNOVATION IN SCOTTISH SCHOOLS INSPIRING TEACHERS THE WORLD OVER

Five years on since Elaine Wyllie introduced the Daily Mile challenge to St Ninian’s primary school in Stirling, teachers across Scotland and internationally have been inspired to adopt the Daily Mile in their schools.

The Daily Mile concept is a great example of innovation in Scottish schools that has been successfully introduced in schools throughout the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In January this year, researchers at Essex University demonstrated the positive impact of the Daily Mile in improving attainment as well as self-esteem and wellbeing.  The study found that children in an East London school who had participated in the 15 minutes a day of exercise had performed 25% better than predicted in reading and maths in SATS tests and 17% better in writing.

In an interview with Holyrood Magazine, the Daily Mile originator Ms Whylie noted:

“Behaviour across classes and focus improved. Self-esteem, confidence, and all the individuals with challenging behaviour improved…

“Teachers and head teachers know health and wellbeing comes before their learning. Yet we’re presiding over children who, on our watch, get slower and fatter as they go through school. It’s very much a case of if not us, then who, if not now, then, when?”

Commenting, Fulton MacGregor MSP, who sits on Holyrood’s Education Committee, said:

“It is a fantastic achievement that over 1,000 primary schools across Scotland have recognised the benefits of the Daily Mile challenge – a great example of innovation in Scottish education that has gained international acclaim.

“The Daily Mile challenge sees children walking or running a mile each day to develop their physical, emotional and social health, and helps to fight childhood obesity.  A study by Essex University earlier this year found that participants of the Daily Mile programme did better than expected in classroom tests simply by getting active.

“Not only is there a wealth of positive benefits in the short-term – the Daily Mile challenge also encourages children to pick up healthy habits that will hopefully stay with them for life.

“The Scottish Government is committed to making sure as many children participate as possible in this great example of Scottish innovation, to one day become a Daily Mile Nation.”

FULTON MACGREGOR SAYS SCOTLAND MUST HAVE CHOICE OVER FUTURE

HARD BREXIT MEANS OPTION OF INDEPENDENCE MUST BE OFFERED

 SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor has said that it is absolutely correct and appropriate for the people of Scotland to be offered a choice, once the options become clear, between a Tory hard Brexit and becoming an independent country, after the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed plans to seek parliamentary approval to begin discussions with the UK government to bring forward an independence vote.

 

Ahead of the UK government’s triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of the process of leaving the EU, the First Minister said that the Westminster government has been guilty of complete intransigence in the face of Scottish Government attempts to find a compromise – and has continually acted against the best interests of Scotland, not least by ruling out membership of the single market without consulting the Scottish Government.

 

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has said that it has become clear that the UK government has no intention of respecting Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU and North Lanarkshire’s 61% vote to remain. 

 

Commenting, the SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston said:

 

“Throughout the entire Brexit process to date, the Scottish Government has been consistent in its pursuit of a compromise with the UK government, putting forward substantial proposals for Scotland to remain in the single market – yet the UK government has rejected these and is pursuing an ever harder line.

 

“It is within this context, with the UK government intent on pursuing a damaging hard Brexit and set to trigger Article 50 without communicating with the devolved governments, that it has become ever clearer that the people of Scotland must be offered a choice over our future.

 

“The SNP will always stand up for Scotland’s interests and we are intent on protecting Scotland’s place in the single market. The people of Scotland deserve to choose,  once the terms of Brexit are clear and before it is too late to decide our own path, honouring the manifesto pledge that we were elected on last year.

 

“Scotland now stands at a crossroads, and we cannot drift along for two years hoping for the best.  We face the real prospect of right-wing Tory governments until at least 2030 and being dragged out of the EU and Single Market with all the damage to our economy and society that will cause.”

 

LABOUR COUNCIL CASH GRAB OF ATTAINMENT FUND CONDEMNED BY LOCAL MSP

NORTH LANARKSHIRE PLAN TO TAKE MONEY FROM HEADTEACHERS

Plans by the Labour-led North Lanarkshire Council to appropriate money given to headteachers to tackle the attainment gap have been condemned by the SNP, who have called the proposals “abhorrent”.

The story is reported in today’s Herald with council chiefs being accused of “emotional blackmail”. The council hopes to use the funding to plug gaps in its budget caused by their own education cuts – with headteachers being told to hand back £1.3 million.

Scottish Government guidelines state that the Pupil Equity Funding should not be used to subsidise existing services and all money should go directly to head teachers.

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

‘I am deeply concerned at the revelation North Lanarkshire Council are attempting to strip away money from schools which has been allocated to help close the attainment gap.

‘Coatbridge schools were rightly awarded a large amount from this fund to help the most disadvantaged young people and I am outraged that the Council are trying to use this money for staffing costs which should be met by the council and not from this fund.

‘I have written to the Council leader asking him to put a stop to this immediately and allow Head Teachers to use the money as they see fit to support our young people.’

37,000 YOUNG SCOTS IN MODERN APPRENTICESHIPS TODAY

SNP SECURING SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE  

Fulton MacGregor MSP has today led a Holyrood debate highlighting the positive impact of apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities for the 37,000 young people currently going through an apprenticeship in Scotland.  

The SNP manifesto committed to delivering 30,000 apprenticeships each year by 2020, up from 15,000 when we took office, targeting the additional places on higher level courses, including graduate-level apprenticeships.  

The SNP is also committed to addressing gender imbalances and increasing the numbers of trainees who are disabled, care experienced, or from a BME background.  

National Apprenticeship Week will take place from 6 to 10 March.  

Commenting, Fulton MacGregor MSP said:

 “It’s great to see increased participation in Modern Apprenticeships from under-represented groups in society such as women, ethnic minorities, carers and people with disabilities – but we need to widen access even further.  

“I am delighted that Skills Development Scotland has launched an action plan to encourage more BEM young people into Modern Apprenticeships, as well as committed to ensuring support is in place to help care leavers into Modern Apprenticeships, for example by raising the age limit for care leavers to 29. 

 “The SNP’s extra investment and focus over the last decade has transformed apprenticeships – building bridges with industry, filling skills gaps and enhancing productivity, while giving our young people the skills they need to be at the forefront of our economy and our jobs market.  It’s important that we can provide opportunities to young people who feel that college or university is not for them.  

“Countries with well-developed vocational learning systems and significant employer engagement have the lowest levels of youth unemployment.  The fact that Scotland has the second lowest youth unemployment in the EU demonstrates that we are heading in the right direction by investing in Modern Apprenticeships.”