18 January 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Funding to Tackle Attainment Gap in North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has challenged his political opponents across the North-East to back the Scottish Government’s plans to invest over £8 billion in Scotland’s education system.

Announcing his draft budget proposals in the Scottish Parliament last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP outlined plans to commit £180 million for raising attainment in schools, including £120 delivered directly to head teachers – helping schools address the poverty related attainment gap and helping children overcome barriers.

This funding is to be spent at the discretion of headteachers, enabling them to secure the additional staffing or resources they need to support pupils affected by poverty and boost attainment levels

MSPs will vote on the Finance Secretary’s draft budget proposals next month.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The SNP recognise that every child, regardless of their background, should have the same opportunities and chances to succeed.

“With education the Scottish Government’s number one priority, this £180 million investment, including £120 million direct to headteachers, will help close the attainment gap here in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency and ensure no child is left behind.

“I hope local politicians from all parties will get behind the Finance Secretary’s plans and secure this substantial investment for schools throughout the North-East.”

Stevenson Calls for More Broadband Investment from UK Government

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on the UK government to revise its approach to digital connectivity and invest more money delivering high-speed broadband for residents in his constituency, after it was criticised for ‘short-changing’ Scots on high-speed broadband by a parliamentary committee.

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity committee this week called on the UK government to deliver its fair share of UK broadband funding after it was revealed that the Tories have contributed just 3% of the total funding for the ‘Reaching 100%’ project.

Despite connectivity and broadband being a reserved matter, the Scottish Government has invested £600 million in the ‘R100’ programme to deliver super-fast broadband to every home and business in Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Digital connectivity is an essential part of modern life and an indispensable tool for stimulating economic growth, which is why it is essential that the UK government stop short-changing residents in my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency, and across Scotland.

“The Tories’ ambitions for broadband are extremely disappointing, and far behind those of the Scottish Government – despite connectivity and broadband being a reserved matter.

“Communities across the North-East have been backed into a corner due this Westminster government’s complete lack of ambition for digital connectivity. Rural areas have been especially let down by a lack of adequate broadband coverage.

“The Scottish Government has committed to extending superfast access to all of Scotland by 2021 – with speeds of at least 30Mbps – and committed £600 million to delivering that; it’s time for the Tories to step up to the plate and commit to joining Scotland in the 21st century.

“The Tories must step up to the plate and deliver for people along the Banffshire and Buchan Coast.”

SNP Budget Delivers for Low Income Families and Carers Across North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on local politicians from all parties to get behind historic funding for Scotland’s new social security agency – a move that will support carers and low income families across the country.

Outlining his draft budget proposals for 2019/20 last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP announced £37 million to fund the Scottish Government’s Carers Allowance Supplement – in recognition of the important contribution carers have in our society.

2019/20 will be the second year the supplement will be paid and will see an inflationary rise in the benefit which will go to around 75,000 carers across Scotland.

The Finance Secretary also revealed plans to commit £12.4 million for the new Best Start Grants – providing financial support of up to £600 for low income families on the birth of a child, with two subsequent £250 payments given when a child begins nursery and school to start later this year.

A substantial £6.2 million of funding has also been allocated to kick start the Scottish Government’s new Funeral Expense Assistance – providing low income families with a contribution towards the cost of a loved one’s funeral - £2 million more than the UK Government previously spent.

The Young Carer Grant will also offer vital assistance to those aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week, but don’t qualify for the Carer’s Allowance – giving young carers the chance to explore employment, social or leisure opportunities outside away from their responsibilities.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The Finance Secretary’s plan to commit £37 million of support through the Carers Allowance Supplement will allow the Scottish Government to increase the financial support to carers, ensuring an additional £450 goes directly into the pockets of carers along the Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“I recognise the invaluable contribution young carers make to society. Support through the new £300 Young Carers Grant will help ensure they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“Launched last year, the SNP’s Best Start Grant proved extremely popular with families the length and breadth of Scotland. This expanded and improved scheme has been welcome news for many of my constituents.

“These are just the first steps in the delivery of even more benefits to support people in our society, as the Scottish Government looks to tackle inequality and reduce poverty.

“MSPs across the North-East should get behind Derek Mackay’s proposals and secure substantial funding support for carers and low income families across Scotland.”

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