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11 February 2016

Stewart Stevenson Highlights the Importance of Education for Scotland's Future Prosperity

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has this week highlighted the importance of education.

Speaking in a debate entitled: Scotland’s Future Prosperity, Mr Stevenson highlighted to importance of education in Scotland’s future, he said:

“The title of the debate is “Scotland’s Future Prosperity”, and education plays a key part in contributing to that prosperity”

Mr Stevenson went on to say:

“We also get economic benefit from education because it equips our citizens for future challenges and opportunities. Of course, future challenges are very interesting because we do not know what they will be. Above all, education is not simply about putting a set of skills into the cerebral cavities of our students; it is about equipping them to make future decisions, the nature of which this generation of politicians and teachers can know nothing.”

Mr Stevenson concluded his speech by discussing proposed labour tax hikes:

“The last time Labour upped the tax for basic rate taxpayers, Gordon Brown acknowledged that it didnae work. The evidence is that Labour hasnae thought it through any more carefully this time”

4 February 2016

Tories 'Hypocrisy' Criticised Over Attempt To Stop Fair Taxes

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the decision by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Committee to reject a Tory wrecking motion which sought to continue unfair tax exemptions for country estates.

Tory MSP Alex Fergusson attempted to remove a key part of the Land Reform Bill which will reinstate business rates for land used for shooting and deerstalking – estates which have benefited from an unfair exemption from tax following a move brought in by the Tories in 1994. This attempt was rejected by Committee members.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tory attempt to shield landowners from paying fair taxes is pure hypocrisy after David Cameron recently promised to crack down on tax evasion.

“There is no reason why shooting and deerstalking should be exempt from paying business rates when other businesses across Scotland are expected to pay their share – I’m glad that the Tory attempt to continue this unfair situation was rightly thrown out.

“During its scrutiny, the Rural Affairs Committee sought clarity from the Scottish Government, who confirmed that only larger businesses will pay rates while small businesses will receive rebates – making the Tory amendment totally unfounded.

“The Land Reform Bill will help make Scotland a fairer and more equal society. Land reform has delivered significant benefits to communities across Scotland since devolution and this Bill will go further, taking action to ensure the correct balance of land rights.”

Stevenson Welcomes Fund to Support Offshore Sector Retraining

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of a new £12 million fund aimed at people who face losing their jobs in the oil and gas sector to transition into other energy industry and manufacturing employment through.

The Scottish Government’s Transition Training Fund will help maintain the highly skilled energy workforce in the North Sea region by offering grants to individuals to support their redeployment through retraining or further education. It will also help people with the costs of maintaining any licences they need to work in the sector.

The Transition fund will allow bodies like Skills Development Scotland, in conjunction with the Energy Skills Partnership and Energy Technology Partnership, to provide practical training and education that will help people meet the demand for other specialist jobs in the wider sector.

The new fund will augment the work of the Scottish Government’s Energy Jobs Taskforce, which is already providing support through the PACE process and other measures such as the Adopt an Apprentice initiative.

The First Minister made the announcement on a visit to the North-east, where she met senior executives of BP and other sector figures before attending the latest meeting of the task force.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“It is absolutely crucial that we take every possible action to retain the expertise that the industry has built up over decades so that it remains flexible enough to capitalise on exploration investment and future oil price rises.

“That is why I have announced a new £12 million Transition Training Fund to provide financial support to individuals as they retrain or undertake new education to allow them to take on specialist roles elsewhere in the energy industry and related roles in the manufacturing sector.

“This fund will augment the work of the Energy Jobs Taskforce, which is already providing much-needed help to people affected by redundancy by working with bodies such as Skills Development Scotland to support redeployment and training.”

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“I welcome this funding and the opportunities it creates for those affected. The redundancies in this industry are extremely concerning, and I am optimistic that this will help alleviate some of those losses.

“The conditions facing the North Sea oil and gas sector are certainly challenging for more than just those individuals affected—indeed it has a larger impact on the industry. The significant job losses are deeply concerning, as is the risk that the highly skilled workforce is lost to the sector as they look for other opportunities.”
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