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27 February 2019

Aberdeenshire Firms Benefit from Small Business Bonus Boost

The Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme provided £11.7million of support for businesses across Aberdeenshire in 2017/18 – a 34.3% rise on the previous year.

The Small Business Bonus Scheme, delivered by the SNP in 2008/09, supports local firms by reducing their rates liability or taking firms out of business rates altogether.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the cash boost for the North-East.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These figures prove the success of the Small Business Bonus Scheme for firms across Aberdeenshire.

“Businesses in the North-East have benefitted from a massive £11.7million in rates support, providing stability for local jobs and communities and giving firms that valuable headroom to grow and thrive.

“While Labour and the Tories have no credible plans between them, the SNP is getting on with the job – creating a better business environment in Aberdeenshire, boosting employment and creating a business environment where local companies can flourish.”

22 February 2019

Budget for a Fairer Scotland Given Holyrood Backing

North-East SNP MSPs have backed the Scottish Government’s budget for the coming financial year – securing a cash boost for the NHS while offering economic stability in the face of Tory Brexit chaos.

Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2 billion over the last decade to Scotland’s block resource grant, the SNP has committed £729 million extra for health and care services – with spending on NHS frontline boards rising by £430 million.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have backed the budget which will provide NHS Grampian with an additional £37million rise in spending.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also announced an £8 billion investment in Scotland’s education system, including £120 million delivered directly to head teachers – helping schools address the poverty related attainment gap.

Scotland’s colleges will benefit from a £606 million investment over 2019-20, while universities will receive more than £1 billion.

As part of the Scottish Government’s plan to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1,140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, the budget also commits £500 million to support the expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland.

The SNP’s plans also ensure local councils receive a fair funding settlement, delivering a total local government settlement of £11.1 billion next year – that includes an additional £90 million to the core spending grant.

This budget will ensure Scotland remains the lowest taxed part of the UK – keeping council tax increases below the 5% cap in England while ensuring 55% of income taxpayers will pay less in Scotland than they would elsewhere in the UK.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“With Westminster in complete chaos, the SNP has delivered certainty and stability for Scotland’s economy with a budget that protects our cherished health service and supports our schools here in the North-East.

“I am delighted that Holyrood has given its backing to a progressive budget that will help create a more prosperous and equal society for all.

“This budget confirms Scotland as the fairest taxed part of the UK, with most income tax payers paying less than they would elsewhere.

“A hard Brexit remains the biggest threat to Scotland’s economy, which is why the Tories should rule out a no-deal outcome before it’s too late.

“This Brexit shambles simply reinforces the case for an independent Scotland, where we could take real control of our own future, continuing to build one of the world’s most successful economies on a firm foundation of strong and dependable public services.”

14 February 2019

Stevenson Warns UK Gov Must Compensate Farmers Over 'No Deal' Brexit

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned the UK Government must compensate North-East farmers in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

It comes after a wealth of evidence which indicated that farmers would be worse off under every scenario when compared to the current trade arrangements, with some or all producers facing lower returns.

Sheep farmers are particularly at risk, with UK sheep meat exports worth £390m each year, and with nearly 90% of this destined for the European market, the prospect of tariffs as high as 45-50% being imposed on these exports would be devastating.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is clear a no deal Brexit is the biggest threat to farming and to our food and drink sector which is very important in the North-East of Scotland.

“More and more research shows that under all possible scenarios, a failure to replicate the current trade arrangements with the EU will have a detrimental impact on farmers, with our sheep sector under particular threat.

“UK sheep meat exports could suffer considerably if tariffs come into play. The UK Government needs to set out its policy on tariffs now, so that businesses are clear about what they will have to contend with.

“The UK Government should guarantee that farmers will be compensated in the event of a no deal.

“A failure to do so, would increase the risk of businesses going under, significantly reduce net profitability across beef, sheep and crops sectors, and lead to widespread land abandonment across the North-East.”

MSP Encourages Musicians to Apply for Rural Grants

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging young musicians to apply for funding available to help further their talent.

The Agar Trust supports young people living in rural Scotland who want to further their education beyond their local area, through tuition, courses, rehearsals or auditions.

Grants can be used to assist with travel, tuition or course fees and anyone aged eight to 21-years-old living in rural parts of the country are eligible.

This year, the Northern Meeting Charity is offering support to pipers who live in areas including Banffshire and Moray.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a wonderful opportunity for musicians who live in rural areas like my constituency of Banffshire and Buchan Coast to apply for funding to support their talents.

“Gifted musicians should be given access to funding which can benefit and support their ability. I would urge anyone who may be eligible to apply before the March deadline.”

11 February 2019

Best Start Grant Pays Out £2.7 Million in First Two Months

Families across Banffshire and Buchan Coast have benefitted from £2.7 million paid through the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment scheme since it opened for applications.

Since December, Social Security Scotland has made payments to more than 7,000 low-income households. The support provided to families across Scotland, as of 31 January 2019, totals £2.7 million.

The Best Start Grant, which provides low-income families with financial support during the early years of a child’s life, sees eligible applicants receive £600 for their first child - £100 more than the UK government’s equivalent in England.

Best Start Grants replace and expand on the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant by providing eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child, and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted that more Scottish families are receiving help from the Scottish Government’s new social security system, which puts dignity, respect and fairness at its heart.

“£2.7 million worth of payments - more than the DWP paid out in a full year under the previous system - will ensure that all Scottish children get the best possible start in life.

“It’s vital that the SNP government can provide help at a time when many families across Banffshire and Buchan Coast are seeing UK government social security support drastically reduced, and Universal Credit is causing hardship across Scotland.

“By reversing and mitigating Tory cuts that have been so damaging to families in the North-East, and ensuring that we support those on the lowest incomes, the SNP is building a social security system which provides a safety net for the most vulnerable in society.”

6 February 2019

SNP Burns Night at Longhaven

Cruden Bay, Hatton & Longhaven Branch of the SNP held its annual Burns Supper at Longhaven Hall last Saturday which saw an attendance of over 70 guests.

In attendance and speaking were Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin, Stewart Stevenson MSP, who compered the event, and Robin Barclay who addressed the haggis and entertained the audience with his very physical rendition of Tam O’Shanter. Local singer and traditional music enthusiast Bill Gray entertained the company with some Burns songs to round off the evening.

Delivering the Immortal memory was SNP Health spokesperson at Westminster and MP for Central Ayrshire Dr Philippa Whitford.
Bill Gray; Gillian Martin MSP; Stewart Stevenson MSP;
Dr Philippa Whitford MP; Robin Barclay
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was a pleasure to be able to welcome Dr Philippa Whitford and Gillian Martin to Longhaven Hall. Philippa delivered an excellent Immortal Memory as befits someone who represents Ayrshire and Gillian gave food for thought with her Toast to Scotland.

“It’s fair to say Robin Barclay wowed the audience with his Tam O’Shanter and acted out the whole poem with help from props and some audience participation and we ended the evening in fine style with Bill Gray giving us some Burns songs.”

Gillian Martin MSP added:

“This was a very enjoyable event and I’m grateful to the local SNP branch for inviting me to give the Toast to Scotland.

“There was a good turnout of over 70 guests for the event and there was general consensus that the evening was a great success.”

1 February 2019

UK Tory Government Says NO to Funding for North-East Broadband

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned the UK Tory Government after it emerged that it had turned down a bid from Aberdeenshire Council to the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) for funding to improve digital connectivity in the North-east.

The funding bid from Aberdeenshire Council also included NHS Grampian and is believed to have been for a seven-figure sum.

In a letter to the SNP MSP, Conservative Minister Margot James said there were “stronger bids” and confirmed that the Aberdeenshire bid for UK Government funding had been refused.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is extremely disappointing that the UK Tory Government have refused this request for funding which came not only from Aberdeenshire Council but also from NHS Grampian.

“It exposes the hypocrisy of the Tory Party in Scotland who complain about the Scottish Government’s record on broadband roll-out when the reality is that this is a matter reserved to Westminster and the Scottish Government is having to step in to ensure the service is rolled-out precisely because of actions like this from Westminster.

“I am sure that officials in Aberdeenshire Council worked very hard on the bid and instead of complaining from the sidelines, the local Tory MP should have been lobbying the DCMS and his colleagues in the Tory Government and speaking up for Aberdeenshire.”

Stewart Stevenson
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