14 June 2019

MSPs Back Affordable Homes Figures for North-East

Figures have revealed more than 2,000 affordable homes have been delivered in Aberdeenshire since 2007.
It comes after statistics were published which show there were more than 9,500 affordable homes delivered in 2018-19 – an increase of 12% on the previous year.

The figures have been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

A total of 2,383 affordable homes were delivered in Aberdeenshire, which included 1,578 for social rent since 2007.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These figures show the Scottish Government’s commitment to building affordable and social housing.

“Providing affordable homes is a crucial part of the SNP’s aim to create a fairer Scotland, and improve communities through inclusive growth.

“We know that these developments make a real difference to people’s lives. For many, a home is more than bricks and mortar, but a sense of identity and belonging.”

Local MSP Visits Dales Park School

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Dales Park Primary School last week following an invitation to be questioned by pupils in connection with a school project on the workings of the Scottish Parliament.
Teacher Lynsey Telford
Pupils from Dales Park Primary School
Stewart Stevenson MSP
In an hour-long session, the MSP fielded questions on a range of issues, from what duties an MSP has, to queries about parliamentary procedure. A lively discussion was initiated Mr Stevenson invited the pupils to suggest what legislation they would want to introduce if they were members of the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Stevenson remarked:

“I was delighted by the level of interest being shown by these young children, and the questions which they posed.

“As always, when I visit schools in my constituency, I leave feeling confident that the future of Scotland will be in good hands. As an MSP, it is my duty to ensure that we hand it over to them in the best possible state, and that belief is one which motivates me on a daily basis”

12 June 2019

MSP Says New Bill Will "Make a Real Difference" in North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to the Scottish Government’s Fuel Poverty Bill.

It comes after it was passed unanimously by MSPs this week.

Under the plans no more than 5% of households in Scotland will be in fuel poverty by 2040.

It will ensure families who struggle to heat their homes are given the right support.

By the end of 2021, the SNP Government will have invested more than £1billion to tackle fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of Scottish houses.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The SNP is fully committed to tackling fuel poverty across Scotland – this world-leading legislation will go a long way in helping to support low income households here in the North-East.

“This bill is designed to work for everyone regardless of where in Scotland they live. Scotland is now among only a handful of European nations to have legally defined fuel poverty – linking the definition to household incomes and the higher cost of living in rural and island areas.

“The Fuel Poverty Bill is a massive step in tackling fuel poverty and will help make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people in Aberdeenshire.”

6 June 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Banff Academy Pupils to Holyrood

Pupils from Banff Academy have met with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson to discuss political issues including Brexit, local transport and education.
The group of around 30 students visited the Scottish Parliament to watch First Minister’s Questions and meet with the MSPs.

Questions from the panel of pupils included how Brexit was likely to impact Scotland’s future as well as increasing the frequency of public transport in the North-East.

The pupils ranged from S1 – S3.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is always great to meet with young people who ask such inquisitive questions about current affairs and politics.

“The Scottish Parliament is very accessible to visitors and it’s great when constituents can come along to watch the heated debate during FMQs.

“I was pleased to answer questions alongside the Deputy First Minister which illustrated how engaged young people are in the world around them.

“It is always good to be challenged especially by the next generation of voters.”

5 June 2019

MSP in Positive Meeting over Chalmers Hospital Minor Injuries Unit

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a commitment given at a meeting with health officials in Banff that the Minor Injury Unit at Chalmers Hospital will remain open meantime 24/7 while a further period of data gathering is initiated.

Peter Johnston (Friends of Chalmers Hospital)
Dr Janet Anderson (Friends of Chalmers Hospital)
Angie Wood, (Partnership Manager,
Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership)
Stewart Stevenson MSP.
Mr Stevenson attended a productive meeting between representatives of the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership, the Staff of the MIU at Chalmers and The Friends of Chalmers Hospital where it was agreed that the recommendations for the future operating model of the MIU at Chalmers Hospital will be delayed to allow for a further period of data gathering. During this period of data gathering the Unit will remain open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Peter Johnston, Honorary Treasurer for the Friends of Chalmers Hospital said:

“The Friends of Chalmers Hospital welcomes the fact that further consideration is being given to the unit’s activities and we look forward to seeing the outcome.“

Angie Wood for Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership said:

“As with the other areas that have been part of this review process, it is vitally important that we have the confidence of the all of the stakeholders in the recommendations we put forward to the Integration Joint Board.

“In Friday’s meeting we had an open and honest discussion about the recommendations we were due to put to the IJB and we agreed that it would be best to delay these until we can complete a further, intensive piece of data collection. Over the next month we will take an in depth look at activity in the out of hours period at the unit, including patient outcomes.

“Agreeing to hold off making any recommendations and really studying the new data, will allow us to work with the staff to shape the future operating model of the unit and hopefully will give the wider community confidence in the process.

“As I said at the meeting the recommendations following this additional piece of work might be the same, but with greater involvement from the staff at Chalmers and from the local community, I hope we will have more confidence in any recommendations we put forward in the future.”

Banffshire & Buchan Coast Constituency SNP MSP, Stewart Stevenson, who attended the meeting, commented:

"I was pleased to participate in what proved to be a very constructive and inclusive discussion regarding the consultation process for the future of the Minor Injuries Unit at Chalmers Hospital.

“I am very happy that the original options have meantime been taken off the table, and I feel reassured that the that Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership will now be liaising with the Friends of Chalmers Hospital and the local community in deciding the future of the MIU."

3 June 2019

Stevenson: US Trade Deal Threat to Local Food and Drink

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned that farmers and food producers in the North-East could be hit by a post-Brexit trade deal with President Donald Trump.

It comes after the US Ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, reiterated demands for major concessions from Great Britain.

According to reports, the Trump administration wants the UK to accept lower food safety standards than exist within the European Union, allowing US products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef to be sold in the UK.

The move would undercut our own food producers.

The US ambassador this week confirmed that a future trade deal would require access to “the entire economy”, potentially impacting other sectors such as the NHS.

There are also concerns that Scottish products, such as Scotch beef and Scotch Whisky, could lose their protected status after Brexit – allowing cheap-knock offs to be sold.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Scotland has top-quality food safety standards, in line with the rest of the EU, protecting consumers and our world-renowned Scottish produce.

“But that’s now under threat, with the Tories planning to sell out Scottish food producers as part of a damaging back-room trade deal with Donald Trump.

“As a member of the EU, local products like Whisky have been protected from cheap market knock offs - we can’t allow the Tories to take a take a wrecking ball to our booming food and drink sector here in Aberdeenshire.

“The UK government’s shambolic approach to Brexit leaves them in an exceptionally weak bargaining position – with Tory leadership contenders competing to be the most reckless with our economic future.

“There’s a real danger that, if Brexit happens, the next Prime Minister will be absolutely desperate to sign whatever damaging trade-deal Trump demands.

“Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit – and the threat of selling out Aberdeenshire’s food producers shows exactly why we need to stop it.”

Stevenson: Hundreds of Disabled People in Aberdeenshire Denied Benefits by UK Government

Hundreds of disabled people in the North-East have successfully appealed against a decision to deny them benefits.

Newly released figures have prompted calls for a fresh review of the DWP assessment and appeals process.

It comes after figures obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws show 460 cases in Aberdeenshire were overturned between April 2013 and December 2018.

There were a total of 680 appeals during this period – meaning the success rate for appeals was a shocking 68% percent.

PIP is being rolled-out across the UK to replace Living Allowance (DLA) as the main benefit for disabled or ill people.

To receive this benefit, claimants have to endure controversial assessments, conducted by private companies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Disabled people in Aberdeenshire rely on these financial lifelines to live independently and be part of their community.

“For the DWP to get these cases so consistently wrong suggests a systematic hostility towards people in need.

“The Tory government’s punitive approach to the system simply isn’t working. It’s failing vulnerable people, withdrawing support from those who need it most, and leaving people out of pocket and unable to afford the basic essentials.

“The UK government’s disastrous record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.

“In the meantime, it’s vital that these fundamental flaws in the current assessment appeals process are urgently addressed.”

Stevenson Welcomes School Benefit for Low Income Families

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a new benefit for low income families.

The £250 School Age Payment is available for families with a child old enough to start primary school this August.

The payment is part of the Best Start Best Grant, a package of three payments for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit and tax credits – to help at key stages in a child’s life.

The Best Start Grant package also includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which has been open for applications since December 2018 and the Early Learning Payment, which launched in April.

Applications for the School Age Payment opened today (June 3rd) and will remain open until February 29th 2020.

Eligible families can apply for a payment if their child was born between March 1st 2014 and February 28th 2015.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Children starting school can be an added cost for families and this new payment will help towards easing some of the financial burden

“It will help ensure we bring equality to children by giving them help towards a fairer start

“I would encourage families in my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency to apply for this payment if they are eligible to help support them as their children start school.”

2 June 2019

Stevenson Congratulates NE School on Nationwide Award

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a North-East school for winning a nationwide award.

Clerkhill Primary School in Peterhead has been named as the ‘Primary Club of the Year’ in this year’s SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs (YESC) programme.

The YESC programme is a Scotland wide primary and secondary school education programme run by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

The projects are designed to grow interest and spark enthusiasm in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

Pupils work alongside their teachers, real engineers and scientists putting their problem-solving skills to the test on themed investigations.

The winners were announced at the SCDI’s YESC programme National Celebration of Stem, held in Glasgow, on May 31st.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

"I would like to congratulate all the pupils from Clerkhill Primary School who have been involved with this programme. They are a credit to their school.

“Learning about these four different subjects are a very important part of education for everyone and can inspire children to go on and pursue diverse and interesting careers.

“I am certain this award will help to encourage more young people in the North-East to build on this success and become involved in learning about STEM subjects.”

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