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CORONAVIRUS

My staff and I remain available to assist constituents in any way we can.

However, for the time being, we are not undertaking face to face contact.

We are regularly checking voicemails and emails and are receiving mail from our office at a staff member's home address.

Please understand that it may be that we take a little longer to respond than we would normally.

Please DO NOT visit the office as we are all working from home.


26 February 2020

Stewart Stevenson MSP Urges Vigilance over Coronavirus

Stewart Stevenson MSP is urging constituents to be vigilant and follow public health advice for the coronavirus.

The Scottish Government yesterday published new guidance and updated travel advice for people returning from overseas.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
  • high temperature or fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
Updates on public health advice for the coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816.

Commenting the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP said:

“While all tests in Scotland have so far been negative, the Scottish Government has put plans in place to ensure a rapid response should a case of Coronavirus be confirmed.

“It is extremely important that people are vigilant and that anyone in Aberdeenshire returning from overseas follows the advice that has been issued by the Chief Medical Officer.

“Early detection will be vital to ensuring that the virus is contained and to stop it from spreading, so it’s essential that folk take the same precautions they would to avoid a cold or the flu, for example washing their hands and covering their nose and mouth when coughing.

“If there’s anyone who has returned to the UK from the countries listed in the travel guidance they should follow advice to remain indoors and should they experience any of the symptoms of Coronavirus they should contact NHS 24 as soon as possible, even if their symptoms are mild.”

MSP Welcomes Community Connected to Superfast Broadband

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the news that superfast broadband will now be available to customers of Gardenstown Exchange.

The MSP raised concerns with the Minister for Digital Economy after there were significant delays in deploying the necessary digital infrastructure to properties in Gardenstown Exchange. This came as the result of damage affecting the fibre spine of the cabinet.

The cabinet has now been fixed a month ahead of schedule after an intervention from the Scottish Government meaning that residents of Gardenstown Exchange can now access superfast broadband from their homes.

Across Scotland, more than 60 per cent of properties reached by the programme have now switched to faster fibre broadband. Local people can check if the new fibre services are available to them at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.

Commenting, the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP said:

“It is great news that the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has reached more places including Gardenstown Exchange in Banffshire.

“Faster broadband is bound to be of benefit for residents and businesses alike who use the internet during day-to-day work or for pleasure after the working day is finished.

“The Digital Scotland rollout is a huge civil engineering success which has reached 100,000 more premises than planned and beat targets on time and under budget.

“It’s fantastic that 60 per cent of the homes and businesses we’ve passed have now upgraded, and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet made the move to check if they could get a faster service.”

25 February 2020

Four Months Until Tory Fishing Sellout

EU Put Fishing First in Discussions to Secure Trade Deal

It’s time for the UK government to deliver on its promises to Scotland’s fishing industry – that is the message from the SNP today as the EU publishes its negotiating mandate.

It makes clear that a fishing agreement must be agreed by July 1st – with the EU seeking to “uphold the existing reciprocal access to waters as well as stable quota shares”.

Yet earlier this month, the Tories published their fisheries bill claiming that it would give the UK the powers needed to “control who fishes in our waters and under what terms.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The clock is now ticking – with just four months until the Tories are set to sell out all their promises to Scotland’s fishing communities.

“The Brexiteers put fishing front and centre of their campaign, insisting that leaving the EU would mean boom time for our fleets.

“But the reality is that the UK government will only be able to secure a free trade deal with Europe if they let EU fleets continue to access our waters on essentially the same terms as today.

“The Tories sold out Scottish fishing on the way into Europe – and now they’re going to sell out Scottish fishing on the way out.”

24 February 2020

MSP Pledges Support for Fairer Benefits System

Stewart Stevenson MSP has offered his support for a campaign seeking to ensure that Scotland’s new social security offers greater support to people living with disabilities after years of Tory failings.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) Society Scotland is leading calls at Holyrood to scrap the nonsensical and unfair ‘20-metre rule’ imposed by the UK Government.

The 20-metre rule states that anyone who can walk this short distance is not entitled to the higher rate of mobility assistance and is viewed as widely unpopular and discriminatory for conditions like MS where symptoms fluctuate
The calls come as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) UK-wide system is set to be devolved to Holyrood next year.

The MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said:

“After years of failings from the Tories, the Scottish Government are prioritising delivering payments for disabled people, as social security is set to be devolved to Holyrood.

“I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard as constituents struggle with the penalising assessment process applying for PIP.

“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain and ensure that everyone in Scotland gets the help and support they need.”

More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and nearly one in six will lose out on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) support because of the 20-metre rule.

As a result of this rule, thousands with MS have been stripped of their Motability cars and left trapped in their homes and unable to work, seen their health deteriorate, and been forced to face stressful and lengthy appeals to get their benefits reinstated.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said:

“We’ve long known about the enormous harm caused when PIP takes vital support away from people with MS. Not only does the process lack respect for people and their lives but arbitrary and nonsensical conditions like the 20-metre rule can deprive people of vital support.

“We have heard pledges that under devolution the system will treat people with respect and dignity and what we have heard from our community is that for that to happen then, simply put, this rule must be scrapped.

“MS can be painful and exhausting, it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”

19 February 2020

MSP Slams Tory Immigration Plans

Stewart Stevenson MSP has slammed post-Brexit Tory immigration plans announced overnight by the UK Government.

The UK Government unveiled its points-based immigration proposal – which has been described by industry experts as a “deep disappointment” and risks harming our industry by driving workers away from Scotland.

Under the proposals, low-skilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans. It is urging employers to "move away" from relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has warned that a cross-party report by Holyrood’s Finance Committee previously showed the damaging effect that demographic changes could pose to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.
Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said:

“The UK Governments proposed immigration system will not deliver the skilled staff needed for the farming, food and drink industries across the North-east.

“Despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans, which will be immeasurably damaging to Scotland.

“It is absolutely shameful that not a single Scottish Tory MSP or MP can bring themselves to speak out against this out-of-touch approach.

“We need a system that recognises the different regional requirements across the UK and welcomes EU citizens. We must see a tailored migration system which works for Scotland.”

North-East MSP Welcomes Cash Boost for Carers

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS) payments of up to £452 a year introduced by the Scottish Government as thousands of carers in the North-east benefit.

New figures show that 2,595 carers in Aberdeenshire and 1,230 carers in Moray have received CAS payments since September 2018, when the payment was introduced.

The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an extra payment made to carers in Scotland twice a year, in recognition of the important contribution they make to our society.

Carers now receive two supplementary payments totalling £452 per year, equivalent to an extra £8.50 per week, which is a 13% increase on the Carer’s Allowance from the UK government.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Since its introduction, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement has supported almost 100,000 carers across Scotland, including 3,825 in Aberdeenshire and Moray.

“Carers in the North-east make a vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported.

“The SNP is determined to use the powers available to the Scottish Government to improve the lives of people across Scotland.

“This supplementary payment allows the Scottish Government to get more money into the pockets of carers as quickly as possible.

“I am delighted that carers in the North-east are being recognised for the important contribution they make to our communities - in what can often be difficult circumstances.”

17 February 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Commemoration for Declaration of Arbroath

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the issue of a commemorative sheet of stamps including four definitive Scottish stamps to mark the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

This comes after Mr Stevenson called on the Chief Executive of Royal Mail to commemorate the anniversary of the historic and iconic document.

Royal Mail released special stamps to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and have now confirmed plans to create a stamp sheet which will feature four Scottish definitive stamps printed within a miniature sheet which notes the anniversary.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted to see the fitting decision by Royal Mail to commemorate the Declaration of Arbroath given the document’s importance to Scotland.

“It is a unique document that is an iconic part of Scotland’s history and over the course of 2020 there will be events taking place all over the country to celebrate its 700th anniversary.

“Collectors and stamp enthusiasts will know that Royal Mail often mark historic events and anniversaries, and so I am delighted that they are producing a stamp sheet to highlight this important anniversary.”

13 February 2020

MSPs Welcome Over 13,000 Baby Boxes Delivered to North-East Parents

North-east MSPs Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson have welcomed figures showing that 13,495 baby boxes have been delivered by NHS Grampian to new parents across the region since its introduction in April 2017.
The boxes contain various essential items for a child’s first weeks and months including clothes, a changing mat and a box which can be used for the baby to sleep in.

Across Scotland, 120,193 baby boxes were delivered and the latest parent survey shows 100% satisfaction. The box also includes a reusable nappy voucher which 723 families in NHS Grampian took up.

The success of the baby boxes comes on top of the SNP Government introducing Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances – the Best Start Grant – which provides expectant mothers on low incomes with £600 for their first child and £300 for any subsequent children. A total of £456,138 payments have been made to parents across Aberdeenshire Council and £63,008 from Moray Council.

Banff and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson welcomed the numbers and praised the government initiative. Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Figures show that across Scotland 96% of expectant parents in Scotland are now requesting a baby box – that’s a huge vote of confidence in the baby box. To date, more than 120,000 have been delivered, of which 13,495 have been sent to families across Grampian, including to my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

“The Baby Boxes are full of useful items such as books, clothes, blankets, a bath towel, a changing mat, a bib and a thermometer, while also providing a safe space for babies to sleep near their parents, to promote bonding and early attachment, and send a signal that every child, regardless of their background, matters.

“The baby box is part of a much wider programme by the Scottish Government to help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents during the first few months of their child’s life.”

MSP Gillian Martin, who represents Aberdeenshire East, is encouraging soon-to-be mothers to register for the baby box. Gillian Martin said:

“The Scottish Government have proudly offered a Baby Box to every child in Scotland to help ensure that every child has an equal start in life.

“I know from speaking to mothers across Aberdeenshire East just how transformative this initiative has been as they have welcomed a new-born into the world.

“The SNP Government are continuing to provide significantly more targeted support for new parents than anywhere else in the UK, to help low-income families via our Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances- replacing the UK Sure Start grant with our Best Start Grant.”

12 February 2020

Stevenson Urges North-East MSPs to Back Record Health Spending

Stewart Stevenson MSP has called on his political opponents across the North-east to get behind the Scottish Government’s draft budget proposals that commit a record £15 billion to health and care services.

Last week, the SNP Government announced plans to increase spending on health services by £1 billion – with local health and social care partnerships earmarked to receive nearly £9.5 billion.
MSPs will vote on draft budget proposals next month, that includes £117 million for mental health funding.

Under the SNP, Scotland has the best performing A&E in the UK with the number of people working in our health service reaching historic levels.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said:

“The Scottish Government is investing record amounts in our NHS, to build a health service fit for the future.

“For the first time ever, this budget provides funding of over £15 billion for our health and care services.

“As a cherished public service for the past seventy years, MSPs must do all we can to ensure our health service is properly funded.

“That’s why I’m calling on my political opponents across the North-east to get behind the SNP’s plans that will protect our NHS – ensuring it remains safe in public hands, not put at risk of privatisation by Westminster.”

10 February 2020

Scotland's £1 Billion Salmon Industry Warns of Devastating Brexit Blow

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation has said Boris Johnson’s Brexit damaging deal will place “huge unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burdens” on the UK’s biggest food export and cost the industry up to £9 million a year.

The Scottish salmon industry - estimated to be worth over £1 billion to the Scottish economy in 2018 - faces the prospect of high tariffs and lengthy border checks thanks to the Tories decision to not align with EU regulations going forward.

The SSPO has estimated the cost of this for Scottish farmed salmon will be up to £8.7 million per year depending on the amount charged by councils for each EHC and the number of EHCs required per lorry load. Brexit could also mean the processing and signing of a 100,000 of costly Environmental Health Certificates every year.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This inept Tory government has failed to offer any assurances to the industry that’s worth over £1 billion every year to Scotland’s economy.

“Throughout this entire process Scotland’s voice and interests have been ignored – now the arrogance of Boris Johnson and his cronies risks costing the UK’s biggest food export millions in lost profits.

“Without an agreement for a frictionless border with the EU, we will see lorry-loads of top-quality Scottish salmon going to waste as drivers sit in enormous queues at Dover waiting on customs checks.

“It’s time for Scotland to escape this devastating path that puts jobs, businesses and industries on the line."

7 February 2020

MSP Slams Tories for £500 Million Wasted on Universal Credit Admin

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed the Tory UK Government for wasting £500million as a result of delays and problems in rolling out and getting right the implementation of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit - which was due to be fully rolled out by 2017 - has now been delayed on numerous occasions to a new date in late 2024, adding a staggering £500million to the total cost of the policy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This further delay is of little surprise as Universal Credit continues to be beset by problems and scandals - it highlights just how far the UK Government is from getting Universal Credit right that they need to enforce this delay to avoid causing further hardships to those in receipt of the benefit.

“There also seems to be a complete lack of clarity from the Department for Work and Pensions on whether this delay will mean that more people will be part of natural migration rather than the managed migration process, risking people losing out on transitional payments and saving the UK Government money at the expense of those who really need it.

“It should shame the Tories that the continued delays and issues surrounding Universal Credit have added a staggering £500m to its total cost, while families on UC having to turn to food banks to survive.

“The UK Government should use this delay productively by making a meaningful investment in Universal Credit to see it fixed, such as scrapping the two-child cap and rape clause, ending the debt and poverty-inducing five-week wait, and making work pay by fully restoring the Work Allowance.

“In Scotland, we are taking a different approach and building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect – it’s time the Tories followed suit.”

Stevenson Seeks Assurances from DEFRA on Food Standards

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the Conservative Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs seeking assurances that commitments given on food and environmental protections and animal welfare will not be compromised in pursuit of a trade deal with the USA.

In his letter to the UK Secretary of State, Mr Stevenson says:

“I note with some concern comment in the farming press regarding the above Bill and the lack of any commitment to maintaining current food and environmental standards.

“The issue of food standards post-Brexit, in particular, is an issue which has been raised with me on previous occasions by my farming constituents.

“I should be grateful if you would put an end to their uncertainty and let me have an assurance that animal welfare, food and environmental protections will not be diluted.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Scotland’s farmers have had years of uncertainty from the Tories, coupled with contempt over the theft of their Convergence Funding. The big concern is that Tory Ministers have not put any of the commitments they gave during the election campaign into this Bill and it looks increasingly like the pursuit of a Trump trade deal will be at any cost.”

5 February 2020

Tories Back Down on Abolishing Rates Relief

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has claimed that the credibility of the Tories “lies in tatters” following their backtrack on the issue of devolving non-domestic rates to local authorities.

The Tories, who this week voted against a Green Party amendment to devolve business rates, had previously supported the same proposal at stage 2 – a move that would have removed rates relief and seen small businesses facing a rates hike of over £7,000. In the last year alone, over 100,000 Scottish businesses saved nearly £300m from rates relief introduced by the Scottish Government.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a humiliating U-turn by the Tories and highlights the strength of opposition from the Scottish business sector to their initial decision to support the devolution of business rates to local authorities.

“I received numerous e-mails and letters from business organisations extremely concerned at the consequences had the proposal gone through. The effects locally in the North-east would have been devastating.

“Whilst I am glad that the Tories have finally come to their senses, it is a damning indictment of their lack of commitment to Scottish businesses that they would be willing to cause such uncertainty in an attempt to score cheap political points.

“At stage 2 of the bill, the Tories voted to jeopardise local funding for councils and abolish rates relief worth £300m for over 100,000 businesses across Scotland. Between this shocking decision and the untold damage and uncertainty that Brexit is causing to businesses across the country, the reputation of the Tories as “the party of business” lies in absolute tatters.

“Far from being a party fit for government, the Tories show with each passing day that they are not even fit for opposition.”

2 February 2020

Scottish Fishing Industry to be Left High and Dry by Johnston's Brexit

Northern Ireland Deal Leaves Scotland at Disadvantage

The Scottish fishing industry is set to be left high and dry by Brexit, with the agreement reached for Northern Ireland leaving Scotland at a competitive disadvantage.

Even in the event that no trade deal is reached between the UK and Europe in the months ahead, Northern Ireland would face no tariffs or trade barriers with the EU.

That means that fishermen in Northern Ireland would have unfettered access to 500 million consumers in Europe’s single market, while Scottish vessels do not — potentially devastating sales of Scottish fish and an entire processing and haulage sector.

Alternately, Scottish vessels could move their registration to Northern Ireland to maintain market access which would also hammer Scottish ports, most of the onshore sector and thousands of jobs in Scotland.
Those in the small-batch, high-value export seafood business such as creel fishermen may be hit particularly hard with Alistair Sinclair from the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation telling BBC Scotland that trade barriers could “kill the sector stone dead if we can’t get access to markets”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Boris Johnson has made huge promises to Scottish fishing which he knows he can’t keep.

“Scottish fishing looks set to be sold out once again.

“The only agreement so far reached is for Northern Ireland’s fishing industry. Scotland it appears is a low-priority afterthought.

“The danger now to an entire industry is real and deeply troubling.

“Some skippers and their crews will simply decide they cannot compete when placed at such a disadvantage and hang up their oilskins for good.

“Others might move their home ports to Northern Ireland — though that would decimate an entire onshore processing sector, with thousands of jobs lost. It would be a disaster.

“Scotland didn’t vote for any of this, and the SNP won’t stand idly by as the Tories kill off another proud Scottish industry.

“We need the full powers of independence so we can fight for jobs and a brighter future.”

Stewart Stevenson
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