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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.

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Understand that the pandemic may mean that we take a little longer to respond than we would normally.

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31 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Winter Disability Allowance

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed extra support for families of children with disabilities over the winter period.

The Scottish Government plans to put forward legislation to enable the delivery of the new Child Winter Heating Assistance.

It is the first disability benefit to be introduced using new social security powers.

Families with children in receipt of the highest rate care of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will receive an extra £200 to help with their heating costs.

These payments will be made automatically to eligible families through Social Security Scotland.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is fantastic news and will help to support many families as we move into the colder months.

“Additional funding will help to support seriously disabled children and their families with the additional costs they can have with heating a home.

“It is also very encouraging to note these payments will be made automatically to eligible families by Social Security Scotland alleviating some of the hurdles often faced when applying for benefits.”

27 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes 12-Minute Coronavirus Test

NHS Scotland has agreed a £6.76million deal to purchase new machines capable of turning around coronavirus tests in 12 minutes.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said the investment will help meet needs in more remote locations.

It comes after the agreement with UK-based life sciences company LumiraDx to supply 300 rapid testing machines as well as a minimum of 500,000 tests.

The LumiraDx Platform instruments can be used anywhere making them ideal for local clinics or mobile units in Scotland’s rural communities.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This announcement is superb news for communities across the north-east and the wider country.

“This is a great example of our pioneering life sciences sector in Scotland. I am pleased it will also help to support a quick turn around on testing, particularly in rural areas.”

The instruments connect to a cloud system, which means outbreaks of COVID-19 can be tracked quickly by health authorities playing a vital role in Scotland’s Test and Protect strategy.

The test was authorised for emergency use by the US Federal Drug Administration last week and is going through the final stages of validation for use in Scotland and Europe.

Stevenson Welcomes Signing of Heads of Terms for Moray Growth Deal

The Moray Growth Deal has taken a further step forward after the heads of terms were signed by Moray Council, the Scottish and UK Government.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the move.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a fantastic step forward and I am pleased to hear it has reached this stage.

“The Moray Growth Deal will provide a long-term boost for the area, helping to grow the local economy and create high value jobs.

“This is more important than ever with the impact of COVID-19 on the wider economy and this deal will help support diversification.”

Stevenson Welcomes Bill to Help Farmers Post-Brexit

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a Bill which will allow the Scottish Government to ensure the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can continue beyond this year.

It also means Ministers will retain the ability to make improvements to the scheme following Brexit.

Earlier this week, the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill passed Stage 3, following a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

And it will also improve the legal basis for collecting information about the agri-food supply chain and activities relating to agriculture.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Brexit continues to create ongoing uncertainty, coupled with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“It emphasises how important it is to give farmers in the north-east financial stability in the next few years.

“This Bill will help to ensure CAP schemes can operate from 2021 – including the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme, Knowledge Transfer and Innovation and Small Farmers Grant Scheme.

“We will continue to press the UK Government to ensure they keep their commitment in which they promised the Scottish rural economy that EU funding would be replaced.”

25 August 2020

Stevenson Thanks Mystery Donor for Six-Figure Cash Donation to College

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has thanked an anonymous donor- after it was revealed the mystery person gave a six-figure sum to a further education hub.

The contribution will go towards the development of an innovation area within the Fraserburgh campus of NESCOL (North-East Scotland College).

Mr Stevenson has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament to praise the donation from the mystery donor.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am really pleased this very generous sum of money has been gifted to NECOL’s Fraserburgh campus.

“This contribution will go towards the innovation area at the college. This generous donor will have helped to further enhance the learning of students and I would like to say thank you on behalf of my constituency.”

21 August 2020

MSP Attends Parliament from Unexpected Location

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson surprised fellow committee members in the Scottish Parliament after appearing during the meeting from a north-east car dealership.
Mr Stevenson’s own internet at his home had been hit earlier this month by storms which had battered much of Scotland.

Fearing he would be unable to attend the most recent COVID-19 committee meeting due to his connection issues, a local car dealership came to his rescue.

Ewen’s of Cornhill – which sells new and used Hondas – offered to provide space for the MSP to be able to connect virtually to his meeting.

The appearance in the car dealership sparked a number of comments online from journalists and constituents entertained by the change in location.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Unfortunately the bad weather last week caused damage to the internet connection in our home.

“Living in quite a rural part of my constituency meant it’s not quite fixed and I would have had to miss my most recent COVID-19 meeting.

“Luckily Ewen’s of Cornhill were able to step in and help, offering me a spot at their dealership.

“I am incredibly grateful for their help particularly as the COVID-19 committee is of such great importance as we make our way through this pandemic.

“I would like to thank them for their help and I’m pleased to have been able to offer a light-hearted moment in what has been a very challenging time for Scotland.”

North-East MSPs Welcome Funding for Care Experienced Young People

North-east MSPs have welcomed a number of Scottish Government funded projects designed to help raise the attainment of care experienced young people.

Funding of £11.6million will be provided across the country and local authorities will work with Chief Social Workers and Directors of Education to decide how this year’s allocation will be used.

Last year, projects as diverse as mentoring programmes and outdoor and play-based education were supported through the Care Experience and Young People fund.

And during COVID-19 children have been provided with laptops to support their home learning during the pandemic.

The Scottish Government has also said local authorities will have the flexibility to redirect some of the funding from existing plans to best support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families.

The North-East will get a total of £901,200 split across Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray.

Aberdeen City will receive £409,200, Aberdeenshire will be awarded £324,000 and Moray will be allocated £168,000.

Commenting, Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said:

“It is really important we ensure care experienced young people are given the best chance in life.

“Enhancing their opportunities through mentor schemes and other educational programmes is a positive step in the right direction as we look to break down some of the barriers they face.

“I am especially pleased a focus has been made on how to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am delighted care experienced young people in the north-east will be able to benefit from further funding this year.

“Investment helps to remove obstacles while also allowing local authorities to provide targeted help for those most disadvantaged.

“Improving the education and life chances of all our children and young people is the defining mission of this Scottish Government.”

19 August 2020

Scottish Tory Claims National Farmers' Union of Scotland "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong" on Internal Market Fears

North-east Regional MSP Peter Chapman has accused Scotland’s leading farming organisation of being “wrong, wrong, wrong” on concerns over plans for the UK’s internal market.

Mr Chapman stunned fellow MSPs in the Scottish Parliament chamber as he made clear he disagreed with the views of the NFUS (National Farmers Union of Scotland).

Earlier this week, NFUS President Andrew McCornick warned the proposals "limit the devolved administrations" ability to act if any standards were lowered and give the UK Government a final say in areas of devolved policy, such as agriculture, the environment or animal health and welfare."

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said the outburst was “a glimpse into how little respect Tories have for Scottish farmers.”

When questioned over whether he agreed with the views of the NFUS, Peter Chapman MSP said:

“I do disagree with the NFUS and I normally respect their views but they’ve got it wrong, wrong, wrong on this occasion. So I’m sorry they have.”

The former Rural Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Tories – who was forced to quit in disgrace after a lobbying row – had served as NFUS Vice President from 1998-2000.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The comments made in the chamber by Peter Chapman are not at all a surprise.

“Once again, they offer a glimpse into how little respect Tories have for Scottish farmers.

“The NFUS is rightly concerned about what UK Government internal market policy is going to do to devolution because their plans are simply wide off the mark.

“The Tories’ plans will significantly reduce Scotland’s world-class food standards and trample over the hard-won powers of devolution.

“Peter Chapman has shown he is not committed to doing the best for farmers in the area he represents or for Scotland more widely.

“He would rather do Boris Johnson’s bidding than stand-up for farmers.”

18 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Voucher Scheme for Superfast Broadband

A voucher scheme will be launched next month to help both residential and business premises ensure they can access superfast broadband of at least 30 Megabits per second (Mbps).

The move has been launched by the Scottish Government to help support areas where there are no plans to bring superfast broadband to addresses by the end of 2021.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the move and is encouraging businesses and residential premises to apply for the scheme.

Businesses with addresses that are either not in scope for a signed R100 contract or for planned commercial investment prior to the 2021 deadline will be eligible for the main voucher.

It will provide up to £5,000 per premise - including those in the North of Scotland where roll-out plans are still to be firmed up.

Meanwhile, residential premises - where superfast broadband plans are known but not likely to be deployed until after 2021 - will be able to access support up to £400.

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said:

“We will also ensure that those in the most difficult-to-reach locations can secure vital connectivity by providing an additional subsidy of £250.

“This will not prevent the deployment of the planned R100 intervention for those premises, for example where fibre to the premises is ultimately scheduled under the R100 programme but will allow customers to access an interim superfast service using alternative technologies while the build on the longer-term solution is undertaken.”

Vouchers can be used to cover the cost of installation association with securing a service across a range of superfast-capable technologies including fibre, fixed wireless, mobile broadband and satellite.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased the Scottish Government has set out its plans to help support business and residential premises where superfast broadband roll-out will not be accessible before December 31st 2021.

“It is important we continue to provide the best access we can – particularly in rural areas – as the roll-out continues.

“This voucher scheme is of a level exceeding any other in the UK for broadband and I would encourage anyone who may be eligible to apply.

“This is an interim step which will allow for alternative technologies while the Scottish Government continues its work on the longer-term solutions.”

17 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Cash-Boost for Job Seekers

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a new benefit to help young people who have been unemployed for six months.

The Job Start Payment is a one-off £250 financial support grant which aims to help with the costs of starting a new job.

It will help those aged 16 to 24-years-old, with the upper age limit rising to 25-years-old for care leavers.

The payment will also increase to £400 if the applicant has a child.

It is estimated that within its first year, around 5,000 young people will benefit from the new financial support.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am really pleased the Scottish Government has launched the Job Start Payment which will give a much-needed financial boost to young people entering work.

“The coronavirus pandemic has caused uncertainty for many people hoping to enter the jobs market or for those who may have lost employment as a result of the ongoing impact to the economy.

“This package will help thousands of young people - It is vital we support the next generation of young people entering the workforce.

“I would urge young people in the North-East to apply for the Job Start Payment to help them gain access to work.”

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“I am delighted that our Job Start Payment is today now open for applications; it really couldn’t come at a better time to support our young people to take up job offers.

“Last week, we announced an additional £10 million for a range of measures to recruit and retain apprentices. Combined with our commitment of at least £50 million for youth employment and Scotland’s Youth Guarantee, we will ensure no one is left behind.

“Costs like travel, new work clothes, or childcare often have to be met before people get their first pay."

Skills Development Scotland’s Director of Career Information Advice Guidance Operations, James Russell said:

“This new payment will offer welcomed practical help to many young people who our advisers are supporting at this time.

“It will be especially important to those taking their next steps into employment and who may need some additional support to start the right career opportunity for them.”

Stevenson Warns Over UK Government Plans for Farming Post-Brexit

Concern is growing over plans by the UK Government for a post-Brexit “internal market”, with fears it could threaten a range of devolved policies.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has also warned of the damage it could do to Scotland’s food and drink industry.

It comes after NFU Scotland said the current proposals pose a “significant threat to the development of Common Frameworks and to devolution.”

President Andrew McCornick warned that the proposals

"limit the devolved administrations’ ability to act if any standards were lowered and give the UK Government a final say in areas of devolved policy, such as agriculture, the environment or animal health and welfare."

A coalition of 40 of Scotland’s leading environment charities also warned today that the UK government’s plan to create a so-called UK internal market could seriously harm Scotland’s precious wildlife, landscape and food standards by dragging down standards.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The farming industry has delivered a damning verdict on the UK Government’s plans for North-East farmers.

“It is apparent Tory proposals will create a regulatory race to the bottom which will threaten the sector.

“We simply cannot allow the UK Government to impose lower food and environmental standards and block Scotland from taking action in devolved areas.

“It would be completely unacceptable and must not happen. Despite claims to the contrary, this Tory government has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted with the North-East’s farming industry.”

13 August 2020

North-East MSPs Call on Tory Government to Protect Whisky Sector Against US Tariffs

North-East MSPs have warned of further damage which could be done to the whisky industry after the Trump administration took steps to impose another round of punishing tariffs on the sector.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin both have distilleries in their respective constituencies.

Now, they are warning that Boris Johnson’s failure to protect the vital whisky industry could have a further detrimental financial impact.

In October last year, the US administration imposed tariffs of 25% on a broad variety of products, including Scotch whisky.

It has now been reported that following a review the Trump administration will continue to inflict tariffs in its long-running dispute – with Scotch whisky once again included on the list.

Earlier figures have shown that US tariffs have cost Scotland's whisky sector around £200m - with exports to the U.S. down by 30% since the measures came into effect.

The Scotch Whisky Association previously warned that the industry was still waiting for Johnson to come good on his word to tackle the tariffs, stating “he (Boris Johnson) said that he would work to remove the tariffs. But after months of asking we are really yet to see a clear plan from the UK government about how they intend to resolve this."

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“If these reports from the US are accurate, it could be a devastating blow for the whisky sector.

“In my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency, the whisky industry is a vital sector and provides jobs, tourism and a boost to our local economy.

“Boris Johnson needs to do much more than simply pay lip service to the sector. Scotch Whisky plays a crucial role in the success of our global food and drinks sector.”

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Once again this Tory Government has abandoned the whisky industry and the North-East of Scotland.

“Boris Johnson cannot be trusted to commit to his pledge to protect the sector from financial harm and these punishing tariffs.

“The Tory Government must act now if it’s serious about taking every step it can to oppose and end these punitive US-imposed tariffs.”

12 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes COVID-19 Testing for Teachers, Nursery and School Staff

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed plans for priority access to be provided for teachers, nursery and school staff concerned they may have become infected with COVID-19.

The Scottish Government has announced the step to give additional reassurance to those looking after children and young people in both schools and early learning.

They will be able to undergo testing even if they have no symptoms.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed the move to Parliament and in a letter to the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), and as he published a summary paper from the Chief Medical Officer on the latest science in respect of COVID-19 and schools.

The statement laid out the details of the £135 million of support previously announced for schools, including £80 million to bring additional teachers and staff into Scotland’s classrooms in the new school year. This funding is sufficient for local authorities to recruit approximately 1,400 additional teachers.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a very welcome step by the Scottish Government and I am sure it will help to reassure teachers, nursery and school staff.

“The job they do is essential and incredibly valuable - educating and caring for children - and I support any move to help them feel safer in doing so following the coronavirus outbreak.”

Education Secretary John Swinney said:

“Thanks to our success in suppressing COVID-19 in Scotland, it is now safe for schools to return. Guidance, informed by the latest scientific advice, sets out the range of measures schools should take to minimise the risk of the spread of the virus.

“While clinical advice is clear that testing those with symptoms must be the priority, we are now offering all staff who are concerned they may have been at risk of infection to have access to testing through their employer.”

11 August 2020

Stevenson Backs £10 Million Funding Boost for Young Workforce

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement today (Tuesday) of plans for £10million to support apprenticeships by the Scottish Government.

The move has been made in a bid to help recruit and re-train apprentices – including additional funding for the Adopt an Apprentice programme.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the funding would help to ensure the country’s future workforce would be at the heart of rebuilding the economy following the coronavirus.

It will help modern and graduate apprentices who are facing redundancy as a result of COVID-19 get back into work.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“We have faced unprecedented times during the coronavirus pandemic and the scale of this funding allocated by the Scottish Government will help provide essential support for our future workforce.

“This is also an important way for companies to invest in new staff and provide the skills the economy needs.

“It is vital we support young people entering the jobs market for the first time and ensure they have the opportunity to contribute to our economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Announcing the funding, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“This targeted funding will extend the reach of our support for apprentices, including our Adopt an Apprentice programme. Combined with our commitment of at least £50 million for youth employment and the Youth Guarantee, we will ensure no one is left behind.


“Our focus is on protecting jobs, creating jobs, ensuring quality jobs and supporting skilled jobs. By taking this action to protect and support skilled jobs now, we will rebuild a stronger, fairer and greener future for Scotland.”

Frank Mitchell, Chair of Skills Development Scotland, said:

“This welcome announcement underlines the importance of apprentices to the Scottish economy and the crucial role they will play in supporting individuals and businesses in the recovery from COVID-19."

Further immediate investment to support economic recovery from COVID-19 was set out last week by the Scottish Government, with additional funding for workforce training and digital technology announced.

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund, which helps employers upskill and reskill their existing workforce through college courses, will be increased from £10 million to £20 million.

Meanwhile, a further £1.5 million will be invested into the Digital Boost programme - almost trebling the capacity of the initiative for the remainder of this financial year.

10 August 2020

'Harmful' Tory Benefit Cap Hits More Than 200 Families in Aberdeenshire

COVID-19 Crisis Puts Pressure on UK Govt to Scrap Benefit Cap Policy

The number of households in Aberdeenshire hit by the Tory government's 'harmful' benefit cap has soared by 73% since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

New statistics show that as of May this year, a total of 6,034 households in Scotland were hit by the benefit cap - an increase of almost 76 per cent. In Aberdeenshire, around 249 households saw the money they received cut by this policy.

Shelter Scotland has warned that the controversial benefit cap, which the SNP has called to be scrapped, is forcing families into poverty during this Coronavirus crisis.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Austerity is having a devastating impact on thousands of families in Aberdeenshire and across Scotland, with vulnerable people hit hard by the benefit cap, as well as a host of other Tory welfare cuts.

"The SNP has long called for an end to the benefit cap, which hits families with children hardest, and leaves people in Aberdeenshire worrying about how they'll pay rent or put food on the table.

"In government, the SNP has done everything it can to support those hit by the benefit cap - but as long as the key levers remain in the hands of Westminster, we are fighting poverty with one hand tied behind our backs.

"Now, more than ever, these shocking figures must serve as a wake-up call to Boris Johnson and his government. If they were really serious about improving the lives of people in Aberdeenshire they would scrap this harmful policy now."

8 August 2020

North-East Gets £1.1 Million Boost to Food Processing Sector

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement today (Saturday) of grant funding awards under the Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) scheme from the Scottish Government.

Food processing and production businesses across the North-east have been awarded over £1.1 million to invest in infrastructure, purchase new equipment and upgrade or replace facilities.

In total, across Scotland, 30 businesses will receive grants to support the food supply chain, safeguarding 1,386 jobs and creating 97 new ones.

Locally, the projects include improving storage facilities for oats and investing in a dairy business.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The North-east is at the heart of Scotland’s food and drink industry so I’m delighted that so many firms, including several in my constituency, are to benefit from these funding awards.

“This is particularly important at this time as we seek to ensure not only the survival of so many businesses affected by the global pandemic, but actively seek to support those looking to expand, creating jobs and helping to ensure the country’s food security.”

Announcing the funding, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said:

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has underlined the importance of a strong and effective food supply chain and an increased consumer desire for locally produced food. This support will enable established producers and businesses across Scotland look to the future and capitalise on emerging marketing opportunities, as well as offer support to start-up businesses.

“This scheme uses joint Scottish Government and European Union funding to give local businesses a helping hand, helping to ensure the long-term viability of our primary producers. Investing in local producers is an important step to help sustain and create employment opportunities within our rural communities.”

Stuart Allan of Melrose Farms near Banff, said:

“We are very grateful to have received this FPMC grant. It will provide great opportunities and potential within our field of work and will be used to build a new facility on our farm for dressing, drying and storing oats. It will also help support our future plans for the business to grow.”

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