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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 physical mail addressed to our office at a staff member's home address.

Please do not use social media as a channel to make requests to us as these personal accounts are monitored less frequently.

Understand that the pandemic may mean 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 October 2020

North-East MSPs Back Consultation on Free Bus Travel

North-east MSPs are calling on constituents to take part in a consultation on providing free bus travel to young people under the age of 19.

The Scottish Government has put forward the proposed extension which would impact 770,000 young people and is now looking for people to put their views forward.

It would deliver on the budget agreement which was reaffirmed in the recent Programme for Government.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move.

The proposals will also help support the vision proposed through the National Transport Strategy which looks to provide a transport system with reduced inequalities and one that advances equality of opportunity.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This is a hugely exciting proposal for the future of our bus sector and will help to engage younger people with sustainable transport.

“Access to free bus travel would help young people under the age of 19 to access employment, education and leisure.

“It will also help to support low-income families who may not have access to transport.

“Free bus travel is also vital in our response to the climate emergency and we look to shift away from private vehicle use towards more sustainable transport.

“I would urge constituents to take part in the consultation and make their views heard.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“What we are proposing will help our young people as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic which will have a long-term impact on this age group.

“This would also support the vision outlined in our National Transport Strategy for a fairer and more sustainable transport system – reducing inequalities, tackling poverty and promoting opportunity.”

Stevenson Calls for Tory U-Turn on Free School Meals

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on the Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross to back a second vote on free school meals.

It comes after the Moray MP and his colleagues failed to support the measure in a vote at Westminster last week.

The decision has seen an overwhelming public outcry with many businesses offering to provide free school meals instead.

More than 2,000 paediatricians also signed an open letter to the Prime Minister at the weekend urging him to follow Scotland’s lead in providing free school meals over the coming holidays.

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced a £10million package of funding to continue free school meals over the coming holidays.

The policy has been funded from existing budgets after the Tory government cut off Barnett consequentials for the policy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“There has been palpable public anger over the UK Government’s decision to vote against providing free school meals.

“Businesses already impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are offering to provide free school meals despite struggling themselves.

“Moray MP Douglas Ross and his colleagues at Westminster have made a catastrophic error of judgement.

“Mr Ross completely failed his first test of leadership and if he wants to salvage any credibility he must back calls for a U-turn.

"The Scottish Tories have an abysmal voting record at Westminster. In the past few months alone, they have voted to impose an extreme Brexit against Scotland's will, backed a power grab on the Scottish Parliament, voted against protecting Scottish food standards, opposed human rights for refugee children, and backed Tory plans to scrap the furlough scheme - putting millions of jobs and businesses at risk during a pandemic.

"It is clear, that they are the same old toxic Tory party that they have always been - and they are lurching even further to the right under Douglas Ross.

"The SNP government has rightly committed to £10million of funding to continue free school meals in Scotland over the coming holidays - but we have had to find this money from existing budgets, which could have been spent in other areas were it not for Tory cuts.^

22 October 2020

Stevenson Slams Moray MP Over Free Schools Meal Vote

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed Moray MP Douglas Ross after he voted against free school meals for children in need.

It comes after the Scottish Government pledged £10million to help support low-income families provide food over the school holidays.

However, as the UK government has refused to fund free school meals in England, this money has been found from existing budgets rather than Barnett consequentials.

Now the Scottish Tories have been accused of false promises after Mr Ross previously pledged his party would support the policy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This was a key test of leadership for Douglas Ross and he has failed abysmally.

"The Scottish Tories are complete hypocrites for voting against free school meals despite previously claiming to support them. They are trying to hoodwink voters with false promises by saying one thing then doing the complete opposite when instructed by Boris Johnson.

"People in Scotland will not be fooled. By voting to deprive children of food, Scottish Tory MPs have also voted to deprive Scotland of crucial Barnett funding - leaving the SNP government to fund Scotland's progressive free school meals policy from existing budgets.

"The Scottish Tories are the same old toxic Westminster party. This month alone, they have voted to impose an extreme Brexit and a power grab on Scotland, and voted against free school meals, extending furlough support for jobs, and helping refugee children.

"The Scottish Government will continue to deliver progressive policies in Scotland despite Westminster cuts but the only way to properly protect Scotland's interests and values is to become an independent country."

21 October 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Proposed Delay to Fire Alarm Regulations

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed an announcement by the Scottish Government to delay plans which requires all homes in Scotland to have interlinked smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The move will now be postponed until February 2022 amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Government confirmed earlier this week that it will ask Parliament to approve a 12-month delay in the deadline to carry out this important safety work.

If the delay is approved, the new regulations, which extend the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds to all homes in Scotland, will be moved back to February 2022.

The Scottish Government has already made over £15m of loan funding available for Social Landlords to procure and install the necessary alarms which should help ensure that social tenants are safe in their homes.

The Scottish Government has also provided additional funding of £870,000 in each year for the last two years to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to support their Home Safety Visits for vulnerable and high-risk people.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Fire safety is an absolute priority for all of us, and these improved regulations will mean that everyone in my constituency will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.

“However, given the impact of Covid-19, and the difficulties this legislation was likely to cause for people seeking to install new alarms, it’s welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay the deadline by 12 months.

“As your representative for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, I will continue to look closely at ensuring people have the support, information and advice they need to make changes in advance of the new standards coming into force in February 2022.”

Stevenson Urges Young Carers to Apply for Grant

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging young carers to check if they’re eligible for a funding grant.

It comes as the Young Carer Grant marks its second anniversary.

The payment of £305.10 is awarded on an annual basis for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds who spend an average of 16 hours a week caring for someone who receives a disability benefit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Young carers play a vital role in the lives of many people across Scotland.

“This is another important step in demonstrating how the Scottish Government is using social security powers to provide extra support to those who need it.

“I would encourage young carers who are eligible for the payment to apply and those who have already had the payment and who may still be eligible to reapply for the grant.”

20 October 2020

Stevenson Backs Fuel Poverty Scheme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised the impact of fuel poverty scheme in supporting homes across the north-east.

More than 300 households in Mr Stevenson’s constituency have benefitted from the scheme’s help since it was launched in 2015, each of them saving around £300 on their energy bills per year.

The £224million Warmer Homes Scotland scheme provides a step-by-step service to help make homes warmer and more comfortable.

Assistance can include installing new and efficient boilers, fitting new radiators, insulating lofts or even working with partners to install gas mains to make heating homes in hard to reach areas more affordable.

All work is carried out by registered and accredited local sub-contractors, who work to rigorous quality standards across the country.

Warmworks is the Managing Agent of Warmer Homes Scotland and receives referrals to the scheme from Home Energy Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome the impact that Warmer Homes Scotland has made in my constituency. For too many families, living in fuel poverty is a harsh reality and it is great to know that they are now living in warmer, cosier homes with greatly reduced fuel bills.

“I would encourage others to check if they are eligible to receive help under the scheme, as improvements could make a significant difference this winter and for years to come.”

With the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 now enshrined in legislation, both the extent of the Scottish Government’s ambitions and the scale of the task ahead are very clear.

While the end goal for the eradication of fuel poverty may be some years away, there is no question that the help available under Warmer Homes Scotland will play a key role in helping people become warmer, happier and healthier in their homes.

Ross Armstrong, Warmworks’ Managing Director said:

“It has always been important to Warmworks that the delivery of Warmer Homes Scotland results in real and lasting benefits for vulnerable people and communities across Scotland.

“I am delighted to have helped over 300 households in Mr Stevenson’s constituency and we hope to build on our success as we continue our efforts to move towards greener, fairer and more affordable ways to heat our homes.”

MSPs Back Funding for Free School Meals Over Holidays

North-east MSPs have welcomed plans for two new funding packages from the Scottish Government to help support people on low incomes.

It comes after an announcement was made by Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville regarding £10million of funding being made available for free school meals over the Christmas holidays, February half-term break and Easter.

Local authorities will also be reimbursed for provision during the current October half-term break.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move which will support more than 150,000 children across Scotland.

It will be up to each council how this support is delivered, but the Scottish Government is encouraging a cash first approach where necessary to allow families the option of what food they buy and where they purchase it from.

In addition, there will also be an £18million fund available to local authorities to tackle financial insecurity.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This is a very welcome and necessary step in ensuring no child goes hungry.

“We know the cash flow of many families have been dealt a blow by the impact of the coronavirus and we must ensure we do all we can to help support them through this difficult time.

“By ensuring food can be put on the table for so many families across Scotland we can help to support those who really need it.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Children and young people have already had an incredibly turbulent year with disruption to school and their daily lives.

“By offering this support, we will endeavour to make sure families can feel additionally supported in helping to ensure children are fed.”

19 October 2020

Stevenson Urges Constituents in Need to Call Support line

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging constituents in need of support to use a free coronavirus support line.

The Scotland Cares Initiative has been launched by the Red Cross with volunteers trained in psychological support for anyone who needs practical or emotional support, advice and guidance on food provision, or support with loneliness.

The number is open daily 10am to 6pm and the support service also works with food banks to help deliver essentials to those who rely on support.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Red Cross is providing vital support for those who need it most at this difficult time.

“I would encourage anyone who may need support to call the helpline, which is being manned by lots of volunteers, to help anyone who may be isolated or need support or help accessing a food bank.

“Services like this are essential in providing assistance to the local community which is now more important than ever, particularly as we head into the winter months.”

The support service line number is 0808 196 3651 and is available from 10am to 6pm.

North-East MSPs Encourage Applications for Town Centres Fund

North-east MSPs are calling on businesses and projects to apply for a new £1million fund to help promote town centres and online businesses and encourage people to shop locally.

The Scottish Government fund will provide grants of between £500 and £5000 will be given out as part of the Scotland Loves Local Scheme.

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

Funding is aimed at supporting small scale improvement which will help people to shop whilst also ensuring public health safety and the cash can be used for protective screens, physical distancing markers, hand sanitising equipment and PPE.
 
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“We all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s now more important than ever to consider shopping locally and supporting the brilliant local businesses in the north-east.

“The Scotland Loves Local campaign - which will provide grants of between £500 and £5,000 - encourages people to think how they can safely support people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP added:

“This £1million fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, is an exciting opportunity for local projects and locally-based online businesses to support town centres and promote their local community.

"I have no doubt this new fund will be a real boost for communities across the north-east.”

12 October 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Start of Bowel Screening Programme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed plans by the NHS to resume its Bowel Screening Programme after it was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Screening kits will begin to be posted out again, and people who were sent a screening kit before the pause in March, are now being asked to complete and return them.

The programme was suspended after careful consideration of the risks, including for people asked to attend follow-up investigations, such as colonoscopy appointments, as a result of their bowel screening.

Bowel screening colonoscopies have also resumed for those whose test results need further investigation.

A range of additional safety measures have been put in place to allow staff and patients to adhere to physical distancing, staff will wear necessary personal protective equipment and there will be staggered appointments to ensure quieter waiting areas.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased the Bowel Screening Programme will now resume.

“The temporary pause of the programme was one of a number of difficult decisions which was made in response to the impact of COVID-19.

“I would encourage constituents who received a bowel screening kit in March to return it and anyone who is sent one in the coming months.”


Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, said:

“Bowel cancer is Scotland’s second biggest cancer killer but it’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early.

“While we all clearly understand the massive impact, the pandemic has had on the NHS, getting back on track with screening now will help to save lives, and we urge all over 50s to complete it."

5 October 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Broadband Upgrade

Households in Aberdeenshire can now upgrade to faster fibre broadband as part of the £463 million broadband rollout.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the announcement by DSSB (Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband).

It means more than 88,000 homes and businesses can now connect through the DSSB programme.

Engineers from Openreach have connected more homes in Lonmay and Methlick to superfast broadband.

Across Scotland more than 950,000 premises have now been passed by the programme – with 5,078 new fibre street cabinets now live, offering broadband services at speeds up to 80Mbps. More than 16,730km of cable has been laid – including 400km of subsea cable.

More than 67 per cent of properties reached by the programme have now switched to faster fibre broadband.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“As we continue to work from home it is more important than ever to ensure we can connect to superfast broadband.

“I would urge constituents to check what faster speeds could be available to them as we make progress as a digital nation.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a big leap forward in full-fibre technology and is more important than ever in what has been a turbulent year.

“It is particularly important that this technology has been expanded to more rural areas across the north-east.”

Delivered through two projects - led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland - funding partners also include the UK Government through Building Digital UK (BDUK), BT

Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund, with Openreach leading the build on the ground.

Fibre technology offers fast and reliable connections at a range of speeds1 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. Local people can check if the new fibre services are available to them at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.

Stewart Stevenson
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