Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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20 November 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Vaccine Progress

North-east MSPs have welcomed Scottish Government plans for the first coronavirus vaccinations to be given as early as next month.

It comes after Health Secretary Jeane Freeman updated the Scottish Parliament and said the first groups to be prioritised for vaccination have been identified based on current independent clinical advice.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the news which could see older care home residents and the over 80s be the first to be vaccinated.

Ms Freeman has said once these initial priority groups have been vaccinated, those over 65 will be offered the vaccination along with those under 65 who are at additional clinical risk, before moving on to the wider population over the age of 18.

An agreement has also been reached with the British Medical Association on the terms and conditions of GPs’ involvement in the programme.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This is very welcome news after what has been an incredibly tough time for everyone as the coronavirus has impacted every aspect of our day-to-day lives and devastatingly led to the loss of so many lives.

“The global scientific, research and pharmaceutical community has come together and achieved creating vaccines which are not years but months away.

“It is a brilliant step forward and I look forward to more announcements to come from the Health Secretary in the months ahead.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted that after months of uncertainty, we have news which makes the possibility of a return to normality next year far more realistic.

“This is an important step in making sure the general population is protected against the coronavirus.”

17 November 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Funding for Care Homes after Aberdeenshire Pilot

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed additional funding to provide 1,400 care homes in Scotland with digital devices to connect loved ones with those receiving care.

The £1million fund will enable all care homes across the country to access iPads to help residents stay connected with friends and relatives as well as supporting the clinical management of health conditions remotely.

It comes after a pilot project provided digital services to six care homes in Aberdeenshire to address digital exclusion, supported by Scottish Care, the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

Care homes will be able to apply for up to two iPads to support their residents through combined Scottish Government funding from the Connecting Scotland Programme and on top of funding allocated in the Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness plan.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased following the success of the pilot project in Aberdeenshire that this scheme will be rolled out further.

“Keeping residents in care homes connected with their families and friends is really important especially as we go into the winter period.

“While digital devices can never replace human interaction, digital technology can help us to keep in touch with our loved ones and provide vital access to healthcare through services such as NearMe for video consultations.”

11 November 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Boost in Teacher Numbers

More than 1,250 New Teachers and Support Staff Recruited Since Summer

North-east MSPs have welcomed news that 1,250 new teachers, and 155 support staff, have been recruited in schools across Scotland in recent months.

It comes after the Scottish Government pledged £80 million of support this summer to help local authorities’ recruitment for the safe re-opening of schools.

And Councils across Scotland have now indicated that an estimated further 200 teachers are also in the pipeline with 100 extra support staff also expected to follow.

Last month, figures from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) showed that the number of newly-qualified teachers going straight into employment has risen by nearly 30%.

Analysis also revealed that the number of teachers in Scotland under the age of 45 has risen to 61.5% of the workforce as of 2019.

This is in comparison with 2009, when most teachers were over 45.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s absolutely vital that local authorities are fully supported to ensure that our schools remain safe for pupils, teachers and staff.

“Thanks to significant investment from the SNP Government this summer, we now have hundreds of extra teachers and staff in our schools to support their safe re-opening.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These additional teachers and support staff will not only bring much needed resilience to Scotland’s education system, but they will help compensate for the loss of learning suffered by pupils during lockdown.

“I want to express my appreciation once again for our brilliant teachers, and wider workforce, who are helping to ensure our young people continue to get the education they deserve during these tough times.”

9 November 2020

North-East MSPs Urge Applications for New Child Benefit Payment

North-east MSPs are urging families who may be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment to apply as figures show more than 10,000 children in Aberdeenshire could benefit.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson are now encouraging parents and carers to put forward applications.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced plans for early applications to be made possible to help support families amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move will help to provide eligible families on low incomes with a child under six an extra £10 per week for each child.

The first payments are expected to be made in February next year.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This support is needed more than ever, and it’s early introduction for children under six - almost two years ahead of the original commitment for a new payment.

"While the Scottish Government does everything it can to tackle poverty, the Tories at Westminster are still helplessly trying to defend their shameless decision to deprive children of free school meals over the holidays.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Children and families simply shouldn’t have to depend on the whim of Boris Johnson’s callous Tory government to get through this Covid-19 crisis.

“This benefit will be a lifeline for many children, young people and their families in the north-east. I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to apply as soon as possible.”

4 November 2020

North-East MSPs Back Calls for Tighter Controls on Fireworks

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed calls for a fundamental shift in the way fireworks are bought and sold in Scotland.

The independent Firework Review Group, established by the Scottish Government, has called for the introduction of no firework zones and tighter restrictions on the use of fireworks to help tackle anti-social behaviour at this time of year.

The group, chaired by former Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay, also recommended an introduction of mandatory conditions when fireworks are purchased from retailers as well as restricting the times of day and volumes of fireworks are purchased from retailers.

It also urges a restriction of the days and times fireworks can be set off and the creation of a proxy purchasing offence to prevent adults from buying fireworks on behalf of those under the age of 18. 

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Here in the north-east, and right across Scotland, there is widespread public support to crack down on the negative impact of anti-social firework use.

“This Scottish Government is determined to make these recommendations a reality and help keep our local communities safe from the harmful use of fireworks.“

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Tomorrow is Bonfire Night, and I would ask those who plan on using fireworks to do so responsibly and be mindful of their neighbours – the noise of fireworks can have a real impact on those with sensory issues, on pets and on livestock.”

Chair of the Review Group and former Chief Fire Officer, Alasdair Hay, said:

“I am pleased to set out the recommendations from the Firework Review Group. We have carefully considered the available evidence and believe a step change is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used by the general public.

"This is not to prevent adults using fireworks sensibly and safely – rather, to ensure all safety requirements are fully understood and adhered to, and the impact on others has been fully considered.”

3 November 2020

Stevenson Backs Early Applications for Child Payment

Parents are being encouraged to apply for the new Scottish Child Payment which has been opened early to the public.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is urging constituents to apply for the payment which ahead of its introduction to help manage expected demand.

The new benefit will give eligible families on low incomes with children under 16-years-old an extra £10 per week for each child.

It had been for full roll-out by the end of 2022, but Ministers have now prioritised the early introduction for children under the age of six with payments to begin from early 2021.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is an ambitious anti-poverty measure with the Scottish Government leading the way.

“I am delighted an earlier payment will be introduced to help support families with younger children ahead of the full roll-out.

“I would urge all constituents who may be eligible to apply now as we know the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact has made the need far greater.”

Scotland is the only part of the UK where this additional payment for families with young children will be available.

The payment could support up to 194,000 children this financial year and the payment will be made every four weeks.

2 November 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Support for Benefit Appeals

North-East MSPs have welcomed a payment introduced to protect people challenging disability benefit payments.

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

The Short Term Assistance payment will allow people to continue to receive the amount of money they were getting before the decision was made to lower or stop their payment.

People will not have to repay the Short Term Assistance if the re-determination or appeal upholds the decision to lower or stop their social security payment.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: 

“This is a first for benefit delivery in the UK and I am pleased the Scottish Government is providing an extension to support people looking to appeal a decision.

“This will be introduced alongside the Child Disability Payment, replacing the Scottish Government’s Disability Living Allowance for Children.

“I hope this allows people who may want to challenge a decision to do so without additional stress or worry in what can be a daunting process.

“It is important we give people the chance to appeal without feeling further penalised.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said: 
“We know people’s lives are complicated and there are many factors taken into consideration before making a decision.

“The Scottish Government is working hard to make sure decisions are made correctly the first-time but where this does not happen, this allows an applicant to go back and ask Social Security Scotland to look again.”

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