Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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28 January 2021

North-East MSPs Welcome Budget and Call for Cross-Party Support

North-east MSPs have welcomed the Scottish Government’s ambitious draft budget – which includes £16billion for health and social care services.

Now, Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, have called on opposition MSPs to support the budget which was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

Ms Forbes announced it would focus on three guiding principles - a national mission for new, good, and green jobs; promotion of lifelong health and wellbeing and driving equality and helping our young people to grasp achieve their potential.

Record funding of more than £16billion will be invested in the NHS and social care sector, £3.5billion will go towards social security and welfare payments, and investment of £2.7billion will be made in education and skills – with total investment increasing by £3.8billion.

MSPs will vote on the draft budget proposals next month.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This budget has been delivered in exceptional circumstances as we continue to battle a global pandemic and face the harmful impacts of a Tory Brexit we didn’t vote for.

“The green recovery as we come out of lockdown restrictions and return to a new normal will be imperative in helping support Scotland’s economy.

“I’m glad this commitment to investing in jobs and education, resourcing public services for the challenges ahead - with record funding for our health and social care sector - and supporting households at a time of real uncertainty will continue."

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I sincerely hope that MSPs from all political parties will back this Budget, which will support the north-east’s recovery from this Covid-19 crisis and help us build a fairer, stronger, greener country.

“Since the start of this crisis, the Scottish Government has responded quickly and decisively to tackle the continued threats of the virus, while doing all it can to secure social and economic recovery.”

27 January 2021

Tax Grant Won't Impact Universal Credit, UK Gov Confirms

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed confirmation a grant offered to support taxi and private hire drivers will not impact Universal Credit payments.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced a £57million funding package to help support the sector following the impact on business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Concern had been raised, that drivers who were receiving universal credit, would have their income assessed based on receipt of the grant.

Now the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed: “Covid-19 related grants which are intended to cover the loss of business income and to aid business recovery, will be disregarded for Universal Credit purposes for 12 months.”

The DWP also confirmed this would include the Scottish Government grant for taxi and private hire drivers.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I am pleased to have confirmation from the UK Government that taxi and private hire drivers will not have their Universal Credit impacted by any grant they receive.

“Many businesses have had their lives changed in the past year with the impact of Covid-19 and it is only right that we provide any financial support we can to help them.

“I hope this gives reassurance to drivers who are eligible for the Scottish Government grant that they can now do so.

“The substantial increase in support for them announced earlier this month is the recognition they deserve in what has been a tough time for the industry due to the lockdown restrictions.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Despite the restrictions, many fixed costs have still remained for drivers, such as general maintenance, licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments and the increase in funding will cover these expensive costs.

“This confirmation is a welcome step forward as we continue to work hard to reduce the number of people infected with coronavirus.”

25 January 2021

Stevenson Backs Proposals for Green Ports

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed proposals from the Scottish Government for green ports.

The proposals put forward would establish green ports which would be more sustainable and require operators and businesses to pay the real living wage, adopt the Scottish Business Pledge and commit to supporting sustainable and inclusive growth in local communities.

They would also contribute to Scotland’s just transition to net zero.

Freeports are specially designated economic zones where normal tax and customs rules do not apply and all forms of port are included under the status – ferry ports, airports, and rail ports.

In such ports, goods can be imported, manufactured, and exported again without facing standard tariffs or requiring normal customs checks.

Plans for freeports come after the UK Government committed to having one in each devolved nation with companies who operate them having the benefit of paying a lower tax rate of VAT tax as well as relief when it comes to purchasing land.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Government’s proposals to take the freeport model and apply this country’s priorities from a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is one I wholeheartedly support.

“By diverging from the wider UK proposals, we can use a different freeport model to meet out net zero ambition and a wellbeing economy which upholds the highest standards of environmental protections and fair work practices.

“It is clear from businesses and communities the Scottish Government has listened to, that there is a new appetite for ways to support our economy.”

21 January 2021

Stevenson Welcomes New Brexit Advice Service for Consumers

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a new online advice service launched to help consumers with free, impartial and practical advice following Brexit.

The website from Advice Direct Scotland includes information on household expenditure, transport and travel, banking, and roaming charges.

Examples include the additional documentation needed if driving abroad, limits on alcohol that can be brought back to the UK, and steps to take if travelling with a pet.

The site is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland, which runs Scotland’s national advice service.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This website is for anyone to use to find out how Brexit will impact different aspects of their lives from transport to banking to roaming charges.

“I would urge anyone to use this website to double-check any queries they are not sure of so they are aware of crucial changes to how we do business with Europe.

“There will be many changes as a result of Brexit and this website will help consumers to understand practical changes, in an impartial manner.”

Andrew Bartlett, Chief Executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:

“While people are advised against all but essential travel at the moment, the UK’s departure from the EU will have a lasting impact on holidaymakers and consumers when life returns to normality – as well as those who buy goods from the EU.”

North-East MSPs Call for Tories to U-Turn on Universal Credit Cut

North-east MSPs have urged their Tory MSP counterparts to back a U-turn on UK Government plans to cut Universal Credit amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after new figures revealed that Boris Johnson’s plan to remove the £20 per week uplift in April would hit more than 14,000 people in Aberdeenshire.

Latest statistics show that in November 2020 there were 14,189 people claiming Universal Credit in Aberdeenshire in November. If all these people remain on Universal Credit until April, then they will be affected by the removal of the £20 uplift.

The Scottish Government has repeatedly called on the Westminster Tory government to maintain the £20 boost to Universal Credit and extend it to legacy benefits - yet all six Scottish Tory MPs abstained on a vote which would have ensured that.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have called on north-east Tories not to vote in support of the £20 removal.

Anti-poverty think-tank the Resolution Foundation estimates that the cut to Universal Credit by £20 a week could see the incomes of low-income families fall by more than four per cent (4%) and plunge a further 820,000 children into poverty across the UK.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: 
Picture predates COVID
and social distancing
“By reducing social security payments by £1000 a year, in the middle of an economic crisis, the Tories could push people here in Aberdeenshire further into hardship and poverty.

"There must be an immediate U-turn on this, to avoid worsening poverty and inequality across the country during the Covid-19 crisis - and I would urge local MSPs to support this.

"Although the Scottish Government has led the way in tackling poverty, with new benefits like the Scottish Child Payment and a social security system based on dignity and respect, this progress is being severely undermined by Tory cuts.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is crucial that the £20 uplift to Universal Credit is made permanent and extended to legacy benefits, as part of a wider package to boost incomes after a decade of damaging Tory austerity cuts.

"Scotland shouldn't have to wait for Westminster to act to protect the incomes of the most vulnerable in our society. The only way to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery is for Scotland to become an independent country - with the full powers needed to build a fairer society."

20 January 2021

Stevenson Welcomes Bill to Protect Retail Workers from Abuse

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed a Member’s Bill which will create a new statutory offence against assaulting, threatening or abusing a retail worker.

The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill will also provide further legal protections when the worker is carrying out their statutory duties such as age-restricted sales.

The bill, which was put forward by Daniel Johnson MSP, has received unanimous support.

It comes after concern was raised during the Coronavirus pandemic regarding an increase in abuse against retail staff trying to ensure customers maintained social distancing and wore masks while shopping.

The legislation regarding age-restricted sales will also cover those working in bars, restaurants and hotels, and those delivering items bought online who may have to ask for proof of age when items are delivered.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This Bill will help protect retail workers who deserve to go to work each day without the threat or verbal or physical abuse as they carry out their job.

“During the pandemic, retail workers have been key workers, helping to support all of us as we stay have stayed at home.

“I am pleased the Scottish Parliament has backed this Member’s Bill to protect all retail staff – violence, threats and abuse should never just be part of anyone’s job.”

Banff Priest Delivers 'Time for Reflection' in Scottish Parliament

Banff Priest, Father Piotr Rytel, of the town's Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church, delivered the sermon at the Scottish Parliament's weekly 'Time for Reflection' slot yesterday (Tuesday).

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson, who nominated Father Piotr to the Presiding Officer of the Parliament, commented:

“Over the years, I have been pleased to nominate many local ministers, pastors, priests and others to deliver ‘Time for Reflection’ and their contributions have always been both thoughtful and thought-provoking. I was therefore delighted to have another nomination accepted from my constituency for this important part of the Parliament’s week.”

Father Piotr’s sermon is reprinted below:
Father Piotr Rytel (Parish Priest, Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church, Banff):

“Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I thank Stewart Stevenson MSP for the nomination to speak. It is an honour to be here.

“My pilgrimage in the journey of my Catholic faith in Scotland began in 2013, when the Right Rev Hugh Gilbert OSB, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, was searching for a suitable candidate to help the growing number of Poles in the north of Scotland who were seeking pastoral support. I was appointed as a parish assistant at St Mary’s Catholic church in Inverness. My mission then, and now as a parish priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic church in Banff, not only focused on Polish chaplaincy but extended to English-speaking members of the church.

“As you know, with current difficulties growing from Brexit and Covid-19, we have to focus even more on the needs of every single individual living in Scotland, and to give them all the support that they need. As a priest, that involves touching on social care and welfare, as well as on individuals and their personal development.

“Not every eastern European is coming to Scotland to work in food processing or to do other such work. There are many ambitious people who need support in fulfilling their dreams and aspirations in their chosen country of Scotland. They want to use their talents so that they are fulfilled, both for their own benefit and to make this country better and more prosperous. We are the new Scots, too. In Galatians chapter 3 verse 28, St Paul wrote:

"'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.' 

“In the light of those words, there are no natives and foreigners. Everyone who wants to live and grow in this country is equal.

“We recognise the current need to develop diversity and inclusion. Incomers to this country want to fulfil their dreams, and we need to make sure that their freedom to profess their faith and to maintain their native languages and national identities is cherished and encouraged.

“I ask of you, please, that the Scottish Parliament continues to do what is so very much appreciated by people of faith, wherever they are from, and that you continue to support and respect everyone who wants to call Scotland their home.”

19 January 2021

Stevenson Welcomes PoppyScotland Manifesto

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a report from Poppyscotland ahead of this year’s Scottish elections.

The organisation, which supports the Armed Forces community in Scotland, has outlined a number of recommendations to parliamentarians in its manifesto.

This includes the creation of a Veterans’ Patients Satisfaction Survey and the establishment of a Veterans’ Housing Action Group with powers to review challenging cases.

Due to current lockdown restrictions, an online event was held for MSPs to attend virtually.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I was delighted to attend the event launching Poppyscotland’s manifesto ahead of the Scottish elections later this year.

“The work the organisation does on behalf of the Armed Forces community in the north-east and right across Scotland is important and necessary.

“The men and women who serve in our armed forces at this very moment are helping to support the role out of the vaccination process helping to protect those most in need.

“We must listen to the voices of those who have served – and continue to serve – and support them as much as we can.”

Baroness Ruth Davidson Posted Missing in Action as Fishing Industry Suffers

Davidson Rolls Back on Joint Promise with Gove
to 'Safeguard Fishermen'

The SNP has slammed Baroness Ruth Davidson for her silence and rolling back on promises she made to the fishing industry as it suffers as result of Brexit.

Since Scotland was dragged out of the EU against its will the fishing industry has suffered from mountains of red tape and problems at the border, but Baroness Davidson has been silent on the issue.

That is despite making promises in 2018 in a joint letter with arch Brexiteer Michael Gove that she would ‘ensure that British fishermen's interests are properly safeguarded.’

Fisheries across Scotland have said that Brexit has decimated the industry as they struggle to sell their catch to the lucrative EU market, but Baroness Davidson has not said a word in favour of fishermen, putting her cushy seat in the unelected House of Lords ahead of their businesses.

It comes as Scottish fishermen lined the streets of Whitehall with their lorries to protest the injustices that have been thrust upon their industry.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“At a time when the Scottish fishing industry is looking for help and support from Scottish political leaders, the silence from Ruth Davidson has been deafening as she looks to protect her ermine cloak and place in the House of Lords come May.

“The fishing industry have been the victims of a litany of broken Tory promises and Ruth Davidson is the perfect demonstration of that having made promises alongside Michael Gove to properly safeguard the industry, but the opposite has happened with Brexit putting many firms on the brink of collapse.

“In a time of crisis, Ruth Davidson has been nowhere to be seen, but the SNP will continue to stand up for Scotland’s fishermen and mitigate the worst effects of Brexit.

“The Tories sold out Scotland’s fishing industry on the way into Europe and now they’ve sold them out again on the way out, as we always warned they would.

"The only way to protect Scotland’s fisheries is to become an independent country at the top table of the European Union.”

18 January 2021

Stevenson Calls for Extension to Additional Universal Credit Cash

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called for the Tories to axe plans to cut universal credit by £20 a week.

A report from the Resolution Foundation has estimated Tory plans to reduce universal credit by £20 will see the incomes of many families fall by more than four percent and drive up real poverty from 21% to 23% by 2024/25.

The move would also push a further 820,000 children into poverty.

Mr Stevenson has now called on the Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross to ensure both he and his colleagues vote against the plans to reduce universal credit by £20.

It comes as the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market survey, published in December, revealed redundancies hit a record high of 370,000, while the UK unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent - with over

819,000 fewer people in employment in November than February.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Tory plan to cut Universal Credit for millions of families is cruel, indefensible and comes at the worst possible time - in the middle of an economic crisis and global pandemic.

“Many families in the north-east will be financially worse off as a result of these plans with many children facing being forced into poverty as a result.

"Douglas Ross must order his six Scottish Tory MPs to vote with the SNP for a permanent increase to Universal Credit and legacy benefits - and back our calls for the devolution of financial, welfare and employment powers to protect families in Scotland.

"While the SNP government has led the way in tackling poverty, with new benefits like the Scottish Child Payment, Westminster has taken money away from families and increased poverty with a decade of Tory cuts.

"Scotland shouldn't have to wait for Westminster to act. The only way to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery is for Scotland to become an independent country - with the full powers needed to build a fairer society."

North-East MSPs Welcome Funding for Taxi Drivers

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed funding from the Scottish Government to help support taxi and private hire drivers.

The move was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and will mean eligible drivers can claim a £1,500 grant to cover fixed costs, boosting the support available to them.

A total fund of £57million has been made available which is three times more than the allocated funding in December.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I am delighted the Scottish Government has increased the funding available to taxi and private hire drivers. Many of these drivers in the north-east have gone above and beyond the call of duty by providing transport for key workers and taking people safely to hospital appointments.

“This substantial increase in support for them is the recognition they deserve in what has been a tough time for the industry due to the lockdown restrictions.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Despite the restrictions, many fixed costs have still remained for drivers, such as general maintenance, licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments and the increase in funding will cover these expensive costs. “I would urge the local council to contact firms quickly to ensure they can receive the money in their account as soon as possible.”

15 January 2021

Stevenson Warns Tories Must Deliver Compensation for Fishing Industry

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the Tory government must deliver a multi-billion pound package of Brexit compensation after Scottish fishermen wrote a damning letter to Boris Johnson.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) warned the Prime Minister his deal was "not what you promised the fishing industry" following two weeks of "mounting financial losses" since the hard

Tory Brexit was imposed on Scotland on 31st December.

And they warned the deal struck by the UK Government had left many in the seafood industry fearing their businesses would “not survive” as a result.

The letter warns "this industry now finds itself in the worst of both worlds" as a result of the Brexit deal, which it says is "manifestly unbalanced and against the interests of the UK fishing industry".

It accuses the Tory government of spinning lines they know aren't true with the reality that "your deal has failed the industry" and "your deal actually leaves the Scottish industry in a worse position on more than half of the key stocks".

In the letter, SFF Chief Executive Elspeth Macdonald demands details of a compensation scheme "as a matter of urgency, and of course this must be new money, and not taken from the £100 million that you have already announced for investment and innovation" - warning "there is huge disappointment and a great deal of anger about your failure to deliver on promises made repeatedly to this industry".

Despite Boris Johnson making a commitment to Parliament's Liaison Committee that fishing communities would get compensation Downing Street, and Tory Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice, have since appeared to U-turn on this commitment.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"This is an utterly devastating verdict on Brexit from Scotland’s fishing industry – the only sector the Tories have ever claimed could benefit from leaving the EU.

“Scotland's fishing industry- here in the north-east and across the country - is right to be angry about all the Tory lies and broken promises on Brexit, and the devastating reality of Boris Johnson's deal, which is costing fishing communities millions of pounds in lost revenue, mounting costs, red tape and barriers to trade.

"The Prime Minister must urgently deliver a multi-billion pound package of Brexit compensation for Scotland - to mitigate the damage his Tory deal has done to our economy.

“This must include major compensation for fishing businesses and communities who have been hit hard.

“Communities in the north-east and across Scotland will never forgive the Tories for the damage they are doing to our country with their extreme Brexit obsession. The litany of false claims have now been utterly exposed and mean that many people in Scotland will never trust the Tories again.

“Scotland's fishing community has been treated appallingly by the Tories. It tells you everything you need to know that the Tory fisheries minister was too busy organising a nativity trail to read the Brexit deal - and Jacob Rees-Mogg has spent the week making jokes and literally laughing about the plight of Scotland's fishing industry."

14 January 2021

North-East MSPs Welcome Funding for Schools and Families

North-east MSPs have welcomed a new package of £45million to help local authorities to provide support to schools and families as they deal with the challenges of remote learning during lockdown.

The funding was announced by Education Secretary John Swinney and councils can use the funding for purposes including recruitment of extra staff, additional digital devices or to provide additional family support.

Both Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson MSP have welcomed the move.

The cash-boost is on top of £160 million already committed for education recovery since the start of the pandemic.

Private and third sector day care of children settings will also receive almost £4 million in temporary financial support.

Photo predates COVID
and social distancing
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I welcome this further tranche of funding to help support the many families across the north-east having to home school and work all in the same house.

“We know how important additional resources are to support children remote learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would like to say a big thank you to all the dedicated, hard-working teachers who are having to educate children in challenging circumstances.

“And to parents who’ve face additional pressures of working from home as well helping their children to learn and care for their wellbeing.

“Funding for childcare for vulnerable children and key worker families can help to protect children at risk and allow frontline staff to help protect us all as we continue to work from home and protect one another against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This new funding will be vital in helping to support teachers and home learning right across my constituency and indeed the country.

“Remote learning can be very difficult and funding to allow more support and to ease the burden placed on all those contributing to children’s learning is a very necessary step.”

12 January 2021

'Hammer Blow' as Scottish Seafood Exporters Losing 'Up to £1 million a day'

Tory Brexit Sell-Out Causing Chaos for Scottish Businesses

The SNP has renewed calls for the UK government to compensate businesses in Scotland suffering the effects of the Tory Brexit sell-out – after industry leaders warned that post-Brexit delays are costing Scottish seafood exporters over £1million per day.

James Withers, head of Scotland Food & Drink, told PoliticsHome that Scottish seafood exporters to the EU “could be losing upwards of one million pounds in sales a day” as a result of Brexit disruption and delays.

David Leiper, managing director of Peterhead company Seafood Ecosse, said the situation facing exporters was “a disgrace” and questioned: “Why should private companies take the pain for government incompetence?”

Alastair Roberts, who owns three fishing boats in Greenock, told LBC yesterday that Brexit “has ended up a lot worse than expected” and warned that “buyers in France, Spain, Italy […] will go elsewhere” for their seafood as a result of Brexit delays.

It has also been reported that some fish prices fell by as much as 80% at Peterhead market yesterday due to new paperwork demands and export blockages.
SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The fact that the UK government only completed the Brexit deal days before the end of the transition period - which they repeatedly refused to extend - has simply made it impossible for businesses to properly prepare.

“Scotland has been dragged out of the EU against our will and now huge damage is being done to one of our most valuable food exports, with our seafood sector being hammered to the tune of £1 million a day.

“The Tories must now answer for their betrayal of our fishing and seafood sectors, apologise to the Scottish businesses bearing the brunt of Boris Johnson's sell-out deal, and pay compensation to those who face the devastating double-whammy of Brexit during a global pandemic.

“The SNP repeatedly warned that there would be no Brexit advantage to the fish processing industry, and the Tory promise of a ‘sea of opportunity’ for the Scottish fishing industry has now been exposed as completely hollow.

"Scotland has been ignored by Westminster throughout this whole Brexit process. The only way to protect our interests, regain the benefits of EU membership and secure our place in Europe is to become an independent country."

Stevenson Slams Tories Broken Promises to North-East Farmers

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed Westminster for breaking its promises to north-east farmers just weeks after the end of the Brexit transition period.

It comes after the UK Tory government announced plans to consult on the introduction of gene-editing.

Commercial planting of GM crops is currently banned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland following decisions in 2015 – but without EU protection, the Tories are now threatening to overrule the devolved administrations and drive down Scotland’s high-quality food standards.

Despite the ban, the Tory Power Grab Bill allows ministers to override Scottish Ministers in certain areas, including in farming and food standards.

The proposal to introduce pesticide neonicotinoid is a promise which has been explicitly broken after Michael Gove promised not to U-turn on it. The pesticide is used for sugar beet but is harmful to bees.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“The harsh realities of the Tories’ Power Grab Bill are coming home to roost now, with Boris Johnson’s government threatening to impose GM crops on Scotland – despite a ban.

“Our local food and drink sector is world-renowned for being of the highest quality, so these plans to introduce GM crops will come as a devastating blow to the industry that is already struggling to deal with the impact of Brexit.

“Thanks to the Tories, the UK’s global reputation may well be damaged beyond repair, but we want to maintain Scotland’s clean, green reputation when it comes to food and drink standards.

“If the Tories won’t listen to the warnings from Scottish farmers right here in the north-east, and across Scotland, then it is clear the only way to protect Scotland’s interests is as an independent, European nation.”

11 January 2021

North-East MSPs Welcome Top-Up Grants for Businesses

North-east MSPs have welcomed a significant top-up grant to help support hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across the region.

In addition to the grant businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also now get a one-off grant dependent on size.

Photo taken pre-COVID
and social distancing
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move.

It means larger hospitality businesses will receive £25,000 on top of the four-weekly £3,000 while smaller hospitality businesses will receive £6,000 on top of four-weekly payments of £2,000.

Meanwhile, larger retail and leisure businesses will receive an additional £9,000 on top of their four-weekly payment and smaller retail and leisure businesses will be eligible for £6,000 on top of their four-weekly payment.

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the 4-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic top-up.

For the majority, this top-up will be combined with the next tranche of payment for the Strategic Framework Business Fund due to go to businesses on 25 January.

Businesses that haven’t yet applied for either of these funds should submit an application as soon as possible through their local authority website. Applications are now open.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“These grants are vital for businesses and I very much welcome this announcement by the Finance Secretary.

“I would urge businesses from across retail, hospitality and leisure to apply for funding to help them during this challenging time.

“This essential support will help to close the gaps in UK-wide support for these sectors impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would encourage all businesses to apply through their local authority.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Since the start of the pandemic the Scottish Government support for businesses and the wider economy has reached almost £3billion.

“This funding will be available from this month and will help to double or triple in some cases, the support being provided. I echo the sentiments of the Finance Secretary and hope this support will help businesses during this time.”

Stevenson Welcomes Clmate Funding for North-East Schooli

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed funding for a north-east school to help tackle climate change.

Fraserburgh Academy has been awarded £8,612 toward food group equipment from the Community Climate Asset Fund.
Organisations across Scotland have been given funding allocations as part of the green recovery strategy set out by the Scottish Government.

The fast-tracked funding aims to help tackle climate change deliver Scotland’s green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted for Fraserburgh Academy who will greatly benefit from this award.

“Now more than ever, our work towards a Just Transition and our net zero targets is vital,,as we continue through this incredibly challenging time for us all.

“I look forward to seeing the work carried out by Fraserburgh Academy in due course.”

8 January 2021

Stevenson Urges North-East Families to Apply for New Payment

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged north-east families to apply for a new payment which will open next month.

The Scottish Child Payment has already received 56,000 applications from across Scotland after families were given early access due to expected demand.

Those who applied prior to the 15th of February will have their payments calculated from then.

Parents have been encouraged to make their applications now to avoid losing out on money.

The new benefit will give eligible families on tax credits or certain benefits an extra £40 every four weeks for children under six.

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

The Scottish Fiscal Commission has forecast that the payment could support up to 194,000 children this financial year.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is clear many families have already put in their applications early and I would encourage those living in the north-east who would be eligible to also do so.

“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken in the UK but there are many more families who are entitled to this support and it is important they are able to get every penny that is due.

“We know how many families will have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has had on the economy.

“The form takes only 10 minutes to complete and the extra financial support could help ease financial pressure as a result of the national lockdown and following the Christmas period.”

4 January 2021

North-East MSPs Urge Everyone to Stick to Lockdown Rules Amid New Restrictions

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin are urging everyone in the north-east to adhere strictly to the new Covid restrictions announced today.

During an emergency recall of the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that, from tomorrow and for the duration of January, there will be a legal requirement for everyone in Level 4 areas to stay at home except for essential purposes. This is similar to the lockdown of March last year.

Commenting on the new restrictions, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I know how difficult this further lockdown will be for everyone - but it is absolutely necessary to bring this killer virus under control.

“If the country does not act now then we risk the NHS being overwhelmed and even more people will die because of this virus.

“This is not a theoretical risk – it is the desperate reality Scotland faces now and over the coming weeks.

“That means everyone must play their part in a national fightback. And that means sticking to both the letter and the spirit of the new rules. Do not look for loopholes.

“So please stay at home and don’t go out unless it is entirely necessary. And do not travel beyond Aberdeenshire if you are going out to exercise.

“If your usual exercise spot is busy, don’t add to the crowd. Try somewhere else close by where you are not giving the virus more opportunities to spread.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“We know there is renewed hope with the rollout beginning of a second vaccine – and they will be delivered to the population as fast as possible - but they can’t protect us all yet.

“So we must not let our guard down. Instead, we must re-double our vigilance and stick even more tightly to these toughened new rules.

“I know these sacrifices are very difficult but they will not be in place for a moment longer than absolutely necessary. But, unfortunately, they are currently more vital than ever.

“I know everyone in the north-east will play their part in this national effort and together we will get through this.

“So, please, stick to the rules: Stay Home. Save lives. Protect the NHS.”

NOTE: Photo taken before pandemic - stay at home and social distancing rules now apply.

Stewart Stevenson
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fiosZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

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