HOMELESSNESS FIGURES ‘DISGRACEFUL’

29 January 2019

Responding to the publication of homelessness statistics today showing there were 18,486 applications for homelessness assistance ‪between 1 April and 30 September 2018, almost 300 applications more than the same period in 2017, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Housing Pauline McNeil said:

"These figures are disgraceful, and should prompt hard questions inside the government.

"It is clear that the systematic problems that lead to homelessness are not being tackled, and that’s before we consider the impact of the SNPs £1.5billion worth of cuts to councils since 2011.

"These cuts threaten vital services and mean people fall through the cracks because they aren't getting the support they need.

"Later this week the SNP want MSPs to vote for a budget that cut tax for people on £100,000 a year while cutting funding for local services. These figures show that would be completely unacceptable.

"Labour has a plan to fix our housing crisis and tackle homelessness, by ensuring councils have the funding they need to support vulnerable people, reforming the private rented sector and building more homes for social rent."



TEACHERS SLAM STANDARDISED TESTS

28 January 2019

Scottish Labour's education spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

“Scotland's teachers have repeatedly told John Swinney that standardised tests cause pupils distress and produce no meaningful data.

"Parliament voted to end these tests for Primary 1 pupils last year. Sadly, Mr Swinney opted to ignore the result and views of teachers across the country.

"With the Education Committee finding yet more evidence of the negative consequences of the SNP government's testing regime, Mr Swinney should respect the will of the Parliament, scrap these tests for P1s, and review them at P4, P7 and S3 levels.

"The SNP have slashed £400 million from school budgets, imposed an unwanted testing regime, ditched their flagship Education Bill and teachers are now on the verge of industrial action over pay."



FREEMAN 'PRESIDING OVER CULTURE OF SECRECY' - Monica Lennon

27 January 2019

Commenting on the news that a second fungal infection was not reported within 24 hours as per NHS guidelines, Scottish Labour's health spokesperson, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“The last week has shaken the NHS and eroded public confidence in our health service.

“Instead of being up front with the public Jeane Freeman has presided over a culture of secrecy.

“Today we learn that a second fungal infection at the hospital, which has left a patient seriously ill, was kept from the public for a week despite NHS guidelines stating it should have been publicised within 24 hours.

“That is simply not good enough and the public will rightly question why this was hidden from them until Ms Freeman faced questions over the initial infection at Parliament.

“The SNP government must take immediate action to restore trust and confidence in our health service.”



REVIEW OF FLAGSHIP HOSPITAL OVERDUE - Monica Lennon

23 January 2019

Responding to the government’s announcement of a review into the design and building of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Labour Health spokesperson Monica Lennon said:

“Jeane Freeman this afternoon confirmed that child sadly died as a result of infections at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and that alone is cause enough for a serious review of maintenance.

“Questions remain, however, why successive health secretaries allowed problems at the hospital to build up before commissioning this review.

“Problems at the hospital were reported as far back as February 2016, when sewage leaks saw operations cancelled. In December 2017 cladding had to be removed from the hospital due to similarities it shared to the material used on Grenfell tower.

“In August 2018, a glass panel crashed ten floors from the hospital, and last month we saw reports of bacteria in the water supply at the cancer ward at the children’s hospital on the campus.

“That is a laundry list of problems which should have set alarm bells ringing at any hospital, never mind Scotland’s flagship hospital. The review is overdue – it now must deliver honest answers about the mistakes that have been made.”



SNP MINISTERS AWARD THEMSELVES TAX CUT IN BUDGET

21 January 2019

SNP Ministers are planning to reward themselves with a tax cut in the Budget, independent analysis confirms.

Analysis by the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre shows that a majority of higher rate taxpayers, including people earning more than £100,000, will receive a £140 tax cut as part of Derek Mackay's plans.

Changes in the personal allowance, coupled with the Nationalist's rates and bands proposals, mean those earning up to £124,375 will pay less income tax this year than last.

With a Budget that could make even more council workers redundant yet gives a tax cut to the Ministers responsible, Labour cannot possibly support it when it comes to Parliament on Thursday for the Stage 1 vote.

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, James Kelly MSP, said:

“It is morally reprehensible for Derek Mackay to put forward a budget which will make council workers redundant and himself richer.

“Our communities need investment and an end to austerity, but Derek Mackay is refusing to use Scotland's powers to do just that.

"With a Budget that will make council workers redundant and give a tax cut to the Ministers responsible, Labour cannot possibly support it when it comes to Parliament on Thursday.

“Labour would make the richest pay their fair share, including a 50p top rate of tax, invest in our public services and tackle the unacceptable levels of poverty in our society.”



Salmond Inquiry Must Help Rebuild Trust and Confidence

18 January 2019

Scottish Labour has urged Nicola Sturgeon to support a full and transparent inquiry into the government’s handling of the Alex Salmond inquiry in order to rebuild trust and restore confidence.

Party leader Richard Leonard urged the First Minister, as SNP group leader at Holyrood, to commit to a series of measures to ensure public trust in the proposed parliamentary inquiry, including that the committee:

• Must be chaired by an opposition MSP

• Must meet in public

• Must not be subject to a time limit on how long it sits for

• Must not be subject to a limit on how many sittings it has

• Should be able to scrutinise internal SNP correspondence connected to the case as well as government correspondence

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Let’s not forget that two women have been badly failed by the system, and they are entitled to answers, which is why the parliamentary inquiry must be as thorough as possible.

“The committee must meet in public and there should be no time limit on how long it sits for, or how many sittings it has.

“According to parliamentary precedent, the position of committee chair is due to be offered to the SNP - but this is an unprecedented situation and Nicola Sturgeon must agree that this inquiry will be chaired by an opposition MSP.

“Nicola Sturgeon should do the right thing.”



Scottish government urged to bring forward a statutory right to food in law

18 January 2019

Labour has pressed the Scottish government to bring forward a statutory right to food.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant pressed the government to outline when a proposed Good Food Nation bill would finally be brought forward.

The MSP is also writing to foodbank organisations across Scotland to ensure they take steps to make their users’ voices heard.

Rhoda said:

“We live in a developed nation in the 21st century and it is a national scandal that foodbank use is increasing year upon year upon year.

“Scottish Labour believe that there should be a statutory right to food, which brings together all of the current policies, gives them a guiding force, and has the power to measure the government’s success in feeding its people.

“In developing legislation, we believe that people who are most affected by food insecurity should have the opportunity to contribute to how the government can make things better.

“However, we accept that this is challenging, as those most affected by food insecurity tend to be the most marginalised and vulnerable people in society, who are unlikely to have their voice heard.

“I am writing to foodbank organisations in Scotland to find out whether they have any plans to make service users aware of the consultation, and how they are supporting them in submitting their views to the outcome of the consultation.

“While I understand that engaging with the government’s legislative process is not going to be the first thing on people’s minds when visiting foodbanks, I think that it is important that we listen to people who are most affected by the issues discussed, and take account of their views”



Special committee to hold inquiry into the Salmond case

15 January 2019

Commenting on the agreement to establish a special committee to hold a parliamentary inquiry into how the Scottish government handled an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against the former First Minister, Alex Salmond, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This is the right decision and a positive step forward. Full transparency in this matter is essential in order for the public to have confidence in the First Minister and the Scottish government. That means full public and parliamentary scrutiny.

“At all times it is essential to remember that at the centre of all of this are two courageous women who put their faith in a system that has badly let them down, and we must never lose sight of that, by safeguarding the duty of care to them and their access to justice.

“We must restore trust and confidence in the system, this committee will be an important step towards that.”



Comment on HES

13 January 2019

Commenting on reports the company lined up to replace HES has received more than £500,000 in fines, Scottish Labour's Health spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

“What has happened at HES is a scandal – but SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has failed to keep Parliament informed. Clinical waste is piling up and NHS porters have been injured.

“She must reassure Parliament this crisis is under control.

“Instead, a replacement company that has history of being fined for poor performance stands to benefit from a multi-million pound NHS contract.

“Too many questions remain answered and this risks pushing our NHS into further crisis.

“That is why Scottish Labour is urging the SNP government to pause the contract process and launch a full review of what went wrong at HES.

“SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman should leave all options on the table, including bringing the service back under NHS management.”



Comment on two child cap

12 January 2019

Commenting on the Conservative Government ditching its plans to extend a benefits cap on families of more than two children, Scottish Labour's Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said:

"The two child cap, and the rape clause that comes with it, is abhorrent and the Conservative Government still has not gone far enough in only stopping its extension as part of Universal Credit.

"Scottish Labour want this cruel policy ended in its entirety, which is why we are calling on the Scottish Government to use the upcoming budget to protect people in Scotland from its impact.

"The Scottish Tories must urgently explain if they will continue to defend a policy their own ministers are now rowing back from."



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