Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Record high in Scottish employment

Unemployment and inactivity falls over the quarter

More people in Scotland are in work as the latest jobs figures show an increase in employment to a record high and a fall in inactivity.

Scotland’s employment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points to 75.2% over the quarter, meaning 30,000 more people in employment, according to the Labour Market Statistics for April to June published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). There are now 2,650,000 people in employment in Scotland - 86,000 more than the pre-recession peak and above the UK rate.

Over the quarter, the inactivity rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 21.8%. The unemployment rate fell over the quarter to 3.9%, below the UK figure of 4.4%

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said:

“These latest figures show continued resilience in our labour market with 30,000 more people in work compared with this time last year and the unemployment rate falling by 1.2 percentage points over the year. The employment rate has risen to 75.2%, its highest on record, with more people in employment than ever before, while the unemployment rate of 3.9% is close to record lows.

“This is a further vote of confidence in our economy, coming after GDP figures showing Scotland’s growth rate was four times faster that of the UK over the last quarter, and recent reports of accelerating growth across the private sector.

“It is also encouraging to see that we continue to perform strongly in female participation, with the female unemployment rate falling by 0.9 percentage points over the year to 3.6%. Scotland’s female unemployment rate continues to be lower than the UK rate. Youth unemployment has fallen from 14.6% since 2007 and now stands at 8.4%, and is now among the lowest of all EU countries.

“These figures are encouraging but there is much still to do. A hard Brexit would cost our economy up to £11 billion a year from 2030, and 80,000 jobs over a decade. The Scottish Government will continue to do all that we can with the powers available to us to grow our economy, protecting and creating jobs.”

Saturday, 12 August 2017

New Lib Dem Leader Suggests Tuition Fees for Scotland

Rennie Must Disown Comments from "Blundering" Cable

The SNP’s Depute Leader at Westminster has said that comments made by Vince Cable, suggesting that it was a mistake to scrap university tuition fees in Scotland, implies that Lib Dem policy would be to impose fees of up to £9,000 a year on Scottish students.

Kirsty Blackman MP added that the comments made by the Lib Dem Westminster leader were an “huge embarrassment” to Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, who must make clear whether he agrees with his Westminster boss in support, or instead distance himself from his new leader.

Kirsty Blackman MP, the SNP's Depute Leader at Westminster, said:

“Vince Cable’s blundering comments are a major gaffe and a huge embarrassment to Willie Rennie – not content with driving their party off an electoral cliff by their tuition fees betrayal in England, their UK leader is now suggesting the Lib Dems support imposing £9,000 a year fees on Scottish students.

“Willie Rennie must urgently make clear whether forcing students to pay tuition fees is once again Scottish Lib Dem policy, or he must instead distance himself from his new leader.”

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Five Key Questions on Farming for UK Tory Environment Secretary

SNP Demand: Honour Promises Made to Scottish Farmers

The SNP has challenged new Tory Environment Secretary Michael Gove to answer five key questions on Scottish farming, following his promises in recent weeks that farmers and crofters would not lose out after Brexit.

The Tories have so far failed to give farmers and wider rural interests guarantees over future funding beyond 2022 and most fear that Michael Gove, an economic right-winger, is gearing up to scrap them altogether post-Brexit.

When asked directly if Scottish farmers would lose out on subsidies through Brexit, Mr Gove gave a direct “no” in response. However senior Tories have raised the spectre of a Westminster power grab – stating that devolved powers over agriculture would not automatically return to the Scottish Parliament. And Tory plans for a new “agri-environment system” suggest future funding decisions and priorities will be imposed upon Scotland.

Deputy convener of Holyrood’s Rural Economy Committee, Gail Ross, has challenged Michael Gove to continue his frank approach by offering Yes or No answers to the following five questions:
  • Will the UK government guarantee that Scotland’s farmers and crofters will receive at least the same level of support as they do at present?
  • Will Michael Gove now guarantee funding for Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) for 2019?
  • In any future system, will Scotland get the equivalent or more than the 16.5% share it currently receives in EU agricultural funding?
  • Will Michael Gove demonstrate his intent by honouring a previous promise dating back to 2013 to give Scotland’s farmers their £160 million convergence monies?
  • Will the Tories rule out the possibility of a Westminster power grab over Scottish farming and food production once and for all?
Commenting, Gail Ross MSP said:

“It’s no secret that Michael Gove is the sort of laissez faire right-winger who would happily sell off, or sell out anything he gets his hands on in government.

“Throughout his time in politics he’s pushed for the NHS to be dismantled and for schools to be marketised. People should be extremely sceptical about what’s in store for farmers, crofters and our wider rural community in Scotland.

“But if we take him at his word that Scotland’s farmers will not lose out on subsidies through the Tories’ damaging plans for Brexit then he still has key questions to answer.

“The UK government got us into this mess – they now have the responsibility for reassuring farmers that they won’t pull the plug on much-needed agricultural support after Brexit.

“What happens beyond 2022? Does rural support fall off a cliff edge? Does Scotland get the funding to match the powers we must get to support farmers? Or will Westminster undermine our nation’s parliament and reverse the gains of devolution with a shameless Tory power grab?

“It’s high time we had some straight answers from Michael Gove and his colleagues – it’s the very least that Scotland’s farmers and crofters deserve.”

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mhairi Black - Moray MP Douglas Ross Must Deliver On His Promise To Support Women Under Pension Threat

Mhairi Black MP has called on new Tory MP Douglas Ross to sign a parliamentary motion to support WASPI women - as he has so far failed to do so, and he has refused to confirm if he will - despite pledging to support the campaign while he was seeking election.

The Tory MP posed for campaign photographs while he was seeking votes – pledging to support women who will lose their pensions as a result of the changes to state pension age, "and to work in Parliament to find a solution to those affected."

Yet he has so-far failed to support the women in Wednesday's parliamentary motion, and refused to say if he intends to do so.

Mhairi Black MP said:

“Douglas Ross must sign this motion in support of these women- otherwise his actions reek of hypocrisy. He was happy to pose with these women during his election campaign while seeking votes - now he must show a stand against his party's damaging policy.

“I cannot believe we are still having to argue the case for WASPI women, and that the UK government has failed to listen.

“For the government to say they can’t afford to pay these women what they are owed is laughable. They can find a billion pounds to cling on to power, but they can’t find the money to give women the pensions that they are due.

“These women are guilty of nothing. They have had the misfortune of being female and being born in the 1950s and live under this UK government who refuses to do the right thing.

"This is an issue of equality. The UK government must take responsibility and Douglas Ross must do the right thing for these women who are missing out on their pension."
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