Budget for a stronger economy and a fairer society

Budget for a stronger economy and a fairer society

The SNP government’s budget protects low and middle income earners and delivers for public services and workers, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay laid his budget plans before the Scottish Parliament on December 14.

The budget delivers progressive reforms to Scotland’s income tax system, with modest increases on high earners while a majority of taxpayers will pay less than in the rest of the UK. Polling has found that most Scots back an increase in income tax for those who can afford it.

The finance secretary also outlined plans to spend an additional £400 million on the NHS, an expansion in childcare, more spending on broadband, extra funding for our police and fire services – and a pay rise for hard-working public sector employees.

Ms Mackay said: “This is a budget for a stronger economy and a fairer society – with increased funding for our NHS and protection for low and middle income earners.

“The Scottish Government is delivering lower income tax for the vast majority of Scots, with every worker earning less than £33,000 paying less in tax next year – while protecting public services across Strathkelvin and Bearsden that we all hold dear.

“This budget brings an additional £400 million for our NHS, delivers a pay rise for public sector workers, £756 million for affordable homes, additional funding for the arts and culture sector, a £4 billion investment in infrastructure, including in superfast broadband – as well as significant investments in research, education and childcare.

“In the face of the challenges presented by a cut to Scottish Government funding, ongoing Tory austerity, and their extreme Brexit – this budget provides the investment we need to meet these challenges and seize the opportunities of tomorrow.”


BY ALAN FERGUSON (07341061722)



Christmas card winners unveilled

Christmas card winners unveilled

MSP Rona Mackay has revealed the winners of this year’s Christmas Card competition.

The competition was open to children from schools Campsie View and Merkland.

The winner from Campsie View was Aari Pasapuleti, who painted a snowman, and from Merkland Academy, Jayden, aged eight, who created a Christmas tree.

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Ms Mackay and Aari.

Ms Mackay said: “I was absolutely delighted with all of the entries I received from Campsie View School and Merkland Academy. They were all fantastic and it was difficult to choose a winner.

“I love putting the Christmas card out to school children because it gives them a challenge and some fun, and a couple of them a chance to see their own art be used in the public arena.”


From Rona Mackay MSP by Alan Ferguson (07342 061722)



Rona Mackay and Aari Pasapuleti
Red Christmas tree: Jayden (Merkland Academy)
Blue snowman: Aari Pasapuleti (Campsie View School)

Young people face more pressures today

Young people face more pressures today

YOUNG people have many more pressures than previous generations, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

The MSP spoke about these pressures at the Celebrating Our Future: The Year of Young People debate on December 12.

She highlighted challenges facing young people today, such as new pressures to conform to materialism and social media.

An environmental factor was linked in, with Ms Mackay insisting Scots must protect the environment to allow young people to grow up as healthy as possible.

School pupils and students from Strathkelvin and Bearsden were praised as “well-mannered and exceptionally knowledgeable” by the MSP.

She said: “In my speech, I said there are many ways that children are facing greater challenges than those of former generations.

“Social media, an ever-materialist world and children being targeted by terrorists are just some of the new pressures facing children today.

“It is crucial that we focus on ensuring we have strong mental health services and support mechanisms for our young people.

“We must also ensure we are constantly building a society where children can prosper, by protecting our health services, security and environment.

“Scotland’s year of young people is a celebration of all the amazing contributions that our young people make to society.

“It must create a legacy whereby young people are listened to and, in effect, every year becomes the year of the young person.”


Domestic abusers are cowardly inadequates

Domestic abusers are cowardly inadequates

MSP Rona Mackay has condemned domestic abusers of women as “cowardly inadequates” in a parliamentary speech.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP spoke at the Violence Against Women and Commercial Sexual Exploitation debate on Thursday December 12.

The speech saw Ms Mackay echo calls for Scotland to follow the “Nordic model” for sex work that criminalises the purchase, but not the selling, of sex.

Work the last decade the Scottish Government has undertaken to tackle gender inequality in Scotland were also praised by the MSP.

In her speech, Ms Mackay said: “We all know that violence against women and the sexual exploitation of women are about the abuse of power.

“They are perpetrated by cowardly inadequates who must be made aware that society will no longer tolerate their behaviour.

“It is incumbent on every decent citizen — men and women — to get the zero tolerance message over to those inadequates.

“There is no hiding place for them now, and women’s rights will no longer be abused in Scotland or anywhere else in the world.”

On sex workers, Ms Mackay said: “A resolution was passed at the Scottish National Party conference in March this year to support the Nordic model, which is based on 1999 Swedish law that criminalises the purchase of sex but decriminalises the person selling it.

“I believe that that is a progressive way to deal with violence against women, and the trafficking and monetary exploitation of women.

“Having heard directly from women who have worked in the sex industry about their harrowing experiences, I defer to their belief that that is the way forward. Prostitution, by its very nature, is violence against women.”

Ms Mackay’s full speech can be read and watched online at www.ronamackay.scot.



People with arthritis in Scotland need more support

People with arthritis in Scotland need more support

The boss of Scotland’s leading arthritis charity has thanked MSP Rona Mackay for hosting the organisation at a parliamentary reception.

At the Scottish Parliament on December 5, Arthritis UK told MSPs and guests about the latest big issues affecting the charity and how the disease is being tackled by medical experts.

They also heard from young arthritis patient Charlotte Bamford, who was extensively tested between the ages of 18 and 23 after suffering severe pain in her legs and feet but was finally diagnosed with arthritis this year at the age of 24.

Brian Whittle MSP, the convenor on the Holyrood Cross Party Group on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions, highlighted the impact of arthritis and the need for action on behalf of people with musculoskeletal conditions in Scotland.

In Scotland, it’s understood there are more than 700,000 living with osteoarthritis, 37,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis and almost one million people with back pain.

Ms Mackay said: “The number of people living with some form of arthritis in Scotland is overwhelming – and this event was to give these people a voice in the Scottish Parliament.

“I was incredibly glad to give Arthritis UK a platform inside Holyrood to inform MSPs, their own stakeholders and other guests about the latest progress in their amazing organisation.

“It was touching to hear from Charlotte Bamford, who at such a young age has to endure challenges unlike most other people. It is to change the lives of people like Charlotte that motivates me to support Arthritis UK’s work.”

Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer of the charity, said: “I’m delighted that Rona Mackay MSP sponsored our event. It’s imperative that we have the support of as many MSPs as possible to stand up for the rights of people with arthritis.

“There needs to be a public health approach focusing on preventing arthritis, transforming services and finding a cure for the huge numbers of people in Scotland affected by this devastating condition. It’s vital we work together to make life better for everyone affected by arthritis.”


Transvaginal mesh implants have ruined lives and shattered families

Transvaginal mesh implants have ruined lives and shattered families

WOMEN’S lives have been ruined and families shattered because of transvaginal mesh implants, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP took part in the debate on Polypropylene Mesh Medical Devices on December 5.

She echoed calls for the debate to be non-party political and praised campaigning MSPs in the SNP, Greens, Tories and Labour Party.

The debate was brought to the chamber through the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, of which Ms Mackay is a member of.

The use of synthetic transvaginal tapes and meshes was suspended in 2014 after some women suffered painful and crippling complications.

Ms Mackay said: “I was glad to be able to speak at the debate on Polypropylene Mesh Medical Devices, or, as most know it, transvaginal mesh implants.

“This very serious issue should not be political because the mesh survivors watching this debate could not care less about party politics.

“They are simply searching for answers, asking why this has happened to them and why a surgical procedure that was supposed to help them has ruined their lives.

“We now know that thousands of women worldwide have been affected — mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and grans. So many lives ruined, families shattered.

“The Scottish Government cannot ban the use of medical procedures, but it can ask health boards to suspend their use, which is what was done.

“It is, however, the UK body — the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) — that decides what medical products are safe. We must now put complete pressure on the MHRA, which has been in denial over this issue from day one.

“We should ask what more proof it needs that the product is not safe and show it the victims. We should tell the MHRA to tell health boards that the product is not available for use.”

Read and watch Ms Mackay’s full speech at www.ronamackay.scot.