East Dunbartonshire set for funding boost after SNP budget revision

East Dunbartonshire set for funding boost after SNP budget revision

East Dunbartonshire will receive an extra £3.3 million funding under the revised budget proposals unveiled by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.

The budget boost comes as the Scottish Government confirmed that all local authorities will receive an above inflation increase in resource funding.

East Dunbartonshire will be funded to the tune of £182 million in the Scottish budget when it passes through parliament.

Every local authority in Scotland is receiving a boost, with neighbouring West Dunbartonshire receiving an additional £2.8 million.

The SNP budget will give Scots the best deal in the UK – with investment in public services and a tax cut for lower earners.

Under the progressive tax reforms 70 per cent of taxpayers will pay less than last year, while higher earners will face a modest increase.

These tax changes will allow the Scottish Government to increase health spending by £400 million to £13.6 billion, lift the public sector pay cap and provide a package of investment in the economy.

Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said: “I am delighted that East Dunbartonshire will be receiving extra funding as a result of consensus with opposition in the Scottish Parliament – our vision for a fairer and stronger Scotland is a little more complete.

“On the whole, the budget is a great deal for the people of Scotland as it puts money into tackling poverty and deprivation and also secures vital funds for frontline services.

“Our progressive tax plans among other measures by finance secretary Derek Mackay will pay for some of the years of damage UK Tory government austerity has done to our services and communities.

“The budget shows that where we have the powers, the SNP will make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous place to live for everyone, especially those communities enduring poverty. I am looking forward to seeing it pass through Holyrood and come into effect.”



Rona Mackay congratulates award-winning business for succeeding against odds

Rona Mackay congratulates award-winning business for succeeding against odds

A BISHOPBRIGGS husband and wife have been congratulated by MSP Rona Mackay after winning a top business award for succeeding in spite of very challenging personal circumstances.

Andrew and Sandra Monaghan run Pivotal Scotland, which won the Triumph Over Adversity Award at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2018 – supported by Business Gateway in Scotland – held on January 23 at Playfair Library in Edinburgh.

Pivotal Scotland Ltd is a health, safety and environmental training company based from Bishopbriggs established by Andrew Monaghan, a chartered Health and Safety Practitioner in 2013.

Tragically, Mr Monaghan was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2015, which left the leadership of the business to his wife.

In face of the terminal illness, Andrew has continued to mentor from home, learning to use eye-gaze software technology to allow him to write blog entries and build a social media presence.

Moreover, the business has prospered and expanded due to the couple’s continued efforts, with their health and safety trainer numbers increasing year on year since the company was established.

Ms Mackay said: “I am incredibly touched by the story of Andrew and Sandra Monaghan, in how they have come to terms with such tragedy yet are powering on.

“In spite of battling Motor Neuron Disease, Andrew is still working and contributing to the success of the business he established, which is amazing.

“I find it very impressive how Sandra has stepped up and taken over the directorship of the business and expanded. She is obviously a brilliant role model for women in business.

“It is an inspiring yet heart-breaking story and very worthy of an award about being triumphant over adverse circumstances.

“To this effect, I have lodged a parliamentary motion commending the award-winning business and its two resilient owners.”


MOTION draft:

Resilient Bishopbriggs business owners

That the Parliament congratulates Andrew and Sandra Monaghan, owners of Bishopbriggs-based Pivotal Scotland Ltd, a health and safety training company, for winning the Triumph Against Adversity Award at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2018 Scotland final; recognises the business won despite founder Andrew being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease in 2015; notes that despite the terminal disease Andrew continues to mentor from home, learning to use eye-gaze software technology which enables him to write blog entries and build a social media presence; commends Sandra, who stepped up to become director when her husband was diagnosed, who has led the company onto continuous expansion and success; praises the resilience and tenacity of Mr and Mrs Monaghan who have succeeded despite personal tragedy and overcome odds to run a prosperous business; wishes Pivotal Scotland the best of luck in entering the UK-wide finals of the FBS awards.

Full speech against repeal of Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

Full speech against repeal of Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

The bid to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is being countered by SNP MSPs in the the Scottish Parliament. This is Rona Mackay MSP’s speech against the repeal.

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): 

Today is the culmination of many hours of evidence taking, report reading and outreach visits that took place for stage 1 of the bill. I, too, thank the clerks for all their hard work and organisation—as always, it was first class. I also thank the many witnesses who took the time to give evidence to the Justice Committee.

Clearly, this is a very contentious issue, which has roused passionate opposition among some football fans, and I respect that. Having been born in Glasgow and having grown up in the west of Scotland, I have always been aware of the poisonous sectarian divides that have historically been the scourge of Scotland. In 2005, the then Labour First Minister Jack McConnell said:

“For far too long bigoted sectarian behaviour has been a scar on Scottish life … Bigoted sectarian attitudes have no place in 21st-century Scotland.”

He was not saying that sectarian attitudes are on display only at football matches, but no one—not even our many passionate witnesses—could deny that sectarian behaviour did and does take place at football matches. I was at an old firm match last year as part of a Justice Committee evidence-taking visit and heard it for myself.

Liam Kerr: 

George Adam was clear on that point: the act has failed. BEMIS, which was formerly known as the black and ethnic minority infrastructure in Scotland group, has said that the act fails to tackle hate crime. Does the member support both those views?

Rona Mackay: 

The act acknowledges that we have a huge problem and to repeal it would send out entirely the wrong message.

One of the recommendations in the stage 1 report is that the Scottish Government should consider a discussion about how we define sectarianism, should the bill progress to stage 2.

Like my colleagues, I believe that the act is by no means perfect. However, for several reasons, I do not believe that outright repeal, with nothing to replace it, is the answer. The bill could be amended to address the issues in section 1, which most repeal supporters object to. Of course, it would be for the Government to construct amendments, but perhaps the act could be extended to cover religious marches or gatherings where sectarian behaviour sometimes occurs, or sectarian behaviour happening at other events, as described by Mary Fee. With careful consideration of the objections received, I am confident that a compromise could be achieved to avoid total repeal.

Daniel Johnson: 

Will the member take an intervention?

Rona Mackay: 

I want to make a bit of progress.

I listened to James Kelly on television last night saying that he would work with the Government and others on alternative proposals—I would hope that he could do that on amendments to the existing act.

My main reason for not supporting the total repeal of the act is that I believe that, as others have said, it will send out the wrong message to society. We have taken bold steps to show that Scotland is not living in the past and to repeal the act in its entirety would be a retrograde step.

Furthermore, and crucially, the Justice Committee heard heartfelt evidence from Stonewall Scotland, Victim Support Scotland, the Equality Network, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, churches and the Scottish Women’s Convention that they did not support repeal, because the act comforted them and gave them a feeling of safety. We cannot ignore evidence from such respected bodies.

We all know that the majority of football fans go to a match to watch the game and cheer on their team, so the act does not really concern them. I have asked friends who I know attend football matches regularly and all, bar one, were indifferent to the existence of the act. It is a vocal minority that opposes the act, and it is their right to do so.

We have heard a lot about section 6 of the 2012 act, which is extremely important. There would be a gap in the law if that section was thrown out as a result of the bill. My colleague Mairi Gougeon outlined examples of that. Of course, there were divided opinions on that during evidence taking, but, again, the perception of throwing out an act that condemns threatening communications would send out a problematic message from this Parliament.

In the committee’s questionnaire to secondary schools, almost 66 per cent of pupils said that they had experienced online offensive behaviour. That is a critical problem today.

If the principles of the bill are agreed to, I hope that, as has been said by the minister and others, there will be enough time to plug the holes in legislation that would occur following repeal of the act.

I urge Parliament not to kill the 2012 act but to amend it to send out the strong message that Scotland has moved on and intolerant attitudes have been consigned to history.



Early traumatic experiences condition children to normalise stress and terror

Early traumatic experiences condition children to normalise stress and terror

On January 24, Rona Mackay MSP spoke at the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) debate in the Scottish Parliament. 

I thank Gail Ross for bringing this vital and timely debate to the chamber. Earlier this month I hosted an event to screen a film called “Resilience”, which highlights the ACEs initiative. It was my second time of viewing the film and it probably hit me even harder than the first time, as I picked up on more and more of its astonishing content.

That sell-out film took Scotland by storm in 2017. It features the research of a pioneering doctor called Nadine Burke Harris, who works in America with children who are primarily, but not always, from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a former children’s panel member, I have seen children thrive when they were taken out of hostile environments. I knew that it happened, but I did not really know why. Now I know, and it is like finding the final piece of a jigsaw.

It is important to remember that the ACEs initiative is based on scientific evidence, not academic theories. Altered responses to stress lead to physical changes in the way that the brain develops, as Gail Ross described. I urge everyone to examine the evidence and the research that has been done on the subject; it is truly revolutionary and could shape the way that we deal with disadvantaged young people for generations to come.

The psychological and scientific communities are in agreement about the harmful impact of ACEs. When someone is subjected to any kind of abuse, neglect or household adversity through their childhood, they often continue to suffer the consequences far into adulthood. In other words, for each traumatic experience that a child has, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, addicted parents, neglect and more, the higher their ACE score is and the more they will be affected.

Early traumatic experiences condition children to normalise stress and terror. That is called toxic stress. Children who experience ACEs are more likely to self-harm or attempt to commit suicide as adults. Unlike other children of their age, children with multiple ACEs are not worried about an upcoming exam—they are worried about how they will get their next meal or whether they will be safe at home. In short, they are worried about their own survival, day to day.

The eminent research scientist and ACEs pioneer Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, who Gail Ross mentioned, reports that those prolonged emotions

“change the way the body functions.”

That impacts on the quality of their lives and their overall life expectancy.

We want Scotland to be the best place in the world for children to grow up in, so we need to take action to get all our young people, whatever they have experienced, help and emotional healing. Children with a high ACE score are not doomed if they receive the correct care and understanding. In the film “Resilience”, we hear from a professional who says:

“If we want to improve the lives of our children we have to transform the lives of those caring for them.”

A lot of knowledge is already out there about ACEs. As ever, Scotland’s wonderful children’s organisations, such as Children 1st and Barnardo’s, among many others, are right at the forefront of how we deal with affected youngsters. However, we need to ensure that teachers and social workers receive training about ACEs, how to recognise the behaviour of a child who is affected, and how to respond to their needs.

We can also begin to spread awareness about the commonality of ACEs in childhood so that those who are suffering do not feel isolated. A major conference that will take place in Glasgow in September will be an amazing forum in which to spread the word. That is testament to the will and determination of all those who work passionately in the field.

Any efforts to help those children and adults are an investment in the future of Scotland. Let us make Scotland a beacon for the rest of the world in dealing with ACEs, because we can do that.


Rona Mackay takes unpaid trial shifts debate to Holyrood

Rona Mackay takes unpaid trial shifts debate to Holyrood

MSP Rona Mackay is set to hold a debate in the Scottish Parliament on unpaid trial shifts.

The exploitative practice is being used to cover staff shortages and cut costs, the MSP said.

SNP MP Stewart McDonald is currently putting a Bill through the UK Parliament to ban unpaid trial shifts.

Ms Mackay is bringing the debate to the floor in Holyrood for MSPs to thrash out why they should be banned.

She said: “There is a systemic exploitation of workers across Scotland who are being used as free labour by companies to cover staff shortages and save money.

“Most of the time, young people in desperate need of employment are being targeted by rogue employers mostly in the hospitality industry.

“Many businesses already pay potential workers they take on for a trial – but more are not, and some are seriously abusing people looking for work.

“It is a callous practice that costs the UK economy £1.2 billion a year on wages, according to researchers at Middlesex University and Trust for London in its Unpaid Britain research paper.

“For all of these reasons, I am very glad to be holding a debate in the parliament on what is a very important issue. The abuse of unpaid trial shifts needs to be put out there and discussed as much as possible.

“I would like to thank Stewart McDonald MP for his efforts on the Westminster Bill to get them banned across the UK. Sadly this is an area where the legislation is reserved to the UK Government – but here in Scotland we need to shout about the issue and let the public know how bad the situation has become.”

The debate will take place at 5pm on Tuesday January 23 and can be watched at www.scottishparliament.tv.


MSP urges flu jab uptake as virus cases double over December

MSP urges flu jab uptake as virus cases double over December

ELIGIBLE constituents are being encouraged to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination by MSP Rona Mackay.

Everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people at most risk of serious illness are offered the flu vaccination on the NHS.

Flu rates in Scotland doubled in December with the most recent figures from Health Protection Scotland showing around 46 Scots in every 100,000 were suffering from the virus, comparing to 22 in every 100,000 for the same week in 2016.

Ms Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said:

“There has been a surge in flu cases this year compared to last, nearly double according to the NHS.

“This is why it is so important that those most at risk of the flu virus to take up the free vaccination.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am for the work NHS staff have been doing over this festive and winter period.

“NHS staff have coped so well under the extra pressure this year – but the public can help relieve this by making sure they are vaccinated, if eligible.”


For more information on the flu jab visit: http://www.healthscotland.com/flu