SCHOOLS in East Dunbartonshire have been congratulated for having the most school leavers going to positive destinations.
MSPs Rona Mackay and Gil Paterson have applauded schools in the local authority after 98.3 per cent of leavers went onto college, university, work or training.
In 2015/16, the figure stood at an impressive 97.5 per cent and in 2011/12 it was 95 per cent – showing a clear upward trend in recent years.
Out of all local authority areas in Scotland, East Dunbartonshire’s school leavers have left for the most positive destinations, it was announced on Tuesday February 27.
Ms Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said: “Massive congratulations are due to all of the pupils and teachers across East Dunbartonshire – this is a huge achievement.
“Our young people here are not being left behind but going into fulfilling work, study or training when leaving school. The fact there are so many opportunities is testament to the work the SNP is doing in education and the economy.
“This will pay massive dividends in improving their self-confidence and setting them up to make positive contributions to our communities as adults.”
Mr Paterson, MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie, said: “To be able to go onto a positive destination after leaving school is a great boost for young people across East Dunbartonshire.
“The effort put into education by our schools in my constituency like Douglas Academy and Bearsden Academy really is showing through.
“Well done to all of those pupils and teachers who made this happen. The SNP government also deserves credit for its work in education and in running an economy to provide many of these positive destinations.”
MORE than half of Scots will receive an income tax cut thanks to the SNP government’s 2018 budget, MSP Rona Mackay has said.
The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP welcomed the tax cut as stage 3 of the Budget (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill was laid before the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.
Around 70 per cent of taxpayers will pay no more income tax than they currently do and high earners will be contributing more to make up for a decade of Tory austerity.
The changes to income tax in Scotland will see a modest increase for those earning more than £33,000 and those under will keep more of their pay – 70 per cent of Scots will see no increase and 55 per cent will pay less than anywhere else in the UK.
The budget will also deliver an additional £400 million for 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: “After years and years of the UK Tory government hacking away at Scotland’s public purse, the time has come for a modest income tax increase on the minority who earn the highest wages.
“I am delighted that more than half of income taxpayers in Scotland will be paying less than anywhere else in the UK and that on the whole, 70 per cent of Scots will see no rise in their income tax.
“This budget brings an additional £400 million to NHS Scotland, 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.
“I will be voting it through to protect vital public services across the length and breadth of Strathkelvin and Bearsden.”
An award-winning Bishopbriggs business has been praised following a visit from MSP Rona Mackay.
Pivotal Scotland won the Triumph Against Adversity Award at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Celebrating Small Businesses Awards. They have also been put forward for the UK-wide equivalent.
Owner Andrew Monaghan was tragically diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2015 so his wife Sandra took the helm of the business – and since it has prospered.
Andrew has fought against MND and retained a strong presence in the training business by mentoring from home and learning to use eye-gaze software technology, which allows him to run the company social media and write blog posts.
Ms Mackay met with the pair and heard about how the business has succeeded despite challenging personal circumstances.
She said: “I am so touched by the story of Andrew and Sandra Monaghan and how they are overcoming such difficult odds to succeed together in business.
“What is both humbling and heart-breaking is that this diagnosis has really brought them closer together – despite Andrew having this dreadful terminal illness.
“I left Pivotal Scotland incredibly inspired by their personal story and business success. I am very proud to represent them in the constituency and hope they win the UK-wide awards coming up.”
Sandra, who has taken on the directorship of the business, said:
“I am delighted Rona Mackay MSP could take the time to visit Pivotal Scotland and hear about why we won the Federation of Small Business Triumph Against Adversity Award.
“We spoke to Rona about the main challenges we have been through to still remain in business despite my husband Andrew’s diagnosis with MND.
“At Pivotal Scotland, we are really positive about the future, as business has grown steadily and every day we go to work with a renewed sense of vigour to make it even more successful, for Andrew.”
MSP Rona Mackay speaks at the final stage of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill which was passed by the Scottish Parliament, criminalising psychological domestic abuse.
I am very happy and proud to speak in the stage 3 debate on the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill. As deputy convener of the Justice Committee, I thank the clerks for all their hard work and, of course, the many witnesses who bravely came forward to give evidence and who made it possible to frame such an all-encompassing piece of legislation. I am particularly proud because the bill is a good bill that will give greater security to the thousands of women in Scotland who suffer mental or physical trauma at the hands of cowardly abusers. The bill is, quite simply, groundbreaking.
I am happy, too, that the bill is consensual and that Parliament is united in condemning violence against women and children. As has been said, the bill is historic: for the first time, psychological abuse and coercive behaviour are being included in the vile crime of domestic abuse. The bill creates a new offence of engaging in a course of abusive conduct against a partner or ex-partner, and it amends other procedural or evidential aspects of criminal law in relation to domestic abuse, addressing an important gap in the law. Crucially, the bill acknowledges the horrendous, everlasting damage that psychological abuse and coercive controlling can do. It allows for convictions for domestic abuse based on a course of conduct rather than individual incidents.
The amendments to the bill have strengthened it and I was happy to support them all. I am particularly pleased that the bill includes an aggravation that acknowledges the damage done to children caught up in these situations and ensures that that is taken into account during sentencing. In this, the year of young people, that is a powerful way to demonstrate to young people how important they are and that society is taking steps to acknowledge the trauma that they suffer in situations of domestic abuse. That has not been given enough attention before.
Members will be aware of the revolutionary evidential research from the ACEs—adverse childhood experiences—study. Domestic abuse scores highly in the ACEs trauma index. I hope that the fact that the bill acknowledges ACEs is another step along the way to society changing the way in which it deals with traumatised children and helps them to heal. I echo Children 1st’s call for investment in trauma-informed support across Scotland to help children and families to rebuild their lives.
The inclusion in the bill of the presumption in favour of non-harassment orders is also welcome and will give comfort to victims who feel extremely vulnerable after a court decision. The benefit of the amendments at stage 2 in the name of my colleague Mairi Gougeon will be that children who reside with the perpetrator of the domestic abuse or with the partner or ex-partner who has been abused will also be able to receive the protection of a non-harassment order.
Those measures protect children in a way that has not been possible until the introduction of the bill. I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government has listened to the Law Society of Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid, and to children’s organisations such as Children 1st and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, to name but a few organisations that protect our children every day. The introduction of a formal reporting process on the operation of the offence, the extension of the extraterritorial reach of the offence and Claire Baker’s amendments in relation to data collection to monitor the implementation of the bill are all very welcome, too.
Domestic violence—physical and psychological—exists in all sections of our communities, across all levels of society. We may never rid our society of domestic violence completely, but this bill, which puts Scotland at the forefront of progressive legislation once again, should act as a warning that it will not be tolerated. For that reason, I am proud to recommend that the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill be passed.
MSP Rona Mackay is encouraging charities and community groups to make use of new lottery funds that will soon be made available.
In February, they have the opportunity to apply for between £500 and £20,000 raised by the People’s Postcode Lottery.
The next funding rounds for the People’s Postcode Trust, Postcode Local Trust and Postcode Community Trust will open for application on February 14.
The funding round closes to applications on February 28.
Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said: “I have had the privilege of visiting many amazing charities and community groups across Strathkelvin and Bearsden, and I know many need and deserve extra funding.
“The People’s Postcode Lottery fund is an excellent way for these stand out citizens in the constituency to boost the finances of their organisations, especially if they’re working on a particular project.
“The application period is only two weeks long so I recommend interested groups show great urgency and get their applications in on time.
“I’d like to thank the People’s Postcode Lottery for making available these funds that will inevitably lead to the betterment of the many good causes operating from East Dunbartonshire.”
The different funds:
People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights and equal rights. www.postcodetrust.org.uk
STRATHKELVIN and Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay has praised Scottish Government additional options to how Universal Credit (UC) is delivered to claimants.
The new UC Scottish choices, or The Scottish Flexibilities, will give people the choice of twice monthly payments of UC and the housing benefit paid directly to their landlord.
The SNP government is making use of the Scotland Act (2016) administrative powers to change payment arrangements for UC in relation to whom and the time when the benefit is paid.
UC is reserved to the UK Government and delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It is a single monthly payment which replaces six other benefits if a person is out of work on or on a low income.
East Dunbartonshire has had UC since November 2016 but the benefit is still being rolled out across Scotland, with full coverage expected by December this year.
Rona Mackay MSP has praised the actions and reiterated their opposition to Universal Credit.
Ms Mackay said: “Universal Credit is helping to create additional poverty and debt among constituents of mine, so I remain resolutely opposed to it.
“But I am glad the SNP government is managing to use what limited powers it has over social security to offer a different way of receiving the benefit.
“The one single payment at the start of the month is just not a workable system for some – and many would prefer we stick to the way landlords are paid directly by the government.
“Last year it was revealed by East Dunbartonshire Council that 92 per cent of council tenants on UC were in rent arrears, while crisis grants have risen sharply.
“Once again, the Scottish Government is using what limited powers we have to make up for the chaotic changes to social security pushed through by the UK Tory government.”