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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Quiet Man Forced to Eat His Words on Welfare

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

WELFARE SUPPORT MORE AFFORDABLE IN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND

The SNP has dismissed scaremongering from Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith over Scotland’s ability to sustain welfare support.

Highlighting figures from GERS (Government Expenditure & Revenue in Scotland) for 2010-11, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford pointed out that an independent Scotland is financially better placed to fund pensions and welfare compared to the UK as a whole.

The analysis of the figures from GERS for social protection - which includes state pensions and welfare payments - show that the size of Scotland's expenditure stands at 40% of Scottish revenues, less than the 42% for the UK.

Dr Whiteford said:

"Iain Duncan Smith styled himself as the quiet man and, after his ridiculous claims on welfare, I suspect the No campaign he will be hoping he keeps quiet in future.

"The official GERS figures show that spending on social protection as a percentage of total revenues in Scotland is consistently lower than it is in the UK - which means that welfare spending will be more affordable in an independent Scotland. And with Scotland contributing 9.6% of UK revenue in return for 9.3% of spending, the fact is that Scotland more than pays our way in the UK.

"Just like Mr Duncan Smith refuses to accept the facts about his damaging tax credit changes, the facts show that he completely wrong on Scotland's welfare spend in comparison to the UK.

"Looking at both sides of the balance sheet, over the five-year period from 2006/7 to 2010/11, Scotland was in a stronger financial position relative to the UK as a whole by a total of £8.6 billion- over £1,600 for every man, woman and child in Scotland, or over £3,600 per household. This underlines the opportunities of independence and financial responsibility.

"With unpopular NHS reforms south of the border and the Tory Chancellor eyeing a further £10bn of cuts from the welfare budget according to this morning’s papers, the Westminster government are determined to dismantle the welfare state.

“It is clear Scotland needs independence so that we can deliver a fair and effective welfare system - rather than be on the receiving end of unfair Tory policies - and the figures show that welfare spending in an independent Scotland will be more affordable because it is a smaller share of our tax revenue than is the case for the UK as a whole."

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Welfare Link to Cost of Living Must not be Lost

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Commenting on reports that the coalition are considering freezing working-age benefits for two years and ending the link with inflation, the SNP said the Tories have their priorities all wrong and should stop cutting from the poorest and start investing for jobs and growth.

Reports suggest the Department for Work and Pensions wants to find a further £10 billion in cuts to the welfare budget, which is already facing cuts of £18billion. Breaking the link between inflation and benefit increases is reportedly being considered.

SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“The Tory-led government have a sorry history of making the poorest pay for their own economic mismanagement – but cutting the link between welfare and the cost of living strikes at the heart of the welfare safety net.

“It is a sad fact that welfare support is most needed in the midst a recession – so it’s staggering that the Westminster government continues to push their damaging austerity agenda.

“The out-of-touch Westminster government has no idea of the reality of life on a low income. They have their priorities all wrong, giving tax breaks to millionaires while making the poorest pay the heaviest burden for a financial crisis which is not of their making.

“Ending the link between welfare and the cost of living would not end the Coalition’s economic woes, but would make life even tougher for vulnerable people, creating greater financial stress and increasing the risks of getting into debt.

“Welfare reforms are undoubtedly necessary to create a simpler, fairer and more effective system. But the Westminster reforms are not fit for purpose. When plans for Universal Credit were first announced, it was claimed these reforms would make work pay. But so far it has just been the poor who have been made to pay.

“Decisions over the welfare system should not be left to Westminster Tories but should be made in Scotland, by a Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, 100 % elected by the people of Scotland and committed to building a fairer society.”

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SNP Speaks up for Dairy Farmers in Westminster Debate

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has condemned the predatory tactics of the major supermarkets and milk processors in their dealings with dairy farmers.


The SNP’s Westminster Agriculture spokesperson was speaking in a debate at the House of Commons on Wednesday.  Dr Whiteford took the opportunity of this first outing for the new UK Agriculture Minister David Heath to urge the Minister to “seize that opportunity to bring transparency and fairness to the dairy pricing regime and take action to ensure fair prices for all our food producers caught in over-concentrated and uncompetitive supply chains”.

Speaking during the debate, Dr Whiteford said:

Farmers are angry, and it is heartbreaking for people who get up at 4.30 every morning to milk their cows to be working for nothing. They are seeing their livelihood and way of life destroyed, so that supermarkets can post multi-billion pound annual profits.

“The dairy farmers in Banff and Buchan have little choice about where to send their milk for processing—most of it goes to Wiseman because there is no other large processor locally. That lack of competition compounds the inherent imbalance in the relationship between suppliers, processors and retailers. The suppliers are in an invidious position: they simply do not have enough negotiating muscle.

“Whatever steps we take to mitigate the worst excesses of irresponsible corporate behaviour, we also need to address the underlying problems. A window of opportunity has been created by the actions of dairy farmers and the high profile that they have generated this summer, allowing Ministers to grasp the nettle of supply chains. I hope that the new Minister will seize that opportunity to bring transparency and fairness to the dairy pricing regime and take action to ensure fair prices for all our food producers caught in over-concentrated and uncompetitive supply chains.”

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MP Attends Pitsligo Castle Trust Doors Open Day

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford was in Rosehearty on Saturday at the invitation of the Friends of Pitsligo Castle Trust as part of their events for Doors Open Day.


The Trust, which aims to consolidate Pitsligo Castle and to create the Peathill Jacobite and Heraldic Centre at the historic Peathill Kirk, staged a lecture in the kirk by local historian Charles Burnett as part of the day’s events.

Commenting after visiting the historic kirk, Eilidh said:

“Doors Open Day is now a well-established event throughout Europe and I’m delighted that local bodies and institutions are carrying this forward.

“Peathill Kirk is, of course, well-known for the tremendous carved wooden “Laird’s Loft” within it which is one of the finest examples of its kind in the country.

“The Trust itself is an enthusiastic body with ambitious plans and I wish them continued success as they continue with their work to secure the castle and the kirk as places of interest for future generations.!

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Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP Gets First Class Experience as She Turns Postman for the Day

Friday, 14 September 2012

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP got to see just what’s involved in delivering the post when she joined local postman Gregg Butcher on his delivery round in Peterhead this morning.

Eilidh Whiteford is one of the first of a number of Scottish MPs and MSPs being invited to go out with postmen and women across Scotland to see the lengths Royal Mail goes to, to deliver the post. 

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Peterhead postman Gregg Butcher
The purpose of the visits over the summer is to give each MP or MSP a unique insight into the challenges of delivering mail to every house and business in their constituency, six days a week.

Royal Mail Sector and Delivery Manager Bill Tulloch who briefed Dr Whiteford before she set off on his walk said: 

“We’re delighted that Eilidh Whiteford is taking the time to experience the every day challenges faced by our delivery postmen and women.

“The visit gave us the opportunity to show Dr Whiteford how we are modernising the organisation. We are investing £59 million in Scotland across three years for new sorting and delivery equipment as we respond to the changing nature of the modern postbag. We are delivering more parcels and fewer letters than ever before and the tools for the job need to reflect that.”

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Postmen and women perform an incredibly important function in our communities, not just delivering communication, but being one of the institutions in society that binds us together for the common good.

“I wanted to get a real understanding of the work that goes into delivering the mail on a daily basis.  There can be no better way of getting that insight than actually going out and doing the job alongside a delivery postman.  I am very grateful to local postman Gregg Butcher who delivers to customers in Peterhead for letting me join him on his round in the Town Centre today.

“Gregg was very tolerant of the intrusion into his job and it was a pleasure to work alongside him on part of his daily route.”

Royal Mail is currently reviewing and modernising its operation, which means every part of the process from collecting, transporting, sorting and delivering the mail is being improved to increase efficiency.

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Whiteford Meets with Epilepsy Scotland at Peterhead Roadshow

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford met with representatives from Epilepsy Scotland in Peterhead today as part of the organisation’s roadshow.


Pamela Spence of Epilepsy Scotland
with Eilidh Whiteford MP
The event, which took place in the Arbuthnot Library in Peterhead, was aimed at raising awareness of epilepsy amongst the general public.  Trained staff were on hand to listen to questions and talk about services such as the freephone confidential helpline and Epilspsy Scotland website packed with epilepsy information.  Free Epilepsy Scotland guides were also available.

Speaking after the Peterhead event, Eilidh said:

“This was a very worthwhile event and I hope that people will take the opportunity to find out more about epilepsy, which has the capacity to affect a loved one, a work colleague or any one of us at any time.

“The key message going out to those who have epilepsy or have just been diagnosed with epilepsy from today’s event is that you are not alone and there is help and support available to you.”

Epilepsy Scotland provides training in understanding and managing epilepsy.  It helps raise awareness of epilepsy by giving talks to schools and community groups.  It also campaigns for better healthcare and is lobbying health boards, including Grampian, to increase the number of specialist nurses in Scotland.

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Whiteford Warns That CAP 'Greening' Proposals Could Damage Jobs and the Environment

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

SNP Agriculture and Fisheries spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP warned that the EU’s ‘greening’ proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in their current form, could have a counterproductive and damaging impact on jobs and the environment in the north of Scotland.

A recent study by NFU Scotland and Cairngorm National Park Authority examined the effects of the proposals relating to cropping, grassland and ecological focus areas. It found almost three-quarters of surveyed farmers thought the greening proposals would have an adverse environmental impact, and half felt it would have a negative effect on biodiversity.

All of the farmers reported that it would have a financial impact, with 9% believing they could be forced out of business altogether.

Dr Whiteford raised the concerns during Scottish questions today (Wednesday). Dr Whiteford said:

“While we all agree that measures are needed to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity there is real concern among Scotland’s farming communities that the EU ‘greening’ proposals of the common agricultural policy could be counter-productive.

“Farmers are not just worried about its impact on their businesses, but the vast majority believe it will also be detrimental to biodiversity in the Scottish Highlands. Three quarters think it will actually be damaging to the environment, and half that biodiversity will be reduced.

“The unique physical, environmental and economic challenges for farming in the Scottish Highlands are ill-fit to implement the currently proposed ‘greening’ measures. A rethink is required and the concerns of the NFU must be raised as a matter of urgency by the UK Government. Viable alternative proposals must be developed to protect both jobs and the environment.

“The Scottish Government is working hard to represent the concerns of rural communities about the reforms to the common agricultural policy, but with independence we would have a place at the top table when these negotiations are underway.

“The UK government cannot be trusted to be a strong voice for Scotland in Europe. An independent Scottish Government , 100% elected by the people of Scotland, would be better placed to represent all of Scotland’s communities at the top table in Europe.”


More information on the NFU Scotland study is available here: NFU Study on EU Greening

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