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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Work Program Failing the Long-Term Unemployed

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


BOOSTING ECONOMIC GROWTH ONLY SOLUTION TO UNEMPLOYMENT

Boosting economic growth is the only real solution to solving long-term unemployment, the SNP has said, after it was revealed that the UK Government’s flagship Work Programme was failing to improve the job prospects of the long-term unemployed.

Figures published today show that just 3.53% of people had found a job for six months or more – well below the 5.5% target.

Ingeus and Working Links were given the contracts for the Work Programme despite having no record of job creation in Scotland, while Scottish social enterprises with a proven record - such as the Wise Group, which got 5,300 people into work in 2010 – were shut out of the process.

Commenting on today’s figures, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It's clear already that many of the people who have been moved on to the Work Programme from Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance are simply not well enough to do the kind of work that is available.

“People with long term health conditions, disabled people, and those in areas of high unemployment face huge hurdles accessing the labour market.

“The Work Capability Assessment is not fit for purpose and is causing distress to people who are manifestly in need of support but have been told they are fit for work.

“The only real solution to long-term unemployment is to create jobs and boost long-term economic growth – something which today’s OECD report shows that George Osborne has categorically failed to do.

“Instead of blaming people who can't find work for their own poverty, the Government should be investing in jobs and 'shovel ready projects' to kick start the economy, and investing in skills; that's the best way to help people furthest from the labour market.

“This report is yet another nail in the coffin for the Tory Government – and yet another example of how it would be far better if Scotland took its own decisions about how to get people back into work."

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Local MP Drops in to Support Books Abroad Event

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford dropped in at an awareness-raising event for Scottish international development charities in Banff at the weekend being hosted by North-east charity Books Abroad.


Facilitated by NIDOS, the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland, the exhibition provides a glimpse into some of the amazing work done by 34 of the 91 NIDOS member organisations.  By highlighting the stories of people who have benefited from the work of the organisations, the exhibition aims to raise awareness of the importance of the Scottish voluntary sector’s contribution to tackling global poverty.  The exhibition was formally launched in Edinburgh in September and has since been travelling around Scottish communities hosted by NIDOS member organisations, of which Books Abroad is a member.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“I was very pleased to attend and show my support for the work done by Books Abroad and the other international development organisations taking part in the exhibition.

“The Scotland v Poverty exhibition celebrates Scotland’s strong tradition of working for global justice.  Thanks to the organisations and individuals who have dedicated time and resources to fighting the global issues that keep people in poverty, Scotland has helped make a difference to people in 142 countries around the world.

“This collection of images and stories from 34 Scottish international development charities highlights the voices of people who lifted themselves out of poverty with our support, and demonstrates why it is so important to continue.”

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MP Calls for Immdeiate Statement on CCS Speculation

Friday, 23 November 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has called for an emergency statement following press speculation that the UK will not receive any funding for the first round of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects under the EU’s NER 300 funding scheme.

Failure by the Tory-led Westminster Government to provide full financial details in their application for funding has resulted in no UK projects being given funding for the first stage of the scheme.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford, said:

"These rumours are deeply worrying and, if true, would signal a clear lack of vision and commitment to CCS and renewable projects in Scotland.

"The UK Government needs to clarify whether these rumours are true as a matter of urgency.  If they have no substance then the government needs to say so. Until it does, its silence on the issue only deepens concerns about its commitment to the industry, causing uncertainty for investors and putting thousands of future jobs at risk.

"Even if these rumours are false, the lack of communication by the Tories and their Lib-Dem allies on CCS investment gives out mixed messages to those interested in investing in major projects in Scotland.  This is a huge concern, but it is stands in stark contrast to the clear message of the Scottish Government on CCS, as it does its record on renewable research and investment.

"This really is a tale of two governments. While the London Government dithers, the Scottish Government is fully committed to fulfilling Scotland’s potential to be a world leader in CCS technology.

"We have already seen the benefit of this can do attitude in the renewable sector, and, only this week we have had the creation of a further 750 jobs. London needs to clarify its position now, and fully commit itself to properly support the CCS industry in Scotland."

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Whiteford Raises Vion Pull-Out in Commons Debate Tonight

Monday, 19 November 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has raised the Vion pull-out of the UK in a Commons debate earlier this evening.

The SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson was speaking during a debate on the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill.  She said:

“The disturbing and disappointing news breaking this evening that Vion is pulling out of the UK illustrates all too keenly the fragile nature of our food supply chains and the pressure our food producers and processors face in the current economic climate. Some 13,000 people across the UK work for Vion, including more than 130 in my constituency at Strath of Brydock. I know Members across the House will share my concern about the uncertainty facing the employees of Vion, and I ask the Minister to give us an assurance this evening that everything possible will be done to ensure continuity in those Vion plants across the UK, and that the Government will be working very hard to find buyers for the businesses.

“The problems in the supply chain are one of the factors that give rise to the problems food processors face, and addressing them is one of the objectives of the Bill. This evening’s news about Vion is very unfortunate, but it should serve to concentrate our minds on why we so desperately need an effective groceries code adjudicator. This is not a debate about an abstract topic; real people’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake.”

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Local MP Welcomes Post Office Contract Award

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Department of Transport has awarded the Post Office an important framework contract to provide services on behalf of the DVLA.  It has also been named by the Department for Work and Pensions as a provider for its new framework contract to offer identity assurance services.


The decision to award theses contracts come on the back of a huge public campaign to retain the DVLA contract with the Post Office.

Commenting on the decision, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford, said:

“These announcements are fantastic news for our local communities and will go some way to securing the future viability of the Post Office.  Many of the Post Office key services have been stripped back over recent years and this has been deeply worrying to those of us in rural communities, who count on the Post Office to deliver an appropriate level of service.

“Both of these announcements highlight the ability of the Post Office to compete with other providers, but they are also testament to the strength of public feeling to retain and build on these key services.  The SNP has continually highlighted that the Post Office – as well as being a viable business – is often the focal point in our communities, providing rural folk with the resources and services they require.

“I have received hundreds of campaign cards from across Banff & Buchan by folk worried that further loss to Post Office services would be the death knell of our local offices, as well as the communities which serve them. I am very happy that this shadow has now been lifted and that, for once, sense has prevailed.”

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MP Backs Pig Farmers at Parliamentary Event

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Banff & Buchan MP and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pig & Poultry Group, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, has highlighted the high welfare standards to which Scottish pig producers are operating.

The MP was speaking following today’s meeting in the Houses of Parliament of BPEX (British Pig Executive) to present the annual David Black Award, given for a significant and sustained contribution to the pig industry. At the meeting, MPs were also briefed on current pressures facing pig producers.

Commenting following the event in Parliament, Dr Whiteford said:

“Feed prices have increased dramatically pushing pig producers into a loss of around £10 for every pig raised. In Scotland, our pig producers have been at the forefront of introducing new animal welfare measures well ahead of a deadline imposed by the EU.

“Worryingly, aside from our friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the only other EU countries who currently comply with the welfare requirements which come into force on 1 January 2013 are Sweden and Luxembourg. While most other EU countries are working towards compliance, there are 9 countries, including France, which it is clear will not meet the 2013 deadline.

“In those circumstances, consumers should be aware that in selecting Scottish pork products, they are helping to support the highest standards of animal welfare in the production of their food as well as backing Scottish farmers and reducing food miles.”

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SNP Condemn Westminster's Child Benefit Crackdown

The SNP has condemned Westminster’s child benefit crackdown after a news report today revealed the misery of the wife of a Scots war hero who lost the vital income without any warning.

The Daily Record article raises fears that the Tory-LibDem UK government’s attack on benefits could see thousands of forces families losing the cash.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This distressing story highlights the damaging impact of the Tory-LibDem government’s savage cuts.

“It is deeply worrying that this family were not told they would not be getting the benefit – and that nobody has explained why.

“How many other families have been affected in this way?

“It is shameful that the UK government is pulling child benefit without warning people beforehand.

“David Cameron’s campaign claimed he would do everything he could to strengthen and support families, but this proves the opposite is true.

“With his LibDem cronies, Mr Cameron has condemned thousands of families into poverty with his savage cuts to child benefits.

“Labour must explain to people, just like the family in this story, why it believes we are ‘Better Together’ with a Tory Westminster government and their attacks on the welfare of children, families, young people and pensioners.

“In contrast, the SNP is committed to a progressive welfare system that reflects our nation’s values and ensures fair and decent support for all of our people."

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Whiteford Highlights Cost of Air Passenger Duty to Local Economy

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Last week’s House of Common debate on Air Passenger Duty highlighted the disadvantages Scotland faces compared to other European Countries. Commenting following the debate, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford, said:

“Last week’s debate on Air Passenger Duty underlines the disadvantage that Scottish airports face in comparison to other European destinations. APD is significantly higher than in other European countries and, ultimately, this means travelling to Scotland, either for business or for pleasure, is increasingly – and unfairly - more expensive, and it is an issue on which I receive regular correspondence on from constituents.

“According to a recent report by Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow airports, this disproportionate tax is costing the Scottish economy an estimated £210 million each year. It prevents our airports extend flight routes to and from Scotland and does nothing to attract new airlines, or new businesses, from setting up in Scotland.

“The North-east economy is founded on our excellent business and tourism reputation and it's essential that we make our economy as competitive as possible. Not only does this high APD prevent competitiveness, it prevents Scotland from bouncing back from recession. The Westminster Government needs to listen to the advice of Scotland’s airports and devolve APD to the Scottish Government. Only then will we be able to compete with other destinations, and realise the potential we all know is here.”

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MP Makes Case Against 'Beer Duty Escalator' in Support of Local Hotels

Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons prompted by a public petition on beer duty, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford made the case for local hotels and community pubs.


Despite a 42 per cent increase in beer duty since 2008, HM Treasury forecasts that have shown that there will be no additional revenue generated from beer duty despite planned increases over the next two years.

MPs debated the impact of the ‘beer duty escalator’ on valued community pubs and the continued affordability of beer in pubs and urged the Government to support the beer and pub sector by conducting a thorough review of the economic and social impact of the beer duty escalator to report back before the 2013 Budget.

Commenting following the debate in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford said:

“The beer duty escalator, which sees the tax on beer increase by 3% each year, puts local hotels and community pubs, as well as brewers, at a real disadvantage when trying to compete against the big supermarkets.  With the price of a pint rising all the time, people are increasingly buying their alcohol from supermarkets at a knock down price, and this results in several interlinked problems.

“Not only does it mean last orders for the community pub, buying alcohol for consumption at home also leads to a range of safety concerns.  The local pub is often a source of community spirit, but it is also a controlled environment.  The trend towards drinking at home has made cheap alcohol more widely available and fuelled excessive consumption that contribute to a range of health and social problems.

“The Scottish Government has introduced a bill on the minimum pricing of alcohol and this will go some way to alleviate the damage cheap alcohol causes in our communities.  However, the London Government’s disproportionate tax on beer in pubs is not the answer and doesn’t act as a deterrent to drinking; it merely forces drinking behind closed doors.  It doesn’t reduce drinking, it increases it while simultaneously jeopardising thousands of jobs.”

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