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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Pensions Secure and More Affordable in an Independent Scotland

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Following a report in today’s Sunday Post citing letters from private and public organisations about pensions being unaffected by a YES vote and independence, the SNP has reiterated that the people of Scotland can look forward to safer state pensions and should dismiss the NO campaign’s scaremongering.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“As these letters covering private, public and armed forces pensions make absolutely clear, all pensions are totally secure in an independent Scotland. Scotland would be in the top 20 wealthiest countries in the world, and a smaller share of our tax revenues and national income are spent on pensions compared to the UK as a whole - which means that pensions are more affordable for an independent Scotland. And with the powers of independence, we will have the triple lock to ensure that the state pension rises by at least 2.5 per cent a year - and we will review Westminster's unfair decision to keep raising the state pension age."


click to read whole letter
DWP pension letter quote:

"If Scotland does become Independent this will have no effect on your State Pension"
click to read whole letter
MoD Royal Navy pension letter quote:

"The Government of the continuing UK would have a legal obligation to ensure that accrued pension rights for members of the Armed Forces are met, irrespective of where they retire."
click to read whole letter
Daily Mail pension letter quote:

"I can confirm that should there be a Yes vote in the 2014 Scotland Referendum the benefit you have accrued in the scheme would be unaffected."
click to read whole letter
HSBC pension letter quote:

"I confirm that your pension plan will not be affected should Scotland vote for independence."

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New Post Office Van a Welcome Service for Rural Communities

Friday, 29 August 2014

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the addition of a brand new post van to the Post Office’s rural fleet, after officially opening the service on Thursday.

Dr Whiteford met with Subpostmaster Moira Raeburn at the ceremony in Rothienorman’s Public Car Park. The new van, operates out of Turriff, and stops at Rothienorman, Cuminestown and Udny Station. The new vans have been designed specifically to welcome disabled customers, and replace the previous LDV vehicles, which have travelled around three million miles over the past six years.

Cutting the ribbon, Dr Whiteford said:

“The new van is a welcome upgrade to the Post Office fleet, and I am pleased to officially launch the new service today. Outreach services are vital to rural communities across Banff and Buchan, and the improved accessibility will benefit villagers in Rothie and Cuminestown."

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UK Government Slammed as Health Experts Issue Malnutrition Warning

Sunday, 24 August 2014


"YES VOTE NEEDED TO USE SCOTLAND’S WEALTH"

The Scottish National Party has slammed the UK government for their cuts to welfare following a warning on an increase of malnutrition from health experts.

The Faculty of Public Health have said conditions such as rickets are becoming more apparent because people cannot afford quality food in their diet. It comes after health figures recently revealed a 19% increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with malnutrition over the past year.

Earlier this year, figures from the Trussell Trust revealed that use of their foodbanks had increased by 400% in the last year alone as Westminster’s welfare cuts continue to bite.

Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz said this week that Scotland would have more success in tackling inequality than the rest of the UK – highlighting that Scotland takes a “different view from say the Cameron Conservative policies...”.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It’s almost unbelievable that rickets and other symptoms of malnutrition are on the increase in Scotland in 2014. It’s completely unacceptable.

“Westminster’s welfare cuts have had a devastating effect on the most disadvantaged people in Scotland and new cuts could push 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty.

“As Professor Joseph Stiglitz said this week, Scotland has the political will to truly tackle inequality and make our country a fairer place.

“A Yes vote next month is our one opportunity to rid ourselves of the Westminster establishment and its obsession with austerity – creating a welfare state that is a springboard to a better life, not one that leads people to a life of malnourishment and rickets.”

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Whiteford: YES Vote is One Opportunity to Secure NHS for the Future

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has urged undecided voters to take the opportunity of independence to secure the future of the NHS as a free and open health service – and to consider the implications a No vote would have for Scotland’s future funding.

Picking up on comments from the unionist parties over recent months, Dr Whiteford claimed Scotland stands to face significant cuts through the scrapping of the Barnett Formula.

Scrapping the Barnett Formula was one of the recommendations of the LibDem’s commission on further powers. Senior Labour figures including Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones[1], Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls[2] and Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith[3] have all recently called for it to be scrapped. Prime Minister David Cameron stated in 2010 that “the Barnett Formula is coming to the end of its life”, and in 2013 refused to guarantee its future.[4]

Dr Whiteford said:

“All the evidence points to the fact that the unionist parties are agreed on cutting the Barnett Formula in the event of a 'no' vote. If the Barnett Formula is cut, it would mean £4 billion a year less coming to Scotland.

“Barnett represents a pretty poor deal at the best of times – Scotland already contributes far more revenue to the UK than it receives back. However, ending Barnett will ensure that what we receive back is even less. To put those numbers into perspective, a £4 billion cut represents a third of Scotland’s current NHS budget. That’s the equivalent to five times NHS Grampian’s annual budget of £777 million. It is difficult to overstate the sort of damage such a cut to the Scottish Government’s grant would do.

“In tandem with the direct threat to the current funding arrangements is the prospect that privatisation of NHS services in England will have an impact on the budget allocation for Scotland. The English NHS is in chaos because of the UK Coalition Government’s privatisation policies – and any cuts to the English NHS budget will have a direct impact on funding for services in Scotland.

“Everyone should know that a No vote isn’t a vote for no change – it’s a vote for Scotland’s budget to be tied to Westminster’s austerity policies, and for electors in Scotland to place their services at the mercy of the Tory-led Government in London. Devolution allows us to improve our services – but it gives us no control whatsoever over the size of the funding pot.

“There’s a better way forward – and that’s for the Scottish Parliament to have full responsibility for its budget, with a Yes vote in September.”


Notes:
  1. http://yoursenedd.com/debates/2014-03-25-questions-to-the-first-minster#150401
  2. Speaking to Insider (06-Dec-2011) before addressing a CBI Wales dinner, he said:
    "It [the Barnett Formula] was never intended to be long term. We are getting to the point where it needs to be looked at again … I have read the Holtham report [on funding] and I understand the arguments."
  3. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110118/halltext/110118h0001.htm
  4. http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-economy/8484-p4bn-cut-to-scottish-budget-looms-as-cameron-letter-fails-to-curb-barnett-fears

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Local MP Welcomes Support for YES Vote from Leading Farming Figures

Friday, 15 August 2014

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the support for a Yes vote from four past Presidents of the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS).

John Ross, Jim Walker, John Kinnaird and John Cameron have declared their support for a Yes vote on September 18. All four are convinced that the safety and security of the Scottish farming industry is better served under an independent Scottish Government than by a remote, out-of-touch and unsupportive Westminster.

They gathered at Yes Scotland HQ in Glasgow to urge Scotland’s 65,000 farmers, crofters and growers – as well as the 250,000 others who depend on agriculture for their living - to follow their lead and vote Yes on Referendum Day.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

‘These gentlemen have between them many years of experience of leading the NFUS and seeing close-up how UK Governments of all political colours fail to promote the interests of Scottish farming and our rural communities.

‘Their backing for a Yes vote is extremely significant and demonstrates quite clearly that rural Scotland and Scottish agriculture will be best served by an independent Scottish Parliament which is focussed on the interests of our rural communities.’

John Ross, a livestock farmer for 50 years and president of NFUS from 1990 to 1996, said:

‘Farming and rural affairs need to be at the forefront of all future Scottish government thinking – and being fully committed members of the European Union is an essential part of that policy.

‘An independent Scotland is the only way that this can be secured. A No vote will mean years of uncertainty about a UK government’s EU membership and commitment and this will have very serious consequences for the future of Scottish farming.’

Dr John Cameron, who became NFUS first long-term president in 1978 at the age of 39, has represented Scottish agriculture – particularly the livestock sector in many parts of the world – said:

‘Having worked in this industry all my life, I have come to the very firm conclusion that the interests of Scottish agriculture and rural Scotland will be best served by having an independent Scottish Parliament and an independent place as of right at the EU Agricultural Council.

‘The recent decision by the British Minister at DEFRA to distribute to the whole of the UK the Convergence Fund from the EU – which was granted to lift the level of Single Farm Payment in Scotland to the UK average – was completely unjustified and against the legitimate expectations of Scottish farmers.

‘My experience is that the development of agriculture policy has been handled with much better understanding between the industry and the Scottish Government and that this position will only be strengthened with independence.'

Jim Walker, who was NFU Scotland president from 1998 to 2003, said:

‘Food is a key strength of the Scottish economy, especially its rural areas, but remaining in the UK is now a very real risk for our food and farming businesses.

‘The EU is important to the food and farming sector. It provides us with markets and is a source of grants and support. If, as seems increasingly likely, the UK leaves the EU after a promised in-out referendum, the funding that currently comes from Brussels will be left with HM Treasury and Scotland will be much more dependent on its decisions. Worryingly, we know from the decisions the Treasury has consistently taken over the last 20 years, irrespective of the party in power, it will prioritise cutting expenditure on food, farming and rural development rather than encouraging investment. That has been the pattern for years and won’t change now.

‘Independence, on the other hand, will allow us to really back our food and farming sector, set our own priorities and sit at the European negotiating table, no longer affected by the UK Treasury indifference. It will also give our food business the kind of export support to guild their businesses that our counterparts in countries with a similar population, like Ireland and New Zealand, take for granted. Like Ireland, we will continue to sell to England but we will also have our own embassies throughout the world giving priority to promoting Scottish products so that we can build and grow new markets.’

John Kinnaird, who farms in East Lothian and was NFUS president from 2003 to 2007, said:

‘I am voting Yes because I believe this is the next logical process after devolution. Lines of communication with government are much quicker and more focussed.

‘The current UK administration and other political parties lack focus, understanding and leadership on many issues, including EU membership.

‘I am deeply concerned of a backlash against Scotland from Westminster if the vote is No. On September 18 I am not voting for a political party – I’m voting for independence.’

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

‘The decision by four of Scotland's most respected farming leaders to declare for a Yes vote is highly significant and sends a powerful message to not only rural Scotland but the whole nation.

‘These four former NFU presidents are big hitters with a wealth of experience in dealing with UK Governments and Ministers including Prime Ministers in recent decades. They care deeply about the future of their industry and the fact they have reached the conclusion that our key agriculture and food sectors will be better safeguarded and promoted with independence is a momentous moment in the referendum campaign.

‘These men know the industry inside out, and know that Westminster has failed Scottish farming time and again. With the powers of independence Scotland, farming and food will always be a priority with a direct voice in the crucial farming talks in Europe to help secure a far better deal for our food producers and rural communities.’

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Whiteford Joins Ambulance Crew in Fact Finding Mission

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Issues behind poor performance on response times come to the fore

Dr Eilidh Whiteford today joined ambulance crew from the Fraserburgh station as she shadowed the team on their daytime shift. The fact-finding trip comes after the MP for Banff and Buchan held a range of meetings with senior figures in the Scottish Ambulance Service to discuss concerns about ambulance response times in the north of Aberdeenshire.

It was revealed earlier this summer that paramedics had taken longer than 20 minutes to react to 47 life-threatening incidents in Peterhead in the last year. The figure for Fraserburgh was 36. Dr Whiteford subsequently met with regional bosses of the service to discuss what had gone wrong. Now the SNP politician has carried out her own fact finding mission, joining front-line paramedics and ambulance technicians from Fraserburgh on their daily shift.

Commenting on her experiences, Dr Whiteford said:

"I want to thank the Fraserburgh Ambulance Service staff for sharing their insights with me, and especially Douglas Ewen and Liam Ritchie who took me out with them on their shift. The dedication and professionalism of our ambulance staff is hugely impressive, and the Service is fortunate to have such highly skilled individuals on its front line."

Dr Whiteford added:

"It was a real pleasure to meet the team, spend the day with them, and see for myself some of the challenges they face. I now have a much clearer understanding of the pressures on our ambulance crews, and I intend to feed my findings back to those who manage the Service. I will also continue to press to ensure that the service in north Aberdeenshire is adequately resourced to meet local demand."

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Whiteford and Smith Highlight Success of Local Egg Producer

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford and Scottish MEP Alyn Smith have highlighted the success of local egg producer AJ Duncan in a visit to the company’s egg-producing facility near Turriff.

Alyn Smith MEP,
Milan Copic, General Manager of Egg Production at AJ Duncan,
and Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP
Dr Whiteford, who is the SNP’s Agriculture Spokesperson at Westminster, and Alyn Smith, who is the sole Scottish representation on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, visited the Fortrie-based business last week as part of their summer tour of rural communities.

AJ Duncan were recently honoured with a Scottish Egg Quality Award and the two politicians took the opportunity on their visit to congratulate the company on their success.

Dr Whiteford commented:

“I was interested to hear of the scale of investment that AJ Duncan have made into egg production at this facility and this award is well-earned recognition for the quality of the final product at Fortrie. I congratulate David Green, Milan Copic and all involved at AJ Duncan in driving the success of this local business.”

"It was also important to have the opportunity to discuss the failure of the EU to ensure welfare standards of hens across the EU. Scottish farmers have invested heavily in improving welfare standards and I will continue to press their case at Westminster to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by other Member States who have failed to implement improved conditions for laying hens."

Alyn Smith added:

“I was deeply impressed by the scale and organisation of production at the AJ Duncan farm. Having an award-winning and ambitious company based here is a major boost for the local rural economy and I wish all at AJ Duncan every success in the future as they seek to go from strength-to-strength.”

Whiteford and Smith were treated to a tour of the company’s facility, followed by a meeting with Dave Green, AJ Duncan’s Chief Executive, to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the company.

Dave Green, Chief Executive of AJ Duncan, commented after the visit:

“It was a delight to welcome Eilidh and Alyn to the farm. Their support and that of the wider community is very important for a company with local roots like AJ Duncan. We also appreciate their willingness to be approached and to assist us wherever possible, and we look forward to welcoming them back to AJ Duncan in the not too distant future.”

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Whiteford and Smith: Only a YES Offers a Real Future for Farming

Rural tour for YES campaign generates local interest

Peterhead, 5 August: Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford and Scottish MEP Alyn Smith have been taking the case for a Yes vote next month to the north-east’s farming communities in two local meetings last week.

Councillor Lennie Pirie, Eilidh Whiteford MP, Alyn Smith MEP
At meetings in Strichen on Wednesday and Rosehearty on Thursday, the MP and MEP gave speeches and took questions from undecided voters still to make their minds up before the vote. Both made the point that for Scotland’s agricultural sector to thrive, Scotland needs the full powers of independence within the European Union.

For the next six years, Westminster representation in Europe has delivered a deal which represents a real-terms cut to the funding Scottish farmers receive – including a settlement which leaves Scotland at the absolute bottom of the European league table for Pillar 1 and 2 funding. In addition, the UK Government have so far refused to hand over £230 million worth of convergence funding which was only secured because of Scotland’s history of poor area payments.

With independence, Scotland’s farmers would be guaranteed a seat at the top table, an increase to our representation in the European Parliament, and the ability to name a Scottish European Commissioner.

The meetings come following a poll by Survation on behalf of the Mail on Sunday on August 3, which showed that voters were switching dramatically to Yes in the North East of Scotland – with 48.6% of respondents backing independence, 39.8% for no, and 11.6% undecided.

Dr Whiteford said:

“These meetings were a fantastic opportunity for those in the farming community who haven’t made up their minds to ask questions, and to hear the facts. Alyn and I have vigorously fought the corner of our farmers in Europe and at Westminster. However, it is only by giving the Scottish Government the full power to defend our farming interests that we can secure a better funding deal from Europe.”

“Our farming communities have nothing to gain from a No vote – and everything to gain from a Yes.”

Alyn Smith added:

“The Common Agricultural Policy hasn’t worked as well as it could for Scottish farmers. That’s a reflection of successive poor deals, negotiated on Scotland’s behalf by a Westminster Government which doesn’t prioritise our crucial agricultural sector, and which is ideologically opposed to the idea of subsidising industries – even ones as important as our farming sector.”

“With independence, we could only negotiate a better deal than the one negotiated by Westminster. Any deal which leaves our farmers at the absolute bottom of the table for Pillar 1 and 2 funding is simply not good enough – and while I will continue to represent our farming interests vigorously in the European Parliament, the only way to do this more effectively is to untie the Scottish Government’s hands with a Yes vote.”

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50,000 Scottish Pensioners Lose Benefits

Friday, 1 August 2014

SAVINGS CREDIT CUT BY £90m SINCE 2010

50 000 of Scotland's poorer pensioners who have saved for their retirement are now substantially worse off due to UK government cuts.

Research by the House of Commons Library has shown 50,000 Scottish pensioners have lost benefits since 2010 with a cut of £90 million to Savings Credit, and pensioners across Scotland are set to lose out as the benefit is to be scrapped for all new pensioners in 2016.

Savings Credit is paid to poorer pensioners who have saved for their retirement. A single pensioner could receive up to £20.52 per week, or £27.09 per week for a couple.

As set out in the White Paper Scotland's Future, following a YES vote the Scottish Government will provide Scotland's pensioners with a guaranteed pension of £160 a week from 2016-17, a triple lock and the continuation of Savings Credit.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"This benefit cut is hitting poorer pensioners who have planned ahead and worked hard for their retirement.

"The UK government gives the impression it wants to protect pensioners, but they have cut a massive £90 million since 2010 which is leaving tens of thousands of pensioners in Scotland worse off.

"It's a real shame that Scottish pensioners who have put savings away for their old age are being hit in this way.

"Scotland has paid more in taxes in each and every one of the last 30 years than the rest of the UK, much of it through the efforts of those who are now in retirement.

"Following a Yes vote in September, we can make Scotland's wealth work for the people who live here- which includes a fairer welfare system and a better deal for our pensioners."

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