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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Labour's Murphy makes "redundant" policy plea to voters

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Scottish National Party has blasted Jim Murphy for failing to keep abreast of Scottish welfare policy following a "redundant" policy plea to voters.

Scottish Labour's latest gaffe has seen Jim Murphy claim his party will make social housing tenants £3000 a year better off by abolishing the bedroom tax, forgetting that no one in Scotland has to pay the Bedroom Tax due to measures brought in by the Scottish Government.


It has been reported Jim Murphy will be making the pleas this week at SCVO's Glasgow Gathering.

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

"Jim Murphy's weekend of gaffes has gone from bad to worse.

"Scottish Labour are really desperate if they are trying to appeal to voters by making up redundant policies.

“The Scottish Government has spent £300m mopping up Westminster’s mess on welfare so that Scots are not subjected to the Bedroom Tax- the fact that Jim Murphy seems unaware of this is mind boggling.

“Westminster’s welfare cuts are causing real hardship in communities across Scotland – hitting families with children hardest and pushing another 100,000 children into poverty by 2020.

“While Scottish Labour don't seem to have a clue, a strong team of SNP MPs holding the balance of power after the General Election can ensure Westminster delivers on the Vow of ‘extensive’ welfare powers."

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Fair pay for a fair day's work

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Commenting on David Cameron’s new proposals for Job Seeker’s Allowance, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“David Cameron seems intent on punishing young unemployed people when we need fair pay for a fair day’s work.

“In Scotland, the Scottish Government offers much more to our young people such as the Opportunities for All programme which offers a place in work, training or education for every 16-19 year old with over 25,000 Modern apprenticeships each year. We are offering real opportunities to our young people and as a result, youth unemployment is at the lowest level for five years, and record numbers are finding positive destinations after leaving school.

“But the Scottish Government could do even more to help young people if the powers over employment policy were devolved, as promised by the Smith Commission. A vote for the SNP in May will strength Scotland's hand at Westminster, and help us improve the prospects of our young people.”


Scottish Government's Opportunities for All programme
© Crown Copyright 2015

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Rollout of Universal Credit Shows Westminster is Failing to Listen

Monday, 16 February 2015

As the rollout of Universal Credit begins at 150 jobcentres across the UK, the Westminster Government has been accused of a complete failure to listen.

Numerous welfare organisations have called for the rollout of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments to be halted until plans to devolve some welfare powers to Scotland are carried out.

Last month, 56 charity organisations in Scotland wrote to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith calling for the rollout of Universal Credit to be halted until the process of legislating for new welfare powers for Scotland is completed.

Despite these calls, the rollout of Universal Credit has continued with 150 job centres moving over to the benefit from today (Monday).

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

“As the rollout of Universal Credit steps up a gear today, the Westminster Government has once again shown that it is completely incapable of listening.

“Extensive evidence has been put forward by charity organisations from across Scotland that the rollout should be stopped while powers are transferred, but Iain Duncan Smith refuses to act.

“With charity organisations on the front line of dealing with Westminster’s welfare cuts simply being ignored, it is clearer than ever that Westminster cannot be trusted to make decisions over welfare on Scotland’s behalf.

“Of course the fact is that the current proposals for welfare devolution go nowhere near far enough and leave far too much control in the hands of Westminster.

“Electing a strong team of SNP MPs in May will ensure that Scotland’s voice cannot be ignored, and use our clout in a hung parliament to gain the welfare responsibilities we need to build a fairer society."

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Eilidh Whiteford defends the NHS for Banff and Buchan

Sunday, 15 February 2015

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Labour Plans Don't Address Real Problems

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

TORY/LABOUR AUSTERITY HURTING BUT NOT WORKING

Following an opposition day debate in the House of Commons on plans for a Jobs Guarantee, it has become clear that both Westminster parties are still wedded to the austerity agenda and are failing to address the underlying causes of long term unemployment in the economy. Both Labour and Tories are pledged to another £30 billion worth of cuts which have already had a disproportionate effect on the most disadvantaged in our society. The influential Institute of Fiscal Studies has suggested that there are huge cuts still to come following the election, further hitting communities and families suffering from Westminster’s austerity agenda.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson commented:

“We will support any measures aimed at tackling long term unemployment, but what is being proposed by the Labour party won’t fully address the underlying causes of long term unemployment, and will leave young people languishing on JSA for a year before they get the offer of a job. It is really important that we intervene earlier, as all the evidence suggests that earlier interventions are much more effective.”

“In response to youth unemployment in the wake of the financial crash, the Scottish Government introduced the ‘Opportunities for All’ scheme, which offers every 16-19 year old a place in work, education or training. Take up of that scheme has been overwhelming: record levels of school leavers - over 92 percent - now have a positive destination on leaving school. And more importantly, those positive destinations are sustained for 90 percent of school leavers. The number of young people not in education, training or employment is now at its lowest level since before the financial crash, and has decreased across every local authority area. It’s a good example of the Scottish Government working in partnership with local authorities, schools, colleges and employers, empowering them to deliver opportunities for our young people.

“The Smith Commission recommended that the full powers of Employment Support be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. In May we need a strong team of SNP MPs elected to Westminster to make the case for the ‘extensive’ new powers we were promised – and put an end to the Labour and Tory economic alliance on austerity – which we know is just not working for communities across Scotland.”

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Whiteford Congratulates New NFUS President

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford has congratulated Allan Bowie on his election as the 61st President of the National Farmers Union of Scotland.

Eilidh Whiteford MP with Allan Bowie and SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton
Mr Bowie takes over the presidency from Nigel Miller, who steps down having served for four years.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“I congratulate Allan Bowie on being elected to one of the most important jobs in Scottish farming.

“I have had the pleasure of meeting Allan when he was Vice-President at NFUS meetings, at local shows, in the House of Commons and in Brussels with my colleague Ian Hudghton MEP. The NFUS has an important role in providing a voice for its members and I pay tribute to Nigel Miller for his hard work on behalf of the industry over his four year-term.

“I’m sure Allan will be the first to acknowledge he will have a hard act to follow but I wish him every success in his efforts for Scottish farming.”

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New SNP Depute Leader Speaks at Local Burns Supper

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Peterhead Branch SNP and Cruden Bay, Hatton & Longhaven Branch SNP held their annual joint Burns Supper in Longhaven Hall.

The event, which attracted over 70 guests, heard speeches from local MP and Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford and recently-elected SNP Depute Leader Stewart Hosie, MP for Dundee East.

SNP Council Group Leader and former Director of Education for Aberdeenshire Hamish Vernal gave the Address to the Haggis in fine style, and a highly entertaining rendition of Tam O’Shanter was provided by Gordon Mackay, who also provided the evening’s musical entertainment with his son, Ewan.

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“We were delighted Stewart Hosie was able to accept our invitation to speak at this year’s Burns Supper.

“The turnout was excellent and was a great celebration of the life and work of our national bard, Rabbie Burns. A huge thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of the night and especially to our guest speakers from far and near and our fantastic musicians.”

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Whiteford Speaks up for Dairy Industry in Westminster Debate

Banff & Buchan SNP MP and SNP Westminster spokesperson on Agriculture, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, has accused the UK Government of a “dereliction” in not allowing the Groceries Code Adjudicator to impose penalties on those who violate the code.

A flashback to 2012 when local farmers protested
at milk prices outside the Peterhead Branch
of Iceland, supported by local MP Eilidh Whiteford.
The MP was speaking in a debate on a report from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee into the industry.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“I have a sense of déjà vu, because back in 2012 we debated the crisis in the dairy industry here in Westminster Hall. At that time, I welcomed the introduction of what was then the new voluntary code of conduct, but I pointed out that farm-gate prices were still too low to be viable, and that, until the prices paid to producers exceeded the cost of production, we would not have a sustainable dairy industry. That essential issue, which is not fully addressed by either the voluntary code or the Groceries Code Adjudicator, still underpins the problems facing the dairy sector.

“Most of Scotland’s milk production—92% of it—is for domestic UK markets, and primary producers, who have high input costs, are caught in and continually squeezed by over-concentrated supply chains. Dairy farmers point out that that those who supply Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Waitrose receive substantially less than the cost of production for their milk. Asda’s suppliers say that they receive 56p for four pints against a production cost of 68p. Dairy producers cannot be expected to subsidise retailers in that way. In the long term, that is not in the interests of our food security or consumers to push dairy farmers out of business.

“When legislation for the Groceries Code Adjudicator was going through Parliament back in 2012, I argued strongly that the restrictions on who could make representations to the adjudicator would place serious limitations on its effectiveness. I would definitely like to see the adjudicator being able to investigate complaints from parties other than direct suppliers. The situation we are discussing is a good example of where that would be beneficial. However, that would still address only the symptoms.

“The Government’s failure to empower the adjudicator to impose penalties on those in violation of the code is a real dereliction that I hope they will put right with all due haste. I do not want the adjudicator to be another useless quango. Given the time constraints, I will not say anything about the intervention price except that I hope that the Minister will raise that at EU level so that it is on the policy makers’ agenda.

“To allow our dairy sector to sink and diminish without trace is short-sighted. We all recognise that there is a future for the sector in growing export markets. If we are smart, we could develop those markets for high quality, value added products. We have a strong traditional industry with a reputation for quality, excellent animal welfare and food standards and distinctive, unique regional products. Notwithstanding the current market issues, there are substantial and growing opportunities for our dairy industry and a clear role for Governments throughout the UK in supporting their development. However, while we are still selling milk below the cost of production, we will not have a sustainable industry.”

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New Deer Sports Facility Bags Energy Firm Donation

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Volunteers at the New Deer All Weather Facility were celebrating this weekend after energy firm Moray Offshore Renewables made a £28,000 donation that will allow the project to be completed after almost nine years.

The £405,000 project to build an all weather sports pitch and a new pavilion at New Deer is due to be completed by Easter.

Project co-ordinator, Helen Young, welcomed the cash boost which has closed the final funding gap faced by the project. Helen said:

"We really are indebted to Moray Offshore Renewables for this vital funding which has helped bring a project 9 years in the making to fruition. This simply could not have been possible without the invaluable support of our MP Eilidh Whiteford. Together, they have provided the last piece in the jigsaw for a fantastic facility which will serve New Deer and the surrounding area for decades to come."

Local MP, Eilidh Whiteford, who encouraged the energy firm to support the New Deer project, welcomed the funding announcement:

"The New Deer sports project is a real community-led campaign and the leadership shown by Helen and other volunteers should be commended in bringing it to fruition. It will benefit so many sports groups in the central Buchan area and I am pleased that I could be of assistance in helping secure in this final piece of funding that will allow completion of the facility​."​

Representatives from Moray Offshore Renewables, which hopes to build a 186-wind turbine farm in the Moray Firth, presented the cheque for £28,820 to Helen Young on Friday in New Deer.

Commenting, Dan Finch, Project Director for Moray Offshore Renewables said:

“I am delighted that Moray Offshore Renewables has been able to join other companies in contributing to this excellent facility. The New Deer Community Trust has done outstanding work in delivering this much needed project and are to be congratulated on their hard work and determination​."

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