Angus MacDonald flags up housing benefit concerns at Housing & Social Care committee

Speaking at Falkirk Council’s November Housing & Social Care Committee following SNP concerns that the ConDem London government’s plans to cut back housing benefit will have a detrimental effect on the homeless lists and housing waiting lists in Falkirk district as people accrue rent arrears in both the social rented and private rented sectors Grangemouth SNP Councillor and SNP candidate for Falkirk East Angus MacDonald said:

"It is clear we lost 8 years of potential new social house building between 1999 and 2007 while Labour and the LibDems were in power at Holyrood, however we are all agreed now that much more social housing is required.

"Presumably some thought has been given to the impact the changes by the ConDem coalition government to Housing Benefit will have on housing demand IN Falkirk district?

"For example there will be extra demands on both the social rented and private rented sectors thanks to housing benefit arrears that will accrue thanks to the new ConDem policy, which will no doubt have an impact on our waiting lists.

“These are the wrong cuts being made at the worst time, and will hit low-paid households the hardest.

“Tory and LibDem Ministers either do not care or do not understand the impact that these cuts will have on families in Falkirk district who will be left worse off at an already difficult time. There is no doubt that in some circumstances people will be made homeless as a result of these changes.

“The Tory/Lib Dem coalition have their priorities all wrong – they should be focusing on supporting recovery and job creation, instead of spending cuts which are too fast and too deep and will actually destroy employment.

“Yes, we must look at how best we can reform the benefits system, but such reforms must be undertaken with care and common sense.

“The Tory/Lib Dem assumption does appear to be that everybody on benefits is somehow cheating the system or work-shy – what the Con/Dem coalition should be working on most is creating real jobs.

“While the coalition cuts services and support, the SNP is the only party with a clear commitment to protect family incomes.  By freezing the council tax, delivering the living wage to NHS and government employees and turning the unfair policies of successive Labour, Lib Dem and Tory Westminster administrations into a fair system for the people of Falkirk district.”

5p stamp price rise 'first effect of post Office privatisation'

Angus MacDonald condems another blow to small business by the coalition government

SNP Economic Development Spokesperson at Falkirk Council, Councillor Angus MacDonald has hit out at reports that the cost of a first class stamp will rise by 5p in April following a decision by Postcomm to allow Royal Mail greater commercial freedom.

The news follows hard on the heels of efforts by the coalition government to squeeze small businesses after revelations that Royal Mail is demanding a 20 per cent reduction in costs from small suppliers ahead of privatisation.

Councillor Angus MacDonald with the SNP's Postal Affairs Spokesperson Mike Weir MP

Councillor MacDonald, who is also the SNP’s candidate for Falkirk East at next May’s Scottish Parliament election said:

“It appears that small businesses are being forced to pay the price of privatisation with a further squeeze on their already tight margins as the coalition government try to make Royal Mail more attractive to a corporate buyer.

“Not only are small businesses likely to be those worst hit by privatisation, since they have few alternative service options, and are unlikely to be able to access special deals on bulk usage of postal services, but they are now expected to bear the brunt of the cost of reducing Royal Mail’s losses.

“And today we have the double whammy of a rise in the cost of first class post which is far in excess of inflation and totally indefensible. If allowed to proceed it will hit small businesses very hard. Unlike large companies, small businesses do not have the ability to access bulk mailing discounts and alternative services nor can they negotiate more favourable terms.

“This is yet another blow against small businesses from the ConDem government which is in stark contrast to the pro-business agenda of the SNP in government in Scotland over the past 3 and a half years.”

Angus MacDonald backs SNP call for clarification on Labour's national care agency implications

SNP Candidate fro Falkirk East, Councillor Angus MacDonald has backed Falkirk Council’s SNP Group Housing and Social Work spokesperson, Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn who has written to New Labour Leader in Scotland, Iain Gray seeking clarification of the implications flowing from his announcement at the recent New Labour Party conference that if New Labour win next year’s Holyrood elections they would set up a National Care Agency to deal with all aspects of care in the community.

Cllr Meiklejohn is seeking clarity on the implications for Falkirk Council Homecare and MECS staff as well as service users after receiving representation from worried council employees concerned for their future and the future of the services they deliver locally.

Said Councillor Meiklejohn,

“At present it is local authorities who assess local people’s needs and often deliver the required services such as Home Care and MECS themselves.

If an unelected and centralised national care agency is to be established, as outlined by Iain Gray at the recent New Labour conference in Oban the question from staff want answered is, what will happen to the hundreds of local jobs currently performed by Falkirk Council care staff?

Clearly there will be no requirement for Falkirk Council to employ Home Care Assistants, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers and the likes if their responsibilities are to be performed by staff employed by the national care agency. .

Labour need to tell these people what will happen to their employment and what changes will be made to their terms and conditions if they transfer out of council employment if the level of savings outlined by Mr Gray are to be realised.”

The SNP are also demanding to know what the implications are for service users. Cllr Meiklejohn went on to say,

“Although services users are now paying hefty charges for the use of services such as Home Care and MECS courtesy of the current Labour / Tory coalition administration in Falkirk, previous SNP Administrations have abolished charges for essential services.

"If New Labour get their way then that option of making these services free in the future will be removed from local politicians and instead we will see a steady growth in charges as those responsible will not have to face the local consequences of their actions.

"I hope that this ill thought out power grab from New Labour will been seen for what it is, yet another attack on the public sector workers who have delivered care services to vulnerable people for many years.”

Backing Cllr Meiklejohn's comments, Councillor Angus MacDonald said:

"I look forward to seeing the response from Labour as it is clearly a concern to both Council employees and service users that local control and accountabiltiy of all aspects of care in the community will be wrenched from the Council if Labour get their way. The proposal for a National Care Agency is of course part of Labour's uncosted wish-list, so we'll wait and see what comes back from Labour should they attempt to clarify their ill thought out proposal."

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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