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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Post Office Apologises to MP for Rothienorman Failure

Friday, 28 March 2014

Post Office officials have apologised to Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford for their failure to communicate properly with Rothienorman residents last month when the Mobile Service was unavailable.

The lack of service also affected Cuminestown, where the Mobile Service also calls five days per week.

Local MP Dr Whiteford contacted Post Office management after concerns were raised with her by local residents at the end of February, and the service was restored by the end of that week. However, Post Office chiefs have now issued a formal apology for the lack of service at that time.

In a letter to the Banff & Buchan MP, Post Office spokesperson Linda Bonar said:

“Please accept our sincere apologies for the recent failure of the Post Office mobile service and for the inconvenience caused to the residents at Rothienorman. The mobile service van had been experiencing problems and had been booked in for a service and MOT which had brought to light faults that needed to be rectified before the van could be considered roadworthy, however this doesn’t excuse the lack of communication with Rothienorman residents when this problem occurred.

“The issue regarding communication with the residents has been addressed with the Post Office manager responsible for this mobile service.”

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This is a welcome acknowledgement from Post Office management that they fell below their service standards on this occasion.

“The service is greatly valued by residents in Rothienorman and Cuminestown who speak to me about it and the staff who run the service do an excellent job. However, on this occasion it appears both staff and customers were let down by a failing on the part of the Post Office to let people know what was going on.”

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Welfare Cap is a Crude Blunt Instrument

Commenting on the vote at Westminster to support the Tories’ plan for a permanent cap on welfare spending, which was supported by the vast majority of Labour MPs despite a small backbench rebellion, local MP and SNP Welfare spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The SNP voted against the welfare cap because it piles yet more pain onto our poorest pensioners, carers, disabled people and low income families. This cap is just a crude, blunt, instrument. It is shocking that so many Scottish Labour MPs have backed the Tories, especially after the rhetoric at their conference in Perth.

“The cap once again puts the most disadvantaged people in our communities on the front line. It is blatant ring-wing politics, not aimed at solving any of the long term problems which are getting worse because of Westminster’s austerity agenda, an agenda now supported by all the anti-independence parties.

“The best way to reduce and manage welfare spending is to restore the economy to a state of health, and that’s what this Westminster government is failing to do. If the government was serious about reducing welfare spending, it would be creating more job opportunities in sectors that pay a living wage; it would be investing more in childcare to enable parents to work or increase their hours; and it would be building more affordable homes and taking action on housing costs.

“In Scotland we’re spending a lower proportion of revenue and GDP on social protection than the UK as a whole, and we have invested heavily in affordable housing, with the highest rate of new build social sector homes anywhere in the UK. Only with a Yes vote in September can we get all welfare decisions back to Scotland, and ensure that we have no more of this crude short term political gesturing, and really tackle our problems.”

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UK Budget "Discriminates Against Women"

Sunday, 23 March 2014


OSBORNE’S BENEFITS & TAX CHANGES HIT WOMEN FOUR TIMES HARDER THAN MEN

Scottish National Party spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has said the UK government’s Budget discriminates against - women as benefits and tax changes continue to hit them the hardest.

The introduction of a fixed cap on welfare spending will have a disproportionate impact on women who are already bearing the brunt of UK government cuts, with 80 per cent of money already slashed from the welfare bill coming from women. Analysis also shows women have been hit hardest by previous cuts to tax credits.

Research by the House of Commons Library shows that the Chancellor’s tax and benefit strategy since 2010 has raised a net £3.047 billion (21 per cent) from men and £11.628 billion (79 per cent) from women. The Chancellor’s three-year freeze in child benefit, usually paid to the mother, took £1.26 billion from women but only £26 million from men. Conversely, men reaped the most benefit from Mr Osborne’s decision to reduce the top rate of tax on income over £150,000 a year from 50p to 45p. Some 85 per cent of the gains went to men, and only 15 per cent to women.

While Osborne has raised Personal Tax Allowance in his 2014 budget, it does nothing to help the poorest people earning too little to pay the tax in the first place – the majority of whom are women.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The UK government have had a woeful record over the last four years when it comes to women, and George Osborne’s budget this week did nothing to change that.

“The welfare state is being dismantled by Westminster, and woman are being the hardest hit. Some 80 per cent of money already slashed from the welfare bill has come from women’s pockets, and this new cap will put women in the front line of cuts for years to come.

"It is only with the financial powers of an independent Scotland that we can deliver the policies the SNP are pledged to - such as transforming childcare, building up to 1,140 hours for all children from age one to primary school, which will help more women into the workplace. We will be able to increase the minimum wage by at least the cost of living every year, and reverse the welfare reforms that hit women the hardest - particularly the plan to pay benefits to the household instead of directly to second earners, most of whom are women. These are just some of the things we can, should and must achieve with a Yes vote.”

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Tory Peer Causes Anger with Food Bank Comments

Friday, 21 March 2014

Tory peer Lord Tebbit has caused outrage with his comments in the House of Lords that people who visit food banks are at the same time spending their money on ’junk food’. Speaking in House of Lords debate on the alarming growth in food bank use in the UK because of the coalition government’s austerity programme – Lord Tebbit said there was a ‘near infinite demand’ for valuable goods given away free and asked ministers to ‘initiate research into junk food sales in areas where people are relying for basic food on the food banks’.

He made the comments moments after a Tory environment minister, Lord de Mauley, shocked fellow peers by saying food banks are not a ‘scandal’ but a sign of Britain's charity and ministers should not seek to 'interfere' in their use.

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

"This shows just how out of touch the Tories are. We live in a country brimming with resources and talent but we are now reducing the most vulnerable people in society to using food banks - who now find that they are then mocked and pilloried like this by a peer of the realm. It is just offensive. Lord Tebbit is one of over 800 unelected, unaccountable peers who can turn up for half an hour’s work and earn £300 a day, yet they can still spout this arrogant nonsense. Lords Tebbit and

De Mauley are not alone though. Lord Freud – the millionaire Tory welfare minister told his colleagues last July that the growth of food banks is not linked to growing poverty and hunger – merely that people ‘wish to get food for free'. We know that the Trussell Trust, the charity which oversees more than 400 Food Banks across the UK, has figures that 614,000 adults and children received help from its food banks in the first nine months of 2013-14, compared with 350,000 for all of 2012-13.

“A Yes vote in September gives the people of Scotland a choice of two futures. Lord Tebbit’s comments go a long way to illustrate what kind of future is on offer from Westminster. Food banks – the Bedroom Tax and Pay Day loans. The evidence that the UK is an unequal society was again highlighted by research from Oxfam at the beginning of the week which revealed that just five families in the UK are worth more than the poorest 20% of the entire UK population, an absolutely indefensible situation. Only with the full powers of independence can we create the fairer, more prosperous and democratic society we all want for Scotland.”

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'UK Budget Can't Hide Contiinued Cuts' - Whiteford

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Commenting on George Osborne's Budget delivered to the House of Commons yesterday, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Chancellor George Osborne’s attempts to use the Budget Statement as a vindication for four years of austerity crumbled today when the numbers he published proved he has failed on every single one of the tests which he set for himself.

“That debt would begin to fall as a share of GDP by 2014/15, that the current account should be in balance by 2015/16 and that public sector net borrowing would fall to £20 billion in the same year.

“Unfortunately for the Chancellor, he was forced to report that debt will not begin to fall as a share of GDP until 2017/18 the current account will not be in the black until 2017/18 and the Public Sector Net borrowing will not be £20 billion in 2015/16 – it will be much a higher £68 billion.

“The budget sees no let up in the UK Government’s austerity programme. The Tory / Liberal coalition are still trying to balance the books on the back of the poor.

“There is no real help for ordinary families who won't have £15,000 to save in an ISA and no understanding from this Government about how difficult things really are.

“And while the Tory Backbenchers may have waved their order papers today – they will pay the price for yet more Tory austerity at the ballot box.

“This is the last budget before September’s Scottish Independence Referendum and with a Yes vote future Scottish budgets will put in place the building blocks for real economic recovery.”

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Bingo Association Welcomes Tax Reduction After Campaign Supported by Local MP

Hundreds of bingo customers are celebrating, after the Chancellor reduced the tax burden on bingo clubs in following a campaign supported by local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford.

In yesterday’s Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced the duty on bingo clubs from 20% to 10%. It means almost 400 bingo clubs in communities across England, Scotland and Wales can now fulfil their commitment to invest in new premises, modernisation and jobs.

The Boost Bingo campaign, run by The Bingo Association, gathered more than 330,000 petition signatures from bingo players calling for the Government to reduce bingo duty. Eilidh supported the campaign recently by visiting the Carlton Bingo Club in Fraserburgh, where she called the numbers in one of the games.

Commenting on the successful campaign, Eilidh said:

“I was delighted to support the Boost Bingo campaign in Banff & Buchan. Bingo brings adults of all ages together to socialise in a lively and fun environment, and I am fully behind this campaign. I am pleased it has achieved a result for my constituents.”

Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, said:

“This is brilliant news! Bingo operators and bingo players are delighted that the Government has recognised the importance of bingo clubs in hundreds of communities across Britain.

“I’m sure the constituents of Banff & Buchan who enjoy a visit to their local bingo club will be delighted to hear the game they love has received the boost they campaigned so hard for.

“Bingo operators identified a programme of investment that would be freed up by the tax reduction. Now that’s happened, I look forward to seeing the investment and modernisation that will take the industry forward.

“I’d like to thank the Government for listening to the concerns of bingo players, and thank Eilidh Whiteford for her support for a fair rate of taxation for bingo clubs.”

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Six Months to YES: Gains of Independence Highlighted

Sunday, 16 March 2014


'WITH YES WE CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER' - WHITEFORD

With nearly six months to go until the referendum – and support for independence at its highest since last summer - the SNP is today highlighting what people across Scotland stand to gain from independence.

And in the week it was revealed that Scotland’s Future – the blueprint for an independent Scotland – has become a ‘bestseller’, with over 100,000 copies ordered, the SNP is encouraging those who have not yet ordered or downloaded their copy to do so.

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“As September draws nearer, the choice we face between two futures we face becomes ever clearer. And more and more people are moving to Yes, with recent polls showing support for independence at its highest since last summer.

“Scotland’s Future – the blueprint for an independent Scotland – is now a ‘bestseller’, with over 100,000 copies ordered. Over the next six months, we will continue to encourage as many people as possible to order a copy to provide them with the answers they need.

“The gains of independence are clear. With Yes, we can get rid of Trident from Scotland’s soil once and for all. With No, we face a bill of £100bn for a new generation of nuclear weapons.

“With Yes, we can put an end to the democratic deficit we face under Westminster rule. Only independence can ensure Scotland gets the government it votes for – every time.

“With Yes, we can transform childcare, benefitting 240,000 children and their families. With No, Westminster’s austerity agenda threatens to push up to 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty.

“With Yes, we can scrap the hated Bedroom Tax, saving 82,500 families in Scotland around £50 per month. With No, we are signed up to years of austerity which hit the poorest hardest – Osborne is already signed up to another £25bn of cuts.

“With Yes, we can bring the Royal Mail back into public hands where it belongs. Under Westminster rule, we have seen it privatised despite the fact that a majority of Scottish MPs voted to keep it in public ownership.

“With Yes, we can take action to reverse years of growing inequality as part of the UK, working to close the gap between rich and poor. With No, the gap will continue to grow and we have little chance of stopping what UK Business Secretary Vince Cable called the “giant suction machine” of London “draining the life out of the rest of the country”.

“These are just some of the gains people across Scotland stand to make with independence. I am confident people across Scotland vote Yes on September 18 to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

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Leaked DWP Welfare Report Shows 'Shape of Things to Come'

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A leaked document has revealed the UK Government’s controversial welfare reform is at risk because of the speed and depth of the cuts imposed on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The leaked internal review reveals Iain Duncan Smith’s department is struggling to meet "extremely challenging" demands of over £1bn of efficiency savings over the next two years and these pressures could disrupt plans to roll out benefits reforms.

The review does not include the Universal Credit scheme which a Parliament report had stated was so badly managed, it could write-off up to £425 million - £36 million of which reflects Scotland’s pro-rata share.

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster spokesperson for Work & Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This is deeply worrying- the review warns that these department cuts could jeopardise public-facing services.

“Following the damning Parliament report on the Universal Credit scheme, this is further evidence that the UK government cannot be trusted when it comes to reforming our pensions, child maintenance and disability benefits. We already knew the Tory- Lib Dem government’s welfare reforms were discriminatory, but we can also see the extent of how badly managed it all is.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Scotland has already made its opposition to welfare cuts absolutely clear, and a very clear majority of Scots want the Scottish Parliament to be given full powers over taxation and welfare. It is becoming clear to increasing numbers of people that only a Yes vote will deliver the kind of powers they want and Scotland needs.”

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SNP Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Henderson's Historic Win

Friday, 7 March 2014

Over 100 SNP members and supporters gathered in the Palace Hotel, Peterhead, last Friday at a special event held by Peterhead Branch of the SNP commemorating the 40th anniversary of Douglas Henderson gaining the old East Aberdeenshire constituency from the Conservatives to become the area’s first ever SNP MP at the election on 28 February 1974.

Guest speakers at the event were First Minister Alex Salmond, local MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford. Also attending the event was Alex Farquhar, who was the SNP candidate in the 1970 General Election who made the seat winnable by attracting 30% of the vote and over 9,000 votes in what was the SNP’s best showing in the North-east at that time.

Peterhead Branch SNP President, Bob Ritchie, who was the party’s election agent in the 1960s and 1970s regaled the audience with tales from those early elections, including one where a lost election deposit in 1964 had to be financed with a bank loan, backed up by twenty guarantors at the insistence of the bank. And all for the princely sum of £200!

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“We owe a great debt to Bob Ritchie, Alex Farquhar and the late Douglas Henderson, who could see Scotland’s potential and worked so hard over decades to improve the prospects of people in this area.

“I still get constituents coming to me who remember Douglas Henderson fondly, not only as a hard-working constituency MP but also as a very genuine person. His loss, in 2006, was sorely felt but his legacy lives on and I know he would have been playing a full and active part in the current Referendum campaign had he still been with us.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP added:

“This was a very timely event with the Referendum only 200 days away. It was useful to pause and reflect on the support given by the people of the North-east over the past 40 years which has helped us get to this position in our nation’s history.

“If we are to make the country we all Scotland believe it can be, we need personal tax powers, business tax powers, social security powers, employment powers, powers over Scotland’s budget, powers over the minimum wage, immigration powers and the powers to represent Scotland internationally. In other words, the same toolbox of powers that other independent countries take for granted.”

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