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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Fishing Funds for Scotland Can Go Elsewhere Says New Tory

Saturday, 31 May 2014


TORY MEP CLAIMS SCOTLAND'S FISHING COMMUNITIES NOT 'STRUGGLING'

New Scottish Tory MEP Ian Duncan has been widely criticised following his claims that Scotland's Fishing industry should not receive vital European funding - even though Scotland accounts for over 80% of all fish landings - but only receives 40% of the UK share of the European Fisheries Fund. Mr Duncan said - 'The funds should go to those places which are struggling - the Scottish industry is not struggling.'


Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP for Banff and Buchan commented:

"This is a quite extraordinary claim. Not content with negotiating a poor deal in Europe the Tories' new MEP now wants other countries to get the funds which should come to Scotland. Mr Duncan says Scottish fishing communities are not struggling - which suggests incredible complacency. Only a Yes vote in September will ensure that Scotland's fishing communities get a fairer deal."

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Universal Credit Cover Up Shows Why Scotland Needs Responsibility for Welfare

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The revelation that damning criticism over the mess Westminster's Universal Credit is in was suppressed has shown why Scotland needs to be able to make our own choices on Welfare.

Reports in today's Independent make clear that Iain Duncan Smith halted Universal Credit's inclusion on the Major Project Authority's register of major public risks as it was set to receive a 'red' rating – showing the reforms are “unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget without urgent remedial action”.

While the Westminster Government claimed that Universal Credit was not included because the project had been 'reset' in February 2013, the Independent also revealed that the deeply critical assessment was in fact carried out over seven months after this reset had taken place.

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

“The revelation today that the Westminster Government is apparently determined to gloss over the mess that Universal Credit is in will surprise no-one.

“Westminster governments have shown time and again that they have no understanding and no concern for just how much their damaging welfare changes affect people's lives.

“Their attempts to pretend that everything is fine when clearly it is not are fooling nobody.

“The shambles that Westminster has presided over when it comes to welfare is one of the clearest demonstrations possible of why we need to be able to make our own decisions on tax and welfare in Scotland.

“Instead of having people's lives ruined by Westminster's incompetence, with a Yes vote we will be able to build a system that reflects the values of people in Scotland and does not let people down in the way that successive Westminster Governments have.”

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Local MP Says Ignoring SNP Warnings Could be Death Knell for Universal Service

Friday, 23 May 2014

SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS FROM WESTMINSTER SET TO BE BROKEN

The worst fears of Banff & Buchan’s rural communities, postal workers and others over Royal Mail privatisation are set to come true, local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has said, after reports that the company is struggling to meet its Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Dr Whiteford, along with SNP colleagues at Westminster, has been warning over many years that the continued erosion of Royal Mail services, the failure of the regulator to prevent cherry picking of lucrative work by other companies and, ultimately, last year’s widely opposed privatisation would put huge pressure on the Universal Service.

The privatisation has already proved controversial, after the UK Government reportedly undervalued Royal Mail shares to the tune of almost three quarters of a billion pounds and Royal Mail is now saying that it is struggling to keep it’s obligation - the basic Universal Service principles have been in place for over 175 years.

Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“People in Banff & Buchan continue to place a great deal of value on the postal services we receive from Royal Mail, which has been reflected in my constituency office mailbag year after year. In Westminster the SNP has been warning repeatedly of the huge risk to the Universal Service from the continued erosion of Royal Mail which culminated with the disgraceful sell off of what was a valued publicly owned institution.

“It will be absolutely no surprise to anyone following that this new threat to the Universal Service that underpins our mail service has emerged. As soon as the Tory-led Westminster coalition decided to sell off the Royal Mail in their rushed - bargain basement sale – we again predicted that the USO – which is so vital to Scotland – and to rural businesses and communities in particular – would be threatened.

“For the North-east’s rural economy and the vitality of our rural communities the Universal Service is critical. By allowing other private companies to cherry pick the most profitable parts of the business, which help to support the USO, the UK Government and the regulator are failing Scotland.

“Royal Mail should never have been privatised. Figures showed 77 per cent of people in Scotland were totally opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail - more than any other part of the UK.

“Only a Yes vote in September can ensure that Scotland will be assured of a mail service that meets the needs of our communities – and one which is brought back into public ownership."

Commenting on the announcement on the Royal Mail’s profits and performance following privatisation, Scottish Government Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“Postal services are a vital lifeline for many of Scotland’s communities, particularly in some of the nation’s more remote rural areas.

“Those communities depend on the delivery service guaranteed by the Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) – which is why it is so deeply concerning to see the concerns now being raised about the Royal Mail’s ability to fulfil the USO.

“We are concerned by anything which might undermine the USO in Scotland, and the Scottish Government is absolutely committed to maintaining at least the level of universal service provision inherited upon independence.”

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SNP Comments on Child Maintenance Changes

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has raised concerns over changes to child maintenance payments which could see children lose out on support.

Thousands of letters are to be sent to single parents in the UK informing them of changes to their child maintenance arrangements. The UK government wants parents to agree their child maintenance agreements "amicably" or face a charge. The charges will be introduced later this year, and all single parents will be charged an upfront fee of £20 for registering with the new service.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“While most parents who have separated manage to agree child maintenance arrangements, some parents find this impossible. However, children still need support.

“These changes will make it harder for parents who take care of the child to secure support from non-resident parents, and may lead to child maintenance agreements which are unstable. The bottom line is that children will lose out on the support they need.”

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Margaret Curran's Speech Highlights Westminster's Failure on Inequality

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


YES VOTE WOULD PUT POWERS TO TACKLE INEQUALITY INTO SCOTLAND’S HANDS

Responding to Margaret Curran’s speech today, the SNP has said the levels of inequality pointed out by Ms Curran highlight the failings of Westminster and show exactly why Scotland needs the full powers of independence.

In a speech given earlier today, Ms Curran pointed out the level of income inequality and inequality of opportunity in Scotland – issues which are reserved to Westminster and which highlight the failings of successive UK governments.

The UK is already the fourth most unequal country in the developed world – and with Westminster’s austerity agenda and welfare cuts continuing to bite the situation risks getting even worse.

Commenting, SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Powers to tackle economic inequality are reserved to the UK Government – so Margaret Curran’s speech today only highlights the failings of Westminster and shows exactly why we need the full powers of independence.

“While Margaret Curran is absolutely right to point out that there is too much inequality in Scotland – it can’t be forgotten that under Labour, the gap between rich and poor only grew wider, and the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world. But the solution offered by Labour and the other Westminster parties is simply to offer more of the same.

"Scotland is a wealthier country in economic output per head than the UK, France and Japan. We can more than afford to be independent, and with powers over welfare and pensions we can be a fairer country too - with a transformation in childcare provision, and guaranteed rises in the minimum wage and pensions at least in line with the cost of living.

“What people in Scotland can’t afford is more of the same from a Westminster establishment obsessed with austerity – with figures showing that Tory welfare cuts could push 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty by 2020.

“With a Yes vote, the powers to tackle inequality will be in our hands – rather than in the hands of a distant Westminster establishment whose policies have failed for generations and are only making matters worse.”

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Whiteford Unveils Plaque to Mark 250 Years for Aberchirder

Hundreds of local residents turned out in Aberchirder on Saturday, as the village celebrated its 250th anniversary.

The day commenced with a coffee morning at the Marnoch Church Hall on Main Street, and was followed by a procession from Aberchirder Primary to The Square, where local musicians and dancers gave a special performance for the crowds.

Following speeches from organisers, and a message from the Queen read out by the Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, Clare Russell, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford gave her thanks to the Aberchirder and District Community Association for putting together a wonderful day, and to local historian Bob Peden, whose book “Foggie 250” was launched at the event.

Dr Whiteford also unveiled a plaque in The Square, which commemorates the day’s events.

Speaking afterwards, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“It was great to see such a sizeable turnout for Foggie’s 250th anniversary. We were fortunate in that the weather stayed fine for the duration, and the school pupils put on a very special show for the audience. The village is lucky in having a diligent community association, and a local historian of Bob Peden’s calibre willing to carry out research on the village’s behalf.

“Foggie and its residents have my best wishes for the future, and can look on the day as a successful milestone in the village’s history.”

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Whiteford Welcomes Macduff Youngsters to Westminster

Friday, 16 May 2014

Pupils from Macduff Primary School enjoyed a rare tour around the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday, as part of a school trip to London organised by teacher Mr Gordon McKay.


The youngsters, from Primary 6 and 7, were shown around the historic buildings by Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, who helped facilitate the visit and greeted the party on their arrival.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“It was a real pleasure to meet again with pupils from my old school, who so impressed me when I visited Macduff Primary earlier this year. I do hope the youngsters have enjoyed their time at Westminster, and have made the most of their trip to London.

“Parliament is a fascinating place, and I am always very pleased when school groups take the opportunity to visit. There’s much to see and do, and it’s a great educational experience for pupils learning how decisions made here affect their day to day lives.”

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Whiteford Tackles Prime Minister on Support for Agriculture

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has tackled Prime Minister David Cameron on support for Scottish agriculture.

The SNP’s Westminster spokesperson on agriculture raised the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions this week asking Mr Cameron to explain why by 2019 Scottish farmers will be receiving the lowest level of support per hectare in the European Union.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Dr Whiteford asked Mr Cameron:

“When the Prime Minister goes up to Scotland later this week, will he explain to our agricultural producers and rural communities why by 2019 we will be receiving the lowest level of support per hectare not just of any country in the UK, but of any country in the whole EU? Perhaps that explains why he does not want to publish his secret poll on support for independence.”

In response, the Prime Minister said:

“On my visit to Scotland I will be explaining how Scotland is better off inside the United Kingdom. We have all the negotiating power of the United Kingdom around the table to get a good deal for Scotland, whereas of course an independent Scotland would have to queue up behind other countries to get back into the European Union. Specifically on agriculture, because of the hard work of my right hon. Friend the agriculture Secretary, we are ensuring that there will be extra support for Scottish farmers, which is absolutely in line with what the Scottish Government have been asking for.”

Commenting on the response, Dr Whiteford said:

“The Prime Minister makes a great play of saying we’re better off as part of the UK but the truth is that it is the United Kingdom Government which has negotiated the worst possible deal for rural Scotland.”

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Own Goal for Labour on Bedroom Tax

Sunday, 11 May 2014


MP LEFT RED-FACED DURING WESTMINSTER DEBATE

The Scottish National Party has called on Scottish Labour to confirm their position on the Bedroom Tax following an evident split in the party during a Westminster debate. The Scottish Affairs Committee was debating recommendations of a report which said Bedroom Tax arrears should be written off and payments should be refunded.

During the debate SNP MP Pete Wishart challenged Ian Davidson MP on whether Labour would commit to the recommendations of the report. Davidson was left red-faced when he said he agreed with the recommendations but was slapped down by his colleague Stephen Timms, Shadow Minister of State for Employment, who said that while he thought it sounded like an nice slogan, a UK Labour government would not make the commitment.

Scottish Labour have a poor track record on the Bedroom Tax after 10 of its MPs failed to vote on their own debate which demanded the Bedroom Tax be scrapped immediately.

SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This was a major own goal for Labour as it reveals they were not committed to compensating those affected by the Bedroom Tax and writing off the debts.

“The comments also highlight how Labour will say one thing in Westminster and something completely different in Holyrood.

“The Bedroom Tax is a deeply unfair policy which will be scrapped in an independent Scotland. It is a shame that Labour MPs did not feel so strongly on November 12 last year at their own debate in the House of Commons when there was a real opportunity to abolish this punitive tax. 47 Labour members didn't even bother to turn up including - shamefully - 10 Scottish Labour MPs .

"In contrast the SNP government is doing all it can to help mitigate the impact of this divisive tax and have pledged that funding for Discretionary Housing Payments will continue next year with another £20 million to help victims of Westminster’s Bedroom Tax.

"One of the most significant gains of independence is that Scotland will have full control over its welfare system. That means only with a Yes vote will we finally be able to get rid of the unjust Bedroom Tax and have a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of the people of Scotland."


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UK Government Failing People with Mental Health Problems

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


WELFARE REFORM IMPACTING ON MENTAL HEALTH

The Scottish National Party has criticised the UK government for failing benefits claimants with mental health problems.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate later today on Improving the Employment and Support Allowance application process for people with mental health problems, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP will condemn the UK government’s Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for its shortcomings with regard to people with mental health conditions.

Concerns have been raised by mental healthcare professionals and representative organisations that WCA doesn't capture the impact of more serious mental illnesses on a person’s capacity to function in a working environment, and leads to poor decision making.

According to a Freedom of Information request, in 2013, 58% (6 out of 10) ESA claimants hit by sanctions were vulnerable people with a mental health condition or learning difficulty - an increase from 35% of sanctioned claimants in 2009 – indicating that people with mental health problems are being inappropriately sanctioned.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The UK government must do more to help some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“I have seen an increasing stream of people with quite serious mental illnesses over the last couple of years who are falling through our now very frayed social safety net because of Welfare Reforms. I’m sure it goes without saying that many people with a mental illness won’t ever need to depend on the benefits system. But some of those with more severe mental illnesses do require support, and some of them are extremely vulnerable.

“A key problem is that too often assessors and decision makers have little or no relevant background information about claimants' complex medical histories, and too rarely seek input or opinions from claimants’ clinicians.


“A report recently published by the Scottish Association for Mental Health, SAMH, details findings on how the experiences of living in poverty affect peoples’ mental health, and how SAMH service users with mental health problems have been affected by UK government welfare reforms. A truly shocking finding was that 98% of respondents said that welfare reforms were impacting on their mental health, including increased stress and anxiety, while 79% were facing financial impacts such as reduced income.

“In six cases reported to the 2013 survey, SAMH staff had to carry out suicide interventions directly related to the welfare reforms.

“The information is there in black and white, and the UK government cannot continue to ignore it.”

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MP Commends Turriff May Day Event

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has hailed Turriff’s annual May Day event as another great success for the town.

The SNP MP visited the event yesterday afternoon and spent time chatting with stallholders and local people. Commenting, Eilidh said:

“This was another highly successful May Day event and congratulations must go to the organisers. There was a real buzz about the town and I think it succeeded in attracting a huge number of visitors to Turriff and into local businesses.

“This event has been going for many years now and is a firm fixture on the North-east calendar. It is a tremendous example of what can be achieved when a community works together to promote their town.”

Dr Whiteford went on to visit Alvah Parish Hall at Linhead later that evening, where she was a guest of Alvah WRI and gave a talk on life as a Member of Parliament.

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MP Congratulates Macduff on Community Engagement Event

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has congratulated the organisers of the ‘Macduff and its Community’ Coffee Afternoon held at the Buchan Street Hall on Saturday.

Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Cllr Hamish Partridge (l) and Ricky Taylor (r)
The event was organised to allow local people to come together and also view old photographs of Macduff which had been featuring on a community Facebook page.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This was a truly fantastic event and it was good to catch up with some Macduff people I hadn’t seen for quite some time.

“The hall was fairly packed when I was there which is a testament to the organisers and the interest people have in local heritage. Of course, the fine pieces probably also helped draw the crowds!

“The organisers deserve a huge vote of thanks for arranging the event and making it such a success.”

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