ALLAN WARNS AGAINST "CALLOUS" THREAT TO PENSIONS IN WESTERN ISLES
REPORT FINDS ELDERLY IN UK SUFFER THE WORST POVERTY RATE IN WESTERN EUROPE
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has warned the Tory government against increasing the state pension age, which would have dire and disproportionate consequences in the islands and across Scotland.
The Tories’ threat comes following a report published by the Centre for Social Justice - chaired by close Boris Johnson ally, Iain Duncan Smith - which concludes that the state pension age should rise to 75 over the next 16 years.
The islands MSP has said that any further increases in the state pension age could have a hugely disproportionate impact on Scotland due to its unique demographic needs. The MSP also called on the UK government to heed warnings raised in a new report that found the proportion of elderly people living in severe poverty in the UK is five times what it was in 1986 - the largest increase among western European countries.
The Western Isles currently has one of the highest proportions of over-65s in Scotland.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“The Tory’s government’s approach to the UK’s elderly population and state pension policy has been cruel and callous.
“From the burning injustices facing the WASPI women who have been denied the right to their state pension, to the stripping away of free TV licences for the over 75s, this government’s attitude towards its older people is shameful.
“Instead of taking on board policies written up by one of the architects of Tory austerity, the new Prime Minister must take action to address the dire levels of pensioner poverty in the UK.
"The Tory government must take a step back and tackle these injustices - rather than ramping up the threats."
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that it has taken the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow under public ownership.
Today’s agreement will enable completion of the two dual-fuel ferries under construction for CalMac. It will also ensure work continues towards delivery of the other vessels currently under construction and secure a future for the yard through continuity of employment for the workforce.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“I welcome today’s announcement from the Scottish Government that is has stepped in and taken Ferguson Marine under public ownership. This was the only way forward that would have ensured completion of the new ferries and secured jobs at the yard.
“It’s vitally important that these vessels are completed as soon as possible. CalMac’s fleet is in urgent need of new vessels and the delays to the Glen Sannox and Vessel Number 802 have exacerbated the strain on the network.
“I look forward to hearing new estimated completion dates from the incoming management team.”
An award-winning new Water Treatment Works (WTW) in Lochmaddy has been officially opened by Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Dr Alasdair Allan, with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band.
The WTW is part of a £15 million investment by Scottish Water to provide a single improved water supply for communities across North Uist and Berneray.
The project, which was delivered in partnership with Ross-shire Engineering, recently gained national recognition at the Water Industry Awards 2019 for its use of an innovative construction technique.
The whole plant was built and tested under factory conditions in Muir of Ord before being broken down into 16 modules. These were delivered and re-assembled last year on a site which had been carefully prepared for their arrival by locally-based civil engineering contractor MacInnes Brothers. Lochmaddy is the largest Water Treatment Works that has been built in this way anywhere in the UK to date.
Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band kicked off the celebration of the project’s completion by piping guests from a new intake that has been built on the shore of Loch Fada to the new WTW above Blathaisbhal.
Dr Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“It’s great to mark the completion of this important investment for the future water supply that will serve communities across North Uist and Berneray for years to come.
“The project is a great success story for Scottish Water’s supply chain here in the Highlands and Islands. From MacInnes Brothers’ work on site to Ross-shire Engineering’s factory and the specialised transport firms who helped the water treatment works make its 128 mile journey by road and ferry last summer, each part of the delivery process has been critical to the success of the others.
“With the national recognition that has been achieved, it’s clear that this approach which was developed for North Uist has potential application much more widely across Scotland and beyond.”
Scottish Water Chief Executive Douglas Millican said:
“Scottish Water is committed to providing the same high standard of service to our customers for the same low price, no matter where they live in Scotland.
“Achieving that goal for our customers in the islands involves distinctive challenges – and some of those challenges apply just as much to the delivery of complex capital projects. The whole Lochmaddy project team has more than risen to the challenges and the result is plain to see.
“We have a first class new Water Treatment Works which is regarded as an example by others from across the UK and beyond. The construction of the new works has been undertaken well, and with minimal impact on the local community.”
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan earlier today spoke with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay MSP, regarding Ferguson’s shipyard.
The company operating the shipbuilding yard at Port Glasgow, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, announced on Friday their intention to go into administration. The Scottish Government has said that taking the yard into public ownership remains an option.
Vessel Number 802, one of two duel-fuel ferries under construction at the yard for CalMac, is earmarked for the Uig-Lochmaddy and Uig-Tarbert routes.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“This was a helpful and productive phone call with the Cabinet Secretary. I made clear that communities in my constituency have waited too long for delivery of this new ferry, and there has been considerable uncertainty over the timescales for its completion.
“I am pleased that the Scottish Government is ready and willing to take Ferguson Marine into public ownership if that is what is needed to secure the completion of these ferries. I hope that all involved can ensure this process is as quick and as straightforward as possible.
“I also stressed the need for the communities waiting on these vessels to be given clear information about expected delivery times as soon as the current situation has been resolved.”
ISLANDS MSP ACCOMPANIES LOCAL OFFICERS FOR THE DAY
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan this week accompanied police officers in Stornoway as part of the national ‘Give a Day to Policing’ scheme.
As part of the scheme, Members of the Scottish Parliament across the country have been invited to spend a day with Police Scotland during the summer parliamentary recess to see first-hand the work undertaken in their constituencies.
During the visit, the islands MSP met Area Inspector Jane Nicolson and spent the afternoon out in the police car with local police officer Daniel Smith.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“This was a really helpful opportunity to see first-hand the work that our police officers have to carry out daily to keep our communities safe and get an insight into the nature of island policing.
“It’s interesting to see that an increasing amount of officer time is spent helping to safeguard vulnerable people in the community. While crime is altogether lower than it was a decade ago, the nature of it is continually changing and growing more complex.
“In the Western Isles we have one of the lowest rates of crime in the country and I am extremely thankful for the hard work and dedication of our local police officers in helping to achieve this.”
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has called for a fair funding settlement for Bethesda Nursing Home and Hospice.
The islands MSP has been lobbying NHS Western Isles, the Western Isles Integrated Joint Board and the Scottish Government on the hospice’s behalf since March regarding the organisation’s funding shortfall.
Bethesda comprises of 21 Nursing Home beds for heavily dependent elderly, a 9 bedded Respite Unit and 4 single Hospice rooms where specialist care is given free of charge to anyone with an incurable disease at any stage of their illness.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“Over the course of the last week I have had many people in touch about the future of Bethesda.
“The work that Bethesda does in the community in terms of supporting those with full-time care needs, including those at the end of their lives and requiring palliative care, is absolutely invaluable. I believe we are lucky to have this service and that we cannot afford to lose it.
“It is clearly wrong that Bethesda have not had an uplift in support from the Health Board since 2011, and I am troubled about the effect of this underfunding to their finances. There is a pressing need for the IJB to enter into a new agreement with Bethesda which guarantees appropriate levels of funding. As local MSP, I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that they do.”