In the News
Find out more about what I've done previously in these articles and reports.
You can also follow me on social media and read my blog, where I share articles I've written for local papers and magazines like the Leither, the Edinburgh Reporter and the Edinburgh Evening News.
Ben Macpherson and Deidre Brock pledge their support to PCHP
This article was originally published in the North Edinburgh News on the 13th December 2018.
Two local SNP parliamentarians have added their voices to the campaign to save Pilton Community Health Project.
PCHP faces potential closure if Edinburgh’s Integrated Joint Board rubber stamps recommendations to end funding for Scotland’s oldest community health organisation at their meeting on Friday.
Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson wrote to Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership Chief Officer Judith Proctor:
To the Pilton Community Health Project (PCHP),
I refer to the agenda for the meeting of the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board (IJB) on Friday 14 December 2018.
As you will be aware, Pilton Community Health Project (PCHP) in my constituency has been unsuccessful in its bid to the IJB for renewal of ongoing funding of £219,309; £173,034 being the main bid and £46,275, the physical activity bid.
PCHP have raised their serious concerns about this, as this funding was to cover core costs and specific projects. PYCP have stated that the projects set to lose funding tackle social isolation and health inequalities, and include: youth counselling; support for vulnerable women; physical activity; and cookery sessions.
With a timeframe of just over 3 months until the end of the current funding, the recent decision by the IJB gives PCHP very little time to seek alternative funding. I believe this is unfair and unacceptable.
As you will know, PCHP has received Council and NHS funding for 30 years. Its annual reviews have consistently shown that targets have been met or exceeded. I am very concerned about the impact this funding withdrawal will have on staff, as well as the service users. PCHP employs 35 staff and has 40 volunteers at present.
I find it unsettling that PCHP received just seven days’ notice of this decision and have not been given any explanation of the reasons behind it.
Furthermore, I believe that the IJB have no plans to replace these services locally, despite the high demand. PCHP have advised me that they have waiting lists at present. I am concerned about the impact the closure of these projects will have on the sustainability and continuation of PCHP as a whole, and the resultant impact this would have on the public sector and other third sectors services in the area, such as GPs, mental health services, hospitals and the police.
I joined by colleague Deidre Brock MP and over 100 local residents and supporters during the meeting of the Integrated Joint Board where the funding decision was made.
This is one of the most deprived parts of my constituency and I know the loss of PCHP’s services would be keenly felt by those who use their services and need assistance.
I wonder if you could provide clarification on the rationale and evidence behind the IJB’s funding decision and indicate how you see the potential closure of PCHP impacting on service users within my constituency?
I am grateful for the IJB’s support for Pilton Equalities Project (PEP), Fresh Start and Granton Information Centre (GIC) but am very concerned about the impact of such significant reductions to the Pilton Community Health Project’s core funding and the timescales associated with this.
I would be grateful if you and the wider IJB could urgently re-consider your decisions in relation to PCHP, and the impact these decisions would have, in advance of the IJB’s meeting on Friday?
I have copied this letter to PCHP, Councillor Ricky Henderson (Convener of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (Health and Social Care Partnership)), Forth Ward Councillors, Deidre Brock MP and the Chairman and Chief Executives’ Office of NHS Lothian.
Many thanks in advance for a swift response and your consideration of the matters raised above.
Local MSP Calls for Immediate Halt to Universal Credit, Which is Causing Misery and Costing Council Millions
Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson has renewed calls for an immediate halt to Universal Credit after it was revealed that Edinburgh council is spending millions of pounds attempting to undo the damage of this failed Tory policy.
A series of Freedom of Information requests discovered that local authorities in Scotland have spent more than £24 million to mitigate the harmful effects of Universal Credit, which has faced huge backlash since its introduction.
The City of Edinburgh Council has set aside £3 million for spending related to UC, but since the associated costs are tied up in wider service improvements, UC’s financial impact on the council is likely to be higher.
Universal Credit is due to be rolled out across Edinburgh from tomorrow, 28th November, but recipients will have to wait until the New Year to receive their first benefit payment. This week, one of the UK’s biggest housing associations said that more than 100,000 children could face hardship over Christmas because of this five week wait, and the Trussell Trust has warned that they are preparing for their busiest month ever - after a 15% rise in foodbank use in Scotland in the past year.
SNP MSP Ben Macpherson said:
“Universal Credit is currently a broken system – it’s leaving people destitute, driving children into poverty and forcing families to rely on foodbanks.
“And these latest eye-watering figures show that the City of Edinburgh Council has had to put aside £3 million to mitigate the effects of this disastrous Tory UK Government policy, which is being imposed on Scotland. That is fundamentally unfair.
“The UK Government should do the right thing and immediately halt their disastrous rollout of Universal Credit, until they can fix this broken policy. Or, better still, all welfare powers should be put in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, so that we can make alternative and better decisions on all aspects of social security, based on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.”
You can see me speaking against Universal Credit in a Scottish Parliament debate last year here: https://www.facebook.com/BenMacSNP/videos/halt-rollout-of-universal-credit/1742141155828144/
Local MSP Holds Christmas Card-Making Workshop At Dr Bell's
Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson recently held a “craft and chat” event at Dr Bell’s Family Centre, as part of his annual MSP Christmas Card competition.
The event took the form of a relaxed arts & crafts morning for children and families, where parents and carers were also be able to chat to Ben about any issues, concerns or ideas.
Children were invited to create entries for Ben’s MSP Christmas card competition, which is also open to primary schools across the constituency. The deadline for submissions is December 10th.
A winner and four runner-up designs will be included in Ben’s eco-friendly electronic Christmas Card. The winners will also be announced on Ben’s social media platforms on December 17th.
The event was held from 10.30-12pm on Saturday 24th November, at Dr Bell's Family Centre - 15 Junction Place, Leith, EH6 5JA. Ben has been a long time supporter of Dr Bell's and looks forward to continuing to work with them, and other local organisations, to ensure as many families as possible in Edinburgh Northern and Leith are able to meet him and that those who need it can access his support and advice as the local MSP.
Ben Macpherson MSP said:
“Every year I really look forward to my Christmas Card competition and to seeing all of the fantastic entries from local primary school children. And, in this Year of Young People, I’m hoping that even more young people will be able to get involved by taking part in this arts, crafts and chat event that I’m hosting for local families.
“Constituents are always welcome to bring children to my regular weekly surgeries and I hope this child-friendly event will make it even easier for parents and carers to come and raise any concerns with me at this time of year.
“Families from across Edinburgh Northern and Leith are very welcome to come to Dr Bell’s for this craft and chat morning, and I hope to see lots folk there for some Christmas refreshments and a chat… And of course I’m also looking forward to seeing all the wonderful card designs!”
Anna Templeton, Centre Manager at Dr Bell’s Family Centre, said:
“Dr Bell's are delighted to support this event and look forward to welcoming many local families to our centre.”
An earlier version of this article was published in the NEN.
Foodbank use in Edinburgh on the rise following years of Tory cuts
Ben Macpherson has condemned the UK government’s welfare cuts, after new figures revealed that foodbank use in Edinburgh has risen by 5% since last year.
Foodbank use in Scotland has risen by 15% between April and September compared to the same period in 2017, with Trussel Trust foodbanks supporting more than 8000 people in Edinburgh alone. Foodbank providers have said the rise is largely due to the in-built minimum wait of five weeks for the first payment of Universal Credit – with many more people forced to wait even longer.
Britain’s biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, has called for ‘urgent changes’ to Universal Credit – while the SNP have consistently called for a halt to the roll-out of the scheme.
Last week, the United Nationals Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights visited the UK to investigate the impact of austerity.
Commenting on the figures, Ben Macpherson MSP said:
“These are truly heart-breaking figures for Edinburgh, which show the devastating impact of UK Tory government policies on our local communities.
“The fact that foodbank use is growing across Scotland is a damning indictment of UK government austerity, their cuts to welfare and the botched roll-out of Universal Credit.
Image from Trussel Trust - www.trusselltrust.org
“Sustained Tory cuts have created these problems and Universal Credit is making things worse – which is why the Tory roll-out of Universal Credit must be halted by the UK Government so that the fundamental flaws can be addressed.
“I see the impact of Tory benefit cuts on a daily basis in my constituency, and the Tories have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted with social security in Scotland. That is why we need the full powers over social security to come to Scotland, so that we can make different choices and put an end to disastrous, unjust Tory welfare reforms like the current roll-out of Universal Credit."
MSP encourages local businesses to pay the Scottish Living Wage
6th November 2018
SNP MSP Ben Macpherson has urged businesses in Edinburgh Northern and Leith to sign up to the Scottish Living Wage, as part of Living Wage Week which runs until 10 November.
The Scottish Living Wage is independently calculated, based on the cost of living – with the real Living Wage rising by 25p this year to £9, higher than the minimum wage of £7.83 for workers over the age of 25.
At the moment there are 275 accredited Living Wage employers in Edinburgh, and 78 of those have a place of business in Edinburgh Northern and Leith.
Ben Macpherson has written to employers in Edinburgh Northern and Leith, encouraging them to explore the benefits of accreditation. Research shows that paying the real Living Wage improves staff morale and retention, as well as productivity and company reputation in the community.
He said: “The real Living Wage can make a huge difference to both workers and employers, supporting strong economic growth and vibrant communities.
“For business, paying the Living Wage makes sense – it’s an investment in people, and all the evidence shows that it leads to increased productivity and better staff retention.
“It is very disappointing that the UK Government did not use last week’s Budget to raise the National Living Wage, extend it to all workers and end discrimination against young people. With low pay one of the main drivers of in-work poverty, it is vital that employers who can pay the real Living Wage, do so.
“I appreciate that there are multiple challenges and various costs to running a successful business. However, I would strongly encourage employers in Edinburgh Northern and Leith to to look into the benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer, as we continue to strengthen inclusive, sustainable economic growth in Scotland.”
Originally published in The Edinburgh Reporter.
Ben Macpherson Holds Housing Advice Surgery with Shelter Scotland
5th November 2018
Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson is holding a special surgery on housing to give constituents the opportunity to access expert advice from Shelter Scotland representatives.
At the Housing Advice Surgery, Ben and his team, who regularly support constituents with housing-related issues, will be joined by a trained adviser from the Shelter Scotland Edinburgh Hub.
Shelter Scotland regularly provides advice on issues including homelessness, private renting, eviction, repairs, tenancy deposits and housing benefit.
The surgery will take place in north Edinburgh at Royston Wardieburn Community Centre (11 Pilton Drive North), on Friday 9th November from 2-3.30pm. Ben’s regular 4pm surgery will go on as usual after this.
Commenting, Ben Macpherson MSP said:
“Housing is a hugely important issue in Edinburgh Northern and Leith and one I have always prioritised as an MSP.
“It is vital that policy makers, service providers and third sector organisations come together to overcome the challenges that there are around housing. That is why I’m glad to be holding this joint advice surgery with Shelter, to help constituents with housing issues and raise awareness of the specialist support that Shelter can offer.”
“The SNP Scottish Government is committed to addressing issues around housing, which is why we have strengthened tenant rights and have delivered more than 78,000 affordable homes since 2007. We will also deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of the coming years.”
Local MSP sets up shop in supermarkets
1st November 2018, The NEN
Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson is holding a series of advice surgeries in supermarkets around the constituency.
Ben Macpherson is holding a series of advice surgeries in supermarkets around the constituency.These pop-up surgeries aim to give more constituents the opportunity to talk to Ben about any issues, concerns or ideas they may have.
The Supermarket Surgeries are running in addition to Ben’s regular weekly surgeries, at Leith Library (Mondays 5-6) and Royston Wardieburn Community Centre (Fridays 4-5).
They are scheduled as follows:
- Friday 2nd November, 2.30-3.30pm, Morrisons Granton
- Saturday 3rd November, 11-12.30pm, Tesco Broughton Road
- Friday 16th November, 1.30-3pm, Tesco Duke Street
- Friday 7th December, 2-3.30pm, Asda Leith.
Ben Macpherson MSP said: “I’ve held two Supermarket Surgeries so far this autumn, as well as my normal weekly advice surgeries, and they’ve been a really good additional way for constituents to talk to me about their concerns, issues or ideas.
“I know not everyone can get to my two regular surgeries each week, or visit my office in Leith, whether it is because of where they live, childcare or other issues. That’s why I’m doing these Supermarket Surgeries, to help make sure that I’m as accessible as I can be to everyone I represent.
“As the local MSP, I’m here to help and if there’s anything you’d like to chat with me about, or even if you’d just like to say hello, I hope to see you at one of these Supermarket Surgeries or another time soon.”
Brexit Loss of £26.5 million of Funding for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, £600 million for Edinburgh
17th October 2018
A new publicly accessible database has laid bare the financial impact that leaving the EU will have on areas around the UK, with Edinburgh Northern and Leith facing losses of £26.5 million.
The figures show that the EU has invested over £26.5 million in projects that benefit organisations in the constituency, including over £6.5 million in Nova Innovation’s tidal power research; £35,234 in Wardie Primary School's 2020 Vision for 1+2 Languages; and £58,497 for Hibernian Community Foundation’s project, Striving for Equality in Women's Football.
The EU invests around £5 billion a year in the UK, and over £600 million in Edinburgh. The European single market is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone.
Last week, the SNP announced that up to £18 million of European cash would be used by the Scottish Government to set up an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to help small and medium sized businesses.
Ben Macpherson MSP said:
“As these figures show, Edinburgh Northern and Leith has benefitted hugely from the strong relationship between Scotland and the European Union.
“EU funding has made a huge contribution to infrastructure, culture, and opportunities for young people in Scotland. This is just the latest analysis to confirm that Brexit is going to inflict major harm on our economy and our communities.
“Far from delivering extra cash for the NHS, as was infamously promised by the Leave campaign bus, Scotland faces losing out on billions of pounds of funding with no clarity from the UK government over how this will be replaced.
The new database provides a map of EU funding across the UK.
“Scotland voted against Brexit by 62% and Edinburgh North and Leith voted against it by a margin of 78%.
Being dragged out of the EU against our will is predicted to cause significant damage locally and nationally, and that is why the Scottish Government will keep arguing against Brexit and, at the very least, for continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.”
Cold house? Get along to a Winter Warmth Constituent Advice Surgery
The Edinburgh Reporter, 5th October 2018
Next Friday there will be a surgery in the library on the corner of Leith Walk advising those who need help to keep their homes warm this winter.
Warmworks Scotland delivers a £224 million Scottish Government scheme to provide insulation, efficient heating and renewable technologies for homes where paying energy bills is a problem.
Ben visited constituent Anne Burns on Friday 5th October
Anne received a new energy efficient gas boiler via the Scottish Government’s national energy saving programme Warmer Homes Scotland
About 150 households have already benefited from the scheme in Edinburgh Northern and Leith including Miss Anne Burns who spoke with her local MSP and told him how it had helped.
Anne told the MSP that the new, energy efficient gas boiler she received via the Scottish Government’s national energy saving programme has eased her worries about how to affordably heat her home throughout the winter months. Anne said, “The help that I have received under Warmer Homes Scotland has been life changing. I no longer worry about the winter coming as I know my home will be warmer and I will be saving money on my bills too.”
The government scheme provides a step-by-step service to help make homes warmer and more comfortable. Assistance can include upgrading windows or fitting new radiators, installing new and efficient boilers or even working with partners to install gas mains to make heating homes in hard to reach areas more affordable. All work is carried out by registered and accredited local sub-contractors, who work to rigorous quality standards across the country.
Ben Macpherson MSP said: “It was great to meet Anne and to hear first-hand about the positive impact that the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme has made for her. With the cold weather already upon us, the recently installed energy efficiency measures will help her to stay warm and more comfortable in her home.
“I would encourage others to check if they are eligible to receive help under the scheme, as improvements could make a significant difference this winter and for years to come.”
Fuel poverty remains at the forefront of the Scottish Government’s agenda having recently released a route map, Energy Efficient Scotland, which outlines the path the Government wishes to take to make Scottish homes more efficient by 2040. The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill has also recently been introduced, which makes a statutory provision to help those who are living in fuel poverty.
Ben Macpherson MSP is holding a Winter Warmth Constituent Advice Surgery at McDonald Road Library on Friday 12th October, Nelson Hall, McDonald Road Library, EH7 4LU. The event is from 1-2.30pm and all are welcome. No appointment necessary.
By Phyllis Stephen, The Edinburgh Reporter (abridged)
International Day of Peace recognised at Holyrood
The Edinburgh Reporter, 19th September 2018
Members of the Scottish Parliament yesterday debated the importance of peace and official recognition of the UN’s International Day of Peace, following a motion raised by Bill Kidd MSP.
The day, observed annually on 21st September, was established in 1981 to strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, however the day is not officially recognised in the UK.
Ten MSPs gave speeches, including Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Europe, Migration & International Development, in support of the motion, acknowledging the UN understanding of peace to be structural, rather than just the absence of violence, and that this aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda, specifically Goal 16 of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
“A more peaceful world is possible,” Ben Macpherson MSP said, “By spreading awareness through debates such as this and through the activism that has been described by Members across the Chamber, we can promote a more peaceful world. Peace day gives us the chance to reflect and act on that sense of common purpose.”
Ben spoke in Bill Kidd MSP's Member's Debate on UN International Day of Peace on Tuesday 18th September
The motion also called upon the members to highlight the work of the International Voluntary Service in promoting Peace Day in the UK, through campaigning on social media and distributing ‘Peace Pins’ designed to be worn as a symbol of commitment to world peace, understanding and cooperation. During the debate, several MSPs were wearing Peace Pins in the Chamber, and within their speeches noted the International Voluntary Service’s commitment to promoting Peace Day and SDG16, and the positive impact of their campaigning and global ‘volunteering for peace’ projects.
By Phyllis Stephen, The Edinburgh Reporter
Reading The Leither's Guide to Leith, published by Leith Academy pupils and Super Power Agency in July 2018
Ben Macpherson welcomes opening of First Minister's Reading Challenge
The First Minister's Reading Challenge is now open to all pupils across primary and secondary schools in Scotland.
Secondary schools, libraries and community groups can register to take part in the challenge, which has been running in primary schools since 2016.
The FM’s Reading Challenge is delivered by the Scottish Book Trust and funded by the Scottish Government. Information and resources can be found at www.readingchallenge.scot.
SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Ben Macpherson, said:
“The First Minister’s Reading Challenge is a great opportunity to get more children and young people excited about reading.
“With the increasing use of smartphones and computers, it is more important than ever that we promote reading and its power to accelerate learning and boost attainment.
“Following the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for School Libraries announced last week, the Reading Challenge is a great chance
for schools and other groups to join a national reading movement.
“I encourage all schools, libraries and reading groups in the constituency to get involved."
Local MSP welcomes settlement of carers’ allowance
Scotland’s new public service to make first social security payments
8th Sept 2018
SNP MSP Ben Macpherson has welcomed the news that carers in Edinburgh will receive the first payments of the new Carer’s Allowance Supplement from the middle of this month, back-dated to April 2018.
This new benefit will be paid twice a year by Social Security Scotland, the first major new public service to be created since devolution. Eligible carers will get a supplementary payment of £221, equivalent of an extra £8.50 per week, an increase of 13% on the Carer’s Allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions.
The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is worth more than £30 million a year and will benefit 4452 carers in Edinburgh.
Carers will receive letters from Social Security Scotland from week beginning 10 September so that they know in advance to expect a payment.
Mr Macpherson, said: “This roll out of the Carer’s Allowance Supplement marks the beginning of a new chapter in Scottish public service, with the arrival of a Scottish Social Security agency based on dignity and respect.
“I have talked to many carers in my constituency, recently visiting the new VOCAL Edinburgh Carers’ hub on Leith Walk, and I value and appreciate the vital contribution carers make to our communities, and to our society as a whole.
“The SNP has always advocated that Carer’s Allowance should be the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance. The new Scottish Government powers over social security mean that we can make this a reality, putting more money into the pockets of carers in recognition of the work that they do.
“I also welcome the announcement in yesterday’s Programme for Government that the first payments of the Young Carer Grant of £300/year will be made in 2019.”
Originally published by The Edinburgh Reporter
Local MSP Welcomes CAMHS Funding Increase
6th Sept 2018
Ben Macpherson MSP welcomes the announcement of £150 million of extra funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) over the next five years, as part of the SNP Scottish Government’s Programme for Government. This will include £54 million to help improve CAMHS’s performance, against their waiting times targets.
It also includes a commitment of over £60 million, which will support additional school counselling services across all of Scotland. This will create around 350 counsellors in school education across Scotland, ensuring that every secondary school has counselling services.
The funding commitment follows the announcement before the summer recess of a Task Force on Children and Young People's Mental Health, chaired by Dame Denise Coia. The work of the Task Force is backed by an initial £5m investment, in addition to the existing £150 investment in the Strategy.
Ben visited the CAMHS services at the Pennywell All Care Centre in Muirhouse last week, and said:
“I very much welcome this much needed resource boost for mental health services in our communities.
“I recently met with the mental health team at the Pennywell All Care Centre, to hear first-hand about their vital work and find out more about the resources they need to best support children and young people in our communities.
“It is so encouraging that the taboo around discussing mental health issues is lifting, and that more people are coming forward for any help they need.
"This significant funding commitment shows mental health support is a top priority for the Scottish Government and will make a real difference, helping services like CAMHS give our children and young people the right help at the right time.
“I know many people in the constituency share my appreciation for our CAMHS staff, and I will continue to listen closely to the experiences of local mental health staff and service users as this funding is rolled out.”
Pennywell All Care can be found at 1D Pennywell Gardens, EH4 4UA
Tel: 0131 286 5200
Pennywell All Care is located at 1D Pennywell Gardens, EH4 4UA
Tel: 0131 286 5200
For more information go to: https://nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk/GoingToHospital/Locations/Pages/PennywellAllCareCentre.aspx
Ben visited Volunteer Edinburgh & EVOC staff alongside Leith Walk councillors Susan Rae and Amy McNeese-Mechan
Ben Macpherson visits Volunteer Edinburgh for #InternationalDayofCharity
4th Sept 2018
"I was pleased to visit Volunteer Edinburgh yesterday in advance of the #InternationalDayofCharity.
"Days like the International Day of Charity are good chance for all of us to recognise and celebrate the contribution that charities make, as well as the staff and volunteers who work and campaign for them.
"It is important to recognise the difference that charities they make, and their contribution to building a fairer and more inclusive society, based on the shared aim of social justice.”
You can read more about the Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council's #InternationalDayofCharity event and Ben's visit to Volunteer Edinburgh in Third Force News -Work of charities in Edinburgh celebrated by Gareth Jones.
Scotland supporting world's poor
Scotland is providing ‘ethical leadership’ in its global aims to help support some of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people.
A new report published by the Scottish Government details how collaboration across government portfolios on the approach to international development is delivering success beyond aid spend, including:
- The Climate Change Bill raises the ambition of our target and Climate Justice Fund helps tackle the effects of climate change in the poorest countries.
• Global Citizenship Education is embedded within our formal education system.
• Our new NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme – a joint venture between international development and health portfolios.
• Policy collaboration between Scottish Government and the Government of Malawi on water resource management.
The report, titled ‘Contribution to International Development’, sets out for the first time the full range of the Scottish Government’s international development activity, and how they support the UN Global Goals in partner countries.
See the report here: https://news.gov.scot/news/global-leadership
International Development Minister Ben Macpherson said:
“We believe Scotland can and should provide ethical leadership on global issues such as alleviating poverty and inequality, protecting human rights and tackling climate change.
“This inaugural report highlights the significant contribution from right across the Scottish Government to international development outcomes, and demonstrates our continued commitment to transparency and openness.
“With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit it is particularly important that, across government, we continue to provide a strong, positive, progressive voice in the world, for compassion, tolerance, diversity and social justice.
“This report also highlights the partnership approach we are taking to our international development work, laying the foundations for ever closer working with civil society in Scotland and others in Scotland’s international development sector. This reflects our aim for a holistic approach to international development, both within and outwith the Scottish Government, including a stepwise approach to “do no harm” and working for positive international development outcomes.
by The Scottish Government, 03/09/18
Promotion for Ben Macpherson as First Minister completes her ministerial team
The NEN, June 2018
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has nominated nine new ministers for appointment to the Scottish Government. Among the promoted MSPs is Northern & Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, who becomes Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development.
In a wide-ranging refresh of her ministerial team, the First Minister is bringing frontline experience in a number of key areas, such as health and education, into government.
Commenting on the new appointments, the First Minister said: “The new ministers I am announcing today bring a range of fresh talent to the Scottish Government, ensuring that we are equipped to deal with the challenges and maximise the opportunities facing the people of Scotland.
“The ministerial team represents constituencies the length and breadth of Scotland, coming with a range of professional backgrounds and bringing a breadth of real life experience to their roles.
“For instance, Claire Haughey brings her extensive background as a mental health nurse to the mental health portfolio, Kate Forbes will bring her finance background to bear in her brief, Gillian Martin has long experience in further education as a college lecturer, and Ivan McKee brings the expertise he has acquired from a highly successful career in business to the role of Trade and Innovation Minister.
“All of the new ministers I have appointed today, have already proven themselves as effective parliamentarians – and I know that they will do likewise in Ministerial office.”
Ben was appointed as Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development on June 27th 2018
Ben Macpherson said: “I feel very honoured and delighted to be appointed to The Scottish Government as Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development by the First Minister. A really exciting opportunity to enhance our position as an outward looking, forward looking, progressive nation, at home and around the globe.
“I’m looking forward to getting started, supporting Fiona Hyslop MSP and working with stakeholders and fellow MSPs. It’s also a real privilege to succeed my friend Alasdair Allan MSP, who did a great job serving Scotland and promoting our role in the world.
“I will of course continue to work hard to represent Edinburgh Northern and Leith, and will continue to be as accessible and pro-active in the constituency as possible (including doing my weekly surgeries).”
by Dave Pickering, the NEN
Ben Macpherson relaunches Holyrood Social Enterprise group
The NEN, June 2018
Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson has joined forces with Social Enterprise Scotland to relaunch the Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Social Enterprise.
Open to all, the CPG will be an opportunity for members of the social enterprise community to engage with MSPs from across all parties about the role of social enterprises in Scotland. Other MSPs who have lent their support to the group include Rachael Hamilton MSP, Andy Wightman MSP, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP and Deal Lockhart MSP.
Against the context of the SNP Scottish Government’s commitment to fostering an inclusive economy, and of the 2016-2026 Social Enterprise Strategy, the CPG aims to help facilitate participation and dialogue between the social enterprise sector and policy-makers.
Speaking at Social Enterprise Scotland’s AGM, Ben Macpherson said:
“Innovative, independent social enterprises, that work to deliver social justice and positive change, together with economic progress, play a really important role in building stronger, more cohesive communities.
“Out and about in my constituency and elsewhere, every week I am reminded about the valuable work of social enterprises, like Projekt 42, Social Bite and Punjabi Junction in my constituency, and many others in Edinburgh and across Scotland.
“It’s clear how much appetite there is in our communities to consume in a more ethical, responsible and environmentally friendly way – and the social enterprise sector is growing in response to that demand.
“I look forward to working with Social Enterprise Scotland, my colleagues in parliament and a wide range of social enterprises, to take forward our ambitions for social enterprise to support inclusive, socially-responsible economic growth in Scotland.”
Duncan Thorp, Spokesperson for Social Enterprise Scotland, said: “It’s great news that the revival of the CPG on Social Enterprise has now been approved by The Scottish Parliament.
“Driving forward a fair, inclusive economy can only be achieved with a substantial increase in the number of social enterprises. The new CPG will help clarify our policy priorities, to ensure that Scotland remains a world leader in social enterprise development.”
Originally published in The NEN
Castle Community Bank has opened in Leith
The Edinburgh Reporter, May 2018
Actor Michael Sheen was in Edinburgh to sprinkle some Hollywood stardust on a new community bank, and call for battle to commence against high street lenders.
The Frost/Nixon and Twilight star officially opened the new Castle Community Bank in Great Junction Street where he spoke to an invited audience of community and business leaders about credit unions.
Local MSP Ben Macpherson said : “I’m delighted to see the opening of this new Leith branch of Castle Community Bank.
“Fair and accessible credit has a vital role to play in Leith, North Edinburgh and beyond. That’s why I have been working over the last 2 years to support Castle Community Bank and it’s great to see this modern, very impressive credit union going from strength to strength.
“Such high-profile support from Michael Sheen is a tribute to the great work that Castle Community Bank is doing and I hope that today’s official opening will raise awareness of their services and those of credit unions generally, as a more empowering and more responsible alternative to high-interest loan companies.”
by Phyllis Stephen, The Edinburgh Reporter (this is an abridged version of the original article)
From left, Ben Macpherson MSP, Michael Sheen, Angela Constance MSP (the Communities Secretary) and Rev Iain May.
MSPs and experts set up new group to tackle quality of tenements in Scotland
Scottish Legal News, March 2018
A new working group has been set up at Holyrood to to address issues surrounding tenement maintenance.
Convener of the new group, Ben Macpherson MSP, said: “This working group brings together a range of experts, academics, industry professionals and MSPs from different political parties. Together we will bring forward focused and robust proposals to better enhance and enable the maintenance of tenement communal property.
“Repairing and maintaining roofs, stairways and other communal property is essential in order to improve and sustain a huge amount of Scotland’s housing stock.”
To support the cross party working group, Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) invited stakeholders to submit a synopsis of the issues and solutions they think require parliamentary attention.
Six organizations submitted suggestions and Historic Environment Scotland has shared information on the Traditional Building Health Check, a project arising from a previous BEFS campaign on building maintenance, piloted in Stirling.
Hew Edgar, RICS policy manager, said: “The establishment of this working group is an excellent start to tackling the issue of tenement maintenance. Building maintenance is key to sustaining and future proofing the fabric of our current housing stock – ensuring it provides adequate standards of quality now and for future generations.
“The deteriorating standard of Scotland’s current tenement housing stock is high on the agenda of stakeholders who operate within the built environment - particularly the historic arena - and it is a great step that all parliamentary parties, are recognising this.”
According to the most recent Scottish House Condition Survey 2016 there are 566,000 tenement properties, equating to 23 per cent of the total housing stock in Scotland. Pre-1919 built tenement properties are the second most commonly occupied property type in Scotland (behind post-1982 built detached property); and five per cent of all pre-1919 built Dwellings have “Critical, Urgent & Extensive disrepair”.
The working group was set up following Ben's Member's Debate on Tenement Maintenance in Jan 2018
Originally published by Scottish Legal News, see: https://www.scottishlegal.com/article/msps-experts-set-new-group-tackle-quality-tenements-scotland.
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