Emma Roddick MSP welcomes rise in disability employment rate in Scotland

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Emma Roddick has welcomed the news that progress has been made on closing the disability employment gap.

In response to Ms Roddick speaking on the issue in the Parliament today [2nd NOVEMBER 2022], the Minister for Employment, Richard Lochhead, disclosed that the employment rate for disabled people in Scotland has increased from 42.8% in 2016 to 49.6% in 2021.

Commenting, Ms Roddick said:

“To hear that the disability employment rate has risen significantly over the last eight years is really promising.

“Not only is the Scottish Government on track to meet its 2023 target of 50%, but current progress also indicates that it will meet its 60% target by 2030.

“As a disabled person myself, it means a lot to see our government taking such a committed stance on disability employment. Alongside improved disability benefits, this is just another example of the progressive and fair governance we have here in Scotland.”

I have written to the new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, urging him to reconsider his plans to scrap the previously proposed freeze on alcohol duty.

Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer

1 Horse Guards Road

London

SW1A 2HQ

31st October 2022

Dear Jeremy,

Congratulations on your appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer. You need no reminding that you take up your new responsibilities amid the most challenging times for the Scottish economy – including our vital food and drink sector.

That is why I am writing to urge you to reconsider your plans to scrap the previously proposed freeze on alcohol duty in your financial statement on October 31st.

The food and drink sector is worth £3.6bn to the economy and forms a vital part of Scotland’s manufacturing sector, employing 47,000 people – more than a quarter of the entire Scottish manufacturing workforce.

I have serious concerns that your plans to scrap the freeze will put a potentially unsustainable strain on businesses already experiencing spiralling costs as a result of your government’s inaction on energy bills, coupled with rising inflation and interest rates. Reversing the freeze will pile more costs on to these firms.

Not only does the freeze impact brewers and distillers, but also the pubs and restaurants they supply. As the tax duty increases, the price hospitality businesses pay for these products increases too – costs that are then passed on to their customers.

These plans threaten the very heart of Scotland’s food and drink and hospitality sectors, which form such an integral part of Scotland’s economy.

Already industry leaders have expressed their concerns, with the Scotch Whisky Association issuing a statement that the commitment needs to be ‘urgently reinstated’.

Earlier this year, Scotland’s oil and gas industry bankrolled the UK government’s windfall tax, with 90% of companies subject to it based in Scotland. Scotland’s successful and world-renowned industries should not have to pick up the bill for your government’s economic incompetence and profligacy with public finances.

I would urge you to listen to the calls from industry leaders and reinstate the freeze on alcohol duty.

Yours sincerely,

Emma Roddick MSP

Highlands & Islands MSP welcomes refreshed Baby Box

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed the refreshed Baby Box, saying the scheme will be more important than ever in the coming months as families face rising costs.

Scotland’s Baby Box is receiving a makeover for its fifth birthday. According to the latest figures of boxes distributed by health boards, 235,622 boxes have been distributed across Scotland since the start of the scheme. That includes 11,728 in the NHS Highland area, 1,104 in Shetland, and 908 in Orkney.

The Baby Box scheme, which was introduced in 2017, entitles every newborn in Scotland to a box containing essential items; the goal of the scheme is to ensure every child has the best possible start in life.

Commenting on the new box, Ms Roddick said:

“It is fantastic to see Scotland’s much-loved Baby Box being given a makeover as we approach the scheme’s fifth anniversary.  Already, thousands of these boxes have been delivered across the Highlands and Islands by the SNP in government since 2017, and I look forward to seeing this number climb with the refreshed box.

“The arrival of a new baby is a wonderful moment for every family but, as every new parent no doubt appreciates, the costs of welcoming a new addition to the family are significant – particularly when household budgets are under increasing pressure with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Regardless of the circumstances of new parents, receiving a baby box as a celebration of their new arrivals – and the essential items needed for the first six months of their child’s life – really is a welcome gift.

“And the addition of a toothbrush in the baby box for the first time will hopefully encourage good dental health from the beginning and all the way through life.

“The baby box is one of many transformative actions the SNP is taking to make a real difference to children and families on low incomes – like the game-changing Scottish Child Payment, which will soon be £25 per week per child.

“While the SNP government continues to deliver bold policies for a fairer Scotland, with the limited powers at its disposal, it is only with the full powers of independence that we can properly build a better future that works for everyone.”

Highlands & Islands MSP welcomes tenant protection law stating rent freezes will ultimately save lives across the region this winter

Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highlands & Islands, has welcomed the news that the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act has received Royal Assent and is therefore now law in Scotland.

The bill, which was passed through the parliament as emergency legislation in early October, will see in-tenancy rents frozen until at least 31 March 2023.

Ms Roddick, an advocate for tenants’ rights and progressive housing policy, spoke during stage 1 of the debate in parliament, urging the chamber to back the that the legislation which would save lives this winter.

Commenting, Ms Roddick said:

“As many know, housing is an issue that I am deeply passionate about, so the passing of this bill and its coming into force means a great deal to me.

“As the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis have continued to worsen and affect a greater number of people, I have become more and more concerned about those who were already facing difficult times in my region, and how they will cope over the cold winter months.

“During the debate, I told the chamber that this legislation, if passed, would ultimately save lives across Scotland, and I have no doubt in that being the case. As households continue to struggle and bear the brunt of rising energy costs, this freeze will be a lifeline for so many.

“There is undoubtedly more work to be done, and I will continue to press for more action for those who need it the most, but this legislation becoming law is certainly a starting point and will alleviate some of the pressures facing those in the Highlands and Islands and across the rest of Scotland this winter.”

Emma Roddick MSP welcomes £115 million funding for new ferries

Emma Roddick, SNP MSP for the Highlands & Islands, has this morning welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has allocated an additional £115 million of funding to the replacement of vessels for the Calmac fleet.

In response to a question from Ms Roddick, the Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth, announced that the funding has been allocated to allow Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) to construct two additional vessels.

With the intention to deploy these new vessels on the Skye triangle routes to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, the Minister expressed that services would be dedicated to these communities in peak season, rather than the shared vessel operation currently in place.

Commenting on the news, Ms Roddick said:

“I am thrilled to see the Government further committing to the improvement of our vital ferry services and ensuring that the needs of our island communities are met.

“This additional funding is such welcome news for our island communities. It cannot be understated just how important it is that we get it right for them, so, to see the Government commit to giving residents, businesses, and communities a role in detailing how vessels should be deployed is really encouraging.

“Since the current Government was elected in May 2021, it has made significant progress both in deploying and constructing new vessels and investing in harbour infrastructure, and this morning’s news further illustrates the strong commitment to our island communities.”

ENDS

Notes

Full Question & Answer: https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/written-questions-and-answers/question?ref=S6W-11744

“Folk across the Highlands & Islands have already paid the highest price for reckless Tory leadership” Emma Roddick MSP warns new leader won’t fix the Conservative party’s mess and calls for Scotland’s exit from the union

Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highlands & Islands has warned that Rishi Sunak’s Prime Ministerial appointment is not good news for households across the Highlands & Islands and the rest of Scotland.

The SNP MSP’s calls come following the news that Rishi Sunak has been appointed Conservative party leader and will thus become the new Prime Minister, after Liz Truss’ resignation last Friday.

Commenting on the new appointment, Roddick said:

“The Conservative Party and its shambolic leadership are an utter embarrassment to this country and Scotland is now faced with a 10th Tory Prime Minister that it has not voted for.

“The Tory government are yet to show a glimmer of hope for the people of Scotland. Households across the Highlands & Islands have borne the brunt of its cruel policies for far too long and enough is simply enough.

“A General Election is the most likely solution for the problem’s Scotland faces in the short-term and the public must be given the option to go to the polls, but it is clear that the Union is not working for Scotland.

“The Union is not fit for purpose and hasn’t been for a long time. The system is rigged against Scotland, and against progressive politics. Only with the full powers of Independence will Scotland be able to reach its full potential. We can and must do better.”

“A real demonstration of the type of government we have here in Scotland” Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highlands & Islands, welcomes news that winter child payment is to be doubled

Highlands & Islands MSP, Emma Roddick has welcomed the SNP’s announcement that support for children over the winter is to be doubled.

During her speech at the SNP’s annual party conference, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that from November the Scottish Child Payment would be increased to £25 a week and payments to those who don’t qualify for the Child Payment would be doubled from £130 to £260 on the run up to Christmas.

Commenting on the news, Ms Roddick said:

“I am so pleased to see the Government increasing these payments. This will be such welcomed news for so many families across the Highlands & Islands and the rest of Scotland heading into winter. These increases will alleviate some of the pressures this winter and help put food on the table at Christmas.

“At a time where UK Government decisions are set to leave so many in Scotland struggling this winter, these increases solidify the Scottish Government’s commitment to its people.

“We are already seeing the benefits of Scotland’s compassionate approach to social security and have heard how processes are no longer degrading and belittling. This week’s news further illustrates the direction that Scotland is heading, a direction that prioritises fairness, compassion, and respect.”

Emma Roddick welcomes Scottish Government rejection of tax cuts for richest

Emma speaking in Scottish Parliament 29-09-2022

Emma Roddick MSP has welcomed today the Scottish Government rejecting the approach taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in delivering tax cuts aimed overwhelmingly at the richest in society. In a question to the Scottish Government regarding the Chancellor’s mini budget, Ms Roddick highlighted the view of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that the announcement had “wilfully ignored families struggling through a cost of living emergency” and pressed the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, to reject the Chancellor’s approach.

She said:

“I very much welcome the confirmation from the Deputy First Minister that the Scottish Government will not follow the UK Government’s reckless and immoral example by cutting the taxes of the ultra-wealthy. Across the Highlands and Islands, and indeed all of Scotland, families are facing very real and difficult decisions about how they are going to heat their homes and provide for themselves this winter. For the Chancellor to respond to this situation by giving the wealthiest an enormous tax cut beggars belief.

“I am reassured that the Scottish Government has ruled out copying the Chancellor’s fantasy trickle-down economics and will instead focus on supporting families, public services and the economy. The UK Government has made it clear that its priority is not struggling families but ensuring that bankers can earn even more. I am glad that the Scottish Government is doing what it can to protect those struggling with the cost of living crisis.”

MSP delighted at 31,083 young people benefiting from bus scheme

Emma standing on Alness High Street



Emma Roddick MSP has welcomed the news that 31,083 children and young people in across the Highlands and Islands are benefiting from free bus travel since the introduction of the SNP Government’s scheme for under 22’s.

In figures released this week (20th September 2022), the Scottish Government revealed that – as of 12 September 2022 – a total of 483,931 children and young people across Scotland are cardholders under the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme and that a total of 21,723,100 journeys made under the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme since its introduction.

Commenting Roddick said:

“It is brilliant that so many children and young people across the Highlands are already benefiting from the SNP Scottish Government’s free bus travel and I want to make sure that even more young people take advantage of this.

“This initiative is not only about helping our young people get about more often and more easily – whether that be local journeys or journeys right across Scotland – but it is also about embedding more sustainable travel behaviour from a young age which will support all of our efforts to tackle the climate emergency.

“It also is a key way of maintaining vital services in many areas, especially rural or outlying ones, and can provide help to people struggling with the cost of living crisis right now – by making travel affordable.”

ENDS

NOTES

Table (below) shows the number of cardholders under the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme

Local AuthorityCardholders
Argyll & Bute            5,589
Highland         13,341
Moray         6,996
Orkney Islands            1,288
Shetland Islands            2,487
Eilean Siar 1,382
Highlands & Islands Total 31,083

Highlands & Islands MSP pushes for increase in payments to Ukranian hosts

Emma speaking in parliament wearing a short sleeved, navy, floral dress.
Emma speaking in Parliament

Emma Roddick MSP for the Highlands & Islands has suggested that hosts taking part in the Homes for Ukraine scheme have their monthly payments increased as a result of the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills. 

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Roddick raised the suggestion with Neil Gray MSP, Minister with Special Responsibility for Ukrainian Refugees, who voiced his support for the opinion of Richard Harrington, former UK Government Minister for Refugees, that the new UK Chancellor reflects on an increase in payments. 

Commenting, Roddick said:

“When the Homes for Ukraine scheme first opened, thousands of Scots, including many in the Highlands & Islands, came forward to become hosts to those in need. It is, therefore, really important that those who opened their homes to refugees from Ukraine are suitably supported through the cost-of-living crisis so that they are able to continue providing a suitable and comfortable environment for their guests.

“I am glad to hear that the Scottish Government supports the increase of monthly payments to those involved in the scheme and I hope that this is an action the UK Government seriously and thoughtfully considers.”