THIS WEEK: 18-24 JANUARY

24th January 2020

Boris Johnson’s Brexit Bill has received Royal Assent. Scotland will now be dragged from the EU against our will on the 31st of January. Our jobs, services and rights will be stripped. Trade will be harder. Workers’ Rights and environmental protections will be put on the Brexit bonfire. And it will be harder for our public services and businesses to access the talent they need to run them.

The SNP will continue to fight for Scotland’s will. If Boris Johnson will continue to ignore it, we must decide our own future through an independence referendum – not have it decided for us.

I asked local people to nominate which charities they believe should be considered for the Scottish Charity Awards so they can be thanked for the work they do to serve our communities. There has been a lot of suggestions and a lot of worthy candidates. I’ll be announcing my nominations next week.

On Friday, I met with Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire’s Chief Executive, Maddy Halliday, to discuss how our local charities can be supported. As the Tories continue to force austerity on our economy, services and communities, charities have often moved to the frontline to help people in need.

The same day, I met with Clare Adamson, MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, to discuss how Team SNP can continue working together on shared issues that matter to local people.

I questioned Women and Equalities Ministers on Thursday about expanding the UK Government’s Access to Work scheme.

If the UK Government is serious about reducing the disability employment gap, then there must be clear and concrete proposals to do so and targets to measure performance. They cannot continue paying lip service with no action.

Increasing the Access to Work fund, lifting the cap, lowering waiting times and raising awareness are just a few small steps which can make a big difference to peoples’ lives. We must see improved access to the scheme.

There is no shortage of ideas which could help people with disabilities get into and stay in work. It only requires the political will which so far, the UK Government has been lacking. The Tories’ austerity regime has specifically targeted people with disabilities and has trodden them down, rather than lifting them up.

This is in sharp contrast to the Scottish Government’s Action Plan which seeks to half the disability employment gap by 2038 and creation of a new social security system based on fairness dignity and respect.

Thankfully, the Disabilities Minister has requested a meeting with me and I’ll be putting forward the concrete proposals needed to close the disability employment gap.

This week, I was able to meet with disabilities group Scope to discuss what more can be done. It’s essential that policy related to people with disabilities is led by them and their experiences. As I go forward as the Disabilities spokesperson, this will underpin my work.