“Furlough must be extended” as 6.5% of Angus claim Universal Credit.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an extension of the Government’s furlough scheme until the jobs market is “ready to bounce back” in the wake of “staggering job losses” across the country. 

With 6.5% of people now relying on Universal Credit in Angus, the Party claims that extending furlough would help “stop this crisis getting even worse” and protect jobs for the future. 

Despite the Chancellor promising last month to do “whatever it takes” to support households and businesses through the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, the Government has so far failed to agree a plan beyond the end of the furlough scheme on 31 October.

The Liberal Democrats have also warned some of the worst hit are the country’s self-employed workers, three million of which are still not covered by support. The Party has called for support to be extended and urged the public to join its campaign to protect jobs.

Cllr Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus said:

“With so many families in crisis, the Government should be doing everything in its power to protect jobs in Angus and right across the country.

“The fact that 3,360 people are now relying Universal Credit in Angus shows exactly why the Chancellor must extend the furlough scheme, at least until the middle of next year. 

“Ministers need to act now to stop this crisis getting even worse and extend financial support for the millions of people currently excluded from the Government assistance.”

Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, added: 

“We are seeing staggering job losses, even with the furlough scheme in place.

“People have a right to expect that their Government will stand by them in exactly the way that Rishi Sunak promised when he said he would “do whatever it takes.”

“The Liberal Democrats’ are clear that the Government must extend the furlough scheme until the jobs market is ready to bounce back.”

Govt Must Extend Support to Protect Angus Jobs

The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to continue furlough support until it is safe to do so and extend support to those who have so far been excluded by the Government.

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP, who is asking the public to join his campaign to protect workers, warned the “pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally” and called for the Government to do more.

According to government statistics published this week, 14,700 people in Angus have benefited from the job retention scheme.

Government statistics also show a further 3,300 people in Angus are receiving financial support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, following a successful campaign by the Liberal Democrats.

However, the Party has warned some of the worst hit are the country’s self-employed workers, three million of which are still not covered by government support. 

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is leaving thousands of families facing financial uncertainty. We must recognise the pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally.

“Ministers must resolve the gaps in their plans by helping those who recently became self-employed by expanding the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus, Cllr Ben Lawrie added:

“We have all heard too many heart-breaking stories from those who have lost their livelihoods overnight as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“It is simply unacceptable so many people in need are excluded from support for entirely arbitrary reasons. The Government should listen to Liberal Democrat plans to protect jobs and ensure no one is left behind.”

Lib Dems call for greater powers for Angus Council to tackle carbon emissions

The Liberal Democrats are calling for greater powers for local authorities to take action on carbon emissions as figures show progress to cut emissions across the UK has stalled since 2016. 

In Angus emissions have fallen from 683.1 to 646 not fast enough to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050. 

Highlighting the need for “action now, not promises”, the Liberal Democrats are calling for more powers for those who are “best-placed to tackle the climate emergency in their areas”: local authorities. 

Cllr Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Angus said: 

“The Liberal Democrats are fighting to tackle the climate emergency, and that includes here in Angus. We have a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045, but – as things stand – we’ll struggle to even meet the 2050 deadline.  

“Local authorities are best placed to tackle the climate emergency in their area. We are calling for the Government to give local authorities more powers to take action on carbon emissions. This means powers to tackle congestion, invest in public transport, insulate our homes, and create new green jobs.”

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency and Environment said:

“These statistics prove – yet again – that we’re not making anywhere near fast enough progress to tackle the climate emergency. We need climate action now, not promises to act tomorrow. Climate action delay is no better than climate change denial.

“The next generation are looking to us and we have a duty to act.”

Ben Lawrie to Angus MP: “Support Review on No Deal Impact Assessments”

The Liberal Democrats have called on Dave Doogan MP to backs calls for a review of the no-deal Brexit impact assessments in light of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter addressed to the MP for Angus, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus, Cllr Ben Lawrie said: “as the Prime Minister continues to refuse to rethink his position on accepting an extension to the transition period, it is time the facts were laid bare about what this will mean for our country.”

The intervention coincides with the fourth anniversary of the EU referendum result this week, the 23rd of June. Despite concerns, the Government formally rejected the option to extend the transition period earlier this month.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“Even before coronavirus, the Government had a tight timetable for the Brexit talks. As the Prime Minister continues to oppose extending the transition period, he must at least be honest about what this means for our country.

“By reviewing the impact assessments done last Autumn, as well as undertaking an economic assessment, the Government can be transparent with the public about the consequence of refusing to extend the transition period.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus, Cllr Ben Lawrie added: 

“Boris Johnson’s refusal to even consider requesting an extension to the Brexit transition as we face a global health and economic crisis shows he is putting his Brexit ideology before the UK’s national interest.

“The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on jobs, businesses and the wider UK economy. Tackling the coronavirus crisis must be the Conservative Government’s priority, and people have a right to know to what extent a no deal puts this at risk.

“In the interests of everyone living across Angus, the Liberal Democrats are urging Dave Doogan MP to join us in calling for this review.”

Support needed to protect local workers and prevent redundancies.

The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to extend furlough support until it is safe to do so and bring forward bespoke packages of support for key sectors, such as hospitality, or face local unemployment.

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP, who is asking the public to join his campaign to protect workers, said thousands of families face “financial uncertainty” and called for the Government to do more.

According to government statistics published this week, 12,400 people in Angus have benefited from the job retention scheme.

Government statistics also show a further 3,000 people in Angus are receiving financial support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, following a successful campaign by the Liberal Democrats.

However, the Party has warned that many self-employed people are still excluded from this support, including those who became self-employed since April 2019, and called on the Government to urgently expand the scheme to cover them too.

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is leaving thousands of families facing financial uncertainty. Financial support must be agreed to ensure no one is left behind.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for statutory sick pay to be increased to £220 a week to ensure everyone can self-isolate, following guidance, regardless of their type of work.

“Ministers must also resolve the gaps in their plans by helping those who recently became self-employed by expanding the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus, Councillor Ben Lawrie added:

“The furlough scheme is a lifeline for so many. However, I worry what will happen to people here in Angus who rely on furlough support if it ends before it is safe to go back to work.

“Many parts of our economy, such as hospitality, will simply not be back up to speed by October. The Government must bring forward bespoke packages of support for these industries to save jobs and prevent mass unemployment.”

The Liberal Democrats are urging people to support their campaign here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/protect-jobs

990 of EU Nationals in Angus Left in Limbo

The Liberal Democrats are calling for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, as new official figures show 990 EU nationals living in Angus have not been granted permanent Settled Status to remain in the UK.

Pointing to the contribution of EU nationals working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine urged the Government to “show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives.”

Of the 2,770 EU nationals across Angus who have applied for permanent residency, only 1,760 have been granted settled status.

220 EU nationals living in Angus have applied to the Home Office scheme but are still waiting for a final decision to be made. Another 770 have been given only temporary Pre-Settled Status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or be forced to leave the UK.

Although the Home Office has announced a one-year visa extensions for certain health and care staff, the Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their campaign to give all health and social care workers on the frontline of this crisis indefinite leave to remain.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. NHS staff, social care workers and other health professionals are putting themselves in harm’s way each and every day to keep us safe.

“The Government has a chance to show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Angus Liberal Democrat Councillor Ben Lawrie added:

“Too many EU nationals in Angus are deeply anxious about their right to stay. With the uncertainty of Brexit, it’s disgraceful to leave them in legal limbo like this.

“Families and children must not be made to live under a cloud of uncertainty any longer. The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for EU citizens by fighting to guarantee their rights to live and work in the UK.”

Cllr Lawrie welcomes 999 Day

999 Day will take place at 9am on 9th September

A motion was passed at today’s special meeting of Angus Council to support Emergency Services Day.

Emergency Services Day, otherwise known as 999 day, will take place on the 9th of September.

The aim of the day is to:

  • Promote volunteering across the emergency services including special constabulary, NHS community responders, retained firefighters, RNLI and coastguard volunteers.
  • Promote using the emergency services responsibly.
  • Educate the public on essential skills including how to be safe in the water, fire safety, crime prevention, and basic yet essential life saving skills.
  • The 999 day will be an excellent event for emergency services charities to fundraise, raise their profile, and generate support.

Speaking at the meeting, Liberal Democrat Councillor Ben Lawrie said:

“Our Police, Ambulance, Fire and Coastguard Services put themselves in the face of danger as part of the day job to ensure that there is always someone there to protect us when we’re at our most vulnerable.

These are our real life super heroes.

Emergency Services Day aims to educate the public in life saving skills, promote responsible behaviour to reduce the strain on services, and raise awareness of volunteering opportunities to aid and bolster the crucial work that our emergency services do.

It’s a fantastic idea and something that this Council should be full square behind.”

The motion to support 999 day was backed unanimously by Councillors and the Emergency Services Flag will be flown on Council buildings on that date.

More information on 999 day here.

Monifieth to receive £100k Town Centre Funding

Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for Monifieth & Sidlaw Ben Lawrie has welcomed £1 million of funding for town centres in Angus, with Monifieth earmarked to receive over £100,000 of this Fund.

The Town Centre Fund, which aims to stimulate and support economic investments which encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, was today approved by Angus Councillors who opted to distribute the Fund across burghs proportionally to population, meaning Monifieth will receive £107,411 of investment.

The Council has identified a shortlist of projects and options for this Fund from previous engagement with local communities and businesses. These projects will form the basis of a consultation with local people which will provide opportunity to give feedback on the proposed projects and feed in new ideas for the Council to consider.

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Lawrie said:

“The fact that Monifieth is to receive its fair share of this Fund will be welcome news to Monifieth residents who often feel like they live in the forgotten burgh. I would encourage local people to engage with the consultation to make sure they don’t miss their chance to influence how it’s spent.”

One possible project in Monifieth would see improvements to hard landscaping and environmental improvements around the high street including the space around the War Memorial and links to the beach, to create a more attractive environment for residents and businesses.

More information on the Town Centre Fund can be found here.

One possible project in Monifieth would see improvements to hard landscaping and environmental improvements around the high street including the space around the War Memorial and links to the beach, to create a more attractive environment for residents and businesses.

Positive reports for Seaview & Tealing Primary Schools

At last week’s Children & Learning Committee, Monifieth & Sidlaw Councillor Ben Lawrie welcomed positive reports for Seaview Primary School, Tealing Primary School and their respective nursery classes following inspections from Education Scotland.

Speaking at Committee, Councillor Lawrie said:

“I attended Seaview Primary School in my youth and it was a fantastic time for me which set me up for life. I remember it being a great learning environment with some really amazing staff who were very patient with my classroom antics.
I left Seaview 12 years ago but it’s very heartening to see those same standards being upheld today and knowing that the pupils there are in just as good hands now as I was all that time ago.

It’s also good to read the very positive comments about the children, the staff and the Headteacher of Tealing Primary School and their Nursery class. Whilst some areas of improvement have been outlined for both schools, I have full confidence that this feedback will be taken on board and that these schools are only going to get better.”

Information about the Seaview Primary School & Nursery Class inspection can be found here.

Information about the Tealing Primary School & Nursery Class inspection can be found here.

Cllr Lawrie has welcomed positive reports for local Primary Schools

Year of Young People 2018: Reflections

Over the years I’ve heard people say negative things about young people.

They cause trouble.

They’re on their phones too much.

That they’re too soft, or easily offended.

So it was a refreshing change of tone when as a nation we decided that 2018 was the year that we were going to put young people on the pedestal.

To celebrate their achievements, their contributions to our communities & the potential they each have in transforming our society.

As part of the Year of Young People, Angus Council developed a Youth Engagement Strategy and one of the impressive things about this strategy is that it was co-designed with young people. One important element of democracy is that change happens with people, not to them so it’s absolutely common sense that young people are involved in designing a strategy for engaging with young people.

I was also really impressed by the ‘Power of Youth’ Participatory Budgeting event (funded by the European Interreg Programme). This event had different projects put forward and voted on by young people with the winning projects receiving funding. This put power in to the hands of young people and let them decide what their own priorities are.

We did a lot of good things for the Year of Young People but I’m keen to keep the ball rolling. On top of the legacy work that the Council has planned there are things that us elected members can be doing to make sure our young people are represented.

We have local Members of Scottish Youth Parliament (or MSYPs) and I’ve had frequent contact with them where they’ve told me about the campaigns they’re involved in and where we’ve worked together on common goals.

Last year, by collaborating with our MSYPs, the Monifieth & Sidlaw Councillors managed to organise surgeries in Monifieth High School. This was a great opportunity to talk to local young people and find out what matters to them, it was certainly worth doing.

Young people are never short of ideas and hopefully with the Year of Young People, we’ve started something that won’t end any time soon.

You can find more information on Angus Council’s Year of Young People Projects here.

Young people receiving their Saltire Awards at ‘The Power of Youth’ event.