Attainment Gap Grows for Literacy and Numeracy Throughout Stages of Primary School

10 December 2019

New figures released have shown that the attainment gap in both literacy and numeracy increases in size throughout the stages of primary school.

The figures show that:

• A 19.2 point attainment gap for literacy between children from the most deprived and least deprived areas in primary 1 exists, which grows to a 21.5 point gap in Primary 4, a figure it remains at through to Primary 7.

• This is replicated in numeracy, with a 13 point gap in Primary 1, growing to 18.3 points in Primary 4 and then a 19.3 point gap in primary 7. While the overall attainment gap has closed slightly compared to last year’s figures, the size of the gap and the persistence of the issue poses serious questions over the SNP’s handling of education.

Commenting, Scottish Labour Shadow Education Spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

“Another day and another example of the SNP’s mismanagement of education.

"The SNP used to say education was their top priority – however, the continual existence of a large attainment gap for literacy and numeracy, as well as Scotland’s disappointing PISA results, should lay that idea to rest.

“Rather than carrying on with needless and unwanted reforms, and ignoring the views of teachers, parents and educationalists, John Swinney should start listening to those who really know what’s going on.

“The SNP must face up to the facts and do all they can to sort out the state of education in Scotland.

"If they fail to do so the parents of Scotland will give the SNP failing marks at the ballot box.”

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Real Change Needed to Address Scotland’s Health Inequalities

8 December 2019

Years of indifference have left Scotland facing deepening health inequalities in Scotland, Scottish Labour has said.

Individuals in the least deprived areas of Scotland live nearly 23 more years in ‘good health’ than those in the most deprived areas.

One in four children are living in poverty and going hungry, homelessness is on the rise and hundreds of thousands of Scotland’s poorest residents struggle to pay heating and electricity bills.

Health inequalities also contribute to the pressures on NHS Scotland, our struggling social care system, and the education attainment gap.

Scottish Labour has proposed a detailed plan to end health inequalities in Scotland, including building over one hundred thousand new social and council homes, introducing a Real Living Wage £10 an hour, scrapping Universal Credit, slashing energy bills through the introduction of a mass retrofitting scheme, and free school meals for all of Scotland’s children, 365 days a year.

Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said:

“How can it be right that some citizens can live over 70 years in good health due to their socioeconomic circumstances, while others in the same country, living as little as a mile away, die way earlier than they should?”

"How can it be right that one in four children in Scotland wake up hungry, go to school hungry and go to bed hungry?

"How can it be right that thousands of older people, who for decades worked hard and paid their taxes, now face a choice between heating and eating, while hundreds die as a result of harsh winters and lack of warmth?

"Inequality is bad for everyone in Scotland. It depresses economic growth, lowers social mobility, damages community cohesion and increases crime. Rising inequality hurts everyone regardless of economic status.

"Let’s make this the last Christmas where health inequalities deepen in Scotland."

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Small Businesses Need The Support of a Labour Government

7 December 2019

Scottish Labour is pledging to throw the weight of the Treasury behind support for small businesses across Scotland.

As part of Labour’s proposals to invest in every part of the UK’s economy, small businesses will benefit from our proposed £250 billion National Investment Bank, of which £20 billion could be used in Scotland to invest in SMEs which make up over 98% of businesses in Scotland.

This £20 billion investment stands in stark contrast to the SNP commitment to invest £2 billion.

The creation of a publicly owned Post Bank will place a much greater emphasis on face to face lending and increased business support while Scottish Labour’s proposed Regeneration Fund would also see a much-needed rejuvenation of Scotland’s high streets.

Labour’s commitment to a Regeneration Fund comes as the Scottish Retail Consortium exposed that one in ten high street premises in Scotland are vacant.

That is why Scottish Labour would also seek to develop a retail sector industrial strategy, to ensure that a vital source of employment in Scotland's economy does not experience further decay.

In addition to our National Investment Bank and Regeneration Fund, Scottish Labour would also create a Workers’ Ownership Fund, to help facilitate an increase in Employee Owned Businesses.

We will also use the power of public sector procurement to support the local economy through our Community Wealth Building initiative.

Commenting, Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard said:

“The high street is often the lifeblood of a community. It is where people socialise, it is where they shop, and it is where they will often work.

“Unfortunately, the high street as we know it is declining at a rapid rate while communities and businesses across Scotland pay the price.

“A decade of austerity and inaction has led us to this point. Only a plan for real change and investment will reverse this decade of decline, and at this election it is only the Labour Party that is committed to using the weight of the Treasury to back Britain’s small businesses.

“Our commitment to a UK National Investment Bank will mean that small businesses have access to the capital they need and our pledge to establish a Regeneration Fund will rejuvenate Scotland’s high streets.

“For too long, small businesses have been let down – Labour will fix that. A vote for Labour is a vote for real change because when Labour wins, Scotland wins.”

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Sturgeon Challenged on Her Record on Education

6 December 2019

Nicola Sturgeon once said that education was her priority and yet in this General Election she has tried very hard not to talk about education.

Given her and the SNP's record it is little wonder she has avoided talking about her record of failure in education.

Under her watch, spending per pupil in Scotland has plummeted, there is an attainment gap for both literacy and numeracy between the richest and poorest children, teachers are under pressure and suffering from workplace stress, teachers numbers are down by 3000 since the SNP took power and in colleges there has been underinvestment, students numbers are down 120,000 and staff numbers have declined.

This week’s report from the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has shown again attainment levels have fallen in key areas including Maths and science.

The class based attainment gap for both literacy and numeracy between the richest and poorest children, which continues to grow at every stage of primary school shows that, under the SNP, the poorest children are more likely to fall behind than peers from better off homes.

It is no wonder that a poll this week showed how nearly half of Scots feel that the current SNP government are not handling the education system properly.

Commenting on the SNP's record on education, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said:

"Nicola Sturgeon claims that her priority is education. Unfortunately for her, the consensus across Scotland is that she has failed Scotland's children.

"The SNP Government has been forced into screeching u-turn after screeching u-turn.

“They were forced to put their flagship Education Bill in the bin when it was clear they didn't have the support of Parliament while over 30,000 teachers recently took to the streets of Glasgow and balloted for strike action to demand better pay for the first time since Margaret Thatcher was in power.

"That is why only Labour can be trusted with Scotland’s education system.

“We will increase investment in infrastructure and staffing including additional support needs specialists.

“And we will increase attainment by providing free school meals to all school children 365 days a year while introducing a minimum student income for students domiciled in Scotland.

"A vote for Labour is a vote for investment in Scotland's education system because when Labour wins, Scotland wins.”

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UK Labour Government Could End Scotland's Housing Crisis - Pauline McNeill

26 November 2019

The election of a UK Labour government could provide Scotland with the investment it needs to end the housing crisis, Scottish Labour has said.

Pauline McNeill, Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson, was in Govan on Monday making the case for 120,000 new council and social homes as well as new rights for tenants renting privately.

Ms McNeill said: “A decade of Tory cuts has left Scotland with housing provision which is not fit for purpose, with rising homelessness and many forced to rely on an exploitative private rented sector.

"Meanwhile the SNP government has failed to tackle soaring rents and the practices of exploitative landlords.

"The average monthly rent for a two bedroom house in Greater Glasgow increased by 5.3 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

“Our £10 billion programme would see 120,000 social and council homes built in Scotland over ten-years, ensuring that everyone has a safe and affordable home.

"Our Mary Barbour Bill at Holyrood would change the law to empower tenants and limit exploitative landlords’ ability to whack up rents.

“We believe we cannot tackle poverty without tackling housing costs and building more affordable homes.

"In this election, it is only Labour that can and will enact the changes we need to end the housing crisis. This is the difference a UK Labour government can make to Scotland.”

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 Sturgeon Spoke Nothing of the Challenges Facing Scotland - Richard Leonard

22 November 2019

Commenting on tonight's Question Time leadership special, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

"Tonight, Jeremy Corbyn set out the huge difference that a UK Labour government could make to Scotland’s economy, communities and people.

"And Scotland has the power to decide whether Boris Johnson’s privileged Tories or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour forms the next government.

"In contrast, Nicola Sturgeon spoke nothing of the challenges facing Scotland, and it’s little wonder given her record of failure.

"But it is her record of failure – on the scores of missed NHS waiting targets, on our failing public transport system, and on education, where there are 3,000 fewer teachers than when the SNP took office – on which she will be judged.

"Only Labour has a plan to invest and transform Scotland, and only Labour can form an alternative government to Boris Johnson's Tories."

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 Private Agencies Being Paid Thousands Each Day From NHS Workforce Crisis

18 November 2019

Commenting on the news that NHS Lothian is paying private agencies up to £1,715 to cover nursing shifts, Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Private contractors are making huge profits from our NHS under the SNP.

“Not only is NHS Lothian paying private firms £1.4million every month for an unopened hospital, we now know they are paying agencies up to £1,715 a shift to get nurses to cover the gaps in the workforce.

“While shareholders profit, patients and NHS staff are being let down.

“The SNP government has completely failed to properly resource our NHS, leading to a shortage of nurses, midwives and consultants.

“Only Labour will protect Scotland’s NHS and ensure it stays in public hands.”

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Only Labour Will End Scotrail Chaos – Richard Lenard  

17 November 2019

Only Labour can be trusted to end the “scandalous” private ScotRail franchise, bring the railways into public ownership and build a public transport system fit for the future, Richard Leonard has said.

The Scottish Labour leader will join rail workers and transport campaigners at Glasgow Queen Street station at 7.30am on Monday to distribute leaflets to commuters highlighting Labour’s plan to fix public transport. In October Scottish Labour revealed that 75,000 trains had been cancelled - an average of 50 a day - since the start of Dutch state operator Abellio's ScotRail franchise.

Mr Leonard said: “MSPs had the chance to end the ScotRail franchise just two months ago – but the Tories and the SNP joined forces to vote down Scottish Labour’s motion.

“ScotRail passengers know that the failed privatisation experiment must end now. Labour is the only party going into this election with a plan to bring our railways back into public ownership and build a transport system fit for the future.”

At 11am on Monday, Labour MP Paul Sweeney will be joined by workers from the Caley railway works in Springburn, to protest the continued closure of the site.

Mr Leonard added: “It is a disgrace that the Caley, once a jewel in the crown of Britain’s railway infrastructure, was allowed to close earlier this year. The SNP’s managed decline of Scotland’s industry has thrown skilled workers onto the dole queue, and left Scotland sending trains for repair south of the border.

“We need a publicly-owned railway network with the capacity to build and maintain its infrastructure and rolling stock.”

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 SNP Would Vote Down Investment That Scotland Needs - Richard Leonard

15 November 2019

Nicola Sturgeon is preparing to vote against Labour’s plan to transform Scotland with £70 billion of investment into public services and the economy, Richard Leonard has warned.

The Scottish Labour leader said Scotland would lose out on "probably the most radical policy programme offered to the people of Scotland since 1945", with 120,000 council and social homes, a £10 an hour Real Living Wage and £6 billion of investment to retrofit homes and create green jobs, unless Labour MPs are returned in next month’s election.

On Wednesday night First Minister Ms Sturgeon told the BBC that the SNP would not support a UK Labour government unless it agreed to a Section 30 order on her own timetable.

Labour has ruled out granting such an order.

Mr Leonard said: “Over the past two weeks, Scottish Labour has made the case for a radical policy programme for real change to transform Scotland’s economy and communities, putting power and resources in the hands of the many.

“We have announced the building of 120,000 new council and social homes - creating at least 50,000 jobs. "We will create 35,000 new jobs with our £6 billion programme to retrofit homes to the highest energy efficiency standards.

“We also want to increase investment in social care by 25 per cent and establish a Scottish Care Service which will bring dignity back to care workers and care users alike. "We want to eliminate child poverty and increase maternity pay.

“And under Labour, every worker, including young workers, will be paid at least a £10 an hour Real Living Wage. "This will also be the basis of our Minimum Student Income in Scotland, which will ensure full-time undergraduates and - for the first time ever - further education students receive at least £9,500 each year.

“But all this is under threat from Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, who are saying they would be prepared to vote down a Labour government. "It is clearer than ever that there is no shortcut to a Labour government through the SNP. "The only way to ensure Boris Johnson’s Tories are replaced with a transformative Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn is to return Scottish Labour MPs at the general election.”

Scottish Labour is challenging small SNP majorities across the country: including a 60-vote margin in Glasgow South West, 75 in Glasgow East, 195 in Airdrie and Shotts, 318 in Motherwell and Wishaw and 384 in Inverclyde.

Mr Leonard added: “The people of Scotland can vote for SNP candidates who are threatening to vote a transformative Labour government out of office, or Labour MPs who will ensure investment and transformation in Scotland.

"This is probably the most radical policy programme offered to the people of Scotland since 1945.

"When Labour wins, Scotland wins.”

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 Social Work Crisis Shows Scotland needs Decades of Investment

15 November 2019

Scotland’s public services need “a decade of investment under Labour, not the decade of cuts” promised by the SNP, Richard Leonard has said after a damning report revealed 90 per cent of social work team staff are considering leaving the sector.

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Mr Leonard put Nicola Sturgeon on the spot over her statement last night that she would vote down a Labour government which did not agree to her timetable on independence.

Mr Leonard told the First Minister: Scotland’s services desperately need investment.

“Investment that you have failed to deliver, but a Labour Government will.

"But last night you threatened to bring down a Labour government.

“So why don’t you admit that what Scotland needs is a decade of investment under Labour - not the decade of cuts prescribed in your blueprint for independence?”

Mr Leonard also cited new figures published by the charity Education Support which this week revealed that more than a third of education sector workers in Scotland have experienced mental health issues in the past twelve months. More than half of Scotland’s education workers have considered leaving the sector.

Mr Leonard said: “After more than twelve years of the SNP in office, Scotland’s schools have faced plummeting investment, and a recruitment and workload crisis.

"The health of our teachers is being harmed but so are our children’s education and life chances.”

Mr Leonard cited the Unison Scotland report, Save from Harm, which warns of a crisis in social services and reports that 90 per cent of staff are considering leaving the sector.

Mr Leonard related the account of a team member quoted in the report, who said:

“We are under pressure to hit savings targets.

"Many staff are stressed to the point of their own health being compromised resulting in higher risk of poor care… Time spent with vulnerable adults is too short. So many are lonely and depressed. Many staff work extra hours without pay, just to get jobs done.”

A UK Labour government would mean at least an additional £3 billion a year in Barnett consequentials for Scotland's public services - part of more than £70 billion that will be invested in Scotland over a decade.

Mr Leonard said the voices of public service workers “deserve to be listened to”, adding:

“Two weeks ago, I raised with the First Minister the growing crisis of mental health, stress and anxiety among NHS workers.

“Today the human cost to Scotland’s education workers and social work teams is also plain to see.

"Isn’t it clear that these working people and the people who depend on the critical services they provide are being let down because of decisions that you have made?”

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 Jeremy Corbyn : It's Time the for Real Change That Scotland Needs

12 November 2019

UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged massive investment in Scotland and to deliver real change through radical policies if Labour wins the general election.

Corbyn said that this election could be “a once-in-generation chance to transform Scotland and the whole UK”

Speaking ahead of a two day tour of Scottish seats, Mr. Corbyn criticised the “abject failures” of the Conservative Party in Westminster and the SNP in Holyrood.

Corbyn said that Labour offers policies to transform peoples lives, with more funding available for public services, a plan to build the homes people need, creating good skilled jobs and tackling the climate emergency with a Green Industrial Revolution. He also pledges to give the people the final say on Brexit with a referendum in six months.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the UK Labour Party, said:

"A UK Labour government will provide the massive investment Scotland deserves.

"We will build the homes people need and end homelessness, tackle the climate emergency, provide a social care system that gives dignity to our older people and the carers who look after them, end child poverty and end fuel poverty.

“The SNP and the Tories have neither the ideas or the will to transform Scotland for the better, so are hiding from their records in government.

“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform Scotland and the whole UK. When Labour wins, Scotland wins."

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 Labour Will Provide the Transformational Investment and Change in Scotland's Social Care Services

12 November 2019

A UK Labour government could bring about a “transformation of social care in Scotland”, Richard Leonard has said.

Labour’s expansion of social care in England would bring an extra £600m a year to Scotland - a transformational 25 per cent increase in investment in a vital service.

Scottish Labour recommend these resources be used to create a Scottish Care Service (SCS) promoting consistency and minimum standards – increasing capacity in the system and reducing waiting times for care packages.

The investment could also radically improve the pay and conditions of the social care workforce, starting with a statutory minimum Living Wage of £10 per hour. Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “For too long social care has been the poor relation of our health services.

“Delayed discharges from hospital cost NHS Scotland over half a million bed days last year – up six per cent on the year before. Our NHS is suffering because of the SNP’s failure to tackle the social care crisis over 12 years in government.

“Scottish Labour’s plan for a Scottish Care Service would improve the working conditions for staff, reduce waiting times, and allow the NHS to treat patients without delay.

"Under our plan, local government will be at the heart of delivering integrated care. This is about ensuring proper time for care visits, and bringing dignity back to carers and care users alike.

“We must elect a UK Labour government on December 12 to ensure that Scotland’s care services get the investment they need.

"This is the difference a UK Labour government can make. Scottish Labour would introduce the Scottish Care Service in government – and the SNP should commit to doing the same.”

Scottish Labour would also create a statutory workforce forum to deliver effective workforce planning, raise employment standards and training - making social care an attractive career for a growing workforce.

The additional investment could fund preventative measures such as home adaptions and end changes for care at home, years ahead of the SNP’s own timescales.

Last year an average of 1,430 hospital beds every day were occupied by patients who didn’t need to be there. Labour’s plan would save the NHS at least £130m a year, which could then be used to treat patients who need hospital care.

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 Richard Leonard - General Election Campaign Launch Speech

6 November 2019

Can I thank Lesley Laird who is both a friend and a comrade, our Deputy Scottish Leader, the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, and for the purposes of this election the Labour candidate in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

And we are all united, all of us are united in making sure that Lesley is re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in just thirty six days time.

And that Ged, Martin, Ian, Hughie, Danielle and Paul are all re-elected to Parliament as well.

Can I thank Sean who has joined our Party because of the hope that we offer and the real change that we stand for.

And because of the enduring idealism rooted in people’s everyday experiences which once again guides us.

Sean, thank you for the new energy you bring to this great movement that we are building.

And can I thank Pam for leading this Labour campaign in this constituency: week in and week out since 2017.

That is some record.

And I can’t think of anybody who better represents the fighting spirit of the Scottish Labour Party.

I can’t think of anybody who better represents the steely determination we will need to win this General Election campaign than Pam Duncan Glancy who will not only be the next Member of Parliament for Glasgow North but will deserve more than any one to be the next Member of Parliament for Glasgow North.

Comrades and friends, this is the most important election in a generation.

It is as simple as this.

Scotland has the power to decide if Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn is in Downing Street by the end of the year.

And let me give you my conviction right at the start: this is an election which we can win not despite Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity and principles but precisely because of Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity and principles.

The choice before the people in this General Election is clear.

And it is becoming clearer by the day.

The appeals that we must now make and the hopes that we must now lift must be built on the real change that a Labour Government would make, because make no mistake this election is about who is the Government of this country.

It is not a proxy vote on constitutional arrangements, and any attempt to reduce it to that is to turn our backs on the real needs of all of those millions of working people who’s standard of living has been squeezed for ten long years.

And over those ten years we have witnessed not just a rise in the inequalities of income in these years of austerity we have witnessed a shocking rise in the inequalities of wealth.

And as the super-rich have got getting richer almost everyone else has got poorer so that under the Tories and let’s not forget the Liberals there has been a fundamental redistribution of wealth, but it is a fundamental redistribution that has gone in precisely the wrong direction.

And as we have always said austerity is not an economic necessity.

It is a political choice.

You know, everywhere I go in Scotland I see the indecent impact on decent people of Universal Credit: sanctions, the two-child cap and the rape clause, the punitive five week wait for payment which is calculated to deliberately drive people into debt-

Just last Friday in Glenrothes at Fife Gingerbread I listened to the real life experience – the feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, and just how hard it is for families surviving from week to week and so our message at this election campaign launch to all those people worn down by austerity in work or out of work, young or old is that there is new hope with Labour.

That the real prospect of the election of a Labour Government in five weeks’ time means that within our grasp is the chance not to simply mitigate or reform universal credit - but to scrap universal credit altogether once and for all, and to build a social security system which treats people with dignity.

We know that this rise in poverty that we have witnessed over the last ten years has driven more and more people to Food Banks like the one just four miles from here in Drumchapel where I met up with people just last Thursday.

They told me that there was a community spirit here which would not be broken, that their action was built on the principle that no one should be left behind.

And be assured that community spirit will remain unbroken.

Those Labour values of solidarity will be given renewed support.

But let me be absolutely clear about this -a Labour government will end the shame of food bank Britain.

Because this austerity, this squeeze in living standards, this attack on the most vulnerable through the discredited Universal Credit system: this is what we need to change and this is why we need a Labour Government.

Those in work have seen their pay squeezed, their hours lengthened and attacks on their terms and conditions at work.They have faced even greater economic insecurity .

Just think what a difference there would be with the election Labour government which will deliver workers' rights from day one.

Workers’ rights are important to me.

Look at what is happening right now to low paid long serving predominantly women ASDA workers, GMB members, workers who have been blackmailed with the sack by a company owned by the richest billionaires on the planet, forced on to working longer hours for lower wages and fewer holidays.

Well, we send out a message in this campaign that we stand by those working women and men, and if ever there was an example of why we must create an economy that works not just for the idle rich at the top, but an economy that works for all this is it.

So when we say that we must have a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power those ASDA workers, they know exactly what we mean-and the WASPI women know what we mean as well!

The Government’s own figures tell us that two out of three children living in poverty in communities up and down Scotland: urban and rural alike are being brought up in a household where at least one adult is in work.

That too many children in the fifth richest country in the world are going to school hungry makes me angry but it is what also drives me on and it is what makes me even more determined to bring about real change.

And so in this election we are offering hope out of despair.

And let me be clear that it is only a Jeremy Corbyn Government that will rescue our communities and our people from the hard years of austerity.

It is only a Jeremy Corbyn Government that will reverse this rising inequality.

That only a Labour Government will make sure that the wealth in the economy is shared far more equally.

This General Election is about the direction of political travel in this country.

It is a battle for votes and seats but it is also about what kind of society we are and what kind of society we want to be.

Do we want to put borders and national boundaries up?

Or do we want to see boundaries and borders brought down?

That’s the fundamental question which the people of Scotland must consider.

It is about whether we walk by on the other side or whether we say that this rise in inequality, this deepening of poverty, this spiral of personal debt, does not just damage those who are caught up in it – it diminishes us all as a society.

So this is not even a question of right or left, but a question of right or wrong. And it’s about how we treat our pensioners which is why the next Labour Government will restore the policy of the previous Labour Government and guarantee a free TV licence to the over 75’s and we will continue to invest in free travel, the winter fuel allowance and the basic state pension as well.

So today with this election launch a new path lies in front of us.

And at this election with a cross on a ballot paper the people of Scotland can make the difference and take that new path which offers new hope.

A vote for Labour in this election is a vote for a real Living Wage of £10 an hour as the minimum rate of pay for every worker over the age of sixteen – so for the avoidance of doubt we will scrap age discrimination in the national minimum wage system as well.

And a UK Labour government would invest over £70 billion into Scotland’s public services and economy.

And at the very heart of that, we are proposing that ten billion pounds will be invested from Labour’s new National Transformation Fund to build 120,000 council and social homes in Scotland over the next 10 years.

Labour will tackle Scotland’s housing crisis, we will provide a home for everyone – and we will end homelessness once and for all in Scotland.

And in so doing, the investment will support nearly 50,000 jobs here in Scotland – giving our young people the work and the skills they need to prosper.

Scotland needs a UK Labour government and a Scottish Labour Government at Holyrood which will put policies like this one at the very heart of our agenda.

And to anyone who says this policy is not deliverable, I say this.

You are letting the SNP off the hook.

Today I am challenging Nicola Sturgeon to commit to delivering this programme if a UK Labour government is elected on the twelfth of December.

We all rely on our publicly funded public services: education, transport and the NHS.

But they are being eroded by a failing combination of Tory ideology and SNP complacency.

And whilst we’re on Tory ideology Boris Johnson wants to sell off control of the NHSt o Donald Trump as part of a post-Brexit trade deal which would be catastrophic for Scotland’s health service.

So the Tories would sell it off to Trump and Nicola Sturgeon has fallen asleep at the wheel.

You can only trust Labour with the NHS.

Only a Labour government will make available the investment needed to provide world-class public services.

And Labour is the only party committed to the public ownership of transport, of mail and of energy to tackle the cost of living crisis and improve the quality of life for the many.

So to those who say that there is a short-cut to kicking Boris Johnson out of Downing Street through the SNP, I say this.

This is the transformational change that a UK Labour Government can make.

It is a transformational change that the SNP simply cannot deliver.

And a transformation that the Liberal Democrats – whose leader yesterday confirmed that she would do all in her power to block the formation of a Labour government – cannot, and would not, deliver, even if they had the chance.

We are the only Party offering radical change to the way the economy is run and an industrial strategy for Scotland to rebalance our economy and to tackle the climate emergency in a way that brings a jobs dividend here.

Scotland has got huge natural and renewable resources and a long tradition of engineering and manufacturing.

So on green jobs where the SNP has promised and failed we will deliver because we have an overall plan for our economy.

We are the only Party that can form a Government and get to work on these profound economic, social and environmental changes the day after the election.

And we are the only party promising to put the choice back to people on Brexit: because we believe that in the end the people should have the final say.

We are the only Party guaranteeing the option of remain and reform:

Because unlike the Tories and the SNP we want Scotland to stay in the UK and we want the UK to stay in the EU.

Because the real division in society is not the division between Scotland and England; as Nicola Sturgeon would have you believe.

I’ve never understood why the leader of the SNP wants to defend unity across Europe and oppose it in the UK.

And it is not the division between the people of these shared islands and Europe as Boris Johnson would have you believe.

The real division is between those people who own the wealth and those people who through their hard work and endeavour create the wealth.

That is the real division.

It is my strongly held view that Johnson represents a dangerous strain of nationalism and that is what poses the biggest threat to the future of the UK.

In stark contrast the election of a radical and redistributive Labour Government is the most positive argument for the UK, and would eclipse the SNP’s case for the establishment of a separate Scottish state.

So we oppose independence and we believe another independence referendum is undesirable and unnecessary.

The SNP’s current argument for another referendum is predicated on Brexit at the very time when an incoming Labour Government is pledged to giving the choice back to the people, re-energising the chances of the UK remaining in the EU which under my leadership the Scottish Labour Party will help to lead.

This is obviously a pivotal moment in British politics.

The status quo is not an option.

So Labour is committed to securing new powers for the Scottish Parliament, including borrowing powers and the power to enhance employment rights above the UK level .

And we will abolish the unelected House of Lords and work towards its replacement with an elected second chamber that is representative of all regions and nations of the United Kingdom.

So if you want to get something done about Brexit but about poverty and inequality too including in-work poverty you need a Labour Government.

If you want an alternative Government to a Boris Johnson Government only the Labour Party offers that alternative.

Scotland has the power to decide if Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn is Prime Minister.

And for the avoidance of doubt the only way to get a Labour Government is to elect Labour MPs from Scotland.

There is no short cut to a Labour Government through the SNP.

We are fighting this election to form a majority Labour Government.

A Labour Government would end the decade of cuts, cuts to living standards, cuts to the quality of life, cuts to services in our communities including our local Health Services.

We would renew investment in our public services, our NHS, in decent housing, in decent jobs and rebalance the economy so that it doesn’t just work for those at the top, but an economy that works for all.

That is the people’s agenda. That is the one Labour is fighting for at this election.

And through the din of Brexit and independence we will take this message so it is heard across every community in Scotland-We will argue our case on the doorstep and in meetings.

We will spread the word through the social media and the mainstream media. We will share our message of hope about what a majority Labour Government can do.

Because we know, everyone in this room knows, this is a once in a generation chance.

This is a future which is ours to make, together.

So let us take it.

Let us make our own history because when Labour wins, Scotland wins.

Another world is possible. Another Europe is possible. Another Britain is possible. Another Scotland is possible. Let us go out and win it.

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  NHS Is Not Safe in Sturgeon's or Johnson's Hands

4 November 2019

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard will say “you can only trust Labour with the NHS, the Tories would sell it off to Trump and Nicola Sturgeon has fallen asleep at the wheel” later today (Monday).

In a stump speech to party activists outside Monklands Hospital, Mr Leonard will highlight a catalogue of missed targets that ministers have set for themselves.

He will say that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has “failed to plan for the future of the NHS”, a record he will brand “even more unforgivable” because of the UK Tory government’s indication that the health service will be up for grabs as part of a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump.

Capital funding for health services has suffered a 63 per cent drop in the past decade under the SNP, resulting in a £914 million backlog of maintenance issues across a deteriorating NHS estate.

Mr Leonard is expected to say:

“You can only trust Labour with the NHS, the Tories would sell it off to Trump and Nicola Sturgeon has fallen asleep at the wheel.

“Boris Johnston wants to sell off control of the NHS to Donald Trump as part of a post-Brexit trade deal which would be catastrophic for Scotland’s health service.

“The NHS is the jewel in the crown of Britain’s public services.

"It is unforgivable that Nicola Sturgeon’s government has allowed a potential £1.8 billion blackhole to open up in Scotland’s health budget in the next four years, and failed to plan for the future of the NHS.

"But this is even more unforgivable in light of the fact that the Tories are planning to put the NHS up for grabs in their catastrophic vision of selling off our public services to US corporations after Brexit.

“Be in no doubt: you cannot trust the Tories with our NHS – they opposed its creation, and they are intent on destroying it once and for all if we leave the EU.

"Be in no doubt: you cannot trust the SNP with our NHS – they have mismanaged it for over a decade. The SNP is asleep at the wheel as our health service faces its biggest danger since it was created.

“The NHS badly needs the massive injection of funding and support that only a UK Labour government can deliver.

"There is only one party that you can trust with the NHS, and that is Labour.”

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  Labour Will Save Free TV Licences for almost a Quarter of a Million Scots

4 November 2019

The next UK Labour government will save free TV licences for almost a quarter of a million Scots who are set to lose it from next year.

The Tories pulled the funding available to the initiative, leaving the BBC to pick up the pieces under a new charter agreement. From 2020, only those on pension credit aged over 75 will qualify for a free licence.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library shows 240,010 households in Scotland were set to lose their licence thanks to the Tories.

Labour can announce today that this cut will be reversed, making it even more important for Scotland to elect a Labour government on December 12.

When Labour wins, Scotland wins.

Shadow Scottish Secretary, Lesley Laird, said:

“Labour will protect free tv licences for over-75s.

“This will mean almost a quarter of a million households in Scotland will see their licences saved.

“This election is a straight choice between a Tory government that will impose more cuts or a Labour government that will invest in people, services and our communities.

"Scotland can deliver a knockout blow to Boris Johnson's hopes of being Prime Minister by voting for Labour at the General Election.

“When Labour wins, Scotland wins with free TV licences for all over-75s saved.”

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 Labour Retrofitting Plan to End Fuel Poverty with 35,000 Jobs and £6billion Investment in Scotland

4 November 2019

Labour’s plan to retrofit homes to the highest energy efficiency standards possible could create at least 18,500 direct and 16,600 indirect jobs in Scotland and give households a cash boost, while tackling the climate emergency.

Under plans set out , Labour will launch a ten-year mission to upgrade almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy efficiency standards feasible, while installing millions of renewable and low carbon heating systems. This would save each household an average of £400 a year.

Scottish Labour is committed to implementing this in government at Holyrood – but leader Richard Leonard has challenged SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to commit to rolling this out from the first day of a UK Labour government.

The plan will form a key part of Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution – a flagship policy to tackle the climate emergency through creating swathes of skilled jobs in green industries. This implements several key recommendations of the 30 by 2030 expert report for radically decarbonising the UK’s energy system.

If this policy was replicated in Scotland, following an equivalent £6billion investment from UK Labour’s National Transformation Fund, it could create an estimated 35,000 jobs. They would result from the installation of energy saving measures such as loft insulation and double glazing, renewable and low carbon technologies in almost all of Scotland’s 2.5million homes, eradicating the vast majority of fuel poverty throughout Scotland

Households in Scotland would be likely to save more than the UK average of £400 in fuel-bill savings each year, because of the colder winters in Scotland. Those living in fuel poverty would be prioritised by such a programme.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Too many home heating systems are not fit for purpose. Energy inefficiency is not only hugely damaging to the environment – it is putting unnecessary costs on household budgets. It is a scandal that many of Scotland’s most vulnerable families are faced with the choice of heating or eating.

“Labour’s proposal to retrofit homes would be a major step towards addressing the climate emergency. It could create 35,000 new jobs in Scotland and save households an average of £400 a year.”

In Scotland, the buildings sector made up nearly a quarter of Scotland’s emissions in 2016. Residential buildings made up the bulk of this at 73 per cent. But in spite of SNP promises, the Scottish Government has failed to address the problem of fuel inefficiency.

Scottish Labour has committed to such a scheme as part of its radical programme for government at Holyrood. But Mr Leonard has also challenged Ms Sturgeon to commit to matching this promise if a UK Labour government is elected on December 12.

Mr Leonard added: “Nicola Sturgeon has rightly declared a climate emergency in Scotland. It is clear that we cannot reach her target of net zero emissions by 2045 unless decisive action is taken to make our homes fuel efficient. So today I am challenging her to commit to setting this retrofitting programme in train from the first day a UK Labour government takes office.

“A vote for Labour on December 12 is a vote for a Green Industrial Revolution, warmer homes and a cleaner planet.”

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 Labour Will End Foodbank Britain

31 October 2019

Speaking after his visit to the Drumchapel foodbank, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "The Tories' cuts agenda, which the SNP has failed to challenge, has led to a startling rise of poverty across Scotland - including for many people in work.

"It was inspiring to see how this community has come together to help people in need.

"But it is a disgrace, and heartbreaking, that people are forced to use food banks in the first place.

"Labour will end Foodbank Britain with a £10 real living wage, paid to all workers regardless of age, and scrapping the cruel Universal Credit.

"And we will invest over £70 billion in Scotland's public services and wider economy to bring about the real change that Scotland so desperately needs."

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 FMQs: Mental Health Crisis Worsening for NHS Scotland Staff

31 October 2019

The rate of NHS staff sickness absence due to stress or mental health causes has soared in recent years, Richard Leonard revealed today at FMQs.

A Freedom of Information investigation by Scottish Labour has revealed that in 2018/19, a total of 3.5 million working hours were lost across the NHS due to stress, anxiety and other mental health causes.

On the heels of the damning report by Audit Scotland into overall NHS performance, Scottish Labour has warned that the latest findings are yet further evidence of the NHS workers being pushed to the limit.

Mr Leonard said: "NHS workers are the heart of our health service, and they being badly let down. And in the end patients suffer too."

Overall, 24.7 per cent of NHS staff’s sickness absence hours were due to mental health reasons, up from 16.7 per cent in 2014/15.

The Scottish Labour leader challenged the First Minister over whether the 10 years of austerity which would result from the the SNP's Growth Commission would better serve Scotland's NHS than Labour's plans for £70 billion investment in Scotland.

Mr Leonard told the First Minister: "The SNP has been running Scotland’s Health Service for more than twelve years and today the human cost for patients and staff is plain to see.

"This health crisis has blown up under your watch. It is your responsibility. What does Scotland’s National Health Service need? Another decade of the cuts prescribed by your own blueprint for independence or the £70 billion of investment in our public services that would result from the election of a Labour Government?"

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 Pupil Equity Funding Underspend Revealed

31 October 2019

Commenting on figures showing 22% of Pupil Equity Funding in Scotland is going unspent, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“This is not a new programme, yet even after two years it is not working as effectively as it should, with over a fifth of funds available not being spent.

“The SNP government management of the scheme must be clearer and more transparent.

“Our schools face years of budget cuts and cuts to teacher numbers while the attainment gap remains stubbornly in place, yet vital money is not being fully deployed.

“If we are to close Scotland’s attainment gap, the government must examine the effectiveness of the PEF programme at a national level.”

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 Sick Kids Hospital Scandal Is A "National Disgrace" - Monica Lennon

30 October 2019

Commenting on the publication the latest review into the Sick Kids' Hospital scandal, Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said:

“The Sick Kids’ scandal is a national disgrace that runs straight to the top of the SNP government.

“This ghost hospital is costing taxpayers £1.4million every month in management fees.

“If these serious issues were not identified sooner this could have led to a tragedy.

“The public inquiry must take place as soon as possible, alongside an immediate review of the contract.

“The public should not be paying fees for a hospital that isn’t allowed to admit patients because of safety fears.

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Health Secretary Must Come Clean Over NHS Laundry Cuts

28 October 2019

The Health Secretary has been urged to come clean over potential job losses as part of cuts to NHS Scotland’s laundry services.

NHS Scotland currently has eight laundries across the health service, but it has emerged that the number could be halved in a wave of cuts.

Despite the stress this news will cause staff, NHS Scotland has refused to say how many jobs will be lost in the process.

The laundries play a vital role in halting the spread of infections, a problem which has been in the spotlight in recent months – particularly at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Information obtained by Scottish Labour shows that in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde alone 31 reported incidences of linen shortages have taken place in the last three years.

Scottish Labour can also reveal this follows a previous round of SNP cuts to laundry services. Between 2016/17 and 2018/19, staff levels (whole time equivalent) in laundries fell by 4.8 per cent.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

"Further cuts to NHS laundry services will be unacceptable.

"The Health Secretary should come clean over this move and say how many staff are facing redundancies and what she will do to respond to the risk of industrial action.

"Across Scotland we’ve seen hospitals running out of clean bed linen and towels too often, as staffing levels go down and health boards struggle to balance the books.

“After 12 years in charge, the SNP’s mismanagement of the health service is having serious consequences for patients and NHS staff and health boards are warning they’ll struggle to cope this winter with rising demand.

“Scottish Labour will challenge these proposals and seek a commitment that patient safety and NHS jobs are not at risk.”

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Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Puts Over 320,000 Scottish Jobs at Risk

22 October 2019

New analysis from the GMB Union shows that Boris Johnson's Brexit deal could put up to 329,400 jobs in Scotland at risk.

The GMB point to the fact that there are 183,000 manufacturing jobs in Scotland and 329,400 jobs supported by manufacturing in the wider Scottish economy.

This creates around £9.6bn in manufacturing earnings.

The GMB argue that manufacturing industries across Scotland and across the UK rely on our membership of the European customs union which ensures frictionless trade and zero tariffs with the EU.

Sectors of the economy most vulnerable from being outside a customs union are food and drink manufacturing, chemicals, automotive, aerospace, retail, transport and logistics.

Commenting on the research, Shadow Scottish Secretary, Lesley Laird said:

"Believe it or not, the deal the Prime Minister has negotiated with the EU is even worse than Theresa May's deal.

"It would lead to a decade of deregulation and a trade deal with Donald Trump that would sell off our NHS and put our manufacturing industries seriously at risk.

"Scottish Tory MPs used to say that they wouldn't support a deal that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK, but now they support a deal which does exactly that.

They also told us that they would never support no deal, and as we know Jackson Carlaw has reneged on that.

"For the past 2 years Labour has been calling for the government to negotiate a Brexit deal centred around a customs union in order to protect jobs and the economy.

This research proves how right we were to do that but we were roundly ignored by the Tories.

"Labour is clear that we must give the people the final say and they must be given the option to remain."

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Unemployment Rise is "Deeply Concerning"' - Richard Leonard

15 October 2019

Commenting on the news that unemployment in Scotland is one the rise, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

"It is deeply concerning that unemployment is on the rise in Scotland and now at a higher rate than the UK as whole.

"Uncertainty around Brexit caused by the Tories and a lack of investment by the SNP in the Scottish economy is leaving ordinary workers to pay the price.

"Instead of grandstanding about referendums at her party conference, Nicola Sturgeon should be focussed on stopping the rise in unemployment in our communities.

"The next Labour government will transform Scotland’s economy by investing £70billion in our public services, infrastructure and communities."

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Sturgeon's Plans Mean "More Division and Uncertainty"- Richard Leonard

15 October 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's conference address, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Scottish Labour wants to end the constitutional crisis, not create another one.

The last thing our communities need is more division and uncertainty, but that is exactly what Nicola Sturgeon is proposing.

“The SNP’s plans for independence could result in a hard border between Scotland and England which would cost jobs, hurt our public services and divide families.

“While the SNP seek to exploit division, Labour is focussed on uniting people.

“That’s why Scottish Labour wants to remain in - and reform - both the UK and the EU.”

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"Hard Border" Talk Shows SNP Puts IndependenceBefore Serving the People of Scotland - Richard Leonard

15 October 2019

Commenting on Nicola Sturgeon's refusal to rule out a "hard border" if Scotland were to become independent, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

"Whether it's a hard border or the hard cuts of the so-called Growth Commission, the SNP has shown it is determined to pursue a separate state even if it badly hurts the people of Scotland.

"A hard border between Scotland and England would cost jobs, hurt our public services and divide families.

"Our communities don’t need more barriers and disruption. ‬

‪"That’s why Scottish Labour wants to remain in - and reform - both the UK and the EU. We want to end the constitutional crisis, not create another one. "And we believe our vision for a radical transformation can appeal to people who voted both Yes and No to independence in 2014.

"Labour's programme will bring people together - empowering our communities and workplaces, and investing to revive our economy with new green industries and jobs."

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Labour's plan to scrap Universal Credit will benefit over half a million households in Scotland

13 October 2019

Labour's plan to scrap Universal Credit will benefit over half a million households in Scotland, new figures show.

Labour announced its intention to scrap the scheme last month. The botched roll-out, compounded with Tory social security cuts, has left families unable to pay bills and at the mercy of pay-day lenders.

Official statistics show that there are 91,184 households in Scotland already enrolled in Universal Credit.

There are also 471,485 households still receiving the "legacy" benefits which Universal Credit is replacing.

In total, 562,669 households in Scotland would be placed on Universal Credit under Tory plans.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Labour is the only party that can and will scrap Universal Credit.

"This will benefit over half a million households in Scotland, many of which have been forced into in-work poverty by the Tories.

"Scrapping Universal Credit will be the first step in building a social security system that supports a fair and compassionate society, and does not seek to penalise those in the most need.

"It's just one example of how a socialist Britain can offer so much more than a separate Scotland could."

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Richard Leonard's Address to the UK Co-operative Party Conference

12 October 2019

Fellow co-operators,

I bring you greetings from the Scottish Labour Party.

A Scottish Labour Party that wants to rekindle the co-operative flame and the radical tradition which it embodies.

Because why shouldn’t the place where Robert Owen made his home, where he wrote of his dream of a co-operative commonwealth.

Where the Fenwick weavers before him established the first co-operative society in 1761.

This city where we meet where the first ever co-operative society women’s guild in Scotland was established, established to promote those core socialist values of mutual aid and internationalism of peace and co-operation.Established to provide a political education which gave so many inspiring women like Mary Barbour a springboard into the ILP, into this co-operative party and the Labour Party.

So with these radical traditions with this rich inheritance with these co-operative ideals I say: Let us have a vision of our own, let this generation of co-operators, have a vision for this century, a vision of hope, which tells people not just what we are against but what we are for.

A Scotland that could become a new centre for co-operative development as part of the green industrial revolution.

I have been speaking and writing for twenty years of turning Scotland into the “Mondragon of the north”.

So as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party let me give you this pledge that which we speak and write of in opposition we will enact and implement in Government.

The last Scottish Labour-led Government established the co-operative development agency Co-operative Development Scotland in 2006.

But under the SNP: their economic strategy based on foreign direct investment and little else it has floundered.

Over the last year it has been buried even deeper in Scottish Enterprise with less than 0.7 per cent of the combined budget of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise spent on its work on the co-operative sector in Scotland.

So I can announce today that the next Scottish Labour Government will rescue Co-operative Development Scotland from Scottish Enterprise.

We will establish it on a statutory footing in its own right.

We will vest in it the authority of a democratically constituted board.

We will arm it with the instruments of investment that it demands.

The technical assistance and the expertise that it needs.

And we will give it new legal powers to intervene in the economy.

So we will introduce an Industrial Reform and Common Ownership Act: a Marcora Law for Scotland to give workers a new legal right to buy an enterprise when it is put up for sale or facing closure.

So a new right to convert it into a co-operative or employee-owned business.

Because why on earth shouldn’t the creators of the wealth own the wealth that they create, and why shouldn’t we have a system of economic governance based on one member one vote instead of one share one vote.

It would mean that never again do we see working women and men like those 180 workers at the Caledonian Railway Works in this city let down in their hour of need.

Let down by an SNP Government which in the end has neither courage nor conviction.

Instead under our proposal we would put power in the hands of the workers themselves to decide their own future and so make their own history not leave it in the hands of absentee directors in faraway boardrooms.

And I tell you that if democratic socialism means anything, above all else it is surely the extension of democracy into the economy.

So for me co-operative ownership by working people of the enterprises in which they work is one of the most enduring examples of practical socialism.

Which is why we don’t want co-operatives on the margins but playing a significant role at the centre of the new economy we must build, leading the green industrial revolution we must spark.

In Scotland today under the SNP’s watch only eighteen per cent of large companies are now Scottish owned.

Forty two per cent are part of UK wide companies, forty per cent are subsidiaries of overseas owned multinational corporations.

One driver of this has been the privatisation of public assets and their subsequent acquisition by overseas interests: from our railways to our energy suppliers, from our airports to our steel industry.

And when the SNP had a chance just ten days ago in the Scottish Parliament to end the Abellio franchise of Scotrail.

They joined forces with the Tories and voted it down.

That is not standing up for Scotland. That is bowing down to the economics of the free market.

Which is why I say that the only way to elect a Labour Government is to elect Scottish Labour MPs.

That is the only way for the avoidance of doubt there is no short cut to a Jeremy Corbyn Government through the SNP.

That is why only Labour is offering people hope out of despair.

By speaking again about democratic renewal, by planning again a redistribution of not just wealth but power.

And we mean sovereignty not just for the nation but for its people.

And this democratic renewal this redistribution of power we seek this is not simply about Parliaments and the Members elected to them.

It is about strong local government – not local administration – local government.

It is about redressing the imbalance of power.

Between tenant and landlord, between citizen and state between the poorest developing nations in the South and the richest developed economies in the North.

Between women and men, between worker and owner and so shifting the balance of power must not be simply a part of Labour’s political strategy in Government, it must be its very essence.

We have an economy where too much power rests in too few hands.

Where there is a growing concentration of power.

And that is why the new wave of co-operative development which we want to usher in is founded not on a switch from public ownership to cooperative ownership, but on a switch from private ownership to democratic co-operative ownership.

That’s the shift we need to make.

So we have radical plans for housing unveiled just this week that will encourage more housing co-operatives like the Forgewood Housing Co-operative in Motherwell which I visited in the summer.

We will give them and other housing co-ops the right to buy land at existing use-value and so we will abolish the notion of planning gain altogether.

In Scotland today 342 individuals and families own fifty per cent of all private land.

And so the next phase of land reform legislation which we will introduce will consider maximum ownership levels.

It will consider requirements for residency to discourage absentee landlordism – even if you happen to be the forty fifth President of the United States of America.

For us it is about giving democratic community ownership a new impetus.

Because if we are serious about a redistribution of wealth and power then the reform of Scotland’s pattern of land ownership will be a litmus test of that.

Because we are the Labour Party. We are not the Party of market forces and excessive wealth accumulation.

We are the Party of people before profit and the more equal society. That is who we are and that is what we always should have been.

Out in the country, there is widespread discontent but a renewed rising determination everywhere.

That the people need more of a say, more democracy.

The challenge is how do we extend democracy so that it is not a spectator sport.

It means that when we talk of public ownership, we mean a mosaic not a monolith.

Not uniformity imposed from above, but initiative from below with worker involvement and community involvement.

So it is not just about state monopoly in the old style, it is also about municipal ownership and co-operative ownership.

Because we need a libertarian vision of a democratic socialism which is neither of the managerial right nor of the authoritarian left.

We must inspire hope and enthusiasm if we are to win the battle of hearts and minds.

We must be positive and radical.Offering people a real sense of the difference we will make to their lives.

By offering a distinctive labour vision with a clear alternative to our political opponents, by reaffirming our commitment to socialism and to democracy.

By sticking to our principles rooted in a collective view of society based on co-operative ideals rather than an aggressive individualism.

Which recognises that people are not simply consumers they are citizens.

By looking to the future without denying our past.

Because our causes are as great as they always were and the election of a truly radical transformative Labour Government is within our grasp.

A transformative Labour Government that will shift the balance of wealth and power in our society and in our economy that will shift power back to the people.

And so my final message is that a socialist Britain will do far more to improve the lives of the people than a separate Scotland ever could.

So let’s keep the faith.

Let’s have faith in ourselves.

Let’s show people the division and insufficiency of nationalism in all its forms.

Show that the answers are to be found in our labour and our co-operative ideas and ideals and in our internationalist outlook.

Let us be confident in our democratic tradition, that radical tradition which we inherit.

And let us stand up for the labour and co-operative cause that stirred us into joining this movement in the first place.

If we do that we will not only win the next election whenever it comes, we will deserve to win it.

Thank you.

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Fresh Warning Over SNP Childcare Expansion

8 October 2019

Commenting on the embargoed release by the Scottish Childminding Association, Scottish Labour's Education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

"This is the latest warning from the early years sector that the SNP government's expansion of free childcare is not on track to be delivered.

"Just 4 per cent of childminders for all three and four-year olds are currently delivering funded hours and there are only months left for the promised increase in provision to materialise.

"It is time for John Swinney to get to grips with this expansion or this could be another broken promise from the SNP."

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NHS Breast Screening Uptake Falls Under The SNP

8 October 2019

The percentage of women taking up routine breast screening for cancer has fallen, official statistics confirm.

New figures from ISD Scotland show only 71.2 per cent of women attended a routine breast screening appointment between 2015/16 to 2017/18, down from 74.9 per cent during the period from 2008/09 to 2010/11.

Four health boards, including some of the country’s largest boards, all failed to meet the minimum acceptable standards of 70%.

Women from more deprived areas are less likely to attend for breast screening, with under 6 in 10 women from the most deprived areas going for screening compared with almost 8 in 10 women living in the least deprived areas, a difference of over twenty percentage points.

Scottish Labour’s Health spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

“Routine breast screening is crucial to catching cancer early and saving lives.

“That is why it is so disappointing to see that the uptake of breast screening is going backwards under the SNP.

“The country’s four largest health boards all failed to meet the minimum acceptable standard, and the poorest women are far less likely to attend these appointments than those from wealthier communities.

“Scotland needs to reverse this trend to save lives, and that should be a priority for the Health Secretary.”

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Labour To Outline Transformation of Scotland's Housing

8 October 2019

Scottish Labour will put forward a series of proposals to tackle Scotland's housing crisis later today.

The Commission set up by Scottish Labour has reported. Scottish Labour will put forward plans to put people before developers' profits, and put housing and in particular public sector led-development at the forefront of our country's politics.

Labour will end the crisis of undersupply, unaffordability and quality through increased investment, new legislation and a new government agency to drive housing supply across Scotland.

The Housing Commission's recommendations build on the transformative policies to tackle the housing crisis already affirmed by Scottish Labour at its conference in March this year. These include a ban on winter evictions akin to that in France, and a rent controls system as advocated by tenants' union Living Rent.

As part of the proposals, Labour will review minimum space and quality standards in new housing and reform the existing law to allow public interest-led bodies to acquire land at existing use-value.

A Scottish Labour government will increase the supply of affordable homes by 70% compared to the Government’s current commitment.

Recommendations also include a scheme to help under 35s purchase their first home, and a commitment to creating more wheelchair accessible homes across the country.

Chair of the Housing Commission, Professor Stuart Gulliver, said:

“This report identifies an ambitious programme of housing reform in the belief that there has been far too much conservatism in housing policy in recent years and that there is now a genuine hunger for transformational change.

“Our proposals are underpinned by a strong commitment to reduce the inequalities in the housing market, particularly for those on lower incomes, the young and disabled people.”

Scottish Labour’s Housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill MSP, said:

“Scottish Labour is serious about having radical policies on housing at the next Holyrood election.

“Scotland is not yet out of the nation’s housing crisis. "We have a shortage of good affordable homes, but more importantly there is a lack of real choice for young and middle-aged people who are being denied home ownership and who are not a priority for social housing.

“Labour will offer a transformative agenda and this Commission’s proposals will be the basis of our policy.”

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First Minister's Questions : First Minister Must Demand NHS Tayside Must Follow Review Recommendation

3 October 2019

Nicola Sturgeon should intervene after NHS Tayside “ignored” a recommendation from the independent inquiry into mental health services, Richard Leonard has said.

Dr David Strang, who is leading the inquiry, said in an interim report published in May that the board should not consider centralising Tayside mental health services until “a comprehensive review of mental health service strategy” is carried out.

Mr Leonard first raised in May 2018 at FMQs the case of David Ramsay, who died by suicide at the age of 50 having been twice turned away from Carseview.

Scottish Labour then secured the inquiry.

Earlier this week, the "Courier" reported that inquiry chief Dr Strang had expressed his frustration that this review had not been carried out - and the NHS board was pressing ahead with centralisation. Dr Strang was quoted as saying: “It is disappointing. This was the only recommendation in the whole report, because I thought it was urgently needed.”

At First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour leader said: “Not only has NHS Tayside failed to carry out that review.

"Worse still, the Board is pressing ahead with the centralisation of services.

“First Minister, this is an independent inquiry set up because of the deep concerns of families who have lost their loved ones through suicide. Why is there no urgency? And why is the sole recommendation so far of this independent inquiry being wilfully ignored?”

Mr Leonard quoted David Ramsay’s niece Gillian Murray, who told the Scottish Labour leader yesterday: “NHS Tayside refuse to listen, they refuse to change, they are being allowed to carry on: business as usual… things are getting worse at NHS Tayside, not better.”

At FMQs, Mr Leonard went on to ask: “If the independent expert appointed to chair this inquiry, a man with considerable experience says his recommendation is being ignored despite demanding action as far back as May, and the families are saying that things are getting worse not better, your expectation is not being met.

“So isn’t it time that you stepped in before more time is wasted, more families are made to suffer, and more lives are needlessly lost?”

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SNP Team Up With The Tories to Keep ScotRail in Abellio's Hands

3 October 2019

Commenting on the vote at the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Labour's Transport spokesperson, Colin Smyth MSP, said:

“SNP MSPs have teamed up with the Tories to keep the failing Abellio ScotRail franchise in place.

“This is yet another kick in the teeth for rail passengers across the country.

“Scotland deserves better than this, and the next Labour government will bring our railways into public ownership.”

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Abellio Scotrail Franchise Must Not be Extended - Colin Smyth

2 October 2019

Ministers must use their power to end Abellio’s ScotRail franchise in 2022 – and refuse a three-year extension, Scottish Labour has said.

The party has tabled a motion at Holyrood, which will be heard on today, stating:

“This Parliament believes that the Government should not extend the current ScotRail franchise beyond its first expiry date in 2022.”

The beleaguered service from Abellio has consistently left passengers exasperated and successive transport ministers under pressure.

"Recent performance figures showed the operator recorded its worst performance time for August/September since taking over the franchise in 2015, despite the introduction of a remedial plan earlier this year to improve punctuality.

If the SNP Government wants to extended the franchise it would need to begin work on the negotiations from the end of this month and conclude them by the end of March.

However, if Labour’s motion is successful the Government would come under extreme pressure to issue a "no rebasing notice", meaning the franchise would expire in 2022.

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said:

“Having repeatedly moved the goalposts to make allowances for a succession of failures, it’s now decision time for the SNP government over whether they extend Abellio’s franchise.

“If they do extend it, it would mean another three years of performance failures, delays to infrastructure projects and chaos at the most crucial of times for the railway.

“The very least SNP ministers can do is ensure the franchise is handed back at the first expiry date in 2022.

"Many passengers think Abellio is well past its expiry date already.”

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Scottish Labour To Force a Vote to End Early Years Postcode Lottery

1 October 2019

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray will bring forward a motion on Wednesday supporting the Give Them Time campaign, instructing the Scottish Government to end a postcode lottery of nursery funding for parents who defer sending their children to primary school before they turn five years old.

All parents of children who are still four at school start date can defer their children’s entry to Primary One, but the way local authorities deal with funding requests for another year of nursery varies widely.

At the moment, only parents of children who turn five after December 31st have an automatic right to continued free nursery hours.

"Other families find the council has the discretion to refuse them nursery funding, creating a postcode lottery in which only parents who can afford to pay for another year of nursery, are able to act in what they believe is their child’s best interest.

A national survey showed that an average of just one in five parents know they have a legal right to defer their child’s school start if they are born between September and December, compared to 80% of parents of children born in January and February.

The Scottish Government needs to change the law to ensure that all children whose parents choose to defer entry to P1 continue to be entitled to funded hours at nursery and do not see their early years education interrupted.

Making sure all families, despite their income and home address, have the same opportunities when it comes to education is vital in closing Scotland’s attainment gap.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said:

“It is unacceptable that where a family lives can dictate whether or not they can access an additional year of funded nursery for their child.

"I have repeatedly pressed ministers to close this loophole in the law which gives parents the right to defer, but then sees them denied nursery education for their child.

"It can be easily fixed and we will ask parliament to instruct them to fix it now.

"Families across Scotland are paying a price for Ministers’ stubborn refusal to correct this anomaly.

"I hope that parliament will support such a move on Wednesday, and that the Scottish Government will listen to reason.

“It is not helped by the fact that Council budgets have fallen at a faster rate in the last five years that the Scottish Government budget.

“If councils were properly financed, more would be able to put children first and guarantee that no child would be forced into primary school before they are ready, regardless of their parent’s income.”

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Labour Will Scrap Universal Credit

28 September 2019

Commenting on the announcement that a Labour government would scrap Universal Credit, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said:

“People were told that Universal Credit would make work pay.

"Yet the reality has been that some of the country’s most vulnerable people have paid the price of this disastrous policy.

“Our welfare state should be supporting people when they need it.

"Yet under the Tories, the reality for too many people has been one of punitive sanctions and long waits to access their money.

“I have long believed that Universal Credit is so discredited that it is unreformable and must be scrapped.

"So I am delighted that Jeremy Corbyn will do just that when Labour comes to power.

“With one in four children in Scotland living in poverty, many as a result of Tory austerity, it is time for the real and radical change that a Labour Government will deliver.”

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Comment on NHS Financial Report

28 September 2019

Commenting on figures revealing that five regional NHS health boards are expected to need a total of £51.3 million of additional funding from the Scottish Government in 2019/20, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said:

“Health boards are struggling to deliver vital health services and this does not bode well for the future.

“The SNP Government has utterly failed to look after our NHS and deliver the investment and support needed."

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New Investment Bank Must Tackle Centralisation and Climate Change – Richard Leonard

26 September 2019

Speaking in the Scottish National Investment Bank debate this afternoon, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

"The people of this country do not simply want a residual state which is reactive, which steps in only at the point of market failure.

"We need a different allocation of resources than would simply be delivered by the market.

"That is what the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank should be about.

"So the purpose of the Bank that we must create with this legislation cannot simply be about the best rate of financial return and the best rate of financial return alone.

"It must be ethical.

"It must take account of the strategic interests of the wider economy, like the urgent need to tackle climate change.

"It must be empowered to help build a more equal and a more democratic economy too.

"It must be on the side of the people - because we live in an economy, which is too often unjust, which is in too many areas inefficient.

“We need to re-balance the economy and tackle the highly centralised UK economy. We will not solve every problem in the Scottish economy with this Bill and the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank.

"And we need to make sure that this is not another Government proposal overflowing with spin but underwhelming with substance.

“But this Bill is a starting point and we can improve on it.

"We can establish a Bank which is accountable.

"We can establish a Bank that has clear objects whose overarching aim is to build the economy from the bottom up.

“We can establish one that is financing the just transition from a carbon based to a non-carbon based economy, that is promoting democratic forms of ownership, including co-operatives and employee ownership.

"And we can establish one where the right voices and values sit at the heart of it, not just at the start but for the long term by building this in to the legislation.”

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Labour’s Publicly – Owned Drugs Company Will Transform Lives : Monica Lennon

25 September 2019

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's announcement for a compulsory licensing system for vital drugs and a new publicly-owned drugs manufacturer, Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon said:

"This is a brilliant new progressive policy that will transform the lives of patients across Scotland.

"Medicines should always be available to patients based on need, and not based on the whims and profit motives of pharmaceutical companies.

"Labour will guarantee patients access the drugs they need.

"This is another example of how a socialist UK will be far better for people than a separate Scotland."

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Comment on Repeal of "Named Person" Scheme

21 September 2019

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

"This whole process has been a shambles.

"The principle of the named person scheme was a good one but it has been destroyed by the incompetence of successive SNP ministers.

"They lost control of the policy, lost the confidence and support of practitioners, parents and the public, then lost the challenge in the supreme court.

"To have to abandon one bill and repeal another in one day is an unprecedented humiliation for John Swinney.

"It is not the first time either – he had to drop his flagship education bill.

"John Swinney was meant to be a “safe pair of hands”, but he has dropped the ball yet again.”

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First Victory in War on SNP Spin

20 September 2019

Speaking after Parliament voted to back proposals for a Bill that will stop SNP ministers having early access to economic statistics, Jackie Baillie MSP said:

“This is the first victory in the war on the SNP’s spin machine.

“For too long SNP ministers have got away with trying to bend statistics to suit their narrow political agenda.

“Scottish Labour will now work alongside other parties to bring those days to an end.

“Scotland needs a government focused on substance, not spin.”

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First Minister Must Guarantee Scottish University Funding

19 September 2019

Nicola Strugeon must ditch the “managed decline” of Scottish universities and guarantee to maintain the £90 million of funding currently spent on EU students in Scottish universities, regardless of the Brexit outcome, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said.

At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Leonard highlighted the “damning verdict on the state of university finance” delivered by an Audit Scotland report this morning.

The report highlights that, while the Government’s budget decreased by five per cent in the three years from 2014/15, university funding decreased by seven per cent.

Universities Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government to increase university funding for teaching and research grants by two per cent in real terms in the next Scottish budget. Mr Leonard challenged Nicola Sturgeon to commit to funding at this level.

The umbrella body has argued that “Government funding for universities is decreasing at a faster rate than the Scottish Government’s budget, suggesting university funding has been de-prioritised.”

Mr Leonard said: “University funding has been cut by more than eleven per cent over the past five years. As a result more than half of our universities are now in deficit.

“So Scotland’s universities have a straightforward request.

They want a two per cent real terms increase in university teaching and research grants in next year’s Scottish budget.”

The Scottish Labour leader added: “£90 million currently funds tuition fees for European Union students.

“And our universities have asked for a simple promise that, whatever happens regarding Brexit - and I am determined that we should remain - that the Scottish Government must promise to keep that £90 million invested in our universities.

“Under the First Minister’s watch, we have funding decreasing, a system declining, because her government is deprioritising higher education.

“Will the First Minister today end that failing policy and give our universities that guarantee? Is it not the very least that our universities and our students deserve?”

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First Minister Caught Out in Spin Operation on School Statistics

10 September 2019

Commenting on the SNP government's misuse of education statistics in a new report on the condition of schools, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

“The First Minister and her government have been caught out making dodgy comparisons against the advice of their own officials.

“Official guidance contained within the report clearly warns against comparing figures from this year to previous years. Schools may not have improved at all, just been recategorized.

“Instead of spin, the SNP should be focussed on fixing the problems they continue to create in Scottish education.

“Nicola Sturgeon and the Education Secretary must explain why they ignored official advice in order to chase positive press headlines.”

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CBI Report Shows SNP-Tory Failure on the Economy

9 September 2019

Commenting on CBI Scotland’s productivity report, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This report shows Scotland’s productivity levels remain well below the UK as a whole.

“The failure to end this trend falls squarely with the SNP government in Holyrood and the Tories in Westminster.

“One area of growing concern is the mental health crisis impacting on our communities, and the CBI are absolutely right to point out the need for better workplace mental health awareness to help tackle this problem.

“The next Labour government will transform Scotland’s economy by investing £70billion to improve our public services, infrastructure and local communities.

"And we will tackle the low pay long hours culture which drags these productivity levels down.”

“Only Labour will transform Scotland’s economy so we have a country that works for the many, not the few.”

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Boris Johnson Defeated Again as Labour Leads the Opposition to No-Deal

5 September 2019

Commenting after the Prime Minister's latest defeat in the Commons, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird MP, said:

"Over the past 24 hours, MPs from all political parties have sent a clear message to Boris Johnson that no deal is utterly unacceptable and that an extension to the Article 50 process will be required if no deal is reached with the EU by middle of October.

"Once again, no Scottish Conservatives had the gumption to put the national interest first and voted against the Bill. That is not something that the Scottish public will forget when it comes to a General Election.

“We must now redouble our efforts to ensure that the Bill makes its way through the Lords and that the legislation receives Royal Assent. Labour’s focus is to ensure that no deal has been legally ruled out and Boris Johnson and his reckless crew don’t get to trash our economy and our communities.”

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ScotRail Set to Default on Rail Franchise Over Passenger Satisfaction

4 September 2019

ScotRail are set to default on their rail franchise after a remedial plan on Customer satisfaction projects that they will fail to hit their target for the second year running.

ScotRail were issued with a Remedial Plan notice after Passenger Satisfaction plummeted last year to its lowest level since 2002.

The Plan - which came before the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee today when members questioned Scotland’s Railway Managing Director Alex Hynes- predicts that passenger satisfaction for this year will be 84%, well below target.

The franchise agreement between Abellio and Transport Scotland states that missing this target for two consecutive years is an “Event of Default”, and is grounds to be stripped of the franchise.

The plan also confirms that Transport Scotland have again lowered the franchise target, moving it from 88.5% to 87.5%. Transport Scotland have previously lowered the target for 2016/17 and 2017/18 to avoid a breach occurring. ScotRail have not hit the original franchise target of 88.5% since the first year of the franchise, and according to the Remedial Plans projections to not expect to for at least another two years.

Scottish Labour Transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said:

“Despite Transport Scotland’s best efforts to fiddle the figures to save ScotRail from failure, they are still set to default on their franchise.

Customers are clearly sick and tired of ScotRail’s shambolic performance, but instead of standing up for them and ending the franchise the SNP Government are doing everything they can to save it – including signing off on a plan that includes a default on the franchise.”

“The solutions set out in this remedial plan are far too little, far too late.”

“Satisfaction has plummeted because passengers are sick and tired of rising ticket prices simply to face more cancellations, delays and and overcrowding. But the actions of Transport Scotland show it doesn’t matter what ScotRail do , the SNP Government will just keep bailing out this failing franchise."

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No Answers on Ferry Fiasco from Derek Mackay

4 September 2019

Speaking after the Ministerial statement to the chamber, Scottish Labour's transport spokesperson, Colin Smyth MSP, said:

“It is welcome that the immediate future for the workforce has been secured by taking the yards into public ownership, but the Government has serious questions to answer about the series of failings that left a prize asset in such a perilous position.

“The Minister’s statement has not provided one single answer as to why millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been lost to date, why island communities still do not have the ferries they need and why workers at the yard were put into the position of fearing for their livelihoods.

“Ferguson’s cannot have a secure future if the SNP government remain unwilling to learn from their mistakes.

“That is why a parliamentary inquiry is needed into this fiasco is needed.

“Ferguson’s is now under the government’s ownership, and it is up to the government to set out a plan for a secure future for the yard.”

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Richard Leonard : Initial Response To Programme for Government

3 September 2019

During today’s statement on the Programme for Government for 2019-2020, Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard MSP, used his time to outline the failure of the SNP government to deliver on promises. He raised the fall in Higher pass rates for the fourth consecutive year despite the First Minister stating that ‘closing the attainment gap and raising standards in our schools remains the Government’s overriding mission’ just last year.

He also challenged the First Minister to quicken the pace of change on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services after new figures today highlighted that more than 30 per cent of young people are waiting longer that the 18week target time.

At the weekend, Nicola Sturgeon said in the face of Brexit, said that ‘it is more important than ever that the Scottish Government continues to act in a calm, considered and consensual way’. Responding to this, Richard Leonard asked:

“Can the First Minister tell us:

"Is she calm that housing costs continue to rocket beyond people’s means?

That the reliance on foodbanks in Scotland is at an all-time high …

That public transport continues to be driven by profit not passengers?

“So given that the First Minster is calling for consensual working can I ask her, to back our plans

Will you support the Mary Barbour Bill to cap private rent rises?

Will you support our plans to enshrine the Right to Food in law?

And will you support Labour plans for a publicly owned bus network and railway?”

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GP Crisis Reveals SNP Mismanagement of NHS

29 August 2019

An Audit Scotland report into workforce planning for primary care services reveals the extent of SNP mismanagement of our NHS, Scottish Labour has warned.

The watchdog report revealed:

• The Scottish Government has not estimated the impact of workforce pressures on primary care services

• There is a lack of national data on currently workforce numbers, cost and demand

• Increasing pressures will mean meeting the challenge of recruiting more GPs will become more difficult over the next ten years

Scottish Labour has said that failures on workforce planning threatens the future sustainability of the NHS.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

“This report from Audit Scotland is a damning indictment of the SNP’s failure to plan for the workforce needs of our NHS, since they took charge over a decade ago.

“Primary care services like GP and nurse appointments are the backbone of the NHS but the SNP’s incompetence and complacency has caused long waits for GP appointments, reduced out-of-hours services and broken laws on waiting time guarantees – and NHS staff who are overworked and exhausted.

“Neither the SNP or the Tories can be trusted with the NHS – only Scottish Labour will make ending the NHS workforce crisis a priority by giving our health service the resources it needs and investing in our communities to end health inequalities.”

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Waiting Times Law Broken over 100,000 Times Under Health Secretary Jeane Freeman

27 August 2019

The SNP government's flagship waiting time law has been broken more than 100,000 times since Jeane Freeman became Health Secretary, Scottish Labour analysis of official figures confirms.

Eligible patients have a legal right to be seen within 12 weeks under the law, but that promise has been broken tens of thousands of times in the last year alone.

Scottish Labour analysis of ISD Scotland waiting time figures under Jeane Freeman show that the Treatment Time Guarantee has been broken 104,511 times in her time as Health Secretary.

In addition, the figures also revealed that the proportion of people still waiting to be seen at the end of June 2019, who had already been waiting over the guaranteed 12 weeks, had increased to 32.2 per cent, up from 29 per cent at the end of June 2018.

It is yet another appalling failure to deliver for patients on Jeane Freeman's watch.

Scottish Labour's public health spokesman, David Stewart MSP, said:

"The SNP's waiting time law is not worth the paper it was written on.

"Tens of thousands of patients have had their legal guarantee to be seen within 12 weeks broken under Jeane Freeman.

"The increase in the numbers still stuck on the list despite already waiting over 12 weeks calls into question whether the Government's Waiting Times Plan is making any difference to patients.

"NHS staff are not being given the resources and the support that they need from the SNP government to give patients the care they deserve.

"Every time this law is broken, it leaves a patient in pain or distress as they wait to get the treatment they need and this is just not good enough."¯

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Postcode Lottery on Cancer Care Must End - Monica Lennon

26 August 2019

Commenting on the Health Secretary’s announcement about new national cancer treatment guidelines, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Breast cancer patients and their families have been badly let down, so this decision to overhaul cancer treatment and guidance is welcome.

"There should never be a postcode lottery when it comes to receiving cancer treatment in Scotland.

“Ensuring consistency of treatment across Scotland will provide some much needed reassurance to women receiving treatment in Tayside now and in the future.

“It’s now up to Jeane Freeman to get a grip on the deep-rooted challenges facing NHS Tayside and make sure that the recommendations of this report are implemented quickly and in full – as well as providing the necessary resources to make this happen.” Back to previous page

SNP's Austerity Cuts Would Cost Each Family of Four £4,676

25 August 2019

A family of four would be £4,676 worse off under the SNP's austerity programme for an independent Scotland, analysis by Scottish Labour confirms.

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown has committed the nationalists to more than halving Scotland's fiscal deficit within three years, a reduction steeper and deeper than the austerity George Osborne pursued whilst he was Tory Chancellor.

The Scottish Government's GERS report found the country had a deficit of £12.63billion in the last financial year. Brown's austerity programme to halve the deficit within less than 36 months would require cuts to spending of £1,169 per person in Scotland, leaving a family of four £4,676 worse off.

It is now clear the SNP’s plan for Scotland is to leave the UK and impose Tory turbo-charged austerity on our communities.

Scottish Labour's finance spokesperson, James Kelly MSP, said:

"The SNP's plan to leave the UK would leave families more than £4,600 worse off.

“This would mean unprecedented levels of austerity which would put all of Scotland’s cherished public services, including the NHS, in the SNP’s firing line simply to meet such draconian fiscal deficit reduction targets.

"Independence would mean turbo-charged austerity and economic uncertainty under the SNP's plan to ditch the pound for a separate currency.

"The SNP's threadbare case for leaving the UK is falling apart.

“The people of Scotland now have a clear choice between austerity and cuts with the SNP and the Tories, or £70 billion worth of new investment with a Labour government."

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Accident and Emergency Waiting Time Target Broken nearly 100,000 Times

21 August 2019

The SNP government's flagship Accident and Emergency (A&E) waiting time target has been broken nearly 100,000 times so far this year, official figures confirm.

Patients are expected to be seen, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival at A&E.

Analysis of official figures from ISD Scotland by Scottish Labour shows this key waiting time target has been broken 99,362 times this year up until the week ending 11 August.

Patients were left to wait more than eight hours on more than 10,000 occasions while some were forced to endure waits of over 12 hours on 2,110 occasions, waits equivalent to a nurse's entire shift.

The dangers of these long waits for treatment was recently underlined by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine who warned "longer waiting in Emergency Departments can lead to negative patient outcomes and avoidable mortality.”

Scottish Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

"Too many people are having to endure unacceptably long waits at Accident and Emergency departments across Scotland almost every day.

"This is not the fault of our doctors and nurses, this is the fault of the Health Secretary who has chronically under-resourced our NHS.

"This key waiting time target has not been met on a single occasion since she took office, and it’s a monumental failure.

"Jeane Freeman should apologise to the thousands of people who have been forced to endure long waits to get the help they needed." Back to previous page

Comment on Dundee Drugs Commission

17 August 2019

Commenting on the publication of the Dundee Drugs Commission report, Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

“The conclusions of this report are damning, but sadly won’t be a surprise to the many families in Tayside with experience of trying to get help.

“The conclusions that there is a lack of partnership working between mental health and addiction services and that people feel stigma when trying and struggling to access services need to be used as the basis for culture change and an overhaul of addiction support services in Dundee.

“We urgently need to improve the funding for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, and put the full force of government at all levels behind this crisis – that is why Scottish Labour has been consistently calling on the SNP government to legally designate a public health emergency.

“The Health Secretary and public services must take on board the findings of this report and act urgently to make improvements.”

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Rip Off Rail Fare Rise Set to Cost Scots Hundreds of Pounds

14 August 2019

Commuters across Scotland are set to pay hundreds of pounds more for their annual season ticket due to a rip-off rail fare rise from the SNP government.

Analysis by Scottish Labour shows that some season ticket passes are set to increase by more than £100.

Key rip-off fare rises:

• Glasgow – Dundee, up £157 to £5,781

• Lockerbie – Edinburgh, up £147 to £5,399

• Dumfries – Glasgow, up £125 to £4,601

• Dundee – Edinburgh, up £124 to £4,572

• Milngavie – Edinburgh, up £132 to £4,864

• Stirling – Dundee, up £105 to £3,865

• Glasgow – Stranraer, up £119 to £4,399

Scottish Labour say it is simply unfair for commuters to have to pay more for a service plagued by delays, cancellations and over crowding.

Labour is committed to bringing our railways back into public hands to ensure passengers, not profits, are put first.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Colin Smyth, said:

“It is simply wrong that commuters will be forced to pay hundreds of pounds more for train services which are plagued by delays, cancellations and overcrowding.

"This rip off rail fare rise is unwanted, unwelcome and unnecessary and will hit thousands of working people who use Scotland’s railways to get to work.

"Passengers all across Scotland will feel the effects of this fare rise, with annual season tickets between Dundee and Glasgow and Lockerbie and Edinburgh costing over £5,000.

"The UK and Scottish rail franchise system is broken. Only Scottish Labour will bring our railways back under public ownership to ensure that these rip off rail fares end and that our railways serve the many, not the few.”

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‘Shameful’ Gap in Life Expectancy Between Richest and Poorest Scots

14 August 2019

Commenting on official figures released today that reveal that life expectancy in Scotland has stalled, Scottish Labour Public Health Spokesperson David Stewart MSP said:

“It’s shameful that life expectancy of both men and women in Scotland has slowed down and now fallen. “Not only does Scotland have the lowest life expectancy rates of any part of the UK, the life expectancy gap between the richest and the poorest is growing - it cannot be right that those living in the richest areas can also expect to live in good health for over 20 years longer than those in poorest areas.

“That rising numbers of drugs deaths are contributing to falling life expectancy is also troubling. Scottish Labour has been clear that the drugs deaths crisis needs urgent action and is calling on the SNP to legally designate a public health emergency.

“The SNP government has failed to tackle intolerable health inequalities after over a decade in power. We need action to reverse this trend, and a Scottish Labour government will invest in our people, communities and public services to build a Scotland that works for the many, not just the wealthy few.”

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Inequality Gap in Cancer Detection Rates Revealed

12 August 2019

People living in Scotland’s most deprived communities are less likely to have cancers detected early, new statistics reveal.

The percentage of detections for breast, colorectal or lung cancer at the earliest stage (stage 1) within patients from the most deprived communities was just 22.6 per cent in 2017 and 2018. This compares with 29.1 per cent of patients living in the least deprived areas had their cancer detected at stage 1.

A higher proportion of patients were also diagnosed atthe more advanced stage of disease (stage 4) in the most deprived areas with 29.7% compared with 20.0% in the least deprived areas.

The statistics from ISD Scotland also confirm that the SNP government again failed to meet its national early detection target in these cancers.

A total of 25.5 per cent of patients were diagnosed at the earliest stage (stage 1), below the expected standard of 29.2 per cent.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“It is vital that cancers are detected early to give people the best chance of survival.

“That is why it is so shocking to learn that people living in deprived communities are not getting diagnosed early at the same rate as those from better off backgrounds.

“Health inequalities such as these shame our society, and the Health Secretary should be doing all she can to bring them to an end.

“Health Secretary Jeane Freeman must set out how she intends to improve cancer detection and treatment to save lives when Parliament returns later this month.”

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Critical Care Units Struggling to Cope with Demand

12 August 2019

Critical care units in Scotland lost the equivalent of an additional 1,000 patient stays in 2018 due to a lack of hospital beds as a result of delayed discharges.

New figures released in the audit of critical care have revealed there were a total of 6,969 ‘bed-days’ in intensive and high dependency care units lost to delays.

The delays are mostly due to bed shortages in other areas of the hospital, but health boards also highlighted staffing shortages in some areas with difficulty filling medical and nursing staff posts.

The average delay was over 16 hours.

The population of patients in intensive and high dependency care settings are ageing and increasingly likely to have complex chronic health conditions, posing a challenge for services.

Scottish Labour warned the delays are yet more evidence of increasing pressure on the health service and an NHS in distress.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

“These new figures confirm what patients and NHS staff know - our NHS is in distress and struggling to cope with demand.

“This is further evidence that delayed discharge in other parts of the hospital, due to the SNP’s complacency on social care, is having a knock on effect on other parts of our NHS.

“A lack of hospital beds is putting pressure on already overworked staff and means patients are stuck in intensive and high dependency care for longer than they need to be.

“This can’t continue – Scottish Labour is urging the SNP government to redouble its efforts to invest and make our NHS fit for the future.”

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Attainment Challenge Schools Facing Significant Funding Cuts

12 August 2019

As pupils in Scotland start returning to school, Scottish Labour analysis has revealed that there have been significant cuts in schools budgets in the nine attainment ‘challenge authorities’ identified by the Scottish Government.

The £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund is a targeted initiative focused on supporting pupils in the local authorities of Scotland with the highest concentrations of deprivation.

The nine 'Challenge Authorities' are Glasgow, Dundee, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, North Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire and Renfrewshire.

Labour analysis today revealed that even including this funding, schools in these areas have faced significant real terms cuts.

Between 2010/11 and 2017/18, there was a 7.5% reduction in average spend per primary school pupil across the nine authorities, and a 2.9% reduction in average spend per secondary school pupil.

Compared with 2010/11, this equates to an average real terms cut of £406 for every child in primary school and £209 for every child in secondary school.

Scottish Labour said cuts like these are the result of the wider 7.5 per cent real terms cut faced by local government since 2013/14.

Scottish Labour Education Spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“These figures are the reality behind the SNP rhetoric.

“Even including attainment funding, the most deprived communities are seeing brutal funding cuts in school classrooms.

“Education is not the SNP’s priority, and their cuts to local authorities prove that.

“Labour would make the richest pay their fair share so local services have enough resources and schools have the funds they need for children to thrive.”

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Higher Pass Rate Drops for fourth Year Running -Now an “Established Trend”

8 August 2019

Attainment rates at Higher in Scotland have fallen for the fourth year running – a situation that is now a trend.

Exam results published today show a significant fall in attainment in National 4, Higher and advanced Higher qualifications, while there was a slight increase in National 5 attainment year-on-year.

Labour said pupils and teachers were delivering results in spite of austerity, but the Government has to now deliver the investment schools need to reverse this entrenched trend – which is becoming John Swinney’s legacy.

Scottish Labour's Education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

"Pupils across Scotland have achieved outstanding results today. They deserve our congratulations and their dedicated teachers deserve our thanks.

"We want to have an education system where all young people can achieve their potential, however the trend of falling attainment in Scottish education for the last few years is now the norm.

"These results show a fourth year of falling attainment in what the Government calls the ‘gold standard’ Higher qualification.

"Years of sustained cuts to schools, thousands of fewer teachers and the narrowing of the curriculum are failing our young people.

"John Swinney has been warned year after year that these are the real issues facing our schools but instead he focuses on unwanted and unneeded governance ‘reforms’.

"It is long past the time he took his failings seriously and urgently tells pupils, parents and teachers what he intends to do to reverse these trends.

"Failing to do so will simply fail more young people.

"Our exam results continue to do great credit to the hard work of our teachers and young people. They deserve a government that backs them with the resources our schools need."

Data released today shows:

· A-C attainment rate for National 4 has dropped by 2.6% year on year to 88.5%

· A-C attainment rates at Higher fell to 74.8% from 76.8% last year and 79.6% in 2015

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Delays and Cancellations are Symptoms of “NHS in Distress” – Monica Lennon

8 August 2019

Hospital delays and cancelled operations are symptoms of an NHS in distress, Scottish Labour has warned.

Official figures released today confirm an increase in the number of operations being cancelled because hospitals cannot cope, and that the SNP Government is still failing to deliver on its promise to end delayed discharge.

There has been no improvement since last year in getting people who are medically fit to leave hospital back home or into a community setting – despite SNP promises to end the practice. Three-quarters of delayed discharge cases are because social care services are not in place.

Scottish Labour also expressed concern about emergency waiting times, with Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital seeing the longest A&E waits.

Over one in four patients at the flagship hospital waited longer than the 4 hour target time last week.

Scottish Labour said urgent action must be taken to improve performance and protect the future of the NHS.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon said:

“More operations cancelled because hospitals can’t cope, long waits in many A&E departments and promises broken on delayed discharge are just a few of the problems piling up on the Health Secretary’s desk, on top of the hospital safety scandals the SNP is mired in.

“These new figures confirm what patients and NHS staff know - that our health service is not getting the resources and attention it needs from SNP Ministers who promised so much but are delivering so little.

“Scottish Labour is urging the SNP Government to redouble its efforts to improve the health of the nation and make our NHS and social care services fit for the future.”

Delayed Discharges in NHSScotland • In June 2019, there were 42,252 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed. This is similar to the number of delayed days spent in hospital in June 2018 (42,375).

• In June 2019, the average number of beds occupied per day due to delayed discharges was 1,408. In May, the daily average was 1,454

• At the June 2019 census point, there were 1,442 people delayed. This is similar to the number of people delayed (1,436) at the census point in June 2018.

• Of those delayed at the June 2019 census point, 1,187 were delayed more than three days with health and social care reasons accounting for 893 delays (75%), complex needs accounting for 269 delays (23%) and patient and family-related reasons for 25 delays (2%).

Cancelled Planned Operations The total number of planned operations across NHSScotland during June 2019 was 26,906, a decrease of 4.8% from 28,255 during June 2018.

Despite this, there was a 2.9% increase in the number of planned operations which were cancelled between June 2019 (2,345 cancellations) and June 2018 (2,278 cancellations).

8.7% of all planned operations were cancelled in June 2019, ranging from 3.6% to 15.6% across individual NHS Boards. This compares to 8.1% in June 2018.

In June 2019, 532 operations were cancelled by hospitals due to capacity or non-clinical reasons. This is an increase of 130 cancellations from 402 in June 2018.

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Richard Leonard - Scotland Needs Radical Reforming Labour Governments- Not Another Referendum

7 August 2019

Commenting on remarks made by Shadow Chancellor John McDonell on a potential second independence referendum, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“I met with John this morning, and I made clear to him that a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary.

“The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation vote.

“There is no economic case for independence, especially with the SNP’s new position of ditching the pound and new policy of turbo-charged austerity to bear down on the deficit.

“On that John McDonnell and I are in firm agreement - what Scotland needs is radical reforming Labour governments at Holyrood and Westminster.”

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Scotland's "Pay Shame" as Ethnic Minority Pay Gap is More than Double the British Average

3  August 2019

New analysis from Scottish Labour has revealed that the pay gap between white workers and ethnic minority workers in Scotland is estimated to be more than double that of the British average.

Data from the Office of National Statistics suggests ethnic minority workers earn on average 10% less than white workers in Scotland, compared to an average gap of below 4% across the UK.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard condemned the revelations, and called on the Scottish Government to review how it can use procurement policies to close the gap.

Mr Leonard also insisted that his plans for the devolution of employment law with a ‘UK-floor’ would allow Scotland to tackle this ‘pay shame’.

Labour has also committed to increase the minimum wage to a ‘real living wage’ of £10 per hour, if they form the next government.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“People from Scotland’s ethnic minority communities play a vital part of our economy, and it is shameful that there is any pay gap between ethnic minority workers and white workers.

“The fact that Scotland’s ethnic minority pay gap is more than double the UK average is unacceptable and, that’s why Scottish Labour want the Scottish Parliament to have the power to improve employment laws and tackle injustices like this.

“If we had a UK-floor we could prevent a race to the bottom on wages, terms and conditions.

“But I urge the First Minister and her Government to urgently review its own procurement practices to ensure they are also doing all they can to deliver fair pay for all.”

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Comment on Job Losses at Havelock International

2 August 2019

Following talks with the Administrators for Fife furniture firm Havelock International which is to make 247 workers redundant Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird said:

“This news is hugely disappointing for the workers and their families - Havelock has a long, proud tradition and a highly skilled workforce, and Scottish Labour will do all that we can to work with the Administrators and Scottish Government to find a solution to this awful news.

“There is justifiable anger about the speed which events have unfolded as it can limit the options available to resolve the situation. Which in this case has left the employees with no warning and no pay.

“However, with a significant payment due for work on the AECC I believe further pressure could have been applied from the Scottish Government to make that happen or indeed to reach a resolution that would have ensured that the workforce would have been paid.

“I will continue to work with the Administrators and trade unions on this and have already written to the Scottish Government to urge that all possible support is made available.”

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Failure to Mitigate Effects of the Rape Clause "Shameful"

1 August 2019

Commenting on reports that the number of people in Scotland affected by the two child cap has doubled in the past year, Scottish Labour Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said:

“This rapid increase in the number of Scottish families affected by the cap underlines just how shameful this abhorrent Tory policy really is.

“Thousands more are set to be affected in the years to come and it must be scrapped immediately.

“Scotland could effectively end the cap, scrap the rape clause and do what we can to reverse the devastating effects of this callous policy.

“Instead, ministers are refusing to do so, despite the Scottish Parliament taking action on the bedroom tax and housing benefit cuts.

“It’s shameful.

"SNP Ministers should stop playing politics and use the powers they have to protect people."

Rising Poverty Levels A Shameful Sign of Tory Legacy

30 July 2019

New statistics from the Scottish Government reveal that demand for the Scottish Welfare Fund is increasing, despite real terms cuts to its funding.

In 2018/19, local authorities received 193, 230 applications for crisis care grants (11 per cent more than the year before) and made 125,155 awards (5 per cent more than the previous year).

The figures come only a day after a new report from the Social Metrics Commission revealed one in five people in Scotland are living in poverty, with the level increasing over the past two years.

The Scottish Welfare Fund has received a flat budget of £33 million each year since 2013, amounting to a real terms cut of £3.5 million after inflation.

Analysis from Scottish Labour suggests that if the same level of funding continues there will be a real terms cut of £7 million by 2025.

Scottish Labour has called on the SNP government to increase investment to the Scottish Welfare Fund, a key means of protecting and supporting vulnerable people.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Despite increasing demand for its services, the Scottish Welfare Fund and local councils are being starved of cash by the SNP.

“With families using food banks and struggling to get by, this fund has never been more needed.

“Without additional funding from the SNP government this fund is in jeopardy, and it will be the most vulnerable people in our communities who will continue to lose out.”

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Rising Demand for Foster Carers Highlights Recruitment Issues

25 July 2019

A report from the Care Inspectorate has revealed that the number of children coming into foster care in 2018 exceeded the number of new foster carers in 30 of the 32 local authority services.

This is the highest incidence of this situation between 2015 and 2018.

Scottish Labour has warned that these figures are the latest sign of the challenge of recruiting sufficient numbers of foster carers, and called for further action to be taken.

Scottish Labour Education Spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“It’s concerning that the number of children coming into foster care exceeded the number of new foster carers last year.

“Whilst the Independent Care Review is doing vital work to improve the experience of looked after children in Scotland, the children who are continuing to enter care need help now.

“Local authorities need sufficient resources to recruit and retain enough foster carers, to provide the loving and supportive environments that looked after young people need to thrive.

“The Scottish Government must take bolder and faster action to ensure that children and young people in care are receiving the support they need.”

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Comment on Universities Scotland Guarantee for Care Experienced Applicants

25 July 2019

Commenting on Universities Scotland’s agreement to guarantee offers to care experienced applicants who meet minimum entry requirements, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“This is a very welcome move from Universities Scotland.

“Far more must be done to ensure equality of access to university for care experienced young people.

“Only 4.5% of care experienced school leavers went into higher education last year - and the government doesn’t even know how many of these were at university.

“Ministers must now also step up to the plate and raise the Care Experienced Student Bursary to match the living wage to ensure all the support that is needed is there for these young people during their studies.”

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Comment on the Election of Boris Johnson as Leader of the Conservative Party

24 July 2019

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Boris Johnson represents a dangerous form of English nationalism, and the one certainty of his election as leader of the Tory party is more uncertainty for the future of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“Johnson some time ago abandoned the unionist tradition of the Conservative and Unionist party. The Tory Party he now leads is a real and present danger to Scotland’s place in the UK.

“A no-deal Brexit led by Boris Johnson spells disaster for our country, and it is unforgivable for the Scottish Tories to back him.

“Only Scottish Labour is standing up for Scotland’s place in the UK, for the UK’s place in Europe and against a harmful no deal Brexit.”

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Over £80 Million in Advance Universal Credit Payments Reveals Failure of Benefits System

21 July 2019

New figures reveal that Scots have received over £80 million in advance payments since Universal Credit began full service.

The data, released to Scottish Labour in a Freedom of Information request, also reveals that the number of advances paid out has topped 200,000.

In May 2019, there were 184,537 Scots on full service Universal Credit.

Advance payments for Universal Credit were introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions as a mechanism to prevent people falling into hardship during the five-week wait for their first payment.

These latest figures follow reports that scammers are fraudulently claiming advance loans through misuse of the system.

Scottish Labour has warned this latest revelation is yet further evidence that Universal Credit is failing those that it is intended to help.

Scottish Labour Social Security Spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said:

“It’s beyond belief that £80 million has had to be paid out in advance loan payments since Universal Credit was rolled out into full service.

“More and more people are being pushed into hardship – and the system is clearly set up in a way that means it is not helping those who need it.

“Those on Universal Credit shouldn’t be forced into claiming advance payments that have to be paid back.

“Across the country tens of thousands are still suffering the misery of Universal Credit – made to choose between paying the rent, heating their home or eating.

“The Tories must halt this shambolic system and take immediate steps to ensure those who need it most are getting the assistance they need.”

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Chronic Pain Patients Receive Just £27,000 of £535 Million Waiting Times Fund

21 July 2019

New figures have revealed that chronic pain patients are receiving just £27,000 of a £535 million SNP government fund to improve waiting times.

The SNP government admitted that chronic pain had been allocated a tiny fraction of the improvement fund in an answer to a parliamentary question by Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon.

Chronic pain waiting times are one of the worst performing specialisms, with over a third of chronic pain patients having to wait over 18 weeks to be seen at their first appointment.

The waiting time target for chronic pain has never been met since regular reporting began in 2015.

Scottish Labour has called for a review of chronic pain waiting times, and warned that more resources are needed to improve performance.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP said:

“The target for chronic pain waiting times has never been met since it was introduced, with over a third of patients having to wait longer than four months to be seen for an initial appointment.

“So it’s completely baffling that such a small amount – less than half a percent - of the £535 million fund to improve waiting times is being spent on chronic pain.

“The thousands of Scots who are waiting, in pain, for months on end surely deserve better than this.

“The Health Secretary clearly needs to get a grip on chronic pain waiting times and provide answers about why more money is not being spent to improve them.

“That’s why Scottish Labour has been consistently calling for review of what’s going wrong, because, after 12 years of SNP government, it’s simply unacceptable that chronic pain waiting times are showing no signs of improvement.”

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Budget Shortfall Threatens Public Services

18 July 2019

New figures released today revealed that Scotland’s finances face a shortfall of over £200 million by 2021.

Tax revenues were almost £1 billion less than expected for 2017/18, leading to a shortfall in Scotland’s future finances – totalling over £200 million by 2021 as it stands.

Scottish Labour has warned that the shortfall must be urgently addressed to stop further cuts to public services.

Scottish Labour Finance Spokesperson James Kelly MSP said:

“A shortfall of hundreds of millions of pounds in the Scottish budget means more cuts to public services.

“Derek Mackay needs to urgently spell out how he will use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to plug this gap.

“This worrying shortfall reveals why the Scottish economy needs investment and a plan for growth – not more of the uncertainty offered by the constitutional obsession of the Tories and the SNP.

“Only Labour has a credible plan to grow the Scottish economy, close the tax gap and tackle poverty with our radical policies to boost wages and invest in public services.”

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Scotland's Drug Deaths Now A " National Crisis" - Monica Lennon

16 July 2019

Commenting on the news that drug deaths in Scotland have reached the highest level ever recorded, Scottish Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Behind these heart-breaking numbers are devastated families who have lost sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, in every part of Scotland.

“Scotland’s drug crisis is out of control and the status quo cannot continue.

“That is why Scottish Labour has consistently called on SNP Ministers to declare a public health emergency and use every power available to them to tackle this crisis.

“But it is clear the UK Government must also reassess its approach and listen to experts and those living with substance misuse to find the best way to stop more families being left heartbroken.

“These drug deaths are preventable and our governments at Holyrood and Westminster must work together to solve this national crisis.”

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Stroke Patients Not Getting the Care They Need

10 July 2019

Commenting on the Scottish Stroke Care Audit and Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland’s press release ‘Time for Scottish Government to Stop Playing Catch-Up On Stroke Care’, Scottish Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon MSP said:

"Swift and effective care for stroke patients saves lives and leads to the best possible recovery for patients.

"Sadly, stroke patients are still not receiving the level of care they need - with performance levels well below the SNP government's national target.

“Scottish Labour agrees with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland that the Scottish Government must stop playing catch-up on stroke care. We can’t afford to wait several years for thrombectomy services because it means thousands of people will be more disabled by their stroke simply because they live in Scotland. This is why we wholeheartedly support the Bring Back Thrombectomy campaign.”

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Delayed Discharge on the Rise Amid Social Care Crisis

3 July 2019

The number of people being left stuck in hospital despite being medically fit to leave has increased year-on-year.

The practice, known as delayed discharge, often arises because a social care package - that would allow someone to safely return home or to a community setting - is not in place.

At the May 2019 census point there were 1,451 people stuck in hospital due to their discharge being delayed, an increase of 4 per cent compared to May 2018. Over the course of the month, a total of 45,061 bed days were lost due to delayed discharges across the health service.

The most up to date estimate calculates the average cost of each delay is £234 per day, working out to a total of £10.54million in May alone.

Of those delayed at the census point in May, 1,181 people were delayed by more than three days. Three-quarters of these delays were caused by health and social care reasons.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Despite promising to end delayed discharge, people are waiting too long to access social care.

“The SNP Government is failing to turn this around and each delayed discharge is a drain on NHS resources and is needlessly putting people at risk of hospital-acquired infections.

“In the month of May alone this cost our NHS more than £10million - that’s money that could be spent on medicines, more staff and new equipment.

“This is no reflection on the hardworking staff but the performance of our NHS is worsening under Jeane Freeman. The integration of health and social care services will not succeed unless SNP Ministers make the right resources available.”

Delayed Discharges in NHS Scotland

In May 2019, there were 45,061 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed. This is an increase of 4% compared with 43,244 days in May 2018.

In May 2019, the average number of beds occupied per day due to delayed discharges was 1,454. In April, the daily average was 1,366.

At the May 2019 census point, there were 1,451 people delayed. This is an increase of 4% compared with the number of people delayed (1,390) at the census point in May 2018.

Of those delayed at the May 2019 census point, 1,181 were delayed more than three days with health and social care reasons accounting for 884 delays (75%), complex needs accounting for 264 delays (22%) and patient and family-related reasons for 33 delays (3%).

ISD Scotland estimates the average cost for the average cost of each delay. As of 2016/17 this was £234, equivalent to a total of £10,544,274 in May 2019:

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3 July 2019

The SNP government has turbo-charged Tory austerity on councils and the lifeline services they provide, a new report has found.

New figures from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) show that between 2013-14 and 2018-19, the Scottish government revenue budget was cut by 2.8 per cent but the SNP has hammered councils with cuts to their budgets of 7.5 per cent.

Scottish Labour say the cuts have put lifeline services at risk and show the SNP has not only failed to stand up to Tory austerity, they have increased it for local services across Scotland.

Commenting on the report, Scottish Labour's finance spokesperson James Kelly MSP said:

“The SNP has turbo-charged Tory austerity on councils across the country.

"Instead of using Scotland's powers to stand up to the Tories, the SNP government has used Holyrood as a conveyer belt for cuts.

"And we know these cuts have been made amid the government sitting on almost half a billion pounds of unspent cash.

"It’s time for Derek Mackay to listen to Scottish Labour and properly fund local services."

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3 July 2019

Millions of pounds intended to help Scotland prepare for a no-deal Brexit has been secretly spent on other things by the SNP Government, Scottish Labour can reveal.

In 2018/19, the SNP government received £37.3million in Barnett consequentials from the UK Government’s £1.5billion Brexit preparation fund.

However, in a parliamentary answer to Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie MSP, SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has admitted he spent £10million of the fund on other matters.

The SNP government has received a further £54.7million in the current financial year, but Mr Mackay has refused to reveal what the money has been spent on across the devolved portfolios.

The unaccounted for spending comes amid warnings from the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission that the SNP government is facing a £1billion black hole in its books.

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie MSP said:

“The SNP’s decision to blow £10million of no deal Brexit funding has left Scottish businesses and the jobs they support at risk.

“Derek Mackay is doubling down on the Tories’ economic incompetence with this decision.

“A no deal Brexit will never be a credible option, but neither is blowing preparation funding which could shield Scottish businesses from the worst excesses of a new Tory Prime Minister.

“Derek Mackay and the SNP should come clean over why they have misused this funding and what they intend to do to ensure Scottish jobs are not put at risk from their actions.”

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3 July 2019

Shadow Scottish Secretary and MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Lesley Laird, has today (03 July 2019) written to the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to take action and make the investment required at the BiFab yards in order to ensure that they are competitive and that they are able to play a role in the Green Industrial Revolution.

The letter comes after a series of meetings undertaken with stakeholders by Lesley Laird, including with DF Barnes, the CEO of EDF Renewables and the STUC. It also comes ahead of Friday's Ready for Renewal rally at the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking ahead of the Ready for Renewal rally, Shadow Scottish Secretary, Lesley Laird, said:

"Scotland has a real opportunity to be a world leader in renewables and at the forefront of a Green Industrial Revolution if the political will is there to make it happen. We are in the midst of a climate crisis and as a society we will have to change our way of life to ensure that we preserve our planet.

"That is undoubtedly a great challenge, but it is also a great opportunity that we must seize. I believe that the high-skilled, high-paid green jobs of the future should be right here in Scotland and that should start with the yards at BiFab. The skills are already there and have been for a long time, but investment is required in the yards to make them competitive enough to win contracts in an increasingly competitive global market.

"The STUC Ready for Renewal campaign has the backing of the local community in Fife and it has the backing of the Labour Party. Unfortunately without financial commitments from the Scottish Government, who have a minority stake in the yard to make necessary improvements, the campaign is unlikely to be successful.

"That is why, ahead of Friday's rally, I have written to Nicola Sturgeon asking her to invest in the BiFab yards and make it absolutely clear that Scotland is ready to lead the world in the manufacturing of renewable energy technologies."

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3 July 2019

Refunds handed out to rail passengers because of severe delays or cancellations have soared by more than 500 per cent, Scottish Labour can reveal.

Passengers who have been delayed by 30 minutes or more can claim some or all or their fare back under ScotRail’s DelayRepay scheme.

In the 2018/19 reporting period, ScotRail received an astonishing 149,742 claims from let down passengers. Compared to the first year of the franchise in 2015/16, the number of claims has risen by 529 per cent.

Meanwhile the number of complaints received by ScotRail from passengers in the final quarter of the same year has skyrocketed by 39 per cent when compared to the same period in 2017/18.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth MSP said:

“Rail passengers are facing misery and chaos across the country.

“Behind each one of the almost 150,000 claims are individuals having to miss job interviews, medical appointments and time with their family after a hard day's work.

“This rail misery for people simply cannot be allowed to continue.

“Scottish Labour is calling on the Transport Secretary to listen to the public and strip Abellio of the contract at the earliest opportunity and bring our railways in public ownership.”

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SNP Government Fails To Bring Education Debates to Parliament for Last 19 Months

27 June 2019

The SNP has not led one single debate on their top priority of education in this parliamentary year, with the last Government led debate held on 2nd November 2017.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard, said that the SNP’s poor record on education - including the teacher recruitment crisis, narrowing of the curriculum, the explosion of multi-level teaching and the growing crisis in additional support needs – was why no debates have been brought forward by the SNP government for 19 months.

Additionally, new figures released by Scottish Labour the SNP government now spend over one thousand pounds less per student on teaching in Scottish universities than they did when they came into office in 2007.

That is on top of a reduction in spending of £427 per pupil in primary schools and warnings from the Auditor General that colleges are not achieving financial sustainability.

Richard Leonard said to Nicola Sturgeon :

“If education really is your top priority then why does research, we are publishing today, show that the Government is spending over one thousand pounds less per student on teaching in our universities since it came to office?

“Isn’t this the record on education that the government is so unwilling and unable to debate? A record of cuts – cuts to schools, cuts to colleges and cuts to universities?”

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Increase in Homelessness "Disgraceful"

27 June 2019

The publication of Scottish Government statistics show there were 36,465 homeless applications in 2018/19, an increase of 892 (three per cent) on the previous year.

It marks the second year in a row that homelessness applications have risen.

Scottish Labour said the figures were disgraceful, and revealed a lack of long-term planning from the SNP Government.

Scottish Labour Housing Spokesperson Pauline McNeill said:

"Having just one person homeless in 21st century Scotland is unacceptable – but to see homelessness on the rise once again is an utter disgrace.

“These numbers show that the impact of continued austerity from the Westminster and Holyrood governments is having real impact on real people’s lives and more must be done to halt the blight of homelessness in Scotland.

“It took the SNP over ten years to focus on homelessness and as yet their plans are having little impact on people at the sharp end of poverty.

"We need to see more investment in social housing, frontline services and prevention made a top priority as a matter of urgency but we also need investment in housing more widely.

“Scottish Labour is the only party with a plan to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis, by building at least an additional 12,000 homes for social rent and introducing a new law to cap private sector rent increases, tackling the cost of living crisis and properly funding the local services that prevent people losing their accommodation.”

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NHS Performance Worsening on Jeane Freeman's Watch

26 June 2019

One year on from Jeane Freeman’s appointment as Health Secretary, the NHS’ performance has worsened, Scottish Labour can reveal.

Despite being lauded as a steady hand to reverse the decline brought about by her predecessor, patients are not getting the care they need under Freeman.

Key waiting times are being missed and vacancies are growing inside the already strained NHS.

Scotland’s NHS under Jeane Freeman:

- Accident & Emergency waiting time target missed every month of Freeman’s tenure.

- Cancer treatment waiting times worsened.

- Chronic pain treatment times worsened.

- Musculoskeletal waiting times worsened.

- SNP’s Treatment Time Guarantee is being broken more often.

- Vacancies for consultants and nurses growing.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Despite all the hype around Jeane Freeman’s appointment, Scotland’s NHS is going backwards during her first year in charge of Scotland’s health service.

“Staff are overworked and patients are not getting the care they deserve.

“It is time for the Health Secretary to stop the spin and listen to NHS staff and people across Scotland who urgently want our health and social care services to be properly resourced.”

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Scotland's Mental Health Crisis Claims Almost 800 Lives in 2018

26 June 2019

Commenting on new figures showing a rise in the number of suicides in Scotland in 2018, Monica Lennon MSP said:

“Scotland’s mental health crisis is claiming the lives of almost 800 people every single year.

“Around 100 young people under the age of 25 died by suicide last year, with the total number of young men ending their lives through these circumstances rising for the fourth consecutive year.

“In August, the SNP government promised to reduce the suicide rate by 20 per cent by 2020. But these figures show things are getting worse, not better.

“Suicide is preventable and we need action from Jeane Freeman to give our mental health services the resources they need to stop this tragic loss of life.”

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SNP Must Not Ignore Charities on Income Supplement - Richard Leonard

25 June 2019

Commenting on the call by charities and academics for the SNP to fast track the introduction of the income supplement, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This is a serious call by some of Scotland’s most senior charities which must not be ignored by the SNP.

“Children queuing with their parents at food banks cannot wait three years for help. They need it now.

“Last week it emerged the SNP government had banked almost half a billion pounds in unspent money.

“It is time for Nicola Sturgeon to put her money where her mouth is on tackling poverty and inequality.

“If Nicola Sturgeon ensures her government does that she will have the support of Scottish Labour.”

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Comment on Scottish Public Pensions Agency Audit Report

25 June 2019

Commenting on the Auditor General for Scotland’s Section 23 report on the Scottish Public Pensions Agency, James Kelly MSP said:

"This is an absolute mess which has cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

"Auditors found that the SNP's cuts to public services has left them under pressure and under staffed, leading to botched projects like this.

"We now know Derek Mackay is sitting on half a billion pounds of unspent money.

"It is about time he properly funded Scotland's public services."

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Time for Humility and Realism from Swinney on Schools

25 June 2019

Scottish Labour has called on John Swinney to go back to the drawing board on schools over the summer, as they break for the holiday.

Ahead of an update to Parliament which Mr Swinney will give today (Tuesday), Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said it was time for some humility and realism from the Education Secretary.

The Cabinet Secretary should:

• Scrap Scottish National Standardised Assessments for Primary 1s as instructed by Parliament.

• Restore the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy and re-enter Scotland into internationally recognised measurements of literacy, numeracy and science (PIRLS and TIMSS).

• Urgently address the teacher recruitment and workload crisis.

• Urgently review and address the reduction in subjects which senior pupils can study.

• Halt the “explosion” of teaching in classes covering three and four different levels.

• Provide local authorities with enough funding to make certain that children who have additional support needs are not left behind.

Whether it is problems with his standardised tests, narrowing subject choices, a lack of data or the crisis of resourcing, Scottish Labour said the Education Secretary is completely in denial of the reality for most of Scotland’s teachers, pupils and parents.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“It’s beyond time that John Swinney woke up and showed some humility over his bungled plans to reform Scotland’s education system.

“From the debacle of his standardised tests, the narrowing of subject choices for secondary pupils, multilevel teaching and a crisis of resourcing in our classrooms, John Swinney is in denial about the reality of what is happening in our schools.

"His so called 'reforms' have been pushed through against opposition on all sides by and the Education Secretary who thinks he knows better than teachers, parents or educational experts.

“It really is time he showed some humility, listened to teachers, parents and parliament and got the fundamentals of resourcing and curriculum right instead of ploughing on with reforms no one wants or needs.”

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Labour Must Take On The English Nationalism of Boris Johnson

21 June 2019

Speaking at the 'Arise Festival of Labour's left ideas' in London, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

"We need to take on the English nationalism of Boris Johnson.

"Because we are witnessing the abandonment of Conservatism and unionism and the rise of a new and dangerous nationalism.

"So our message must be clearer than ever before, and we must fight harder than ever before - because the real division in society is not the division between Scotland and England.

"It is not between the people of these shared islands and the working people of Europe.

"The real division is between those who own the wealth and those who through their hard work and endeavour create the wealth.

"That’s the real division."

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Scottish Labour Vote Against "SNP-Tory Stitch Up" Planning Bill
20 June 2019

Scottish Labour have voted against the Planning Bill at its final stage, warning that it has become a missed opportunity to deliver transformative change.

The SNP and Scottish Conservatives joined forces to blocked a community right of appeal and remove key changes made by MSPs at Stage 2.

Scottish Labour has been pushing for amendments that would rebalance power in the planning system, and give communities a right of appeal with developers to level the playing field and make the system fairer.

But SNP and Tory MSPs voted against proposals to reform the planning appeal system, choosing instead to side with big developers.

Scottish Labour Communities Spokesperson Alex Rowley said:

“The Planning Bill has become an SNP-Tory stitch up which fails to deliver transformative change for our communities.

“The SNP has teamed up with the Tories to push through their timid approach to planning reform.

“It’s a shameful missed opportunity.

"SNP Ministers have failed to read the public mood on planning, and have chosen to side with big developers over ordinary communities.”

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Comment on Ministerial Statement on Review of Gender Recognition Act
20 June 2019

Responding to the ministerial statement on the Scottish Government’s review of the Gender Recognition Act, Pauline McNeill MSP said:

“Scottish Labour has always been at the vanguard of promoting equality, dignity and respect. We strongly believe that people should be able to live their lives free from prejudice, and it is unacceptable that trans people continue to face prejudice and discrimination every day.

“It is these principles which will underpin our approach to scrutinising any proposed legislation when it comes forward.

“We must also examine how the legislation interacts with existing legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act.

“We will also continue to push for specialist services for trans services to be improved where possible now, without waiting for legislation to be introduced, including revising the fee required for a gender recognition certificate.”

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Promising Sign for Victims of Mesh Scandal
20 June 2019

Responding to a Scottish Government announcement that an expert in mesh implant removal looks set to come to Scotland, Neil Findlay MSP said:

“This a promising sign, and we will continue to ask questions of the Scottish Government until this visit by Dr Veronikis to Scotland is a done deal. We have only come to this point because of the active campaigning of Scottish mesh survivors in securing media coverage and sustained parliamentary pressure.

“Hundreds of women have had their lives ruined by mesh implants. This move would mean women no longer have to travel abroad for full mesh removal, and that other medical professionals could be trained in the procedure here in Scotland.

“Meanwhile, whilst questions remain over the involvement of members of the short life working group in plans to re-introduce mesh in Scotland, the Health Secretary should immediately publish minutes of their meetings to restore confidence.”

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SNP Starving Welfare Fund of Cash
20 June 2019

Commenting on the embargoed report by Oxfam, Mark Griffin MSP, said:

“It’s clear that the Scottish Welfare Fund and local councils are being starved of cash by the SNP.

“Vulnerable people are not getting the help that they need because councils do not have the money to advertise the fund’s existence.

“The SNP is now re-creating many of the same problems developed by the DWP, with vulnerable people unaware that they have help available to them.

“Without additional funding from the SNP government this fund is in jeopardy and it will be the poorest people in our communities who will continue to lose out.”

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SNP Must Stop Classing Zero-Hour Contracts As A "Positive Destination " For Young People - Iain Gray

18 June 2019

Commenting on the release of the ‘positive destinations’ statistics, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“Scotland’s young people are continuing to achieve, and any and all progress towards ensuring they can reach their full potential is to be welcomed.

“However, these ‘positive destination’ stats include those in zero-hours, temporary and precarious work, by no measure a ‘positive’ experience just after school. Even within this, an unacceptable deprivation-based gap remains.

“If the government want to use these statistics as proof of success, they must accept Labour’s demands and ensure the criteria removes exploitative working conditions.”

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Patients Left In Pain As Muscoskeletal Waiting Targets Missed

18 June 2019

Thousands of patients were left in pain after key musculoskeletal (MSK) waiting time targets were missed, official figures confirm.

Just 50.5% of 83,787 patients who had a first clinical outpatient appointment were seen within four weeks of referral for quarter ending 31 March 2019, well below the SNP government’s target of 90 per cent.

At the end of the quarter, 58.7 percent of people still to be seen had been waiting more than four weeks, an increase on the 56.3 percent of people waiting at the end of March 2018.

MSK problems can include a diversity of complaints and diseases in areas such as joints, bones, and muscles as well as pre or post-orthopaedic surgery.

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“People across the country are being let down by the Health Secretary’s failure to get to grips with waiting times.

“This is not just one or two people being left in pain, this is thousands of people across the country.

“Not only will this have an impact on their wellbeing, this could be preventing people returning to work after surgery.

“We need to see action from the Health Secretary to improve the outcomes for these patients or these targets will not be worth the paper it is written on.”

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Attainment Gap Faced by Looked After Children Revealed

18 June 2019

Statistics released today have highlighted the incredible attainment gap suffered by Looked After Children (LAC) in education.

The Scottish Government statistics show that, for 2017-18:

• Not even two out of five LAC achieved one National 5 qualification, and more are now leaving by the end of S4 than the previous year

• There is a 17 point percentage gap between LAC and the general population who go to a ‘positive follow up destination’ after school

• 4.5% of LAC went into higher education 3 months after leaving school, compared to 41% of all school leavers

• At all CfE levels, across all age groups, an attainment gap exists in Reading, Writing, Listening & Talking and Numeracy

Labour said the statistics show the need for urgent reform.

Scottish Labour's education spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

"While we recognise that the situation has improved for Care Experienced Young People in the last decade, these shocking statistics highlight that the young people in our care are still being failed.

"Only days ago the First Minister reiterated her promises to improve things for care experienced young people. We need more than promises though.

"That not even 40% achieved at least one National 5 qualification is a national embarrassment. These young people are having their life chances significantly narrowed by a system that is clearly not meeting their needs.

"The Independent Care Review, led by Fiona Duncan is doing incredibly important work. These statistics however show that reform can’t wait and the Government must start implementing its early recommendations as and when the review announce them, without delay."

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Health Secretary Must Provide Answers on Mesh Scandal

17 June 2019

Commenting on reports that mesh campaigners have called on the Health Secretary to consider her position, Neil Findlay MSP said:

“There may have been no date in the diary for the reintroduction of mesh in Scotland, but it seems clear the Scottish Government was planning it.

“If, as the Health Secretary insists, this senior group of doctors and officials did not meet in February to discuss how and when mesh should be reintroduced, then she should publish the minutes.

“If this was indeed the purpose of the meeting, despite her denials, then the questions will get very serious indeed.”

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon added:

“What matters more than the Health Secretary’s reputation is the health of Scotland’s mesh injured women.

Jeane Freeman must report to Parliament immediately and make an urgent statement.”

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Scottish Welfare Fund Set for £3million Real Terms Cut

17 June 2019

The Scottish Welfare Fund is set to be hit with a £3 million real terms cut over the next four financial years, analysis by Scottish Labour has found.

The independent Scottish Fiscal Commission forecasts that the fund’s budget from the SNP government will be frozen over the period, causing the fund to be eroded by inflation.

By 2023/24, at the current rate of inflation, the fund will suffer a £3 million real terms cut compared to the current financial year.

Families on low incomes across the country currently benefit from the fund through crisis and community care grants.

Scottish Labour’s social security spokesperson, Mark Griffin MSP, said:

“The Scottish Welfare Fund’s ability to help the most vulnerable people in our society will be put in jeopardy if the SNP carry out this real terms cut to its budget.

“With families using food banks and life expectancy falling, this fund has never been more needed. “The SNP government must stop these cuts and ensure vulnerable people get the help that they desperately need.” Back to previous page

John Swinney Guilty of "Supreme Arrogance" Over Primary 1 tests

12 June 2019

Speaking after the Education Secretary's statement to Parliament, Scottish Labour's education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“It remains an act of supreme arrogance for John Swinney to continue to defy the will of the Scottish Parliament.

“The Parliament said in September that testing Primary 1 pupils must end, yet the SNP government continues to ignore that decision.

“The review reflects many of parliament’s concerns, including the lack of a clear rationale for the tests. I

"It says the results cannot provide national data or compare school with school in the way Ministers have repeatedly said they could.

“Parliament was right in September and it is still right today.

“The testing of Primary 1 pupils should stop.”

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Labour Overhauls SNP's Timid Transport Bill with Municipal Bus Amendments

12 June 2019

Scottish Labour has overhauled the Transport Bill to lift the ban on Councils running bus services.

Scottish Labour’s amendments to the Bill will allow communities to wrestle control of Scotland’s bus network away from big business.

Under the plans, local authorities will be able to run bus services directly or through an arms length municipal bus companies with either model free to compete for any other service or franchise. Currently the only publicly owned, municipal bus company in Scotland is Lothian Buses, whose existence pre-dates deregulation.

The Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity backed the plans by 6 votes to 5 on Wednesday, with only SNP MSPs voting against the Labour’s proposals.

Communities want more control over their services and the SNP should now relinquish their opposition to Labour’s amendments when the Bill returns at Stage 3 to the Parliament.

Scottish Labour’s Transport spokesperson, Colin Smyth MSP, said:

“Under the SNP government Scotland’s bus network is being dismantled route by route, fares are rising and passenger numbers are plummeting.

“Scottish Labour wants to change this, and our amendments to the Transport Bill will allow communities to wrestle control of their bus network away from big business.

“These changes will allow councils to run services directly or through an arms-length company to the benefit of the communities which they serve.

“This is a historic change which shows Scottish Labour is setting the agenda with radical proposals to ensure we have a transport system that works for the many, not the few.”

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Hundreds of Thousands of Older People in Scotland Risk Losing TV Licence Fee

11 June 2019

Responding to the conclusion of the BBC’s TV Licence consultation Claire Baker MSP, Scottish Labour Culture Spokesperson, said:

“This announcement today from the BBC that hundreds of thousands of pensioners in Scotland, and over 3 million pensioners across the whole UK, are set to lose their entitlement to free licence fees is solely the fault of the Conservative party.

“Their manifesto commitment is in tatters and older people’s charities are rightly warning that many people over 75 will now be at increased risk of isolation and loneliness.

“Labour was completely opposed to this and we are still firmly of the belief the Government was wrong to outsource social policy in this way.”

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SNP Must Listen or “The Future of the NHS is Not Sustainable” – Monica Lennon

4 June 2019

1 in 4 children in young people waiting too long for mental health treatment.

Nursing and midwifery vacancies rising.

Spending on agency staff in nursing and midwifery soaring to more than £26 million.

The SNP government must listen and change direction or "the future of the NHS is not sustainable", Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Monica Lennon has said.

The warning comes after official figures published by ISD Scotland showed a catalogue of problems across the health service.

One in every four children and young people seen for mental health treatment in the first three months of 2019 had to endure a wait of more than 18 weeks to get the treatment they needed, with 3,120 still waiting over 18 weeks at the end of the quarter.

Meanwhile, 5 per cent of nursing and midwifery posts for qualified and support staff are vacant (up from 4.5 per cent last year) and spending on agency staff in this area has soared by 10.9 per cent year-on-year to £26.2million.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Hardworking staff in health and social care are spinning more plates than ever as we enter the 13th year of the SNP in government.

“People are right to ask why they and their families are forced to wait for urgent mental health services and social care.

“SNP Ministers should have done much more on health prevention and NHS workforce planning. Instead operations are routinely cancelled and people are stuck in hospital for longer than necessary.

“Mental health is a priority in words only. Scottish Labour knows this needs to change and we are prepared to do the hard work to ensure Scotland’s health and social care services are fit for the future.

“The Scottish Government must show a willingness to change direction because the future of the NHS is not sustainable otherwise.”

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Scottish Labour Leader Comments on European Parliament Election results

27 May 2019

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Richard Leonard MSP, said :

"This was the election we didn’t expect to happen. Yet our six great candidates campaigned with energy, integrity and based on Labour’s core values and I thank them for their hard work over these last weeks.

"David Martin has a great track record in the European Parliament. I have known and campaigned with him for 35 years so I am personally extremely sad that he has not been returned.

"Labour was the only party fighting this election to bring the country back together.

The divisions caused by the competing nationalisms of the UK and Scottish Governments continue to be a distraction from both of their failures.

"Labour must, and will, do more to challenge these failures and put forward our positive alternatives to invest in our people, our communities and our public services.

"We put everything in to our campaign and were confident that our focus on jobs and a fair wage, schools and community would resonate with voters.

"I firmly believe that only Labour has the capability and values to unite different parts of the country and as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I will continue to put all my efforts into rebuilding the Party for the many, not the few."

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Scottish Labour Slams SNP Call to Extend "Workers Parking Tax" To Hit Shoppers

22 May 2019

A call by SNP-run Glasgow City Council to extend a planned parking tax on workers to hit shoppers at supermarkets and edge of town shopping centres has been slammed by Scottish Labour.

In response to questioning by Scottish Labour’s Transport spokesperson Colin Smyth at an evidence session on the Workplace Parking Levy by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, SNP-run Glasgow City Council’s Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, Councillor Anna Richardson called for the Workplace Parking Levy to be extended to cover all non-residential parking.

Scottish Labour Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth said:

“Not content with hitting workers in the pocket just for travelling to work, SNP politicians are now leading calls to hammer people simply for going shopping.

“Extending the tax to anyone visiting an out of town shopping centre, makes a mockery of the claims this was all about tackling congestion and pollution in city centres.

“It’s clear these plans are all about fleecing hard pressed families already feeling the squeeze. ”

Scottish Labour Call on SNP to Close Legal Loophole in Free Childcare Entitlement

22 May 2019

Today Scottish Labour called for the Scottish Government to legislate to give all young people their entitlement to free childcare from the age of three to beginning school.

Currently, if a parent defers a child born in September to December entry to primary one – something they are legally entitled to do – it is up to the local authority if they will fund the child’s early learning and childcare for that year.

Citing the ‘Give Them Time’ campaign - a campaign set up to close this loophole – Iain Gray pressed the Childcare Minister to implement the change.

There is a legislative anomaly between parents legal right to defer, and children’s right to funded ELC.

When asked repeatedly by Mr Gray if she was comfortable with poorer families having to make a decision whether they should send their child to school when they don’t deem them to be ready, or withdrawing their child from ELC altogether as they can’t afford to self-fund, Minister Maree Todd told Mr Gray, that ‘you call it anomalous, I call it flexible.’

The call came as the Education and Skills Committee considered secondary legislation concerning the expansion of funded childcare hours.

Iain Gray MSP, Labour Spokesperson for Education, said:

"The Give Them Time campaign have in a short time raised awareness of the exemptions based on month of birth that can be applied, and the postcode lottery that exists across the country due to local authority discretion over deferral requests.

"The core issue is a national policy contradiction between the legal right to defer that exists and that three and four year olds have a legal right to funded ELC hours. It makes no sense then, that exercising one legal right removes the other.

"The only logical solution is to change the law, protect the right to defer and the right to funded hours - removing the problems with the postcode lottery and the process.

"As is becoming normal within this Government’s education policy, they are not listening."

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Parliament Agrees " Significant Pressures" Faced by Midwives Must be Investigated

9 May 2019

Scottish Labour has won parliamentary recognition on the need for ‘urgent investigation’ of the significant workforce pressures being faced by midwives.

The party won cross-party support during a parliamentary debate, on the need for action to address the ‘low morale, bullying and work-related stress’ experienced by midwives in NHS Lothian which was raised in an open letter.

The letter claims that midwives do not have enough computers, equipment and pool cards to do their jobs.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon has welcomed the commitment towards an investigation, and has called on the SNP Health Secretary to act swiftly to implement it.

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Monica Lennon said:

“I’m pleased that Parliament has recognised the significant workforce pressures faced by midwives, and that the concerns raised by midwives in NHS Lothian need urgent investigation.

“Scottish Ministers must act swiftly to initiate an investigation and keep Parliament updated.

“These are challenges which are faced by midwives across the country, and that’s why we are also calling on the SNP to ensure that the Best Start reforms to midwifery and neonatal services are properly resourced.

“Midwives are absolutely crucial to the care of women and babies.

"The best way to celebrate their contribution to the NHS is by listening to their concerns and ensuring they have enough resources to do their jobs.”

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Number of College Students Studying IT-related Subjects has Fallen by 44 per cent

12 May 2019

The number of students studying Information Technology (IT) related subjects at college has fallen by 44 per cent since 2010/11, new analysis from Scottish Labour reveals.

The Scottish Funding Council’s Infact Database shows that the number of students studying IT at college has fallen from 41,113 in 2010/11 to 23,141 in 2017/18.

The proportion of those studying IT related subjects who are women has fallen by 11 per cent over the same period – accounting for 42 per cent of IT students in 2017/18, compared to 53 per cent in 2010/11.

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Iain Gray said:

“It’s extremely worrying that the number of students studying IT related subjects in Scotland’s colleges has fallen so dramatically under the SNP.

“STEM subjects are vital for Scotland’s long term prosperity, and encouraging more women, in particular, into these subjects should be a key aim for the government.

“These trends are going in the exact opposite direction of where we need to be. We need to see urgent action from the Government to avoid real problems for society and the economy in future.”

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Richard Leonard’s Response to Nicola Sturgeon’s Conference Speech

28 April 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s speech, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Nicola Sturgeon is more interested in uniting her party than uniting our country.

“There was no attempt justify the SNP’s new policy to scrap the pound as soon as possible, a move which would ramp up austerity and force hundreds of thousands of families with mortgages to gamble their house, pensions and savings on an untested new currency.

“Instead of harnessing the powers of devolution to tackle poverty, she is intent on using her time in office to stir up support for a referendum that a majority of the country does not want.

“Scotland now has a clear choice of £70billion worth of investment with Labour to boost our public services and wider economy or another decade of austerity with the SNP and the Tories with a focus on divisive and destructive nationalism.”

On the announcement of loans for first time buyers, Richard Leonard said:

“Help to buy too often has not worked for first time buyers, and the SNP must ensure this new support goes to people who need it. The devil will be in the detail.

“Labour will reform our private rented sector and significantly increase the number of council houses we build.

“Scotland faces a housing emergency and today’s announcement is an insufficient response.”

On Nicola Sturgeon announcing a ‘climate emergency’, Richard Leonard said:

“The call for a climate emergency from Nicola Sturgeon just rings hollow.

“The SNP plan to cut Air Departure Tax by 50 per cent - a move that will massively increase emissions.

“And they have time and again opposed Labour’s call for net zero emissions “

“Labour will put environmental justice at the heart of our industrial strategy and ensure we respond to the climate emergency on the scale necessary.”

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SNP Endorse Pro-Austerity Growth Commission

23 April 2019

Commenting on the SNP officially adopting the Growth Commission's austerity plan for Scotland, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said:

“Imposing a decade of austerity on the most vulnerable, tax cuts for big business and fewer rights for workers is now official SNP policy.

“The people of Scotland now have a clear choice between austerity and cuts with the SNP and the Tories, or £70billion worth of investment with a Labour government.

“Labour governments at Holyrood and Westminster will end low pay and the exploitation of workers, reverse the rise in poverty and homelessness, and put people before profit through public ownership of our public services.

“Under Labour, the wealthiest will pay more to fund our NHS, schools and local services. And we will invest in our people, our communities and industries, and shift the balance of power so our economy and society work in the interests of the many, not the few.”

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Comment on TSB Reducing Hours

23 April 2019

Commenting on TSB reducing hours at around 70 branches in Scotland, Scottish Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Ged Killen, said:

“The reduction of opening hours is a well-worn strategy by big banks as a prelude to closures. By restricting customers access, banks create a self-fulfilling prophecy where the consequential reduction in footfall is used as a justification to close branches. This is exactly what happened at a local TSB branch in my constituency.

“With 70 branches having their hours reduced it looks like TSB is preparing for mass closures across Scotland.

“Last year TSB suffered two major IT failures in just four months, resulting in customers queuing around the corner to access banking services when TSB’s online portal failed. With branches open less often customers run a heightened risk of being completely cut off, potentially for days. “Labour has continued to push for reforms to banking standard and ban ATM charges, ensuring customers have access to their accounts and access to cash for free.”

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Iain Gray Comment on Education Committee Evidence

24 April 2019

Commenting on today’s education committee evidence on the narrowing of the curriculum, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Iain Gray said:

"It is deeply worrying to hear from educationalists of the dangers of the narrowing curriculum in Scotland.

"For Professor Jim Scott to warn that ‘we are in danger of a generation going past who have not had a good experience in education’ should finally be the wake-up call for John Swinney and Education Scotland to act.

"The SNP implementation of the curriculum for excellence and the significant cuts to the resources in our classrooms are to blame.

"The reduction in subject choices in our schools is a reduction in opportunities for our young people."

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Richard Leonard : Currency Plan Cobbled Together To Appease Fundamental nationalists

20 April 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's latest comments on currency in a separate Scotland, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This currency debate is a distraction from the real and serious problems Scotland faces - a low pay economy, exhausted public services and 1 in 4 children living in poverty.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s economic plan for independence is now being cobbled together to appease the fundamentalist wing of her party,when the country just wants her to focus on jobs,schools and hospitals.

“Leaving the UK would lead to unprecedented of austerity for Scotland’s public services. Each currency option the First Minister has tried simply makes that worse.

"The political dividing line in Scotland is clear: investment with Labour or another decade of austerity with the SNP and the Tories “

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Spending Per Pupil Plummets Under TheTories and the SNP

22 April 2019

- Spending per primary pupil down over £400 since 2010

The SNP has failed to protect our schools from Tory austerity, Labour said today, as new analysis shows a huge fall in per pupil funding since 2010.

Analysis of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework by Scottish Labour, reveals that real terms spending per primary pupil has fallen by £427 per head since 2010/11, and £265 per head for secondary pupils.

Labour analysis includes additional spending commitments made since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, such as the Pupil Equity Fund and the Scottish Attainment Challenge; showing that these policies do not come close to reversing the cuts that preceded them.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Iain Gray, said:

“For almost a decade now the SNP has failed to stand up to Tory austerity, and instead turned Holyrood into a conveyor belt for cuts.

“The consequences of that is huge falls in per head spending for our school pupils, with spending per primary pupil over £400 less in real terms than it was in 2010.

“We can’t give our young people the best chance to get on in life while cutting school budgets and we will not see the attainment gap close with overworked teachers facing increasing class sizes.

“Labour would make the richest pay our fair share to invest in our pupils, teachers and schools to make Scotland a world leader in education again.”

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Richard Leonard : Currency Plan Cobbled Together To Appease Fundamental nationalists

20 April 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's latest comments on currency in a separate Scotland, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This currency debate is a distraction from the real and serious problems Scotland faces - a low pay economy, exhausted public services and 1 in 4 children living in poverty.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s economic plan for independence is now being cobbled together to appease the fundamentalist wing of her party,when the country just wants her to focus on jobs,schools and hospitals.

“Leaving the UK would lead to unprecedented of austerity for Scotland’s public services. Each currency option the First Minister has tried simply makes that worse.

"The political dividing line in Scotland is clear: investment with Labour or another decade of austerity with the SNP and the Tories “

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More Than 130,000 Young People Will Get A Pay Rise Under Labour

20 April 2019

More than 130,000 young people in Scotland will get a pay rise with a Labour Government, new figures reveal.

An estimated 130,000 people in Scotland aged between 18 and 24 earned less than the living wage last year. These workers would see a boost in their pay packets under Labour’s plans to introduce a new £10 per hour real living wage.

In total, almost half a million workers across Scotland will get a pay rise with a Labour government.

Labour will transform the lives of young people by introducing a Minimum Student Income, free bus travel for the under 25s, banning zero hours contracts and introducing a ‘Mary Barbour’ law to control rising rents.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Too many young people are struggling to get on in life because of low pay.

“How can a young person pay their rent never mind save for a deposit for a house when they are getting paid less than the living wage?

“This needs to end, and Labour will take action in government.

“Labour will transform the workplace by creating a £10 an hour minimum wage, ending exploitative zero hours contracts and extending free bus travel to everyone aged under 25.

“Labour will put more money in people's pockets and bring real change to our economy so that it works for the many, not the few.”

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Decade of SNP Cuts Sees College Staffing Levels Fall by 13 per cent

16 April 2019

There has been a 13.5 per cent reduction in full-time equivalent (FTE) staff in Scotland’s colleges since the SNP took power in 2007, new analysis from Scottish Labour reveals.

Statistics from the Scottish Funding Council show that in 2007/08, there were 12,653 FTE staff, while there are just 10,942 now, a cut of 1,711.

Analysis also reveals that there has been a 12.7 per cent reduction in the level of FTE teaching staff over the same period – a cut of 799.

The SNP regionalised colleges in 2013, a move opposed by unions and Labour.

As college lecturers consider further industrial action over a pay dispute, Labour said the figures highlight the SNP’s failure within Scotland’s further education sector.

Iain Gray MSP, Labour’s education spokesperson said:

“Colleges are key to jobs and growth, not to mention their important role in widening access to opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

“Since the SNP took power, and their subsequent botched regionalisation of the sector, further education in Scotland has suffered.

"Colleges have faced under investment, students have seen their numbers plummet by 120,000 and staff numbers have also declined.

“What’s more, staff and students are working in buildings in need of repairs totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Hardworking lecturers are now also engaged in industrial action over a cost-of-living pay rise to which they are entitled.

“For too long further education has been seen by the SNP as the poor relation.

"That must end.”

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SNP Doubles Down on Refusal to Mitigate The Two Child Cap

15 April 2019

The SNP has doubled down on its refusal to mitigate the impact of the two child cap on tax credits and universal credit.

In an interview with "The Times", Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville refused to back using Holyrood’s powers to mitigate the cap, saying, “It is not our policy to alleviate the cap.”

The intervention from Somerville follows Finance Secretary Derek Mackay claiming the Scottish budget mitigates the worse of Tory Benefit cuts, but refusing to mitigate the two child cap.

The Scottish government’s own figures suggested mitigating the cap - and the ensuing,controversial raps clause - would have cost £69m in this financial year, less that 0.1 per cent of the total Scottish budget.

Scottish Labour Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said:

“This stubborn refusal of the SNP to take action on the two child cap will exasperate people across Scotland.

“The 2016 Scotland Act delivered new powers to our parliament that allows for the creation of new social security payments for people in Scotland.

“If the SNP government wanted to, it could effectively end the cap and scrap the rape clause, and do what we can to reverse the devastating effects of this callous policy.

“Instead, ministers are refusing to do so, despite the Scottish Parliament taking action on the bedroom tax and housing benefit cuts.

“This inconsistency will infuriate people across the country who want to see the government using its powers to protect people.”

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Richard Leonard : Address to the STUC

15 April 2019

A Scottish Labour government would replace the council tax and set new standards on workers’ rights, Richard Leonard has told the STUC congress.

The Scottish Labour leader highlighted a new report from the Jimmy Reid Foundation, and backed calls for the council tax to be replaced in its current form.

On council tax Richard Leonard said:

“As the new Unison Jimmy Reid Foundation report published just today points out: approaching half of all Council Tax revenues are devoted to servicing the interest on borrowing and PFI/PPP loans.

“It is time that this came to an end. I agree with the report that it is time to shift the burden of taxation onto property and land.

“The council tax in its current form has to go. It is not fair and it is not fit for purpose.”

Mr Leonard also backed calls to commit to a Cabinet Secretary for Labour in the next Scottish Labour government, as well as seeking the devolution of employment law with a ‘pre-Brexit floor’ to ensure workers’ rights can only be built on, not rolled back, saying:

“We should be establishing new sectoral bargaining arrangements. But we want to go further: a future Scottish Labour Government under my leadership will not only establish sectoral collective bargaining we will establish sectoral industrial and economic planning as well as part of a long overdue industrial strategy for Scotland: bringing together trade unions, employers and government.

“So that instead of time and time again demanding last ditch defensive rescues in the event of market failure you, the Scottish trade union movement is at the very heart of pro-actively planning for economic success.

“Because we need trade union voices. And we need industrial democracy. Not just when things go wrong, but to help make sure things go right in the first place.

“And if we have not learned that, we have learned nothing. Go and ask the workers at BiFab, go and ask the workers at the Caley rail works in Springburn, go and ask the workers at Michelin here in Dundee.

“When I met Marc Jackson and the Michelin shop stewards a few weeks ago, he told me that Michelin did not close the factory, the market closed the factory.

“This is a city where decent industrious working people have been badly let down by neo-liberal economics, failed by an economic system with too much market and not enough planning.

“Where too much power rests in too few hands, and all too often in faraway board rooms.

“So for the avoidance of doubt. My aim as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party is not to simply lead a better management team than the SNP.

“It is to lead a Scottish Labour Government worthy of the name. Committed to bringing about a real shift in power and wealth including an extension of industrial and economic democracy.

“Not least so that the voices of women are heard for the first time in the corridors of economic power This is not incidental to the change we need to make. It is its very essence.

“So I will appoint a Cabinet Secretary for Labour in a Scottish Labour Government . And I can also confirm today that we will protect and strengthen workers’ rights by seeking the devolution of employment law in which we will set a pre-Brexit floor to ensure that workers in Scotland are not caught up in a race to the bottom.”

Richard Leonard also called for the European elections to be a call to action against the populist politics of right wing nationalism, and to send a message to Nigel Farage that the politics of hate has no place in the UK, saying:

“In the coming weeks we will be fighting elections to the European Parliament. So my appeal to you is this; do not allow this election to become a false choice between competing nationalisms: British and Scottish.

“Do not simply be a voter. Be an activist.

“Join the campaign to defeat the right wing populism of Farage and UKIP, and help build a movement for radical reform and real change in the European Union as part of the Party of European Socialists alliance.”

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Household Savings Plummet Under The Tories

12 April 2019

The Scottish economy isn’t working for working people, Labour said today, as new analysis reveals household savings have plummeted since the Tories came to power.

Labour analysis of household savings in Scotland reveals a 60 per cent drop in household savings since the Tories came to power in 2010.

In 2010, Scottish households on average had £3,840.41 in the bank, but by 2017 that had plummeted to £1,517.31 per household.

Labour said the figures revealed the broken economy under the Tories.

Labour Finance spokesperson James Kelly MSP said:

“The Tories came to power promising a long term economic plan – but the impact of a disastrous near decade of austerity has been to shrink savings for families in Scotland.

“The Tories used to try and compare our complex economy to a household budget to justify their crusade to shrink the state – but instead all they managed to do was to shrink household budgets themselves.

“This is as a result of a cost of living crisis fuelled by stagnant wages and personal debt. All the while the incomes of the super wealthy have soared because of tax cuts at the top.

“Labour will make our economy work for the many, not just a privileged few by investing in our people communities and public services.”

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