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Mark Praises Work of Victim Support Scotland

Mark Griffin MSP has recognised the important work of Victim Support Scotland in a recent parliamentary motion, which received cross-party support.

Recognising the organisation’s commitment to supporting the victims and witnesses of crime, Mr Griffin commended the charity on its dedication to hate crime training, noting its new training course, and congratulated the organisation on its recent hate crime conference and report. The report, Fostering a Victim-Centred Approach to Hate Crime, seeks to place victims at the heart of any legislative response to hate crime.

Mark said:

"Victim Support Scotland has a strong track record and is continuing to develop strategies to engage and support victims and witnesses of crime across Scotland.

"From its new training course on hate crime to its recent conference and report on putting victims at the heart of future legislative action, VSS provides a vital service throughout its communities."

VSS Parliamentary, Policy and Research Officer, Kevin Kane, commented:

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of VSS and so we are extremely appreciative that Mark Griffin MSP has drawn attention to their fantastic efforts.

“We are encouraged by the enthusiasm shown for our recent efforts on hate crime, including our report, conference, and new training course, and hope as many people as possible contribute to the hate crime consultation by the closing date of 23 November 2017.”

The full motion can be seen here:

“That the Parliament supports the excellent work of volunteers and staff at Victim Support Scotland; acknowledges the organisation’s continued commitment to victims and witnesses of crime; commends the charity on its dedication to hate crime training and notes its new training course on the matter; congratulates the organisation on its recent hate crime conference and report, which seeks to place victims at the heart of any legislative response to hate crime; understands that there is work to be done to increase reporting of hate crime, and encourages Members, stakeholders and interested parties to respond to the consultation on hate crime by the closing date of 23 November 2017.”

The motion was supported by the following MSPs: Richard Lyle, Anas Sarwar, John Mason, Daniel Johnson, Stewart Stevenson, Gail Ross, Johann Lamont, Iain Gray, Lewis Macdonald, Neil Findlay, Colin Smyth, Alex Neil, Jackson Carlaw, Richard Lochhead, and Kezia Dugdale.

Scottish Government’s Fracking Plans Don’t Go Far Enough

Mark Griffin MSP has criticised the Scottish Government for failing to ensure a legal ban on fracking in Scotland.

The recent announcement by the First Minister to ensure fracking does not take place in Scotland does not have any legal standing and could be easily reversed on the whim of ministers.

Mark Griffin, who has long advocated for an outright ban on fracking, enshrined in law, has called on the government to do more.

Mark said:

“I am committed to an outright block on fracking with a full legal ban. Sadly, this announcement from the First Minister is simply an extension of the existing moratorium and can be easily overturned by ministers.

“Scientific evidence is clear, to meet our carbon change targets and protect our environment we need to develop low carbon sources of energy, not another fossil fuel. With Central Scotland a target zone for fracking, people have made their voices heard - they do not want these unnecessary activities taking place on their doorstep; they want to protect the environment, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.

“The SNP’s announcement does not go far enough. Extending the moratorium indefinitely is not good enough. That is why I will continue to push for a full legal ban.”

Government to Consider Mark's Family Fund Plan

Government to Consider Mark's Family Fund Plan

Mark Griffin's campaign to ensure financial support for families of premature babies during their stay on hospital, has stepped up a gear, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledging to examine the MSP's proposals.

Mr Griffin, whose daughter Rosa was born 12 weeks premature and spent many months in Wishaw General Hospital. No financial support is presently available for parents, who often have to travel great distances on a daily basis to be with their babies.

Parents can incur significant debt and financial hardship as a consequence.

Mark said:

"I raised the issue with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's Questions and I am pleased that the Scottish Government will explore this important issue.

“It is a sad and unacceptable reality that many parents, already struggling to cope with the stress of having a very premature baby, often leave hospital knowing that they may not have the finances to return to the the hospital the next day. It was heart-breaking to witness that.

"Normal life is put on hold and for many families high debt and financial difficulty arises from travelling to and from hospital every day. I have called on the Scottish Government to create a fund to support low income families during such a difficult time. I will await the outcome of the Scottish Government's review into this issue but if Ministers do not come forward with plans, I intend to move forward with a Member's Bill."

Mark Launches 'Family Fund' Campaign

Mark Launches 'Family Fund' Campaign

Mark Griffin MSP has launched a campaign to support parents faced with crippling costs while their child is in hospital.

Mr Griffin has called on the Scottish Government to create a 'family fund' to ease the significant financial burden on thousands of families in Scotland who have ill babies in hospital - often for long periods of time.

Mr Griffin's daughter, Rosa, was born 12 weeks premature weighing a mere 1lb, and spent 5 months in Wishaw General Hospital.

Due to time lost at work as well as other costs such as travel, accommodation, food, care for other children, parents can spend £282 for every week their infant is in neonatal care or £2,225 on average over a child's total stay in hospital.

Mark said:

"I'm paid well, but even my family felt the squeeze when Rosa was in hospital. I can't imagine how people on low incomes deal with such costs that see their bank balances collapse. It's such a big outlay.

"We travelled from Cumbernauld to Wishaw, but there were other people coming from further afield, including Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Fife. There were people who were really struggling financially, so much so that some were not able to see their sick babies on a daily basis. It was heartbreaking to witness that.

"One of the most important factors for the health of a premature baby is ensuring that the child gets access to breast milk to deal with the risk of infection. It is ridiculous that mums are prevented from doing so because they do not have the financial means to get to the hospital.

"The Scottish Government must step in and set up a family fund that is targeted at low income parents. A payment for a short while would make a massive difference to thousands of families across Scotland.

"It is not acceptable that support is available if a baby is at home, but not when in hospital and the government should address this gap.

"I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and hope to meet with her to discuss my proposal further.

"When little Rosa was born, I knew I had to start fighting for the parents of other premature babies, so if the Scottish Government does not take steps, I aim to bring forward a Private Members Bill."

Bliss, the leading charity for sick and premature babies, found that 72 per cent of parents saw their family finances worsened as a result of their baby's stay in neonatal care.

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive of Bliss Scotland, backed Mark Griffin's plan.

She said:

“Across hospitals in Scotland, a lack of facilities, accommodation and financial support is keeping parents from being with their babies when they need them most.

"The Scottish Government must take urgent action to deliver on their commitments to these families by providing support through a family facilities fund.”

Ministers Accused of Social Security Power Grab

Mark Griffin MSP, Scottish Labour's Spokesperson on Social Security, has branded the Scottish Government's Social Security Bill a ministerial power grab.

In a submission to the Social Security Committee’s call for the evidence on the Bill, Scottish Labour has outlined concerns about the Bill putting too much power into the hands of Scottish Ministers, and failing to guarantee key commitments in law such as:

  • A ban on private sector contractors.
  • Uprating payments in line with inflation.
  • A commitment to a universal winter fuel payment.
  • Ensuring everyone gets the payments to which they are entitled.

The Bill also fails to establish a legal framework for creating new benefits – a tool which could be used to protect WASPI women and reinstate Housing Benefits for 18-21 year olds.

Scottish Labour will seek to amend the Bill when as it progresses in Parliament to strengthen protections for the vulnerable and make the legislation more ambitious.

Mark said:

“Labour is signed up to make the new system a success, which is why we have repeatedly demanded that the delivery of a new social security system is progressed more swiftly. We are concerned that, for all the warm words we have heard so far, progress has been slow and, as a result, Scottish people who are disabled, poor, sick, or elderly, will continue to suffer.

“We also have more fundamental concerns about this Bill. The Scottish Government is seeking, substantial ministerial power, without adequate scrutiny or accountability mechanisms.

“While Scottish Labour shares the aspiration to deliver a fairer system built on the foundations of dignity and respect, we are disappointed that this Bill has failed to deliver what was meant to be landmark legislation.

“As a starting point the Bill fails to take the opportunity to guarantee key commitments – banning private sector companies from delivering disability assessments, preventing winter fuel payments from being means-tested, accepting government has a duty to maximise incomes, and uprating benefits in line with inflation – in legislation.

“On these points, Labour is clear it will seek to amend the Bill to make good these failings.

“The first Social Security Act of the Scottish Parliament should be a watershed moment in the progress of devolution. It should deliver for Scots who are being humiliated and mistreated by a UK Government which has cut £1.1 billion from social security payments, with another £1 billion to come, and for people with disabilities who are suffering “grave and systematic violations” of their rights.

“We want to see rights-based legislation with clear entitlements, that puts money in people’s pockets. This response does not intend to identify all the concerns we have about the Bill, but will set out key areas where we believe Committee is required to take action.”

The submission can be read in full here: http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Social_Security/Inquiries/081._Scottish_Labour_Party.pdf

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