Aberdeen CENTRAL

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ABERDEEN CENTRAL CONSTITUENCY (Scottish Parliament)

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KEVIN STEWART MSP

Born and bred in the city, Kevin Stewart was elected as the MSP for ABERDEEN CENTRAL on 5 May 2011, taking the seat from Labour.  Re-elected on 5 May 2016.

Minister for Local Government, Housing (& Planning) from May 2016.  Formerly Convener of the Local Government & Regeneration Parliamentary Committee.

First elected to Aberdeen City Council, for Auchmill ward, in 1999, and led the SNP group for 12 years. Depute Leader of the Council 2007-11.

As Finance & Resources Committee convener, successfully dealt with the Council's  £50million debt, accumulated by previous unionist administrations.   Stepped down as a councillor in May 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                    

Contact KEVIN STEWART at his CONSTITUENCY OFFICE:                                                                              

3rd floor
27 John Street
Aberdeen
AB25 1BT

Tel.: 01224 624719   *   Text relay calls welcome

Office hours:   Monday to Friday, 10.00--12.00am and 1.00--5.00pm.

Surgeries:   Every Monday from 2.30pm at the Constituency Office.  Write, phone or e-mail to make an appointment.

E-mail:       kevin.stewart.msp@parliament.scot                                                                           

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ENERGY SECTOR assisted by new fund

The Scottish Government has set up a £62million fund to assist the energy sector to recover from the dual economic impacts of coronavirus and a severe downturn in oil and gas prices.

The Energy Transition Fund, focused on the North-East, will support oil, gas and energy businesses over the next five years as they grow and diversify, and will help attract private sector investment in the region. "NetZero" projects to receive support include: a Global Underwater Hub in Aberdeen, aimed at helping the subsea and underwater sector grow with a focus on diversification and export support; a new Energy Transition Zone business park adjacent to the Aberdeen South Harbour; and a range of innovation projects led by Oil and Gas Technology Centre’s NetZero Solution CentreThe fund will also position the North-East as a Hydrogen model region, contributing early funding to projects including: ACORN CCS & ACORN Hydrogen; Aberdeen Vision; and the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub.

On June 12,  the Economy, Fair Work & Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop commented: “This package of investment for the North-East will support our energy sector as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19, and will help us make significant progress as we move towards net zero by 2045. Aberdeen is recognised globally as a centre of excellence in oil and gas, and this funding will help ensure that the knowledge, skills and expertise it has to offer will play a vital role in the energy transition." The initiative was warmly welcomed by Sir Ian Wood, chairman of Opportunity North-East; Deirdre Michie, chief exec. of Oil & Gas UK; and Collete Cohen, chief exec. of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre.

Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, suggested that the Westminster Government should match the funding. He commented: “Our oil and gas industry has filled the coffers of the Treasury for decades and successive Westminster Governments have treated it as a cash cow. Last week we saw the Scottish Government put the industry front and centre with a massive investment of cash. Now it’s time for the Tories to match the SNP Government’s commitment, to create a sustainable sector which is so vital for the North-East.”

► The Scottish Government has also pledged a further £10million to help companies recruit and retain apprentices facing redundancy due to the coronavirus emergency. On August 11, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The young people who will make up our future workforce are among those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. As such, it is crucial that we support them and ensure they are at the heart of our economic recovery from Covid-19. This targeted funding will extend the reach of our support for apprentices, including our Adopt an Apprentice programme. Combined with our commitment of at least £50million for youth employment and the Youth Guarantee, we will ensure no one is left behind.”

She added: “Apprenticeships are not only valuable for our young people, they are a key way for all employers to invest in their workforce, and provide the skills the economy needs both now and in the future. Our focus is on protecting jobs, creating jobs, ensuring quality jobs and supporting skilled jobs. By taking this action to protect and support skilled jobs now, we will rebuild a stronger, fairer and greener future for Scotland." The Chair of Skills Development Scotland Frank Mitchell commented: “This welcome announcement underlines the importance of apprentices to the Scottish economy and the crucial role they will play in supporting individuals and businesses in the recovery from Covid-19. We will continue to liaise with the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board and other employer organisations on the development and delivery of employer incentives and subsidies."

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   BREXIT deal completely ignored SCOTLAND 

Boris Johnson’s Brexit farce has resulted in Scotland -- unique among the four UK nations -- being completely ignored.

Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, commented: "While England and Wales both voted to leave the EU, and would do so under the deal, Northern Ireland was handed a special deal, effectively keeping it within the single market and customs union – with the power to change their relationship in future."

"The best deal for Scotland was to remain as part of the European Union. I cannot see a single thing that is going to lessen the adverse impact of Brexit on our ccountry, and the people who live and work here. Importantly, this alleged "deal" has left Scotland, unique among the four nations of the UK, in facing an outcome we did not vote for, and having no say over our future relationship. Aberdeen voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and has been predicted to be the city hardest hit by Brexit. Yet we’ve been entirely sidelined and ignored by the Tory Government throughout this process. It is clearer than ever that the best future for Scotland is as an equal, independent European nation.”                              Cartoon: from a Helsinki newspaper.

### See below for ABERDEEN says "Yes" to EUROPE !

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Protection from UK AUSTERITY                                             

Since Westminster's draconian austerity measures were introduced in 2016, the Scottish Government has had to spend more than £100million each year to alleviate their effects on poor families in Scotland.

The money has been channelled into support for those most in need, including mitigating the Bedroom Tax in full through Discretionary Housing Payments (£64.4million); crisis grants as part of the Scottish Welfare Fund (£38.0million) and Advice Services to households worst affected by the cuts (£1.5million). The Scottish Government also offers claimants flexibility in how they receive their Universal Credit payments, such as twice monthly rather than monthly, and their housing element being paid directly to their landlord.

On 30 Dec. 2019, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said;  “We are spending more than £100million each year to mitigate the worst effects of UK Government austerity – part of the £1.4billion we spent last year to support low income households. This essential funding could be better invested to help pull more people in Scotland out of poverty. A policy like the Scottish Child Payment, which we announced this year to tackle child poverty head-on, is an example of what we can do. Once fully rolled out in 2022, the benefit could help up to 410,000 eligible under-16s, and lift an estimated 30,000 children out of poverty – and for families with a child under six. They will start benefiting by December next year."

 

Families struggle to pay RENT

It has been estimated that some 3,320 Scottish families, who require help with their housing costs, are £64 a week worse off because of the cuts.

The Welfare Reform group found that about 460,000 working age households have been adversely affected by the £300million cut in welfare spending by the Tory Government. Since the roll-out of Universal Credit, rent arrears in Scotland have sharply increased. In March 2019, the total for all council properties stood at £74million -- up £9million on the previous year. The SNP Government has spent £64.4million on Discretionary Housing Payments, to top up benefit shortfalls so that people don't get behind in their rent.

On January 7, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart commented: “UK Government welfare cuts are squeezing more families into poverty and leaving them struggling to afford appropriate accommodation. As the private rental market becomes increasingly less accessible to those on low income, cutting housing benefit by £64 per week for some families puts them at risk of homelessness. The UK Government must act urgently to reverse these cuts and support those renting in the private sector. It is not feasible for the Scottish Government to completely mitigate the impacts of UK cuts, but we will do all we can to support families through the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments. and by protecting people against the Bedroom Tax. We could do so much more to help lift families out of poverty if Scotland had full control of its welfare policy.”

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March & Rally for Independence in Aberdeen

On Saturday, 17 August 2019, around 10,000 attended the biggest pro-independence demonstration ever seen in the city and the North-East. 

Organised by All Under One Banner (AUOB), the march and rally were a big success. Apart from a couple of showers, the weather stayed mainly bright and sunny.

Led by a pipe band, the marchers started off from Albyn Place at 1.30pm and walked along Union Street to the rally in the Castlegate.

Several speakers addressed the rally, which lasted from 2.30 to 5.30pm. The Aye Aberdeen group later laid on some musical entertainment.

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Less CRIME in Aberdeen

There has been a considerable reduction in crime in Aberdeen since the SNP Government came to power twelve years ago.

This was highlighted by Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, on 18 March 2019..  Figures show that there were 23,322 offences recorded in the city in 2006-07. But this decreased to 12,509 in 2017-18 -- a reduction of 46.4%. This welcome trend is mainly due to the efficiency of a higher number of police officers. On 31 December 2018, the records of the North-East Division (Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray) of Police Scotland showed that there were 3,328 officers on duty in the area.

Nationally, there has been a general downward trend in recorded crime from a peak in 1991, when offences numbered 572,921​In 2008-09, these had decreased by 35% and, by 2017-18, had sunk to 244,504 -- the second lowest level since 1974. Whilst these satisfactory figures are undoubtedly due to the success rate achieved by Police Scotland, they are also affected by the inclusion of additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon, and procedural changes made to the recording of crime during the period. 

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ABERDEEN says "Yes" to EUROPE !

The City of Aberdeen had a 23,256 majority for REMAIN in the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.  (Turnout: 67.9%). 

                                                                

                                        Remain                     Leave

     City of Aberdeen         63,985  (61.1%)     40,729  (38.9%)                

     Aberdeen North*        57.0%                      43.0%

     Aberdeen South*        67.7%                     32.3%

                 

     ALL of Scotland's 32 local authority areas voted REMAIN.                                        *Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies

 

### Over 6 MILLION signed the petition to Revoke Article 50 and REMAIN in the EU.           

The petition was launched on March 21, and ran until 20 August 2019.  Total Scottish signatures were 530,294 by March 26, including 76,600 in Edinburgh.  ABERDEEN NORTH* = 9,321; ABERDEEN SOUTH* = 11,059;  GORDON* = 9,376 signed.                                                                                                                                                            

SINGLE MARKET is vital for Aberdeen and Scotland 

A report by the Centre for Cities think-tank has shown that 61% of Aberdeen’s exports go to the EU, which works out at £18,100 for every worker involved.

Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, commented on 16 October 2018: “This report shows exactly why the Tory plan to tear us out of the EU and single market would be so damaging to Aberdeen and the North-East. The city's economy benefits massively from our membership of the single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK’s. As much as 61% of our exports go to the continent. Anything that threatens this trade with the EU will undoubtedly hit our economy hard." 

"The EU and its Investment Bank have disbursed around £469million in Aberdeen and the surrounding area in the past few years, via a range of initiatives including payments to farmers, cancer research, the AWPR, Aberdeen South Harbour, the Aberdeen Bay turbines and hydrogen buses. Losing out on that much of financial support is going to inflict major harm. Indeed, Aberdeen is expected to be the hardest hit in the UK, and explains why the city voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU"

“We’ve already been warned that the catastrophic 'hard Brexit' that the Tories are fully intent on delivering will cost Scotland 80,000 jobs and £11.2billion per year from our economy by 2030. The Tories must respect our country's vote to remain in the EU, by fully considering the detailed compromise proposals laid out in Scotland’s Place in Europe. Anything else would be nothing less than yet another betrayal of Scotland. Last week, it was announced that up to £18million of European cash would be used by the Scottish Government to set up an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to help small and medium-sized businesses."

### More information on the UK PARLIAMENT and EUROPEAN UNION pages.

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AAB secures boost for new STOCK EXCHANGE

Plans to launch Scotland’s first stock exchange since the 1970s have taken a major step forward.

The country lost its only remaining exchange, in Glasgow, when it was swallowed up by its London counterpart in 1973. However, last year, the entrepreneur Tomas Carruthers launched his Project Heather, with the aim of "establishing a major contributor to sustainable economic growth both in Scotland and the UK, as well as providing a destination for impact investors and issuers globally.” Since then, there has been a flurry of national and international interest from businesses looking at a possible listing in the new exchange, which will be headquartered at 39 George Street, Edinburgh. 45 jobs will be initially created for the HQ and its sub-offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen.

On 21 March 2019, Douglas Martin, head of corporate finance at the Aberdeen-based accountancy and business advisory company Anderson, Anderson & Brown (AAB), announced that he and colleagues Brian McMurray and Stuart Cooper had helped to facilitate a seven-figure equity investment to support the launch. A further institutional investment round is expected to kick-off in the coming months. Mr. Martin said:  “We are delighted to have secured the investment for Project Heather which will help to re-establish the Scottish Stock Exchange after almost 50 years. Brian and Stuart have worked closely with Tomas and his team during this process and we look forward to continuing the relationship and supporting the launch of Project Heather later this year.” 

AAB, which also has offices in Edinburgh and London, has some 280 staff, including 19 partners, and turnover last year came to around £22 million. Project Heather is in partnership with Euronext N.V., one of the world's largest stock exchange operators, which will run the Edinburgh operation on its "Optiq" trading platform. Tomas Carruthers commented: “Working closely with Anderson, Anderson & Brown, securing this initial round of investment funding is enabling us to work on bringing a Scottish Stock Exchange to full fruition and launch in the second half of this year. We believe a stock exchange, built on the principles of raising capital, will have a positive impact on society and the environment." 

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91,000 HOMES delivered since 2007                                                                                                  

Scotland is experiencing the highest levels of activity in the affordable house-building sector since the early 1980s.

Here's how this Government is living up to its commitments:--

► Official figures show 21,805 houses were built between October 2018 and the end of September 2019 - a rise of 16% on the previous year, and the largest number since 2008.

► Over the course of 2019, a total of 9,317 homes were delivered as part of the Scottish Government's affordable housing supply scheme --- the highest number recorded since 2000.

  Aberdeen has benefited from the delivery of 2,425 affordable homes, including 1,192 for social rent, since 2007

►  Around 20,000 families have been enabled to buy their own home through Home Ownership schemes – three quarters of them under the age of 35. In 2016-17, the SNP Government invested £160million in schemes that will help 5,000 households buy a home.

►  Our Government has already ensured that nobody in Scotland has to pay the Bedroom Tax. New powers will be used to abolish it once-and-for-all, protecting over 70,000 households.

►  Our Government has provided additional funding through the Scottish Welfare Fund, to support 18 to 21 year-olds following the Tory decision to remove their Housing Benefit.

► Our Government has passed a new law to allow for the creation of rent controls in areas with high rents. Private sector letting agents' fees, over-and-above the rent and a deposit, will be unlawful.

► 15,500 social houses for rent have been safeguarded by ending Right to Buy. Councils have been enabled to build new homes for the first time in years – with 7,169 new council homes delivered.

► By the end of 2021, the SNP Government will have committed £1billion to tackling fuel poverty. Energy efficiency measures have already been installed in almost one million households.

► Our Government has set a new national objective to end rough sleeping –- backed up by a new £50million fund.

On March 10, Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Local Government, Housing & Planning commented: "More than 91,000 affordable properties have been built since the SNP came to power in 2007 --- including 63,000 homes for social rent by either Councils or Housing Associations. With over 31,000 affordable homes delivered between April 2016 and December 2019, the figures demonstrate that the SNP Government remains on course to reach our target of 50,000 affordable homes by the end of this Parliament. This has been backed by our commitment of more than £3.5billion to deliver good quality, secure and affordable homes."

"We are delivering more housing for Scotland, which will help support and create jobs, tackle inequality, and create strong, sustainable communities. While the private sector alone constructed more than 21,000 new homes in the year to the end of September 2007, the construction industry was hit hard by the recession that began in 2008. The number of new homes being built dropped sharply between 2008 and 2010, before continuing to fall to 10,000 by 2012. The latest figures showed that in the year to the end of September 2019, the private sector completed 16,444 homes, with construction starting on 17,856 properties."

 

FIRST HOME FUND

The Scottish Government’s First Home Fund will provide a total of £150million until March 2021 to help at least 6,000 people to buy their first home.

This shared equity pilot scheme will provide eligible first-time buyers with up to £25,000 to help them buy a property that meets their needs and is located in the area where they want to live. It can be used to assist them to buy both new-build and existing properties. Under the scheme, buyers will be required to personally fund a minimum of 5% of the value of their new house. The Government loan will be secured on the equity of the home; is repayable in full at any time, and must be repaid if the home is subsequently sold. No monthly payments will therefore apply.

Launching the scheme on 18 Dec. 2019, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:  "Existing home ownership schemes have helped more than 32,000 households buy their own home since 2007, particularly those aged under 35. For many people, getting a deposit together is often an obstacle in buying their first home. Removing barriers and supporting people to buy the home they want is at the heart of this new fund. That is why we are acting to make the process fairer, to offer a helping hand to those buying a new home."

### For an Application Form, log onto the LINK HOUSING website, and click on "First Home Fund."  

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WINNING FOR SCOTLAND

The SNP won all three ABERDEEN constituencies in the Scottish General Election on 5 May 2016.                        

Election Result:     ABERDEEN CENTRAL

Kevin Stewart            SNP          11,648

Lewis MacDonald      Lab.            7,299

Tom Mason                Con.            6,022

Ken McLeod                Lib.            1,735

SNP HOLD.       Maj. 4,349        Turnout 46.7%