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 from 18 May 2016. Planning was added to his portfolio on 26 June 2018.  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:                                                              

 1 Pitstruan Place, 
 (cnr. of Broomhill Road)                                                                                                                    
Aberdeen, AB10 6PQ.                                                                                                                      

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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                             CORONAVIRUS is highly contagious -- so remember these F.A.C.T.S.

Face MASKS in shops, buses and other enclosed spaces   ♦   Avoid CROWDED places   ♦    Clean your HANDS and surfaces regularly  ♦  Two-metre social DISTANCING  ♦   Stay HOME and self-isolate

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ELECTORAL REGISTRATION

People aged 16 or over, and all foreign nationals with leave to remain in Scotland, will be eligible to vote on 6 May 2021.  But, in order to vote, their names must be on the Electoral Register.
If you live in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire, you can register online by logging onto www.votegrampian.org or ask for a form from the Grampian Electoral Registration Office, Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, AB16 5GE. Tel. 01224 068400. E- mail: assessor@grampian-vjb.gov.uk   The deadline for registration is APRIL 19.

Because of the prolongation of the coronavirus pandemic, many people will be voting by post. The deadline for Postal Vote applications was April 6. Those who will be voting by mail should post their completed ballot papers to their local Electoral Registration Office as soon as possible. Be sure to leave enough time for them to arrive by 10pm on Thursday, May 6. Don't leave it to the last minute !

* How the SNP has delivered for ABERDEEN since 2007 *

►  Giving children the best start in life. Investing in 13 new schools in the city, and over 18,000 baby boxes for newborns in the Grampian area.

►  Over £1.1billion invested in vital transport connections, including the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and upgrades to the rail network to keep people moving.

►  New health infrastructure, such as the Emergency Care Centre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the Aberdeen Community Health & Care Village.

►  9,141 new homes built in the city, including over 1,600 Council and Housing Association homes.

►  Supporting small businesses to the tune of over £230million, thanks to the Small Business Bonus.

►  Helping families on low incomes, including the Best Start Grant, the Carers' Allowance Supplement and the new Scottish Child Payment, to tackle child poverty head-on.

 

* KEVIN STEWART's top priorities for 2021 and beyond *

Ensure public safety remains at the forefront of our fight against Covid-19  ♦  Put Scotland's future back in Scotland's hands, by delivering Independence  ♦  Secure additional investment in Aberdeen to protect jobs  ♦  Back a sustainable energy transition to create jobs and protect our future  ♦  Support investment in schools, hospitals and community facilities  ♦  Expand free school meals to all primary pupils  ♦  Campaign for the Universal Credit £20 uplift to be made permanent  ♦  Introduce free bus travel for all young people  ♦  Build 100,000 more affordable homes in Scotland, with 70% for social rent.

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Major improvements to MOTORWAYS and ROADS

The SNP is committed to the largest transport investment programme that Scotland has ever seen, despite relentless Westminster budget cuts. While the Scottish Government is entirely committed to a just transition towards a net-zero emissions society, road upgrades remain a vital part of this.

The SNP Government has completed 23 major improvements to our motorways and trunk roads. These include the M80 Stepps to Haggs, the M74 Completion project and the £745million AWPR bypass at Aberdeen. The latter opened in February 2019, producing savings in journey times. and reductions in HGV traffic through the city.

The SNP Scottish Government delivered the £1.35billion marvel on the Forth – the Queensferry CrossingThe new crossing is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world. What’s more, it was delivered £245million below budget.

The Scottish Government plans to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen, involving the upgrade of 86 miles of single carriageway between the two cities.

Work is underway to improve the A92-A96 Haudagain junction in Aberdeen. The £48.5million project will provide a new link road and housing in the Middlefield area.

The SNP Government has connected Glasgow to Edinburgh with continuous motorway for the first time.

The first section (Kincraig to Dalraddy) of the £3billion project to dual the A9 from Perth to Inverness has been completed. The construction of the second section (Luncarty to Pass of Birnam) is progressing well.

In the south of the country, the Scottish Government is taking forward the construction of the Maybole bypass on the A77, making further improvements to the A75 and exploring how to better connect Dumfries and the M74.

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Getting rid of TRIDENT                                                                                                                           

Faslane on the Gare Loch is home to the UK's nuclear arsenal. It is the base for four Vanguard class nuclear submarines, which each carry Trident ballistic missiles. 

The legally-binding UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into effect early in 2021, with the aim of banning and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons. But, despite signing the treaty, the UK Government has announced it intends to INCREASE its stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads from 180 to 260. The cost of maintaining this British vanity project is truly mind-boggling and totally unjustifiable. It has been calculated that the bill for the next generation of Trident will be a staggering £179billion over its lifetime, with other estimates putting it as high as £205billion. And yet the biggest threats we face won’t be deterred by Trident. For instance, terrorism and cyber-attacks can never be addressed by nuclear submarines. Of all the world's nations, just nine possess nuclear weapons.

Scots have strongly opposed nuclear weapons being here for many years, not least because they are based a mere 25 miles from our biggest city. Just to add insult to injury, the UK Government has scaled down defence jobs in Scotland, year after year. While the Tories have been prepared to spend billions on Trident renewal, defence personnel north of the border have been cut by 3,300 – an 18.7% reduction. For its part, Labour has fully endorsed the Tories' plans. Their defence spokesman has stepped up the party’s backing for Trident, declaring their support “non-negotiable” and “unshakeable” in a recent speech. Not surprisingly, the SNP has registered its total opposition to any increase in nuclear weapons on the Clyde. The party has reaffirmed that the achievement of Independence will give us the power to remove them completely from our country. Faslane would become the country's principal, but non-nuclear, naval base -- under full Scottish control. It should be noted that of the 30 member nations of NATO, only three have nuclear weapons.

On March 23, Kevin Stewart said: "The SNP wants to see a world free from nuclear weapons, and we will be a principled advocate for nuclear disarmament on the global stage. The UK Government is intent on increasing their nuclear weapons stockpile. Spending money on abhorrent weapons of mass destruction that could be spent on public services. It’s time to say  "Nurses -- not Nukes", "Teachers -- not Trident" and "Bairns -- not Bombs."

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Funding for NHS, MENTAL HEALTH and DRUG services

Record funding to support NHS Scotland through the most challenging period in its history has been delivered in the 2021-22 Scottish Budget. 

The Health portfolio will receive more than £16billion, an increase of 5.3% on 2020-21 spending, with a further £869 million for tackling Coronavirus (COVID-19). Funding for frontline NHS boards has increased to £11.6billion, building on a record level of health spending and ensuring frontline services can respond to the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic. 

The Budget also has £550million capital funding for NHS Scotland, including funding for the construction of new Elective Care Centres. Aberdeen will benefit from the North of Scotland Trauma Centre, the Baird Family Hospital and the Anchor Unit at Foresterhill.  ♦  £883million to invest in social care and integration, including funding for local authorities to deliver the Living Wage, implementation of the Carers Act and uprating of free personal care  ♦  £139million investment in mental health services, supporting overall mental health spending of more than £1.1billion  ♦  £145.3million for alcohol and drugs services, including £50million for our national mission to reduce drugs deaths.

On February 10, Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, said: "Lockdown restrictions have been vital to stop the spread of the virus, but they have had an adverse effect on people's mental health. So I welcome our Government's commitment to invest over £1.1billion into mental health services as part of the Scottish Budget."

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Aiding our ECONOMIC RECOVERY from the PANDEMIC  

Immediate investment, aimed at aiding the country's economic recovery from Covid-19, has been announced by the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT. The specific areas targetted for financial support include the following.

►► The SCOTTISH WELFARE FUND made 2,975 crisis grant payments to people in Aberdeen in the last financial quarter – an increase of 57% on last year - to help pay for essentials such as food, heating costs and household necessities.

Nationally, the fund awarded £5.2million in crisis grants between April and June 2020 -- up 77% on the same period last year -- after the Scottish Government increased the amount of money available for the fund.

On 27 Oct. 2020, Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, said: "The Scottish Welfare Fund is an important example of the kind of action the SNP has taken to ensure there is additional financial support in place for folk in Aberdeen who are coping with the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Aberdeen is suffering from both the effects of coronavirus and the oil-price crash. Our city is also set to be hardest hit by Brexit, so this support could not be more vital. This is in stark contrast to what is happening at Westminster, with Tory MPs voting to deprive children of free school-meals, and robbing Scotland of crucial funding to support our most vulnerable. While the Scottish Government works to improve provision for families in Aberdeen facing poverty, we continue to have to spend money to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from UK Government benefit cuts. For as long as welfare decisions remain at Westminster, the SNP will continue to do everything in its power to tackle poverty, and support people in Aberdeen to get through these immensely challenging times.”
 

►►  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 12 June 2020,  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.”

►►  A £1million fund to assist ABERDEEN businesses was announced on 19 Aug. 2020.

Grants of up to £1,150 will be provided to hospitality businesses that were required to close -- as well as other businesses that took a financial hit --  due to the emergency coronavirus lockdown in the city. 
 

►►  A further £10million has been pledged to help companies recruit and retain APPRENTICES facing redundancy due to the coronavirus emergency.
On 11 Aug. 2020, 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."

 

►►  A new Scottish Government benefit will help 16 to 24 year-olds into work, if they have been UNEMPLOYED for over six months. 

The Job Start Payment is a one-off grant introduced on 17 Aug. 2020, Applicants who qualify will receive £250 to help with the cost of starting a new job. The upper age limit rises to 25 for care leavers, and the payment is increased to $400 if the person has a child. It is estimated around 5,000 young people in Scotland will benefit from this new financial support in its first year.

Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, commented: “The job prospects of our young people in Aberdeen have been hit hard by this pandemic and the oil-price crash, so this announcement of extra support to help folk into work really couldn’t come at a better time. This payment will help local people cope with the extra expenses that are often incurred when starting a new job, such as travel costs, new work clothes or even childcare. In Government, the SNP is working hard to create new opportunities for work as we rebuild our economy, and I’d encourage anyone in the North-East who thinks they may be eligible to apply online.”

SOCIAL SECURITY SCOTLAND website.  For more information and how to apply for the benefit.   

 ### See also Protection from UK AUSTERITY below.

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96,750 HOMES delivered since 2007                                                                                                      

Welcoming these impressive figures, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, added: "It has been a privilege to serve as Scotland’s Housing Minister for the last five years, and to help deliver quality homes -- and there’s more to come!"

Scotland's first long-term plan, Housing To 2040, was published by the SNP Government on March 15. It will aim to provide 100,000 more affordable homes by 2032, with at least 70% being for social rent. The programme would entail total investment of £16billion and create up to 14,000 jobs a year. 

A rented sector strategy will result in major improvements in accessibility, affordability and standards. Tenants will be closely involved in the development of the strategy, with a national network of social rented tenants developed alongside a Tenant Participation Panel. A new Housing Bill could be introduced early in the next Parliament, in order to take forward further reforms in the rented sector and increase the rights of tenants.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s virtual Scotland's Housing Festival 2021, Kevin Stewart said: Housing To 2040 sets out Scotland’s approach to improving the nation’s housing over the next two decades, and making improvements in the rented sector is a vital part of that. In the private rented sector, we need to address the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and ensure homes are affordable now and in the long term. Local authorities need to be able to tackle unreasonably high rents, so we will also reshape the existing Rent Pressure Zone legislation to make it an effective tool for them to use."

The SNP Government set a target of building 50,000 affordable homes in the current Parliamentary term. Unfortunately, this was adversely affected by the unforeseen coronavirus pandemic. Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We were on track to deliver on our commitment to meet the target by the end of March 2021 but, due to the impact of the  pandemic, it is now unlikely we will do so. The lockdown meant nearly a third of the year saw little or no activity taking place, and a necessary pause in the delivery of affordable homes. However, backed by a commitment of more than £3.5billion, we will continue to work with partners across the housing sector to ensure the delivery of the remainder of these homes, as quickly as it is safe.”

► In the four years to 2018-19, Scotland has delivered over 80% more affordable homes per head of population than in England & Wales, 50% more homes per head than in Northern Ireland, and over eight times more social rented properties per head than in England.

► The SNP Government has ended Right To Buy, keeping up to 15,000 existing homes in the social rented sector over the next decade, and for future generations.  

► The SNP Government is protecting 70,000 households from Westminster's Bedroom Tax, and will abolish it as soon as it has the powers to do so. 

### See below for Protection from UK AUSTERITY.

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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.

 

EUROPEAN REFERENDUM  on 23 June 2016                                      The BREXIT "bonus" for our EXPORTERS

Result in the City of Aberdeen:--                                                                                                                                        

REMAIN    63,985   

LEAVE       40,729   

Maj:  23,256.   Turnout: 68%.

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How Scotland voted:--

REMAIN    1,661.191     62%

LEAVE       1,018,322     38%

 

*  ALL of  our 32 Council Areas voted to REMAIN in the               European Union.  

 

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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 7 Jan. 2020, 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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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

Kevin McLeod      Lib. Dem.       1,735

 

SNP HOLD.        Maj.  4,349         Turnout 46.9%