Michael Russell MSP supports Great Daffodil Appeal

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell got behind the daffodil to lend his support to the Great Daffodil Appeal at the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Russell met staff and heard about the work of the charity that last year provided care and support for more than 7,400 people living with a terminal illness in Scotland.

The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest fundraising campaign which takes place throughout March. The charity asks people to make a donation in return for a daffodil pin. All funds raised help Marie Curie Nurses provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones, in their own homes or at the charities two Scottish hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Michael Russell MSP said: “I am delighted to support Marie Currie’s ‘Great Daffodil Appeal’ this is a great charity, who provide vital care to those living with terminal illness and support for their loved ones. I would urge all those who can share a few pounds to text ‘DAFF’ to 70111”

Richard Meade, Marie Curie Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland said: “We’re calling on everyone in Scotland get behind the daffodil and join Michael Russell supporting people living with a terminal illness by donating and wearing a daffodil pin. Your support will help us provide more free hands-on care and emotional support to people living with a terminal illness and their families.

To support the Great Daffodil Appeal call 0845 601 3107 (local rate) or pledge £5 by texting DAFF to 70111*. Visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil.

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For more information please contact:

Gemma Smith Marie Curie Senior Media and PR Officer
0131 561 3964/ 07730618339 gemma.smith@mariecurie.org.uk

Notes to Editors

*Texts cost £5 plus your standard network rate. 98% of your donation is received by Marie Curie

The Great Daffodil Appeal

The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign and encourages everyone to give a donation in return for a daffodil pin during March. This year is the 30th anniversary of the launch, which first took place in 1986. Money raised helps Marie Curie Nurses provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their families. Daffodil pins will be available from our volunteers across the country, Superdrug and WHSmiths shops, and Wyevale garden centres. For more information call 0845 601 3107 (*local rate) or visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil #getbehindthedaff

*Texts cost £5 plus your standard network rate. 98% of your donation is received by Marie Curie

Marie Curie – care and support through terminal illness – Marie Curie is the UK’s leading charity for people with any terminal illness. The charity helps people living with a terminal illness and their families make the most of the time they have together by delivering expert hands-on care, emotional support, research and guidance. Marie Curie employs more than 2,700 nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals, and with its nine hospices around the UK, is the largest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS.

For more information visit: www.mariecurie.org.uk
Like us at www.facebook.com/mariecuriescotland
Follow us on www.twitter.com/mariecuriesco


Marie Curie Support Line 0800 090 2309*

If you’ve got questions about terminal illness or simply want someone to talk to, call the Marie Curie Support Line for free confidential support and practical information on all aspects of terminal illness. *Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

Michael Russell MSP calls for a Credit Union Nation

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has joined calls to make Scotland a Credit Union Nation.

Michael Russell MSP was lending his support to the Credit Union Charter, which the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) has launched outlining the key ways the Scottish Parliament can help improve the nation’s financial health by supporting credit unions.

Credit unions are financial services providers locally owned and democratically controlled by the people who use them. They do not have any external shareholders or investors looking to generate profits from them.

The Credit Union Charter calls for employers to make saving and repaying loans via payroll deduction a standard workplace benefit for people across Scotland, and for every school in the country to have a credit union champion to help pupils learn about saving and budgeting.

Commenting he said: “I’m delighted to support ABCUL’s Credit Union Charter. Encouraging regular saving and responsible borrowing is a key way to build financial health, and credit unions play a vital role in Argyll and Bute in helping people get – and stay – on top of their finances.

“Research has shown that money worries and debt problems can lead to ill health, absence from work and low productivity. So educating young people about money and making it easy for adults to save and borrow with a credit union via their employer can help save public funds and boost the Scottish economy.”

ABCUL Scotland Policy Officer Karen Hurst said: “It’s no coincidence that the most successful credit union movements around the world have established close links with employers to help people build up savings and access affordable credit when they need to.

“We’re delighted to have the support of Michael Russell MSP for our campaign to make Scotland a Credit Union Nation – something that would benefit the whole country.”

Scotland has just over 100 credit unions serving more than 375,000 people – including 52,000 junior savers – who are saving £454 million and borrowing £276 million. Everyone in Scotland has a credit union they can join, and with 7 per cent of the population using a credit union, Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe (after only the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland).

RUSSELL WELCOMES TRANSPORT AID FOR BUTE DAIRY FARMERS

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed confirmation to him from Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead that the assistance with transport costs given to Bute dairy farmers last year will be continued with an additional £30,000 allocated for the next six months.

Commenting on the letter from Mr Lochhead announcing the new money which he received on Friday, Mr Russell said:

“This is very welcome news at a time of great difficulty for the dairy industry across Scotland. The additional costs that Bute dairy farmers have to meet because of the need to transport their milk on the ferry makes their problems even greater so the willingness of the Scottish Government to provide this help, even though it has been difficult to arrange because of State Aids rules, is to be commended.

I am grateful to Richard Lochhead for his commitment to the dairy industry in Argyll & Bute and I continue to discuss with him the way in which dairy farmers in Kintyre and Gigha as well as Bute can be sustained through the current downturn in the market which has been exacerbated by the problems of First Milk, the co-operative to which all Argyll Dairy farmers belong.”

MICHAEL RUSSELL MSP WELCOMES PROGRESSIVE REFORM TO COUNCIL TAX

 PLANS ‘FAIRER, PROGRESSIVE AND LOCALLY EMPOWERING’

Local MSP Michael Russell has welcomed has welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans for an ambitious, progressive set of reforms to the Council Tax – which will see the rates paid by those in the highest bands pay more, with the money raised invested in schools across Argyll and Bute.

As announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week, rates paid by those in Bands E, F, G and H will be adjusted – in a move which will generate £100 million to be invested in education, while leaving 75 per cent of households unaffected.

The planned reforms will also provide additional support for those on low incomes – with low income families across all bands seeing an extension of the council tax reduction scheme, benefitting 77,000 families by an average of £173 per year

There will also be additional support for 54,000 low income families – more than one third of which are pensioner households – living in higher band properties, who will be entitled to an exemption from the changes through the council tax reduction scheme.

The SNP has also been clear that if re-elected in May, we consult with councils on the assignment of a portion of devolved income tax raised in Scotland – reducing local authorities’ reliance on funding from central government and making councils more accountable to local people.  It is estimated that when the planned changes take effect, 75 per cent of local government funding will be locally grounded.

Commenting, Michael Russell said:

“The reform to council tax announced by the First Minister this week meets the key tests of making the system fairer, more progressive and locally empowering, in line with the principles agreed by all the parties on the Commission on Local Tax Reform.

“The progressive plans will see three quarters of households in Argyll and Bute paying the same or even less, while those at the top will pay a bit more in order to fund a major new investment in our local schools.

“We’ll also see new support for low-income families – supporting 140,000 children and their families to the tune of an average of £173 per year – and additional protection for low-income households in higher bands, many of whom are pensioners.

“While Labour and the Tories are planning to hike taxes across the board, hurting even the lowest-income workers in Argyll and Bute, the SNP in government has chosen to take a different approach – asking those at the top to pay a bit more, while providing additional financial relief to low income families.   This isn’t just the right approach to take – but the only progressive option and other parties claiming to favour fair taxation should back these plans.

“I also welcome the move to consult with councils on a bold plan to assign a portion of devolved income tax – which would be a welcome move in empowering Scotland’s local authorities, incentivising councils to support economic growth and in making Argyll and Bute Council more accountable to local people.

“Overall, these plans will protect the vast majority of household incomes in Argyll and Bute, support investment in local schools and make local taxation both fairer and more accountable.  These are proposals I will be proud to campaign on – and opposition politicians in Argyll and Bute should join me in backing these fair, progressive reforms.”

Argyll & Bute may “break law” with library cuts

Russell asks Argyll & Bute Council to reconsider recent decisions “because of failures in the decision making process”

The constituency MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has asked Argyll & Bute Council to reconsider the recent decision of the ruling administration to fire all school librarians and remove the four library vans presently in use because of failures in the decision making process, and the risk that Council now runs of breaking the law.

Mr Russell said:

“The decision by the Argyll & Bute ruling administration ,run by the Tories and the Liberals with the support of a few so called independents , to fire all the school librarians and remove the four library vans serving the most rural parts of the area has been strongly criticised by many within and out with Argyll.

I have had a careful look at both the decision making process and at the law and I think Argyll & Bute Council has problems with both those matters.

The decision needed to be subject to an Equalities Impact Assessment if it was to conform with legal requirements and there is no mention of either matter in the EIA published alongside the budget. Councillors could not therefore have taken a competent decision. In any case an equalities impact assessment , taking the two decisions together, would have to conclude that the measures would disadvantage a number of groups contrary to law.

In addition there are places – Mull in particular – where the Council will be in default of its statutory duty , under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 , to “secure the provision of adequate library facilities for all persons resident in their area” if it goes ahead with both cuts (Section 163 (2)). A legal challenge from Mull would be likely to succeed on the grounds that having to travel to Oban for any library service at all cannot be defined as “adequate” provision.

The combination of the withdrawal of library vans – which serve primary schools – and the withdrawal of the school librarians from secondary schools – will also worsen educational provision and might be subject to a challenge from parents in terms of the delivery of the Council’s educational duty.

Many of the salami slices proposed by Council management in the “Service Choices” programme were rightly withdrawn before final decisions were made. This is one that got through but it is as ill-conceived as the ones that didn’t and may land the authority in legal hot water which would be very expensive for all local tax payers. I would therefore suggest the Council withdraws the cuts to library services now before terminal damage is done that will also be very expensive to repair.”