Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell, has said SNP plans to establish a Scottish National Investment bank will help transform inclusive growth across Argyll and Bute.

Last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP announced plans for an initial investment in the bank of £130 million as part of his draft budget proposals for 2019/20.

Subject to regulatory and legislative approval, the national investment bank will aim to begin investing in Scottish businesses and communities from 2020 – investing at least £2 billion in its first ten years.

The investment bank will provide loans of up to £10 million for small to medium sized local enterprises with high growth potential.

In advance of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s establishment, a £150 million Building Scotland Fund announced in 2017 will provide debt and equity support to the private sector and organisations, such as housing associations and universities, to support the development of housing across all tenures, develop modern industrial and commercial space and support industry-led research and Development.

MSPs are set to vote on the Scottish Government’s budget proposals at Holyrood next month.

 

Commenting, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“A national investment bank has enormous potential to transform communities here in Argyll and Bute, and across Scotland. Operating within a core set of principles, the bank will deliver sustainable growth – with both individuals and small local businesses set to benefit.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy here in Argyll and Bute, so it’s very exciting that we are one step closer to providing historic investment for projects the length and breadth of Scotland.

“I would urge MSPs of all parties to get behind the plans.”

 

SCDI’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs Matt Lancashire said:

“We welcome announcement of £130 million to support the creation of the Scottish National Investment Bank, which will deploy patient capital to back long-term investment in business scale-up and innovation, and could have a positive impact. We also welcome the decision not to progress the out of town Business Rates levy and additional support for our struggling town centres to help them adapt in light of continued change.”

 

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) Policy & Campaigns Officer Paul Bradley said:

“The Bank provides the opportunity for Scotland to establish itself as a global leader in moving to a high-performing and modern economy, one built on sustainable finance to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy where the benefits are realised across all groups in Scottish society. SCVO will continue to monitor and feed into the process of setting up the Bank.”

New figures show high parcel delivery surcharges in Argyll and Bute and across the Highlands and Islands are continuing to be imposed unfairly by retailers in defiance of strong public concern and much political campaigning.

Commenting, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“It is simply wrong that despite the hard work and efforts from MSPs, MPs, the media and members of the public across Scotland backing the Fair Delivery Charges campaign, shoppers in Argyll and Bute and across the Highlands and Islands are paying more this year on parcel delivery surcharges than last year.

“Research commissioned by my colleague Richard Lochhead, the MSP for Moray shows that shoppers in Argyll and Bute were forced to spend £3.95m in 2018 – up from £3.77 in 2017 – on parcel delivery surcharges simply because of where they live.

Some will argue this is because more use is being made of on line shopping, but that should have the effect of reducing delivery costs, not increasing them.

In fact consumers in rural parts of Scotland such as those living across Argyll and Bute, rely on online shopping because of their geographical disadvantages and they should not have to put up with the incredibly high – and rising – surcharges that retailers impose.

“Whilst authorities are now starting to take action, a more urgent approach is now needed as the cost of surcharges is continuing to rise. The UK is responsible for regulating on this matter and they need to intervene and tackle the issue. Westminster needs to listen and act.“

MSP WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO CLEAN AIR

Local MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the news that Argyll and Bute has seen a significant rise in the number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) since 2017.

Figures released by the Department of Transport reveal that the number of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles in Argyll and Bute has increased by 64% since last year.

Across Scotland, the number of people driving electric vehicles has almost tripled since 2016 – rising by 130% in two years.

The Scottish Government has pledged to introduce low emission zones in Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020, and phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 – 8 years ahead of the UK government’s target.

The SNP in government has also committed to delivering 20 electric towns by 2025, and work to electrify the A9 trunk road with the provision of charging points along the route recently began.

 

Commenting, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“I welcome the news that the number of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles in Argyll and Bute is continuing to rise.

“These figures are testament to people’s commitment to clean air and clean energy in Scotland, and will help to make our towns and cities more accessible – and are an important part of the fight against climate change.

“Ultra-low emission vehicles give us the opportunity to set a path for less pollution and improve the quality of air in the places that we live, work and visit.

“The SNP will continue this progress and maintain Scotland’s reputation as a global leader on tackling air pollution and climate change.”

£219.345M BOOST FOR ARGYLL AND BUTE DESPITE TORY CUTS TO SCOTLAND’S BUDGET

SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell has welcomed news that Argyll and Bute Council is set to receive a total funding increase of 4.38%, as revealed in the Scottish Government’s budget.

Argyll and Bute Council will receive a £219.345m boost for day-to-day spending on essential public services and an increase of £9.209m on their capital spending budget.

The budget saw Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announce a total funding package amounting to £11.1 billion for local government.

Despite a £2 billion reduction in real terms to Scotland’s block grant over the last decade, the 2019/20 budget provides local authorities with a real terms increase in overall funding of over £210 million.

Commenting, SNP MSP Michael Russell said:

“People across Argyll and Bute will welcome this significant investment in their local services.

“Despite continued Tory cuts to Scotland’s resource budget, every local authority in Scotland has seen their funding increase in this year’s budget.

“These figures prove that the SNP government is committed to funding councils to deliver better schools, roads, housing and key services in Argyll and Bute.”