Rennie: Concerns over finances at parent firm of Lochaber smelter

Responding to concerns over the finances of Greensill Capital and its impact on businesses including the Lochaber aluminium smelting plant, to which the Scottish Government has provided more than £500m of guarantees, and the Liberty Steel plant in Motherwell, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"The Scottish Government once again find themselves mired in murky business.

"When the Government provided guarantees in December 2016, they made big promises about a shining future for the Lochaber smelter. Now it seems that the smelter's parent firm are in trouble and Scottish taxpayers could be on the hook.

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Rennie: Deputy First Minister’s shabby treatment of parliament cannot be ignored.

Commenting on a vote of no confidence in John Swinney, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“The Deputy First Minister’s shabby treatment of parliament cannot be ignored. 

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Cole-Hamilton: Treatment time law breaches show need to put recovery first

Responding to the news that the First Minister's 12-week legal Treatment Time Guarantee was breached a further 37,230 times between March and December 2020, after being broken 6,000 times a month before the pandemic struck, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

"There is a power of work to be done to remobilise the NHS and catch-up on treatments and operations lost to the pandemic. Many people are waiting in pain.

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Lib Dems to lead first Parliament debate on raising starting age for formal schooling

Scottish Liberal Democrats will today lead the first ever debate at the Scottish Parliament on raising the starting age for formal schooling - a policy that will be included in the party's manifesto for the elections in May.

Willie Rennie first announced in 2018 that Scottish Liberal Democrats would work with Upstart Scotland to develop plans to transform how children learn in what is currently P1 and P2. 

It is part of the party’s long-term plan to make Scottish education the best again. It follows on from Willie Rennie setting out at the weekend steps that Scottish Liberal Democrats would take in time for August to help education bounce back, including guaranteeing a job for every trained teacher to cut class sizes and provide more support.

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Lib Dems secure more than £300m of budget support for mental health, education and councils

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today announced that the party will back this year's Scottish budget in exchange for additional support for education, mental health, local authorities, environment, training and businesses.

The party has secured:

  • An extra £120million for mental health services to pay for new services in communities.
  • An extra £60million to help education bounce back with smaller class sizes.
  • Additional support for businesses and the release of money for local authorities.
  • Fair funding for the internal ferries in Orkney and Shetland.
  • An extra £20million to provide more in-class support to children who need it by topping up the Pupil Equity Fund. This is money paid directly to headteachers to provide additional support to pupils from less well-off backgrounds. This represents a rough 16% increase on the current year. 
  • £15million in special allocations to the North East to pay for skills training, upskilling and business support in a region particularly under pressure given its reliance on fossil fuel industries.
  • The addition of compensation for the council tax freeze into the baseline of local government funding, worth around £90million, which will remove the risk that councils would face a cliff edge on funding next year.
  • £5million more for agriculture transition funding, which rewards farmers for environmental stewardship and helps our climate change priorities.
  • A clear commitment that specialised eye services in Lothian will be protected.
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Social care staff wait 6 months for bonus to be delivered

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today criticised the SNP Government's handling of a £500 bonus which won't be delivered to staff until six months after it was announced by the First Minister.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on 30 November 2020 a one-off £500 pro rata payment for health and social care staff. However, an email to Willie Rennie from Fife Council has confirmed "As Councils are only administrators of the payment, separate funding is needed from the Scottish Government. That is unlikely to be in place until early April. That being the case it is unlikely that Fife Council will be able to make payments until the end of that month or more realistically the May pay." 

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Rennie: 14 years of the SNP but little to show for it

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been in charge of Scotland for 14 years but they have precious little to show for it. More children than ever are waiting over a year for mental health treatment and Scottish education has fallen down the international rankings.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats set out plan to fix social care

The Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference has today backed fresh proposals for the future of adult social care. 

The proposals endorsed by the conference include: 

  • The setting of national care service standards with funding put in place to meet those standards; 
  • Scrapping charges for care services delivered at home; 
  • National standards and local commissioning to involve disabled people and other care users, and be informed by local experience of unmet needs 
  • Changes to value the social care workforce better, including a requirement that any care service by any provider must comply with fair work requirements which are set nationally, and all staff should have nationally agreed pay, terms of employment, and career progression; 
  • Recognising unpaid carers with better support for respite. 
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Scottish Liberal Democrats unveil new plan for ending homelessness

Speaking after the Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference today backed a new package of proposals designed to end homelessness in Scotland, housing spokesperson Paul McGarry, who was himself made homeless at 16, commented:

"The work that was done at the outset of the crisis to house people was striking. But it also showed what can be done and how problems can be solved if the political will is there.

“The Scottish Government should be ashamed by both how many people are in inadequate temporary accommodation and the frequency of deaths on our streets. The extent of both the homelessness death emergency and the drugs crisis in Scotland has been evident to everyone.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats pledge to make Scotland a mental health world leader

The Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference has today backed a package of proposals to "fix overwhelmed mental health services for good".

As part of the party's call to put recovery first, the seven-point plan will:  

  • Increase the number of training places for psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, especially those specialising in CAMHS;
  • Add counsellors to NHS workforce planning so their skills can help more people;
  • Expand the trained counselling workforce through new bursaries and training routes to widen access;
  • Fully resource mental health services through a target for them to receive 15% of future health spend increases;
  • Make every health service contact count through enhanced signposting to existing counsellors and third sector resources;
  • Provide new community services that young people can access with their families;
  • Restart and ramp up mental health first aid training with a new aspiration that every workplace should benefit.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: 

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