Mark McDonald MSP

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Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

Returning to the issue of capacity within communities, I note that a number of examples have been given. However, what springs most readily to mind for me is the two save our school campaigns against school closures in my constituency—one in a regeneration community and one in an affluent area—and the contrast between the approaches that were taken.

One campaign was able to call on parents and individuals in the community who had strong professional backgrounds such as doctors and planners; people in the other community required a level of intensive support to put together their campaign and marshal their arguments. That strikes me as being the kind of approach that will be commonplace as the community empowerment agenda moves forward. What role will your organisation play in those communities of most need, where the activism and enthusiasm are undoubtedly there but perhaps that professional expertise to do things such as putting together a business case does not exist? What will the role of your organisation be in supporting those communities to ensure that they can take full advantage of the legislation?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

There are examples, including in my constituency, of community empowerment occurring without legislation being in place. I think that the bill is necessary, because such cases can often be exceptions rather than the rule.

Where your organisations have had positive experiences, with communities taking on assets or becoming more involved in how things operate, is there a role in connecting up communities, so that the ones that have had positive experiences and are doing good things can be put in easy contact with others? We are often bad at sharing best practice across Scotland. We are also bad at making small local authority or community jumps between areas. Is there a role for your organisations in ensuring that communities are better connected in that way?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

I am interested in the statistics. As you have said, the SHS is all that we have to go on. From your experiences and discussions with voluntary sector partners around Scotland, can you tell us whether what you have just described is replicated in communities in other areas? Many local authorities have areas of deprivation and areas of affluence, and it would be interesting to find out whether people in areas of affluence are more likely to volunteer than people in areas of deprivation, or vice versa.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

I asked the previous panel about community capacity and the difference between affluent and deprived communities and the level of support that they are likely to require. I do not think that any community is without capacity or ability, but the issue is how that is channelled, harnessed and supported. Do we need to identify somebody whose job it is to support communities? There is a risk that if we do not do that, it will become nobody’s job.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

Perhaps I can crystallise that with an example. Before I got involved in elected politics, I was involved with a group of sports clubs, which had come together with a view to taking on an area of land and developing a sporting facility there. The convener will be familiar with it.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

Because the land was held by the local authority, there was a view from council officers that they did not want to be seen to be too involved with giving support for a business-case grant application and so on, because they would then have a role to play in asset disposal and asset transfer. That led the group to fall into the trap that many groups fall into, with self-proclaimed experts in how to get funding and how to approach things attaching themselves to the group and offering what was, in fact, poor advice. That, in turn, led to things not really moving forward at all. Lo and behold—nothing has happened.

Situations in which there is such a vacuum undoubtedly exist. There might be a conflict of interests if a body gets too involved in providing support for community initiatives, because of its role in the transfer of an asset. Should we therefore have more robust guidance about whom communities can approach, and guidance for public bodies so that they can advise communities that, although they cannot be the organisation to provide the support that they need, there are others that they can approach for that advice and support? That would prevent scenarios such as the one that I described.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

I spoke to both the previous panels of witnesses about the fact that some communities can work out, for example, who they need to speak to and how to go through grant applications, whereas other communities might need a bit of support to do that. What are your experiences of the need for support to get grant applications or to transfer assets? Where did you look for that support, and was it readily available from public bodies?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

That builds on my earlier point about who the best people are to give that support. Have you found, on occasion, not a lack of willingness by the local authority but a view that the local authority cannot be seen to be supporting a group while, at the same time, negotiating with a group? Has that issue come up, or do you see that becoming a pitfall if the support is not available?



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
8. Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to increase awareness and understanding of autistic spectrum disorder in schools. (S4O-03578)



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mark McDonald

I am grateful to the Scottish Government for launching the autism toolbox. Can the minister update the chamber on how that is being promoted within education authorities and in individual schools and how it will be monitored and reviewed? Can he also consider how issues around autistic spectrum disorder and other additional support needs are captured in teacher training to ensure that newly qualified teachers have a good grounding in and understanding of those conditions?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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YesCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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YesCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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YesCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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YesCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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YesCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Mark McDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11184: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11183: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11182: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11181: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11111: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11110: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11109: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11108: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11090: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11020: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Mark McDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22811: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22810: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22812: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22813: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03578: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03500: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03466: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21891: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

Scottish Government actions, following the business rates consultation with progress summary

Scottish Government business rates consultation outcomes

Progress summary

  1. We will write, in 2013, to every business in Scotland based in a property that me be entitled to the Small Business Bonus scheme to highlight that they may benefit.

In November 2013 Minister for Energy Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing wrote to every business in Scotland that may be entitled, but was not claiming.

  1. We will work with stakeholders to ensure there is a more consistent approach across Scotland.

On-going, a working group has been set up with Scottish Government officials, council officials and COSLA to produce non-statutory guidance to rates reliefs.

  1. We will review rates relief application processes to ensure they are simple, transparent and streamlined.

On-going.

  1. We will undertake a review of the recent changes to empty property relief in 2015.

To be carried out in 2015.

  1. All rates reliefs will be kept under regular review to ensure that benefit is directed where it is most needed.

On-going. Actions already taken include the expansion of Fresh Start relief to include higher rateable value properties and previously empty hotels, restaurants and pubs and the expansion of the Small Business Bonus Scheme to include an estimated additional 4,000 properties, both came into force in April 2014. In addition, payday lenders will no longer be entitled to rates relief in Scotland from April 2014.

  1. All current exemptions provided, including to some key sectors such as agriculture, will be retained.

All current exemptions have been

retained.

  1. The Scottish Government will create a power to allow local councils to respond better to local need and create their own localised relief schemes.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill was laid before Parliament on 11 June 2014. This includes a power to allow councils to create their own localized business rates relief schemes. There is no equivalent power to levy supplements.

  1. We will continue the Small Business Bonus Scheme until 2016 and consider which relief thresholds can be established on a longer term basis ahead of the 2017 review.

Legislation was laid and came into force on 1 April 2014 to allow for the SBBS to run for 2 years (for lifetime of current Scottish Parliament).

  1. The way all current reliefs are funded will be maintained.

Funding of all current reliefs has been

maintained

  1. The way that relief to different sectors is recorded will be maintained.

Recording of relief to different sectors

has been maintained.

  1. The Scottish Government will consult on transitional relief ahead of the next revaluation in 2017.

Consultation planned to take place

closer to 2017 revaluation date.

  1. New rateable values will be made available to ratepayers as far in advance of the 2017 revaluation as possible.

Work on-going, officials working jointly with the Scottish Assessors.

  1. A separate review of the appeals system will begin in 2014, concluding in time for the next revaluation in 2017.

Currently engaging with stakeholders to help inform the review.

  1. We will work jointly with others to ensure businesses have access to clear, concise information about valuations, rateable values, rates bills and reliefs.

New business portal website and rates bill calculator launched in 2013.

Where there are further opportunities identified to provide clear, concise information on business rates, these will be considered.

  1. We will take all possible measures to prevent tax avoidance and ensure rates are paid.

On-going.

  1. Where possible, loopholes and avoidance tactics will be closed.

On-going.

  1. Powers for debt recovery will be strengthened and streamlined.

On-going.

  1. The current property based tax system will be retained.

No change to current property based

tax.

  1. The Scottish Government confirms that the next rates revaluation will take effect on 1 April 2017.

The next rates revaluation will take

effect on 1 April 2017.

  1. The national poundage will continue to be set at the same level as in England. There will be no new local poundage supplements.

Confirmed in setting the 2014-15 poundage. A 2% poundage cap (with poundage set at 47.1p) confirmed for 2014-15.


Current Status: Answered by Derek Mackay on 25/06/2014
Question S4O-03375: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03300: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

Further information

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