Annabelle Ewing MSP

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Annabelle Ewing MSP

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  • Member for: Mid Scotland and Fife
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Annabelle is a member of the following Committees:

Annabelle is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

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Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Annabelle Ewing

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

It is important that we recognise the key problem, which is that this Parliament does not have power over pay. That power is still held in Westminster, which is a position that the Westminster unionist parties wish to maintain.

Of course, the alternative would have been to ensure that we in Scotland could get power over pay, but, again, the Westminster unionist parties did not seek that power during the Smith commission process. Indeed, it appears that the Labour Party would rather have a Tory Government at Westminster than a Scottish Government here in Scotland in charge of pay for Scottish workers. As we look to the months ahead, with the Westminster election looming, the voters of Scotland will find that increasingly difficult to understand.

In addition to our work on statutory guidance for procurement, we will hold a summit with business leaders to see what further work we can do to ensure that the living wage becomes the norm for pay policy in Scotland. I referred to the fair work convention, which we will set up to look at workforce matters further to the publication of the report, “Working Together Review: Progressive Workplace Policies in Scotland”.

I had many other things to say today, Presiding Officer, including on the important issue of the pay gap and female employment, so I hope that there will be another opportunity at hand. I remind members that I am always happy to come to the chamber to speak about the important issues of fair work, fair pay and gender equality in the workplace.

I thank John Mason for bringing this important debate to the chamber today. The way forward is to ensure that we in Scotland have the pay and employment powers that are necessary to tackle inequality in our country. At present, we operate with our hands tied behind our back. As I said, the voters of Scotland will, in the months ahead, give some thought to where they wish those powers to lie.

13:04 Meeting suspended.  14:30 On resuming—  

Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Annabelle Ewing

It should be noted that the white paper set out that we would consider carefully the recommendations of the expert working group on welfare. We intend that, further to that work, the fair work convention will look at issues of pay.

It is no secret that the Scottish Government has shown by its deeds that it is very supportive of the living wage, and we have tried to go as far as we can with the powers that we currently have to ensure that workers in Scotland get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

With regard to procurement, it is important for me to reply to the points that have been raised in the debate. I appreciate that I am going a wee bit beyond time, Presiding Officer, but I have taken some interventions.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Annabelle Ewing

I will take a very brief intervention.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Annabelle Ewing

I say gently to Mr Findlay that I am looking at the voting record and I helpfully suggest that he might want to look at it himself—it is in Hansard. I believe that Tony Blair missed all four Commons votes; Jim Murphy missed the vote on second reading; and 33 of 56 Scottish Labour MPs missed another vote. It would be helpful if Mr Findlay went to look at the Hansard record himself.

The Scottish Government has provided further funding to the Poverty Alliance to promote take-up of the living wage accreditation initiative, and it has set a target for at least 150 accredited employers by the end of 2015. That will help to increase the number of employers who are paying the living wage in all sectors throughout Scotland, and thereby help to make decent pay the standard in our country. As at 30 December 2014, the number of accredited employers had increased to 90—slightly higher than the figure that John Mason quoted—so we are evidently making good progress in that regard.

Although the Scottish Government is not able to set pay levels in the private sector or in the wider public sector in Scotland, we are doing all that we can to encourage all organisations to ensure that all staff on lower incomes receive a fair level of pay. We stated in our programme for Government that we will introduce a Scottish business pledge. We will make it clear that we want companies, in return for support from the Scottish Government and its agencies, such as Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to commit to paying the living wage and to fair work, among other things.

The key problem, as we know, is that power over pay is still held in London.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Annabelle Ewing

I thank the member for his intervention. I agree—I think that it is an absolute disgrace and it is a real kick in the teeth to workers across Scotland and indeed the UK. In my research for today’s debate, I noted a comment from Michael Meacher on the minimum wage, made on his website on 5 November 2012, where he said:

“Blair appointed a Low Pay Commission headed by a CBI big-wig in order to ensure it started at far too low a level, £3.60, and it has never been increased at a rate slightly above the rise in average wages, as was intended, so that it would grow slowly but steadily towards the two-thirds target.”

I think that, in this instance, Michael Meacher sums up the situation very well in terms of Westminster’s failure to act in the interests of the workers.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

I, too, congratulate my colleague John Mason on securing the debate. I know that he has a strong track record of working to tackle poverty and low pay for his constituents in Glasgow Shettleston.

I stress at the outset that the Scottish Government takes the issue of low pay very seriously indeed. Moreover, addressing low pay features prominently in the Scottish Government’s programme for government, in which we recognise the real difference that the living wage makes to the people of Scotland and the real difference—to deal with one of Mr Brown’s points—that progressive employment and social policies make to the long-term success of business and the wider community. Indeed, Alex Salmond helpfully advised us of a small business in his constituency, in New Deer, that has just become a living wage accredited employer. That shows the desire on the part of employers across Scotland—whether they are small, medium-sized or large businesses—to recognise that progressive employment policies are the future for sustainable, long-term success in business.

As the chamber will be aware, the Scottish Government is leading the way by doing all that we can within the powers that we have to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from the living wage. For example, despite the sharp reductions imposed on the Scottish budget by the UK Government that we heard the First Minister talking about in First Minister’s questions today, we have nonetheless been able to incorporate a number of distinct measures within our pay policy to protect the pay of our lowest-earning public sector workers, including a commitment to support the Scottish living wage for the duration of this session of Parliament—in fact, we are the first Scottish Government to do so.

Of course, absent statutory powers for Scotland over pay and employment law, that Scottish Government commitment can, by definition, only cover those workers who are covered by our own pay policy, not the wider public sector or private sector. At the same time, however, we are absolutely determined to do what we can to ensure that the inequalities of low pay are tackled in Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

Further to yesterday’s tribunal ruling on the long-standing equal pay debacle, will the member be calling on his North Lanarkshire Council colleagues not to proceed with an appeal, to ensure that the people who are entitled to the pay that they should have received years ago now get it?



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I thank Patricia Ferguson for her comment, which is a fair one. Indeed, there is a recognition that there are a number of people who are further away from the jobs market who do need support. Our refreshed youth employment strategy is intended to provide the support needed to ensure that all young people have an opportunity to get into the workplace.

Skills Development Scotland has been working with the Scottish funding council, local authorities and others to develop regional skills assessments. That work will help to improve understanding of the skills and labour market demands across Scotland. Last month, SDS published a series of 11 regional skills assessments covering the length and breadth of Scotland, including the Glasgow region and Glasgow and Clyde Valley. The collaborative approach employed in developing the assessments reiterates the Scottish Government’s commitment to work with our employers to ensure that our skills and education systems are closely aligned with economic opportunities.

Mention was made of the Commonwealth games legacy, which is also of relevance in this context. Members will be aware that the Scottish Government and its key partners began planning a legacy fit for the Commonwealth games back in 2008. Central to those plans were our and our partners’ ambitions to increase movement for Scottish people into employment, training and volunteering, increase the growth of Scottish businesses and help Scotland to attract new business investments. As part of that, the Scottish Government has provided £125 million to Clyde Gateway since 2007, helping to remediate land, create office and industrial space, attract inward investment and generate job opportunities in the east end of Glasgow.

In addition, the £500 million spent on the construction and refurbishment of games venues and the athletes’ village in the east end of Glasgow over the six years leading to 2014 has, on average, supported 1,000 jobs and contributed £52 million to Scotland’s gross value added in each year. Furthermore, 500 jobs, including 168 apprenticeships, were provided for the long-term unemployed and education leavers on Commonwealth games infrastructure-related contracts, as well as opportunities for investment from local businesses and social enterprises.

Clyde Gateway also seeks to support local people to access the opportunities that regeneration of the area is bringing. Community benefit clauses form a mandatory part of contracts that are delivered by Clyde Gateway, providing jobs and training for local people. Where jobs cannot be provided due to the specialist nature of the work, alternative community benefits are agreed with the contractor.

It is also worth noting that Clyde Gateway is delivering a range of employment and training projects to support people into work, many for the first time, and it has agreed a joint action plan with Skills Development Scotland to support the specific employability and training needs in the area. That perhaps covers the concern that Ms Ferguson expressed.

I mentioned the youth employment strategy that we published on Monday, which responds to the report by Sir Ian Wood and his commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce. In the debate that we had this afternoon, we set out a radical plan to offer young people the skills and knowledge that they need to move from education into the world of work. I agree with Paul Martin that all of us, as parliamentarians, have a responsibility to do what we can with the powers that we have in the Parliament to ensure that every young person has a chance to make their way in life. That is certainly a duty that I take very seriously indeed.

The milestones over the next six years are clear and ambitious. We have committed to taking the action that is needed to meet our ambitious target of reducing youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021. The Government has already committed £12 million this year—and £16.6 million is planned for 2015-16—to support and develop the plans that are outlined in the implementation plan. That funding demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that the resources are in place to make real our vision of a world-class vocational education system. We will improve the options for young people to help them to get into sustainable jobs that will drive economic growth and so reduce youth unemployment to the levels of the best-performing countries in Europe. The programme aims to achieve systemic change across schools, colleges, training provision and employers, underpinned by consistent and sustained support from this Government.

Those actions will sit alongside our existing successful actions to tackle youth unemployment. They include the opportunities for all programme, which is a commitment to offer a place in education or training to 16 to 19-year-olds who need it, and our modern apprenticeships programme. We are continuing to deliver 25,000 modern apprenticeship starts a year and we plan to go further by increasing the target to 30,000 by 2020.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity tonight to respond to Mr Martin’s debate. I stress that, although much has been achieved and developments such as the highlighted one at Glasgow Fort are important to drive recovery, there is still a great deal to do. The member can be assured that we will use every possible opportunity for Government, local government, businesses, employers, social enterprises, the third sector and the people of Scotland to work together to ensure that we maximise job creation and apprenticeship opportunities in Glasgow’s east end and, indeed, across Scotland.

Meeting closed at 17:28.  

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

I congratulate Paul Martin on securing this members’ business debate tonight. His entreaty for some last-minute Christmas shopping will be noted in the Official Report of the debate, which I hope will be pored over avidly tomorrow by our colleagues, who might be tempted to proceed directly to the Fort to get their last-minute Christmas presents.

I welcome the expansion of the Fort shopping centre in the east end of Glasgow and in particular the opportunities for jobseekers that the expansion will create. I thank the member for Glasgow Provan for highlighting the hugely important issue of job creation and, therefore, apprenticeship opportunities—points that John Mason and Patricia Ferguson took up. I will focus on a number of issues of relevance to those issues.

As far as skills training and access to the jobs market is concerned, it is worth noting that the most recent United Kingdom Commission for Employment and Skills survey outlines a number of key strengths in skills and training in Scotland, including positive feedback on the work readiness of our young people. The survey found that young people in Scotland are the best prepared for work in the UK and that the situation in relation to skills gaps is improving. However, we want more firms to play a part in supporting our people towards fair and sustainable employment, and our efforts to achieve that will be stepped up further in the coming year in the context of our refreshed youth employment strategy.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

This has actually been a very consensual debate. [Interruption.] I could not possibly repeat what the cabinet secretary just said.

I look forward to working closely with all members from across the chamber who I know, in their hearts, support the opportunity for our young people to have a chance in life. That is what they want and that is what we parliamentarians have a duty to deliver.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Annabelle Ewing
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11565: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11294: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11292: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11291: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11187: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10942: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10709: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10694: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10672: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10307.1: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03709: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22948: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22797: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00804: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03545: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03477: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03417: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02203: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03356: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03259: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

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