Annabelle Ewing MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Annabelle Ewing (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP)

I am pleased to speak in the debate.

I say at the outset that it is important to recognise that the starting point in the promotion of opportunity for disabled people in the workplace must always be what best suits the individual. For many, mainstream employment, as it is termed, will be the best option but, for some, supported employment might be the only chance that they have of getting a job. Hence, there must always be a role for supported employment, otherwise we risk closing the door on dignity and hope for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Given that, it was of course extremely disappointing that successive Westminster Governments have pulled the plug on Remploy. As was evident from the excellent contributions of many members during the two debates that we held on Remploy in 2012, the way in which the current Tory-Liberal Government at Westminster carried out the process left a lot to be desired. Indeed, a cynical person would suggest that there was from the outset a presumption in favour of closure with respect to all nine Remploy factories in Scotland, including those in Leven and Cowdenbeath.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I am grateful for the member’s intervention, because, later in my speech, I was going to call on him and his colleagues to assist with lobbying his chums in Westminster to maintain funding for the work choice programme. If his argument is that the funding should follow the individual and not the institution, I am sure that he will be supportive of the calls to maintain funding for that programme.

It is important to note the significant actions that the Scottish Government has taken to mitigate the effects of the UK Government’s closure policy. For example, as the minister outlined, in November 2012, the Government established the supported business advisory group, which the minister convened. As he was at pains to stress, the group provided practical input and advice on what actions could be taken to help supported businesses. As we heard, in 2012, the Government also established the national framework agreement, which makes it easier for public bodies to buy from supported businesses. We heard reference to the launch of the supported business directory, which showcases the range of capabilities of supported businesses in Scotland. Earlier this year, a supported business development event was held, which gave a platform to supported businesses to raise awareness of the products that they can supply. All those actions have been intended to provide a sustainable future for supported business. As the minister said, the key issue is that a steady flow of work is available over time. That is how we create a sustainable future.

On the important issue of procurement, I welcome the announcement earlier this year on the three-year contract that has been issued by the NHS for the supply of workforce uniforms from Haven PTS Ltd. It is important to note that that work has enabled the company to take on many former Remploy employees. I commend the efforts of all concerned.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I am grateful for that intervention, which is timely, as I was just about to move on to the Labour amendment. As my colleague Bruce Crawford has already pointed out to Ms Marra in an intervention, it is worth recalling that, during the consultation on the procurement legislation, respondents were asked whether the current policy guideline of having at least one contract with a supported business should be made a statutory requirement. As we heard, the majority of respondents said no, including Labour-led Glasgow City Council, Labour-led North Lanarkshire Council and seven other Labour-led councils. I gently suggest to Ms Marra that she might be better placed if she had a chat with her Labour council colleagues to better understand their real-life experience on the front line on these matters.

In conclusion, I hope that my call for Gavin Brown to support the Government’s funding of the work choice programme will be heard, and that the Tory members will assist the Scottish Government’s efforts to promote the continuation of that funding.

At least some members from the senior UK coalition Government party are in the chamber today, unlike the junior members of the coalition, the Liberals, who have failed to turn up to any debate that we have had on supported employment in recent years. It is perhaps a sad reflection of where the Liberal party now finds itself in Scottish politics that its members do not believe that it is important for them to turn up to such debates.

Disabled people are keen to work and to make their contribution to society. They want the dignity of employment and the hope that it brings. For some people, as I said, supported employment is their only chance. We must recognise that and do all that we can to promote sustainable supported employment.

That is all the more important in these times of Westminster austerity and given the dismantling—before our very eyes—of the welfare system in which Westminster is currently engaged. This is indeed a tale of two Governments, and we in Scotland utterly reject the not-so-noble Lord Freud’s truly contemptible suggestion that disabled people are second-class citizens in the workplace. What a disgrace that man is.



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP)

Good morning, and thank you all very much for coming. It really helps to inform the work of the committee to hear from people who have direct experience of applying for the community care grant and the crisis grant.

I want to pick up a couple of points that have already been raised. First, on the mechanics of actually applying, did you do that on the telephone, was there a big long form, or was it a mixture?



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

At least one previous witness suggested that there should be a facility for face-to-face meetings along with telephone, online and paper applications. What do you think about that? Would that have made a big difference to you or were you quite happy with doing it online or on the phone?



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

What about you, Peter?



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I will pick up a point that my colleague Jamie Hepburn alluded to. I am not asking each of you to go into your personal circumstances—that is your private information. If you already had involvement with, as Lana mentioned, the local council’s social work department or whatever, would you be happy if there were a mechanism that would allow the information that that department already had on file to be passed to the people who deal with the welfare fund?



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

There are important issues of confidentiality and so on, but do you feel that there might be a way for the information to be passed on so that you would have to spend less time giving information that people could already access?



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

Would anybody have any concerns about that information being passed to other officials in the council?



Welfare Reform Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

You all talked about how you came to be aware of the possibility of applying for a community care or crisis grant, and none of you said that you found out directly from the local authority. What would be a better way of communicating the availability of the fund to people like yourselves? Can you think of an approach that would be more directly accessible to you and more meaningful in your lives?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11332.2 Jenny Marra: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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NoDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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NoDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
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YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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YesCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Annabelle Ewing
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Motion S4M-10074: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Annabelle Ewing
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Question S4O-03234: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

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