Margaret Burgess MSP

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Margaret Burgess MSP

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  • Member for: Cunninghame South
  • Region: West Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Margaret is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

I, too, congratulate Ken Macintosh on bringing this debate to the chamber. It was either Ken Macintosh or another member who said that it was appropriate to have the debate on the day that the Scottish Government laid out its programme for government because central to that programme is reducing inequalities in Scotland.

Ken Macintosh, Hugh Henry, Kenneth Gibson and Alex Johnstone mentioned the global economic inequalities, and I concur with a lot of what was said on that. Scotland and the Scottish Government will always play their part in trying to tackle global inequalities as we see them. We know that the more developed that countries become, the wider the gap between the rich and the poor. At the moment, the UK sits at 28th among the 34 OECD countries on inequality, which is something that we should all reflect on.

Some things are improving here in Scotland. For the first time since records began, full-time weekly earnings in Scotland are now higher than those in the UK. Real earnings have risen in Scotland and we have had the first annual increase since 2008, which compares with a real-terms reduction across the UK. I am not hailing that situation, because I understand that there are inequalities across the UK. Since 1999, the Scottish gender pay gap has decreased by 7.7 percentage points, but I accept that it is still far too big.

We have heard a lot about the living wage. The number of living wage accredited employers in Scotland has tripled since April this year thanks to the Poverty Alliance’s living wage accreditation initiative, which has been funded by the Scottish Government. We fully support the living wage campaign. We advocate the living wage, and we recognise the real benefits that it can bring to the lives of lower paid workers in Scotland.

As the economy grows, more and more women are moving into work. This month’s labour market statistics show that the women’s employment rate is now 71.2 per cent, which is 10 percentage points higher than when records began in 1992. As many members said, work should be a route out of poverty, but we know that women predominate in low-paid jobs and they are more at risk than men of being in in-work poverty. Part-time working by women has increased by 97,000 since 2008 and underemployment rates for women continue to rise despite two years of economic growth. Women should be benefiting from the levels of growth that we are seeing, but it is clear that many are not.

The Scottish Government is taking action. Through the implementation of our women’s enterprise framework, more women are being supported to start up their own businesses. That can be a flexible employment solution for women who have caring responsibilities. The increase in early learning and childcare eligibility to 600 hours for three and four-year-olds and two-year-olds in workless households will also help more women to enter and sustain work, and we are growing the capacity to increase that provision to 30 hours a week should we be elected again in 2016. That falls short of what we said in the white paper that we could do with independence, but we are doing what we can with the powers that we have. We have increased eligibility to 600 hours, and that will almost double in future as we increase our capacity to cope.

In helping women to enter work, we have to address the challenges of occupational segregation and equal pay that impact on so many women. Otherwise, there is a risk that women will remain in poverty. By implementing the recommendations of the commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce, we hope to see a real shift in the gender balance in skills training and further and higher education. We want more young women to enter non-traditional roles, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths related careers. From the next academic year, colleges and universities will be required to report on work to tackle gender imbalance in courses. However, career options and choices are often made early, so it is key that we ensure that young people receive unbiased advice from an early age. Teachers and parents have a crucial role to play in that.

Earlier today, the First Minister published the programme for government, continuing the Government’s commitment to our central purpose of sustainable economic growth and setting out three key priorities: to provide fair work, for example through our commitment to pay the living wage and increase funding to the Poverty Alliance to grow the number of accredited living wage employers; to focus on school attainment and university access for those from disadvantaged backgrounds; and to support increased childcare and free school meals. All of those priorities are designed to reduce intergenerational poverty and tackle inequality.

The programme for government emphasises our commitment to empower communities by handing decisions on key issues over to them and making government open and accessible through public participation in the decisions that we make that affect them.

We have committed to poverty proofing all our new policies and legislation through the use of poverty impact assessments whenever we make a change. In addition, as the First Minister said today, the Scottish Government will appoint an independent adviser on poverty and inequality to hold public events with the First Minister, to raise awareness of the realities of living in poverty, to make recommendations to the Government on how collectively we should respond and, importantly, to hold the Government to account for its performance.

With all of that, however, we know that poverty levels are increasing in Scotland because of UK Government policies, and we are aware that £6 billion could come out of the Scottish economy by 2015-16. Jackie Baillie commented on the Smith commission. Earlier, when she was asked a question, she said that we should wait until the commission reports, so I will give her the same answer to the question that she put to me about it.

The Smith commission will report tomorrow. The Scottish Government has made its case for full powers over tax and welfare to help us to tackle the scourge of poverty and inequality, and that case is backed by many of our stakeholders. The Scottish Government is committed to working collaboratively with people and communities throughout Scotland to bring an end to inequalities and, to use the words of Oxfam’s report, to “even it up”. That is what we intend to do through our programme for government.

Meeting closed at 17:50.  

Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Margaret Burgess

First, although I accept that there are many families in temporary accommodation, the vast majority of temporary accommodation is good quality, well managed local authority accommodation. We have to look at the issue in the round.

With regard to the housing supply, we have not increased the budget throughout the year, but we recently announced a further £200 million to increase the affordable housing budget for the coming year. We are still building more houses for social rent than any other Administration since devolution built. We will continue to meet our targets on both social housing and affordable housing.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

The Scottish Government is reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation by increasing housing supply and by preventing homelessness wherever possible through the development of housing options.

The latest statistics indicate that, in the first quarter of 2014-15, there was a 2 per cent decrease in the number of households in temporary accommodation from the previous year and—crucially—a 10 per cent decrease in the number of households with children in temporary accommodation. Those falls sit alongside wider falls in homelessness more generally in Scotland in recent years.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Margaret Burgess

We had already made a commitment to review the private sector tenancy regime and rent levels and we stuck to that commitment.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Margaret Burgess

As I said in my original answer, rent levels differ across Scotland, but the average rent increases over the past four years—including those in the member’s Glasgow region—have been less than the inflation increase. That applies across most of Scotland. We are aware that rent levels in some hot spots, such as those in Aberdeen and in parts of Edinburgh, are rising at a higher rate than inflation, and we are looking at that. We committed to looking at that issue and we are consulting on it. We are exploring rent levels as part of our consultation on reviewing the private sector tenancy.

I remind the member that Labour proposed rent reform at a very late stage of the Housing (Scotland) Bill. Labour did not introduce the idea early in the bill process. Rent reform was not mentioned until, lo and behold, Labour was allowed to mention it because Ed Miliband mentioned it in London. Not until then was it mentioned by Labour. [Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

Rents in the private sector reflect conditions in local housing markets, and rent levels vary widely across Scotland. Where rents are high, the answer is to build more houses, and we have taken decisive action on that. We have boosted housing supply budgets by investing £1.7 billion in affordable housing over this parliamentary session and, only this month, we announced a £200 million increase in funding to stimulate Scotland’s housing industry. We are also working with Homes for Scotland to attract new sources of investment to build more homes for private rent.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Margaret Burgess

I said clearly that the Government is committed to the living wage, to ensuring that it is paid to all public sector employees for whom the Government is responsible and to working towards our programme to promote good working conditions throughout the Scottish Government and its subcontractors.

I make it clear to the Parliament and the country that we are absolutely committed to the living wage, which is why we want to have statutory powers over the minimum wage in Scotland. That would enable us to increase the minimum wage in line with inflation until we did not require to have the living wage.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Margaret Burgess

I agree with John Mason. The issue featured in the Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith commission. We believe strongly that having power over the minimum wage is the way forward. We also said in the white paper that we could increase the minimum wage in line with inflation, which United Kingdom Governments have failed to do. Had they done so, our low-paid workers would already be £600 a year better off. We certainly want the power to set the minimum wage to be given to Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Margaret Burgess

I am pleased to hear of the organisation in Margaret McCulloch’s region that has adopted the living wage and I absolutely concur with what she said about the benefits of any employer paying their staff the living wage. It creates better productivity and values the workforce.

I say to Margaret McCulloch that the fact that we now have a cabinet secretary one of whose main responsibilities is the living wage clearly indicates the Government’s position. We funded the Poverty Alliance to initiate the campaign to promote the living wage and continue to do so. As I said, the Scottish Government pays all its employees at least the living wage and has now managed to negotiate a contract with those who provide it with catering and other services also to pay the living wage. We are and will continue to be absolutely committed to the living wage and to working towards it.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

The Scottish Government fully supports the living wage campaign and recognises the difference that the living wage can make to the people of Scotland. That is why we have funded a pilot by the Poverty Alliance with the aim of increasing the number of employers across all sectors in Scotland that pay the living wage. I am pleased to note that, since the pilot was launched in April, the number of living wage-accredited employers has tripled.

In addition, we are leading by example by ensuring that the living wage is a key part of the Scottish Government’s public sector pay policy. Although the Scottish Government cannot set pay levels in the third sector—or in the private sector and the wider public sector, where employees are not covered by our pay policy—we actively encourage all organisations to ensure that all staff on lower incomes receive a fair level of pay. Through that, we seek to maximise household resources to tackle poverty and reduce inequality across Scotland.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Margaret Burgess
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11494: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11023: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10438: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09926.3: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09747.2: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09749: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09482: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09209: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08470.2: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06853: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-01233: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/06/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01111: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01048: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00935: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/04/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00731: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/02/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00697: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/02/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-05033: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/01/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00566: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/12/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00512: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/12/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00440: Margaret Burgess, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/11/2011 Show Full Question >>

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