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 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

The Scottish Government has taken significant action to reform the private rented sector since launching our strategy for the sector in May last year. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 includes provisions to regulate the letting agent industry, to introduce a new private rented housing tribunal and to provide local authorities with further powers to tackle poor property condition. We are consulting on proposals for a new private tenancy, which will improve security for tenants while providing safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Margaret Burgess

The Scottish Government has been working with Shelter Scotland and other stakeholders on the development of our proposals for a new private rented tenancy. Shelter Scotland states in its make renting right campaign that it supports the Scottish Government in making renting right across Scotland. That is because we have already made proposals to improve security of tenure for tenants.

In addition, we are working with the house-building industry and have funded a private rented sector champion who will drive initiatives to boost the supply of new homes that are purpose built for private tenants and will unlock new sources of housing investment.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Margaret Burgess

As the member will be aware, we have been monitoring rent levels in Scotland. Last week, we published comprehensive rent statistics, which show that most average rents have increased by a figure that is lower than the rate of inflation and that some rents have fallen. However, we are aware that rents are rising faster in some areas and in some household types, which is why we are inviting views on the issue as part of our consultation on the new private rented sector tenancy system. We are consulting on that and I encourage the member to add her views to the consultation.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

The Scottish Government has published a range of analysis, reflecting significant concern about how welfare reform is impacting on people across Scotland.

That includes analysis of how women and disabled people are being disproportionately affected by the reforms; of how the number of sanctions has been increasing over time; of how food aid provision has grown over time, which is partly because of the impact of sanctions; and of how, over the six years to 2015-16, the cumulative impact of all welfare reform changes means reductions of around £6 billion in welfare expenditure in Scotland. All the analysis is available on the Scottish Government website.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Margaret Burgess

Our proposals will focus on equipping the Scottish Parliament with the powers to create more jobs, tackle inequality and protect public services in order to create a wealthier and fairer society.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

Given that child poverty is such an important issue, which affects all our communities, I would have hoped that we could have had a bit more consensus from some Opposition members. I will respond to some of the comments, but first—



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Margaret Burgess

I will take an intervention from Neil Findlay later, but I will get into my speech first.

I congratulate John Wilson on bringing the debate to the chamber, as tackling poverty and inequality is central to the Scottish Government’s vision of making Scotland a successful and more prosperous country. I assure every member in the chamber and everyone in the country that we are determined to address the root causes of poverty. We are not paying lip service to that—we are absolutely determined to do so in order to help people to overcome the barriers that prevent them from achieving their potential.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Margaret Burgess

I will respond to that point now, although I would have come to it later in my speech. I make it clear that the Scottish Government is committed to the living wage. We are promoting the living wage, and we have funded the Poverty Alliance to do so.

We have made this Government’s view on the living wage clear in the statutory guidance on the procurement process. We dealt with the issue legally. Neil Findlay can argue about it as much as he likes, but we could not put the living wage in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 in the way that he wanted. However, we have made clear our position on the living wage. We want powers to come to this Parliament on the minimum wage so that we can increase it in line with inflation and, we hope, to the level of the living wage. That is important, because neither the previous Labour Government nor the current coalition increased the minimum wage in line with inflation after it was introduced in the UK. Families in Scotland are already more than £600 a year worse off simply by virtue of the minimum wage not being increased in line with inflation. The Scottish Government would very much want to do that.

We have heard how the changes to benefits will impact on those on the lowest incomes and how further austerity measures are predicted to put a further 50,000 to 100,000 children into poverty. Of course that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to me that any Government can propose policies in the full knowledge that more of our children will end up in poverty. At Westminster, all the parties have signed up to austerity, which simply means that the poorest households will pay the highest price.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Margaret Burgess

Jamie Hepburn highlights the difficulty that the Labour Party has because it says something different in Scotland from what its masters in London say. What is happening on the ground and what the Labour Party does and says throughout the UK do not match what it says in the Scottish Parliament.

I will say some of the positive things that we are doing on child poverty in Scotland. The revised child poverty strategy for Scotland is important. All the key players, such as the Child Poverty Action Group and Barnardo’s Scotland—all the organisations that are on the front line of dealing with poverty—helped us to develop it.

The strategy has three key areas. It is about maximising household incomes. Unclaimed benefits, which John Finnie mentioned, are part of that. We need to ensure that households get everything to which they are entitled, and we have put resources into that. The strategy is about improving life chances and opportunities. We have done a lot on that through our preventative work on our early years strategy and will continue to do more. It is also about providing well-designed, sustainable places. We have put another £200 million into the housing budget for affordable housing.

A number of members mentioned fuel poverty. We are contributing £79 million for energy efficiency measures throughout Scotland. Again, that helps the poorest in our society. We are also challenging the UK Government’s changes to the energy company obligation because of the impact on rural areas.

The budget that John Swinney set out last week had three clear aims: to make Scotland a more prosperous country, to tackle inequalities and to protect and reform public services. That will shape everything. Every portfolio in the Government is about tackling inequalities, making Scotland a more prosperous country and protecting services.

John Swinney set out commitments to tackle the poverty and inequality that blight our society by maintaining spending on welfare reform mitigation measures—more than £296 million. That includes £23 million to help the most vulnerable who are in receipt of council tax benefit. If we had not stepped in with that, those people would be expected to pay more council tax.

We also have our Scottish social wage and the increased provision of free nursery education. We heard today that the First Minister is absolutely committed to increasing free nursery education to 30 hours a week if the Scottish National Party is re-elected in 2016. That is a huge commitment. It is about helping to reduce poverty and inequalities.

I wanted to say a lot more on that but I will say a bit about our proposals to the Smith commission. We want full fiscal autonomy and full powers over welfare and employment. We want those to enable us to ensure policy coherence so that welfare, employment policy and taxation can operate in harmony with one another. We need more powers in Scotland to ensure that work pays—we are all agreed on that—so we should be able to determine tax credit and benefit rates and the minimum wage. Finally, we need the ability to protect the most vulnerable in our society; we also need the power to create a fairer welfare system instead of spending money mitigating UK policies.

We want to create opportunities that meet distinctive Scottish priorities; we want to equip the Scottish Parliament with the powers to create more jobs, tackle inequality and protect public services. Instead of seeing tens of thousands more children grow up in poverty, we want to use the additional powers to give Scotland’s children the very best possible start in life in a fairer, more prosperous country. I am sure that we all want that.

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

Welfare Reform Committee 18 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess)

I will say a few words—thank you, convener.

I welcome the opportunity to address the committee on the draft budget for 2015-16, which sets out how we will focus our tax, spending and borrowing plans to achieve three primary objectives: to make Scotland a more prosperous country; to tackle inequality; and to protect and reform public services. It also sets out the commitments that are designed to tackle the poverty that continues to blight society.

The committee is well aware that the UK Government’s welfare reforms continue to cause concern to a great many people and organisations across Scotland, and the Scottish Government’s priority is to mitigate the most harmful effects of those reforms as part of our wider efforts to tackle inequality. In 2014-15, we allocated £81 million to that, and we have maintained that level of funding in the 2015-16 draft budget. That funding will maintain investment in the Scottish welfare fund and will assist councils in supporting everyone who is affected by the bedroom tax. It will also enable us to invest in a range of third sector initiatives for income maximisation and to tackle poverty, particularly in support of our new child poverty strategy, which was published earlier this year.

The 2015-16 draft budget includes a range of other measures that will support our welfare reform mitigation activity. We will provide additional investment of more than £200 million in housing, we will roll forward our contribution of £23 million to fill the cut in funding from the UK Government for council tax benefit successor arrangements and we will deliver the £9.4 million people and communities fund for 2015-16, which has a refreshed focus on the promotion of social inclusion and tackling poverty, including the mitigation of the impact of welfare reform.

To deliver those measures, we are working in partnership with a range of organisations, including the third sector and local authorities. That collaborative approach will go some way to meeting the challenges that have been imposed on us by the UK Government, but the continued investment that we are making—which, when the council tax reduction scheme is included, comes to more than £100 million—can go only so far in mitigating the worst impacts of the reforms. The scale of the cuts is immense, and we are constrained by the powers and resources that we have. If we had full powers over welfare, we could do much more to fully protect our people and tackle the inequalities that persist in Scotland. With full powers over welfare, we could bring greater coherence to our tackling poverty agenda through better alignment across childcare, child benefit and other measures to tackle child poverty.

I will be happy to take any questions that the committee has.

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—
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NoDefeated

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

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