Maureen Watt MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Maureen Watt (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)

Thank you very much, Presiding Officer.

I am pleased to be taking part in this debate not only as a member with a supported business in her constituency but as convener of the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, which scrutinised the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill. It is apt that we are having this debate in the week of the launch of the poppy appeal, given that one of the most high-profile supported businesses is the Lady Haig Poppy Factory.

In an ideal world, it would be great if everyone with a disability who was able to work was able to find work in a mainstream environment. However, we know that that just does not happen, regardless of how well qualified or highly skilled they may be, and the stark employment rates bear that out, with the employment rate for people with disabilities being 43.3 per cent, compared with a rate for non-disabled people of 80.6 per cent. Putting that in a more startling way, the unemployment rate for disabled people in Scotland is 14.6 per cent, compared with a rate for non-disabled people of 5.5 per cent. That is why, like Chic Brodie, I was angry over successive Westminster Governments’ decisions to close Remploy factories without a care or a heed for what was happening to people who, in many cases, are left on declining benefits, stripped of their dignity and wellbeing.

I am proud of what this Government has done to step into the breach to help as many people as possible and to promote the sector. I know that the minister has been extremely involved in that and that he has the complete support of the First Minister, who himself became involved in helping Glencraft, in my constituency.

In anticipation of today’s debate, I popped into Glencraft to get an update on how things are with it. I know that the employees are pleased that their enterprise has won a string of awards in recent months. Most recently, a few weeks ago, I watched it pick up an award at the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce business awards. Glencraft is, at last, looking forward to moving into new premises, having reached an agreement with the Reg Vardy company to move into refurbished premises in the Lang Stracht in Aberdeen. Regrettably, the move takes it out of my constituency and into Mark McDonald’s, but I am sure that I will keep my links with it. The company is currently looking for money to fund the move, so if the minister is aware of any sources of funding that could help with that, I would be glad if he could let me know.

Carl Hodgson of Glencraft was at the Procurex exhibition recently. The first thing that he wanted to make clear to me was that the Government and civil servants absolutely understand and encourage supported businesses, and he welcomed the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. We have already seen the new Caledonian sleeper franchisee commit to procuring the mattresses for the beds from Glencraft.

However, that support from the top has yet to be replicated throughout other public bodies. It is well to reiterate Bruce Crawford’s intervention that the consultation on the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill showed that a number of Labour-led councils did not want us to legislate to help supported businesses.

Glencraft is well supported by the oil and gas industry and privately owned local hotels, as well as by the general public. However, there is no doubt that a contract with a public body would help.

The requirements of the procurement legislation are still new to a lot of people in the procurement business, and many public bodies are still coming to grips with it. It requires a change of mindset. It is easy for procurers to go to large businesses that can provide a range of products, and it is difficult for supported businesses to engage with those businesses, which are looking for the cheapest goods so that they can increase their profit margins. When looking for sustainable procurement of goods, procurers will have to start breaking up those large contracts into smaller contracts. I am sure that that will help supported businesses.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Maureen Watt

I wish that it was as simple as Jenny Marra tries to make it out to be. Of course, at the moment, there is nothing preventing councils from doing that, but we have seen no lead on it from any of the councils. Indeed, as I have just said, Labour councils did not want it in the bill. She cannot just stand up and keep repeating the same mantra all the time. She has to face reality.

Supported businesses cannot compete on what is an uneven playing field. For example, Glencraft’s advertising budget is £18,000 whereas a major bed provider seems to be advertising on the television all the time and spends a whopping £22 million. Nevertheless, I am impressed with what Glencraft has done and is doing. Eighty per cent of its workforce have disabilities. As the minister said, they are very good at turning up to work and have lower absentee rates, although the situation is not without its challenges. The management are constantly looking for new avenues for their products and are even getting on the mail order sites of some major companies. I hope that that comes off. They also have local schoolchildren in for work experience.

I am glad that the approach of the Scottish Government is different from that of Westminster. The future for supported businesses in Scotland is bright.

15:26  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Maureen Watt (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)

I welcome the £4.5 billion of investment in infrastructure that is set out in the budget and the additional funding of £125 million for housing. Can the cabinet secretary set out how that money will help to address inequality and poverty in our communities?



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
9. Maureen Watt (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the effectiveness of the arrangements relating to the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011 and their operation. (S4O-03599)



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Maureen Watt

Does the minister believe that there is any flexibility in the system regarding land-owning property factors to allow the owners on a new housing estate to decide on the ownership and maintenance of the green space?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Convener (Maureen Watt)

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the 23rd meeting in 2014 of the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee. I remind everybody to switch off mobile phones, as they affect the broadcasting system.

Agenda item 1 is a decision on taking items 5 and 6 in private. Item 5 is to allow the committee to consider proposals for future inquiries, and item 6 is to consider the evidence that we will hear on homelessness in Scotland. Do members agree to take those items in private?

Members indicated agreement.



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Convener

Agenda item 2 is evidence from the Minister for Housing and Welfare on homelessness in Scotland, as part of the committee’s inquiry on the issue. I welcome the minister, Margaret Burgess, and Marion Gibbs, team leader on homelessness with the Scottish Government.

Would you like to make an opening statement, minister?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Convener

Thank you, minister. What impact have the abolition of priority need and the roll-out of the housing options approach had on homelessness services in Scotland?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Convener

We can look at best practice, but nothing stays the same and the circumstances and number of people who present as homeless change. Two years on, what is the Government doing to review the effectiveness of the 2012 commitment?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Convener

How confident are you that both you and the Scottish Government have a good understanding of the levels of homelessness in Scotland, given the Scottish Housing Regulator’s findings that current local authority practice may have resulted in the underreporting of homelessness?

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 Maureen Watt
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11321: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11258: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11079: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11059: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10794: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10733: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10646: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10620: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10609: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10598: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Maureen Watt
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03599: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03511: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00786: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22342: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03460: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03419: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21330: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03218: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03168: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03090: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/03/2014 Show Full Question >>

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