End the Benefits Freeze
I have signed the pledge card committing to support action to end the benefits freeze. For more than 10 years there have been a variety of changes to our social security system, some of which have contributed to rising levels of poverty and growing inequality. This is bad for both society and the economy.
The decision to freeze most working age benefits until the end of the current UK Parliament cannot be justified on any grounds and should come to an end. Freezing working age benefits will take almost £1 billion from the pockets of people living in Scotland by 2020/21, and will affect around 750,000 households by the end of the decade. These cuts will affect people regardless of whether they are in work or unemployed. At a time when the negative impact of austerity policies are becoming all the more evident, there is a real need to end this damaging and regressive approach to social security benefits.
Listen to Your Lungs
I am supporting the British Lung Foundation’s lung health awareness campaign. I recently took their online ‘breath test’ at the Houses of Parliament and am encouraging others to do the same.
The UK-wide campaign is aiming to raise awareness that feeling out of breath doing everyday tasks could be a sign of lung disease. They want to encourage anyone who feels breathless take their online ‘breath test’.
Completing the test is a really easy way of checking your lung health and I’d encourage everyone to try it. It’ll either give you peace of mind or start you on a path to helping you manage your breathlessness.
Anti-microbial resistance and drug-resistant TB
I am one of the signatories to a Letter to the Prime Minister calling on the UK Government to ensure research and development into antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant TB stays high on the G20 agenda.
Swearing to take on Mental Health
Mental illness should not be seen as an inevitable part of life but we are still along way from seeing the ‘parity of esteem’, the principle by which mental health must be given equal priority to physical health. This is why I got behind “MQ’s ‘We Swear’ campaign, which aims to make it clear that radical change is needed right now and asks the public to show their support for swearing to take on mental illness.
Delighted to meet up with some of the Ayrshire WASPI women who had travelled down to Westminster on Budget Day as part of a considerable and very loud Scottish contingent to protest as the UK Government’s refusal to make provision for the thousands of women who have been unable to make contingency plans for their pension age being put back by some five or more years through no fault of their own. Their determination and positivity in the face of such utter injustice and disregard shown by this Tory Government is an example to us all.
Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill
I was delighted to support the passage of my colleague Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Bill to tackle violence against women – the first SNP Bill to be passed through the House of Commons. If it passes the House of Lords, the legislation will require the UK government to ratify the ‘Istanbul Convention’, which puts legal obligations on the State to prevent violence against women and prosecute perpetrators. The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation. The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law. It is not easy to get a Private Members Bill passed but this Bill secured cross-party support, which is testament to the work of Eilidh and the many women’s organisations and charities which championed it. Of course, the Bill is not an end point in itself but part of the journey to equality and justice for women.
Remove the Tax on Child Support for Victims of Domestic Violence
I’ve signed up to support my SNP colleague, Angela Crawley’s, campaign to scrap the collection charge on child maintenance payments for parents who have escaped domestic abuse. You too can sign the petition calling on the UK Government to remove the tax on child support for victims of domestic violence https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/177815