Category Archives: Business

Good news for consumers who are text relay users

Today Dame Anne welcomed news that all landline and mobile phone providers will have to provide a new and improved ‘text relay’ service for people with hearing and speech impairments.

Under the current relay system, an assistant acts as an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa for the two parties. Therefore, the speed of conversation is generally slow, as callers must take turns to speak or type.

Following consultation, Ofcom have decided that phone providers must now offer a ‘next generation’ text relay service, to all customers who require it, within the next 18 months.

Dame Anne said: “Using the telephone is something that we all take for granted but if you have a hearing or speech impairment the current relay system can be frustrating due to the inability to express emotion or interrupt.

“Therefore, I am pleased that Ofcom have introduced measures to ensure that all phone users will have access to a greatly improved text relay service allowing for faster, more fluent conversations.

“Technology is always evolving and I am also happy that Ofcom have stated that they will continue to work to ensure disabled users can access reliable, up-to-date relay services which help them communicate more easily.”

The new ‘text relay’ service will offer significant improvements for people with hearing and speech impairments, including:
Parallel two-way speech, which makes use of an internet connection to allow users to interject, instead of having to wait until the end of a message.

Ofcom is also working with government and disability groups to encourage the provision of video relay services by communications providers, organisations and businesses on a voluntary basis. Alongside this, we will examine the case for requiring providers to provide video relay services in future.

Dame Anne questions Atos Paralympics sponsorship in Parliament

At Friday’s Department of Culture Media and Sport questions, Dame Anne questioned the sensitivity of Atos’s decision to sponsor the Paralympic games:

“The Paralympics were a huge success and the Channel 4 coverage was wonderful. Does the right hon. Lady agree that it was particularly insensitive of Atos to sponsor not only the games but the lanyards, so that every Paralympian was forced to wear the name of Atos around their neck? Perhaps Atos had a perverse reason for doing that, because a much wider audience now knows how it has been treating disabled people in the work capability assessment.”

Also in the debate, Katy Clark MP pointed out that “in contrast to the fantastic performances by the Paralympic athletes, the performance of Atos was slammed by the National Audit Office.”

Access to Training and Employment AGM

Dame Anne has attended the AGM of Access to Training and Employment, a local voluntary organisation which creates opportunities for people with disabilities.

The charity presently runs three projects:

  • Crafty Things which makes high quality Tartan and Tweed goods. The signature product of Crafty Things is Scottie Dog cushions but they also create handbags and corsages.
  • Cafe Cairncry is a weekly cafe run by a group of young people with disabilities, based in a local community centre. Cafe Cairncry provides a healthy nutritious meal for local people, including senior citizens
  • Neat Ideas is a card making group which produces handmade and computer generated cards.

The speaker at the AGM was be Dave Simmers, Director of Community Foods Initiatives in the North East. Dave Simmers is keen to promote the model of Social Business in which both community needs and business come together. Social Businesses provide meaningful work for a variety of people who otherwise would be challenged getting into the job market and also provide a service for the community.

Dame Anne Begg MP, the charity’s patron, gave a short talk on her work in relation to disability issues in Parliament. Dame Anne Begg MP stated: “Disabled People are being affected in a variety of ways by the coalition Government’s Welfare Reform and some of the changes will limit their ability to participate in activities. I am hoping to get feedback on the impact the reforms have already had.”

Mhairi Hay, Co Chair said “We want to see more happening for people with disabilities in the Aberdeen area and we are doing our bit to help make this happen.”

You can ‘like’ Scotty Crafty Things on Facebook by clicking here.

The Queen’s Awards for business

Think your business deserves the highest recognition? Know someone truly outstanding? Help them achieve the recognition they deserve and enter The Queen’s Awards today.

MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg, has urged individuals to nominate local businesses or individuals who have played an outstanding role in promoting and encouraging business enterprise skills in the UK.

This year Balmoral Offshore Engineering, a division of Balmoral Comtec Ltd, were successful in winning the UK Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the second time, the first success coming in 2010. Chairman and Managing Director, Jim Milne CBE said: “To receive a second Queen’s Award in such a short period of time is enormously satisfying. This honour recognises the huge effort everyone involved at Balmoral Offshore Engineering has made over the past six years.”

Winning this Award can lead to numerous press and PR opportunities, as well as improved staff morale and an enhanced industry profile, which can lead to increased sales at home and internationally. Winners will also be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace with Her Majesty the Queen.

Dame Anne said: “We have lots of enterprising businesses here in Aberdeen and getting a Queen’s Award recognises this excellence. Therefore, I hope people take this opportunity to nominate businesses and individuals for the 2013 Awards by the closing date of 28thSeptember.”

For more information on The Queen’s Award, visit The closing date for entries for the 2013 Awards is 28 September 2012. If you have any other queries about The Queen’s Awards, call their helpline on 020 7215 6880 or

MP Supports Local Business

On Friday 27th January, Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, attended the official opening of Little Rembrandt’s Cafe at 126 Crown Street.

Little Rembrandt’s is owned by Ashlea Hassan who Dame Anne met in June last year when she highlighted the problems she was experiencing in trying to find a bank willing to lend to a start-up business. Ms Hassan had recognised a demand for a local meeting place serving good quality food in the Ferryhill area and, although many banks approved of her business plan, they were unwilling to provide a loan.

Dame Anne said: “I was disappointed that the banks were being slow to in invest in new businesses and I am so pleased that, against the odds, Little Rembrandt’s is now open. I know that this is as a result of Ashlea’s own determination to realise her vision and her aspiration to support her local community is admirable. She is a true entrepreneur.”

Ms Hassan said: “I am delighted that after all these months of uncertainty I have managed to stay true to my idea and at last see my cafe open.”

The ethos of the cafe is to support the surrounding community by offering locally sourced food and a meeting place for community groups. It also aims to be a family friendly place with space for children to paint whilst the adults chat.