Category Archives: Constituency

Celebrating Guiding Lights

I attended an event to mark the funds raised by the sale of a collection of poetry and prose. The work was written by Aberdeen writers and celebrates Guide Dogs for the Blind. It is titled Guiding Lights and so far has raised over £2,500 which will contribute towards the training of young Guide Dogs.Guide dog photo 2

Having a guide dog can make a huge difference to a person’s life in giving them the confidence to get out and about as well as the companionship that the dog can offer. Guide Dogs receive no government funding and rely entirely on public support which is why fundraising efforts like this are so important.Guide dog photo 1

As well as training and providing assistance dogs to people who are blind or partially sighted, Guide Dogs continuously campaign for the rights of people with a visual impairment.  Locally we have a very active group of people who lobby, fundraise and support Guide Dogs and I am always delighted to have the opportunity to join them in highlighting ongoing campaigns and issues affecting those who are blind or partially sighted.

Fire and police control room closures

After many efforts by me and my colleagues to lobby against cuts to public services in the North East, I was disappointed to hear of the plans to close both the police and fire control rooms in Aberdeen.

This is a devastating blow to frontline services in the North East of Scotland. These closures will clearly have implications for hundreds of people whose job security will be diminished. It will also mean that we will no longer have valuable local knowledge at the end of the phone when calling either service in an emergency.

This is a clear example of the current SNP Governments centralisation policy. The SNP continue to strip the North East of valuable public services and move them towards the central belt.

I am also disappointed by the decision to exclude the public from having their say in a public consultation.

Visits Back-to-Work Programme for People with Disabilities

Dame Anne was delighted to visit the Shaw Trust and their centre to witness its work in action.

The visit included a tour of the centre, meeting with people with disabilities on the programme and holding discussions with staff. Dame Anne was introduced to Shaw Trust job coaches and employment advisors who provided detailed, step-by-step overviews of the intensive, tailored support Shaw Trust provides its beneficiaries to guide them into sustainable employment and independence.

Anne at Shaw TrustStaff at the Aberdeen centre emphasised the holistic nature of the support Shaw Trust offers, highlighting the assistance given to the charity’s beneficiaries to help them overcome the challenges facing them.

Work Choice is the Government’s specialist disability employment programme designed specifically for people who, due to their disability or health condition, may find it difficult to find or keep a job. Shaw Trust delivers the Work Choice employment programme as a subcontractor to prime provider, Momentum Skills, in Aberdeen.

Dame Anne Begg said of the visit:

 “Nearly half of all working age people with disabilities are out of work, underlining the need for effective employment support. People often need to be supported over a long period of time to ensure they are successfully guided into independence and long-term employment. Programmes like Work Choice, as delivered by Shaw Trust, can help get more people with disabilities into work.”

Tanya Gilchrist, Shaw Trust head of operations for Scotland, added:

“Work Choice is proving an incredibly effective programme, with over 2,500 people supported into work in Scotland so far. As a charity, Shaw Trust offers help to the most vulnerable members of society in need of extensive support. Many of our beneficiaries contend with a range of severe disabilities and health conditions, and as a result, require intensive and long-term support.”

Visit to Camphill School for Parliament Week

As part of the UK Parliament Week, Dame Anne Begg MP visited Camphill School Aberdeen, an independent charity offering day and residential education care and therapy for children and young people with additional support needs, and met with four members of the Pupil Council with whom she debated Scottish independence, democracy, elections and representation.DSC09733 (2)

Prior to this she met with members of the School’s Council of Management to hear their concerns regarding the National Framework for Residential Child Care and the ramifications that will follow from its implementation. In addition she was shown around Camphill House, where the international Camphill Movement began in 1940, and the much newer therapy centre.DSC09732 (2)

Dame Anne said:  “I have had an interesting and stimulating visit discussing my job as an MP as well as Scottish Independence and other issues of the day. The young people were a credit to the School and all that it has achieved. It was most impressive.”

Klae Russell, Pupil Council member said, “As Government is such a complex thing it was interesting to find out more about the riddle and maze that it is.”

Let’s Tackle Low Pay and Deal with the Cost of Living Crisis

Hard-working families in Aberdeen South are struggling as they face the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation.

Wages have gone up slower than prices for 39 out of 40 of the months David Cameron has been Prime Minister and many hard-working families struggle to make ends meet. Average wages are over £1,500 lower than they were when the Tories came into power in 2010 and year after year people are working harder, for longer, for less.

Thousands of hard-working people in Aberdeen South get up early to go to work, do the right thing and yet struggle to pay their bills. It can’t be right that we’ve now reached the point where more of the people bringing up families in poverty are in work than out of work.

We need to make sure work always pays which is why Ed Miliband has this week announced plans to introduce Make Work Pay contracts that will help businesses raise wages for millions of low-paid workers, and help the next Labour government cut social security bills for the taxpayer.

Firms that sign up to paying their employees the living wage, currently £8.80 in London and £7.65 elsewhere, in the first year of the next Parliament will be offered a 12 month tax rebate of up to £1,000 for each individual worker that receives a pay rise.

The money would be fully funded from increased income tax and National Insurance revenues. Additional savings in lower tax credits and benefit payments, as well as increased tax revenues in future years, will cut social security bills and help pay down the deficit.

Make Work Pay contracts will benefit employees, businesses and the British taxpayer. Low-paid workers will be paid more, firms will receive a tax rebate and will benefit from higher staff morale, increased productivity and lower turnover of staff, and the taxpayer will see a reduced social security bill from lower spending on tax credits and benefits for people in low paid work.

Thousands of families in Aberdeen South are struggling to deal with the rising cost of living and encouraging more firms to pay their employees the living wage is a positive way of really helping people deal with the cost of living crisis.

Streets Ahead with Guide Dogs’

Guide Dogs’ created fun at this year’s Labour party conference by challenging individuals to putt around street clutter on their mini golf course raising awareness of their Streets Ahead campaign on keeping streets free from clutter.Anne Begg

Street clutter, such as shop advertising boards and wheelie bins, is a real blight on the UK streetscape and a major problem for pedestrians. It is dangerous and disorientating for blind and partially sighted people – a recent Guide Dogs survey found 97% of visually impaired respondents reported finding it a problem on a daily or weekly basis, 57% had suffered an injury from street clutter and 9% had to receive medical treatment.

To tackle cars parked on pavements, the most common concern, Guide Dogs is campaigning for a nationwide law prohibiting pavement parking, unless specifically permitted, as currently in place in Greater London. This will help get rid of this barrier to mobility and encourage blind and partially sighted people to get out and about on their own.

Dame Anne said “This was a fun way to spread this serious message and I scored two holes in one!

“Street clutter has the potential to deter blind and partially sighted people from leaving home alone and I am happy to support Guide Dogs’ call for safer pedestrian footpaths.”

Join me and Call on David Cameron to Freeze That Bill

We all know that times are tough. Monthly bills are going up and people are working harder to make ends meet. That amounts to a cost of living crisis for people in Aberdeen South – and across the country.

The weather has been great this summer. But as the nights draw in and winter approaches I know people will be getting worried about how cold it will be and the choices they will have to make to pay their energy bills. Frankly I don’t think that is right. People shouldn’t have to make the choice between putting food on the table and turning on the heating.

But since David Cameron has been in Downing Street prices have risen faster than wages in 38 out of 39 months and energy bills have gone up by almost £300. When the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall.

The problem is David Cameron can’t deal with the cost of living crisis because he stands up for a privileged few, not for ordinary families. David Cameron has cut tax for people on over £150,000 a year while raising it for everyone else.

So I’m delighted that Ed Miliband told Labour Party Conference that Labour will freeze prices until the start of 2017 if Labour wins the next election. And he says we will break up the big energy companies so that we can all get a fair deal.

This will save a typical household £120 and an average business £1,800.

But people round here need help now. So I’m calling on David Cameron to freeze our bills now. And I’m asking local people to sign a petition today so that the voices of Aberdeen South are heard loud and clear in Downing Street. You can sign the petition at http://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/david-cameron-freezethatbill or tweet a picture of your bill with the hashtag #freezethatbill.

If you live in Aberdeen South and you would like to discuss your concerns about the rising cost of living with me, please do not hesitate to contact my office on (01224) 252704.

Skills for Work Month: Feeding Britain’s Future

Skills for Work Month, supported by the Co-operative Food in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, is aimed at offering young unemployed people opportunities to prepare for the workplace and introduce them to employment opportunities in food retail and manufacture through a series of workshops.

Dame Anne was delighted to be invited along to a local Co-op to have the opportunity to meet with one of the groups of young people at the start of their session and hear about what they hoped to achieve from the day. DSCN4855

Know Your Numbers! Week

Today Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, visited E I Mackie Pharmacy in her constituency to support Blood Pressure UK’s Know Your Numbers! Week.

Dame Anne & Pharmacist Euan Mackie
Dame Anne & Pharmacist Euan Mackie

The campaign aims to raise awareness and encourage everyone to find out their blood pressure numbers. High blood pressure is the UK’s biggest silent killer affecting 16 million people in the UK –one third of which are unaware they are living with the condition. Therefore, Blood Pressure UK is offering the opportunity to get a free blood pressure check within the local community including pharmacies, workplaces, GP surgeries hospitals, health club, leisure centres, shopping centre and supermarkets.

Dame Anne said: “I am supporting Blood Pressure UK’s Know Your Numbers! Week from 16th – 22nd September because each year 120,000 adults in the UK have a heart attack or stroke in which high blood pressure is a key factor – that’s a preventable stroke or heart attack every 4 minutes.

“We all lead busy lives and I know that I usually end up eating a salty snack rather than a piece of fruit. However, it’s never too late to start making small changes to improve our blood pressure and lead a more healthy lifestyle.

“Everyone should know their blood pressure. If you haven’t had your checked in the last year why not take advantage of Blood Pressure UK’s invitation to Know Your Numbers! and find out yours.”

To find your nearest ‘Pressure Station’ for a free check, visit www.bloodpressure.org.

‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, has written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, urging him to ensure that every child is in education by 2015.

You can read Dame Anne’s letter to the Prime Minister.

Dame Anne received correspondence from Primary 5 pupils at Walker Road School and S1/S2 pupils at Kincorth Academy highlighting their disappointment that many children still have to learn in overcrowded classes as there are not enough teachers. They also enclosed drawings of their ideal teacher listing attributes such as helpful, approachable, encouraging and caring.Walker Road Tell Anne about their ideal teacher

Dame Anne said, “Every year I receive correspondence from local schools supporting the ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign and it is heartening to see local children in Aberdeen South campaigning on behalf of other children around the world.

“I am sure that teachers will also be reassured that the pupils have given so much thought to what makes an ideal teacher.”

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Send My Friend To School campaign