Category Archives: Employment

MP Backs Campaign for Sight Loss Advisers

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is backing a campaign by sight loss charity RNIB to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss gets emotional support to come to terms with their condition.

Dame Anne attended the launch of The Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB)  new report ‘Being There When it Matters’, which is calling for every eye department in the UK to have access to a qualified sight loss adviser so that people are properly supported as they adapt to life with reduced or no vision. The current picture is bleak; only 30% of eye departments in the UK have access to a qualified sight loss adviser.

Sight loss advisers offer dedicated practical and emotional support. They can offer advice on everything from remaining in employment, to being more independent around the home and reducing the risk of falls whilst out and about. Recent research has revealed that sight loss advisers create significant financial savings for health and social care budgets with every £1 invested in the service delivering a return of £10.57.

The move comes as a new survey, commissioned by RNIB, reveals that 44% of UK adults said they feared losing their sight more than any other long-term health condition.

Adults in the UK are more afraid of losing their sight than they are of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease or having to use a wheelchair.

More than half of the 2,000 adults surveyed (53%) also said that they believed losing their sight would have a bigger impact on their life than other long-term health conditions, with nine in 10 saying they would lose their independence and eight in 10 concerned they would lose their job.

Dame Anne said: “I think that it is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality and timely support to help them to adapt to their sight loss.

“Sight loss can have a profound impact upon a person’s life. Without the right support people can become unnecessarily isolated and can struggle to adapt. I support RNIB’s campaign for every eye department to have access to sight loss adviser.”

Figures Reveal Women are Still Earning Less

Dame Anne Begg MP highlights new analysis revealing that women in Scotland are earning 17.8 per cent less than men an hour.

This year, Equal Pay Day – the day women effectively start working for free because they are still paid less than men – fell on the 4th November which was 3 days earlier than in 2013 because of the rising pay gap.

Figures from 2013 show that the earnings gap between fulltime male and female employees in Aberdeen was £1.24 per hour costing women £2,579.20 a year.

Labour have pledged to take action to deliver equal pay by requiring companies with more than 250 workers to publish their hourly pay gap in their annual report. For the first time employees will be able to see if discrimination exists and whether all the top jobs are still dominated by men.

Dame Anne said: “More young women than men are now going to university and yet these figures show many more women are still ending up in lower paid jobs. It’s now been 46 years after the machinists walked out of Dagenham in protest over the pay divide, which prompted the Equal Pay Act two years later. We can’t wait another 44 years for change. Women deserve equal treatment and equal pay.

“Under David Cameron and Nick Clegg the pay gap is back on the rise after years of progress, as families are struggling with rising prices. A Labour Government will take action by asking employers to publish their pay gap.”

MP Criticises Lack of Action Over Child Poverty in Aberdeen

Dame Anne criticises lack of action over child poverty in Aberdeen as recent figures show 18% of children in Aberdeen grow up in poverty.

Aberdeen South MP, Dame Anne Begg, says that only Labour’s plans to tackle the cost of living will help reduce child poverty in Aberdeen.

The release of the child poverty map by the Campaign to End Child Poverty showed that 18 per cent of children in Aberdeen are living in poverty after meeting housing costs. This is on the back of recent news that unemployment in Aberdeen South is 1 per cent.

Commenting on the report Dame Anne said: “Despite unemployment in Aberdeen South sitting at one percent, children are still living in poverty. We have an acute housing shortage, energy bills soaring, and jobs aren’t paying enough.

“We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation and both Tories in Westminster and Nationalists in Holyrood are letting children down.

“The Tories always say work is the best route out of poverty, but we can see in Aberdeen that simply isn’t the case.”

Dame Anne went onto criticise the Scottish Government: “The SNP have failed to use the measures open to them to mitigate the impact of Tory policies like the bedroom tax.  The SNP have refused to use all the Scottish Welfare fund and the fuel poverty budget, at a time when 900,000 households are in fuel poverty.

“Labour has endorsed the comprehensive plan set out by Sir Michael Lyons Housing Review, the first of its kind in a generation, which shows how Labour will meet their commitment of building 200,000 homes a year by 2020 and sets a course for doubling the number of first-time buyers by 2025. Labour will also increase the minimum wage, and freeze energy bills.

“Only Labour has a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and help lift children out of poverty in Aberdeen.”

Labour Will Help Britain’s Lowest Paid by Raising the Minimum Wage

The introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in 1999 was a great achievement of the last Labour Government.

This policy ended the exploitation of millions of Britain’s workers and increased productivity without job losses. But the challenge we faced 15 years ago is different to the one we face today and the one we will face in the coming years.

That’s why Ed Miliband has today announced Labour’s plan to raise the NMW to £8 an hour by 2020.

One in five British workers find themselves struggling on low pay, often relying on benefits or tax credits to top up their wage so they can simply afford the essentials, even though they often work long, hard hours. This can’t be right. If you work hard you should be able to bring up your family with dignity without relying on the taxpayer to make up the difference.

But under David Cameron and George Osborne often people are not getting the rewards because the Government’s recovery is only benefiting a privileged few.

So the next Labour government, working with businesses and the Low Pay Commission, will raise the NMW to £8 by 2020, a move that will put an extra £3,000 a year in the pockets of Britain’s lowest paid workers.

This is an important move that will end the scandal of five million Brits struggling to make ends meet because they are on low pay. But Labour understands that businesses need time to adjust their models to support higher wages. That’s why we will raise the NMW over the five years of the next Parliament so businesses will have enough time to plan for the long-term goal of £8 an hour by 2020.

The Tories are boasting that the economy is fixed but we’ve seen a recovery that is working just for the few. Labour’s plan for Britain’s future will ensure we become a country that rewards hard work again. That begins by guaranteeing that everyone in Britain should be able to live on the wage they earn.

Backlog of 700,000 for ESA Claims

While giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee yesterday, the Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP admitted over 700,000 disabled people are still waiting for their claims for Employment Support Allowance to be processed (ESA) causing real hardship.

You can watch the full evidence session here:

You can also read the BBC news coverage at or Jackie Long’s Blog on the Channel 4 website here:

Increasing Number of Working People in Aberdeen Claiming Housing Benefit to Pay Soaring Rent

Today, Dame Anne Begg MP criticised the Scottish and UK Governments for failing to tackle the huge increase in working people claiming Housing Benefit in Aberdeen.

Since 2010, the number of working people claiming housing benefit has increased by 53 per cent across Scotland, costing Scottish taxpayers an extra £256 million. In Aberdeen alone, the number of working people now claiming housing benefit has increased by a staggering 64 per cent.

Dame Anne said “Working people are now on average £1600 a year worse off as wages have fallen while prices have soared. Many people in work can’t get the hours they need, while soaring rent is pushing the cost of housing ever higher.

“The Scottish Government say nothing can be done unless we get a Yes vote, but we know they have the power to build housing now. Instead they put Scotland on hold as they push for separation and it is hard working families who are paying the price.

“The UK Government is equally to blame, saying that ‘work is the best way out of poverty’ yet we know that 52% of families living in poverty have at least one adult in work.

“More must be done to build more houses, and that’s why I’m proud that Labour has committed to building 200,000 houses a year by 2020. Helping to tackle the cost of living crisis and in the process, reduce the benefit bill.”

Gender Pay Gap Still Exists in Aberdeen

Dame Anne Begg MP was delighted to be invited by the Lord Provost George Adam to speak at an International Women’s Day lunch at the Town House. The lunch was organised for fifty women working in frontline services in Aberdeen. The women were honoured for their roles in supporting the economy of Aberdeen.

During the lunch, Anne spoke about the gender pay gap which still exists in Aberdeen, making reference to the Ford machinists in Dagenham who went on strike when their jobs were threatened with being downgraded. Anne said:

“Forty four years after the Equal Pay Act, Aberdeen still has one of the largest gender pay gaps in the whole country.  Women in Aberdeen earn on average only two thirds of what men do.  So even though we have equal pay for equal value – and I was so glad when Aberdeen City Council reached a deal about pay equalisation which meant that a lot of low paid women workers got their fair due – and I’m also glad that ACC also wants to be a living wage employer – but 44 years after the Equal Pay Act there is still a huge discrepancy between women’s wages and men’s in Aberdeen.

“There are a number of reasons for this.

“Surprisingly it is because unemployment is low.  You can’t have a gender pay gap if people aren’t receiving pay. But it also because we generally have a high wage economy in the North East, especially in the oil and gas industry, but these high paying jobs are predominately filled by men, while the women have the jobs in the less well paid public sector, the service industries and in care.

“And despite all the advances it is still the case that jobs which mostly employ women are more likely to be part time and have been deemed to have a lower worth which is reflected in lower pay.

“Just look at the care sector.  Like the Ford machinists whose skilled jobs were being classed as unskilled, so the army of carers working in Aberdeen and throughout the country, doing an incredibly difficult job, a job that many people couldn’t face doing, are classed as unskilled and are paid little more than the minimum wage. It’s a scandal and we wonder why we can’t get people to do the job.”

The Government isn’t doing enough to get people back in to work

Anne was recently interviewed by RT about the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s recent inquiry into Jobcentre Plus and she highlighted that the Government are not doing enough to get people back in to work.

You can watch the full interview here: 

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.