MSP Rhoda Grant’s reply to constituents concerned about local services

Rhoda Grant recently received letters from constituents worried about local services. This is her reply. Rhoda is also a member of Unison.

Dear constituents

Scottish Labour have enthusiastically supported Unison’s calls for a fair pay deal for public service workers both within local authorities and in the Scottish Parliament, and support the Plug the Gap campaign which calls for proper long term financial support for our local authorities and the people who work for them.
Local councils and the people who work in them have spent the pandemic doing a heroic job; keeping our vital services going and our most vulnerable people safe through hugely difficult circumstances. The way in which public services workers threw themselves into protecting and helping us has been humbling.
Councils kept our bins being collected, our older people safe and fed, many of our houses over our heads, kids learning at home, and our most vulnerable people cared for. They did this in the context of staff shortages, long hours, and a funding system that they could not rely upon.
The SNP Government has presided over more than a decade of chronic underfunding for our local councils. It refuses to pass on the funding they have received for this, and it has led to £937m of cuts to non-core funding. This has a direct effect on councils’ ability to continue providing essential services, and to protect public sector jobs.
When the pandemic hit, the SNP were slow to confirm the extra funding provided by the UK government, and late to confirm when and how much extra funding Councils received. This made long term planning impossible, and led to many authorities using reserve funds to finance vital services.
Scottish Labour agree that local government should have long term funding plans through a fiscal framework with the Scottish Government and that the resources must be there so that all staff who deliver essential public services should be paid at least the Scottish Living Wage.
Scottish local authorities also face a continued squeeze on capital resources from the government. At its peak, 27% of Scottish government funding went to local councils. Now, that figure has reduced to 12%. This is set to worsen, because there are no increases planned for the next 5 years, which represents a real terms cut to income.
Less capital funding means less investment in key infrastructure such as schools, housing or community renewal. The Scottish Government must leave councils in a financial position to build back better for our communities.
In the Parliament Scottish Labour MSPs regularly argue for an end to local government cuts and have repeatedly pressed Ministers for increased local government funding and workers’ pay during Budget negotiations. In our local communities Labour councillors and activists are campaigning for improved treatment of local authority staff and to save local services like libraries from SNP closures.
Social care workers risk exposure to Covid every day to care for people who depend on them for support. They have done a heroic job in the face of hugely difficult circumstances. They are the people who put themselves in danger to look after our family and friends when they need them the most, yet they have had to fight for equal treatment and protection throughout the pandemic. Scottish Labour believe it is time the social care workforce was properly valued and that the Government should deliver £15 an hour for our local social care COVID heroes.
Kind Regards

MSP Rhoda Grant’s reply to constituents’ standard letters on Uplands

Dear Constituent:

“Thank you so much for getting in touch about Scotland’s uplands. They are a unique and precious part of Scotland’s landscape and we must do everything we can to support them in a way that works for people, wildlife and the climate. As you say, the protection of raptors must be central to this. Scottish Labour is committed to more effective monitoring of raptor conservation and stronger penalties for those who persecute our raptors.

Scottish Labour has also called for more land to be in the hands of local communities to help create a fairer, sustainable Scotland. We support legislation to ensure that no one individual can acquire large swathes of Scotland’s land and prevent land ownership via offshore tax-havens. We have called for increased funding for the Scottish Land Fund and interventions when land is not used in ways that serve the public interest. Public sector agencies should also be enabled to participate in land markets with the aim of transferring the land into local vehicles of sustainable local ownership, as a basis for local wealth building and income retention.

I share the importance you place on the return of natural woodlands and bogs in prime condition. Scottish Labour supports planting at least 15,000 hectares of trees a year and increasing peatland restoration to 20,000 hectares each year, alongside measures to end commercial peat extraction. At least 50% of all woodland expansion should be with native species and at least 10% delivered through natural regeneration.

These actions would support sustainable employment in rural areas. We have called for the establishment of a Scottish Conservation Corps, modelled on the Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal, to employ and train a new workforce dedicated to restoring Scotland’s natural environment. This could employ up to 10,000 people.

With the right vision and commitment we can ensure Scotland’s uplands work for people as well as wildlife and the climate, and I will continue to be a strong voice in parliament for change.

Yours sincerely,

Rhoda Grant’s letter back to constituents about Assisted Dying

Due to the number of emails MSP Rhoda Grant is receiving on certain issues, her response to some campaigns will be publicly available on this website. This is Rhoda’s reply to constituents asking about Assisted Dying:

Dear Constituent,
Thank you for your email regarding assisted dying in Scotland.

Lib-Dem MSP Liam McArthur has now lodged his Assisted Dying Member’s Bill with his consultation running until December.

Past parliamentary votes on assisted dying have been free votes and any future votes would likely be the same, giving MSPs the freedom to choose how they vote without following a Party line.

I sat on a previous Health Committee considering similar legislation and had the opportunity to scrutinise all the arguments.

I voted against previous Bills and, while I will listen to the arguments again, I have not heard anything that has changed my mind. It became clear to me that what was required was a right to palliative care, something sadly missing in Scotland today. I have also continued to work on ensuring that everyone has a right to die at home with appropriate palliative care.

At the start of the pandemic it became very clear to me that very different values were placed on lives. Disabled people and older people were being actively persuaded to sign “Do Not Resuscitate” forms and there was a general understanding that they would not be admitted to hospital for life saving care if they contracted Covid-19.

Therefore, as a society I do not believe we have the underlying values that would protect the most vulnerable if such legislation were enacted.

Kind regards

Increase Winter Fuel Payment to help 49,774 people in the Highlands and Islands

Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant, has called on the SNP to take up Scottish Labour’s plans to expand the Winter Fuel Payment, after new figures revealed it could help up to 49,774 people in the Highlands and Islands.

Last week Scottish Labour called on the government to introduce a £70 winter fuel supplement for low-income pensioners and struggling families, as the cost of living crisis looms.

On October 1 the energy price cap rose by £139 – the largest increase in history. In contrast, the rate of Winter Fuel Payment has been frozen since 2011. Campaign groups have warned that the energy price rise and sky-high energy prices will lead to preventable deaths.

This comes as the furlough is brought to an end and the Universal Credit uplift is scrapped, prompting fears of a cost of living crisis stretching household budgets past breaking point.

The Scottish Parliament has the power to take action to expand Winter Fuel Payments and alleviate fuel poverty, which affects an estimated 600,000 people across Scotland – but the SNP has delayed the devolution of the benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions for up to 4 years.

Now, Scottish Labour are urging the Government to use the powers they have to try and ensure no-one faces a choice between heating and eating this winter.

Rhoda Grant has urged the SNP to back these plans, saying there is “no time to waste”.

Commenting, Scottish Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said:

“This winter too many Scots are facing fuel poverty as energy prices spiral out of control.

“The Scottish Parliament can make a difference here. We have the powers to ensure payments reflect the pressures on fuel poor households – but the SNP have delayed taking responsibility.

“No-one should have to face a choice between heating and eating this winter. That’s why Labour would give people struggling with fuel poverty £70 now to help them through the winter months.

“In the Highlands and Islands this would help up to 49,774 people.

“The Scottish Government’s warms words are cold comfort if they fail to act.

“The winter months are fast approaching and we have a cost of living crisis escalating by the day – there is no time to waste.

“The SNP must back this policy now and start moving to get this money in people’s pockets.”

Source: stat Xplore and Scottish Government

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant sees her Right to Food Bill delayed by SNP and Green MSPs

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has accused the SNP and Green coalition of sending a message to the public that they do not care about food poverty.

Mrs Grant appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee this morning, in the hope members would agree to progress her Right to Food Bill, originally launched by former Labour MSP Elaine Smith who represented Central Scotland.

However, the committee kicked the Bill into the long grass when three members and the convener, Green and SNP members, said they were not satisfied with Mrs Grant’s statement of reasons for pressing forward. Three other members, from Labour and the Conservatives, supported her.

The Scottish Co-op Party, which is supporting the Bill, has already voiced its disappointment that there will now have to be a second consultation carried out by Mrs Grant after one was previously done by Ms Smith.

After the meeting, Mrs Grant said she would forge ahead and carry out further consultation with outside organisations, but believed the first consultation was more than adequate.

“It is deeply disappointing that the SNP and Greens have sought to delay the Right to Food Bill at committee this morning,” said Mrs Grant.

“The pandemic has made the Right to Food Bill even more urgent.

“To delay on this vital matter sends a message to the public that this government is not interested in tackling food poverty.

“There is no time for dither and delay. The SNP and Greens need to drop their partisan opposition to this vital Bill and put the needs of the people of Scotland above petty politics.”

Mrs Grant continued: “Access to food is a human right, but it is being denied to too many people in our country. The pandemic has only exacerbated this and increased the need for action to be taken to address the problems in our food sector.”

If Mrs Grant can get her Bill passed, it would enshrine the Human Right to Food into Scots’ law, to place responsibility for realising and progressing this right upon the Scottish Government, including the ability to hold them to account.

Over the summer Mrs Grant met community groups, charities and organisations, which have an interest in the right to food, to get a better idea from specialists about the key issues.

“The Scottish Government has suggested that a wider Human Rights Bill could include the right to food, but have not confirmed whether they would have an independent body ensuring the right under this act would be met,” the MSP added.

“I want to move this forward now and not have it dragged out further but I won’t be deterred and will continue the fight.”

MSP sees her motion on “Green Lairds” debated in Parliament today

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is delighted to see her motion on “Green Lairds” debated in Parliament today (Thursday 30th September) and calls for greater land reform and regulation by the Scottish Government.  Her motion seeks to address the emergence of “Green Lairds” and their exploitation of our unregulated land market to purchase land in rural areas including the Highlands and Islands.


These private purchasers and businesses buy land due to the climate emergency and to offset their carbon emissions elsewhere.  They are then able to claim Government grants and access beneficial tax arrangements, which in turn inflates land values. This disadvantages local communities as they are priced out of purchasing local land.


The MSP has urged the Scottish Government to drastically increase the regulation surrounding Scotland’s land markets to “create a more just and fairer Scotland”.


The MSP has said that this can be done by giving intervention powers to the Scottish Land Commission to act on land monopolies and to better enable public interest purchases. There should also be a cap on the total public subsidy that can be accessed by large land owners.  We should also act on Community Land Scotland’s suggestion for a Community Wealth Fund and task Co-operative Development Scotland with promoting co-operative and mutual ownership of land.


Compared to other countries, Scotland is considered to have very little land regulation. This has led to over 50% of rural Scotland being owned by a small number of private owners.


Speaking after the debate Rhoda Grant MSP said: “It is vital that these businesses tackle their carbon emissions but not at the expense of the Scottish people. Buying land to simply off-set their bad behaviour elsewhere is not acceptable.


“Scotland has had an unregulated land market for decades but sadly, we are now seeing a new type of exploitation. We are seeing the commodification and financialisation of the climate emergency which is stimulating private land grabbing.


“For example, these multi-million-pound businesses can take money from the public purse through grant funding to plant trees and build corporate reputation. Some purchasers are also likely to hedge against future carbon tax liabilities too. It’s a win win situation for them yet it disadvantages local communities from buying land that they know and tackling the carbon emergency locally.


Mrs Grant continued: “I am today, urging the Scottish Government to make bold moves to increase land regulations and to encourage community ownership. This will create a more just and fairer Scotland and it will protect our country from this and future exploitation.”

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Stop Patients Being Left Behind

For Blood Cancer Awareness Month I joined Anthony Nolan to hear from people with blood cancer on how the pandemic continues to affect them.

I’m supporting the call for additional financial support once furlough ends, so people like Billie know they are not being left behind.


IPF Week 2021: Monday 20th – Sunday 26th September

Today marks the beginning of IPF Week 2021.
What is IPF?
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lung condition that scars your lungs and reduces the efficiency of your breathing. It’s the most common type of pulmonary fibrosis with an estimated 2,500 people in Scotland living with the disease, of which there is no cure. Across the UK, 6,500 people are diagnosed with IPF every year.
IPF is a progressive condition and usually gets worse over time. At present, the scar tissue cannot be repaired by the body or any drugs, so there is no cure yet for IPF. The average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with IPF is 3 years.
Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland are raising awareness of this lung disease.
Read more about IPF and the awareness week at the British Lung Foundation website – IPF Week 2021 | British Lung Foundation (

Levelling Up Fund

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, and Labour Councillor, Jimmy Gray, have briefed the Chair of the Labour Party on their concerns over the Levelling Up funding being allocated to the Highlands and Islands region.


When the Chair of the Party, Anneliese Dodds MP, visited Inverness recently, Mrs Grant and Councillor Gray, took the opportunity to flag the issue up to her.


Mrs Grant has previously written to Michael Gove in the UK Government expressing her disappointment that the councils in the Highlands and Islands region have been placed in levels 2 and 3 of the fund despite the recognition from the EU in the past that the region has specific challenges in terms of geographical scale and sparcity of population. The Levelling Up fund will not amount to the same as the financial support given by the EU in the past.


Anneliese Dodds said ““Again and again we’re seeing that the UK Government has nothing to offer the different parts of our country beyond press releases and empty rhetoric.


“Rather than targeting support to where it is most needed, they’re pitting region against region and town against town to bid for pots of cash from Westminster. And the SNP are taking a similar centralising approach in Holyrood.


“We need a proper plan that will make sure everyone in the country, from the Highlands and Islands to Land’s End, have opportunities on their doorstep and that no-one feels they have to get out of their local area to get on.”


Rhoda Grant said “Rural poverty and depravation do not show up easily in the indicators used by both the Scottish and UK Government, which is largely postcode based. In rural areas the poor live side by side with the very rich and therefore the real disadvantage faced in these communities is hidden.


“In the Highlands and Islands many of these issues are also masked because of the success of some parts of Inverness compared with the rest of the area. Often our young people are forced to leave to seek employment and housing and many areas are extremely fragile because of this.”


Councillor Gray said “It was really refreshing to meet up with a UK politician with a firm grasp of all the challenges facing the Highlands of Scotland and with some really clear ideas of what is needed to try and deal with these issues.


“Anneliese is all too aware of the dangers of centralisation within Scotland and the accompanying risks to the economy and the quality of life of people in the Highlands and Islands. She is also very clear of the responsibilities of the UK Government, particularly considering all the rhetoric about the net benefit for every part of the UK from leaving the EU, much of that hype now looks really so much like empty talk.”


Mrs Grant also cited the Scottish Government’s centralisation agenda as a key factor in these trends. She said “We heard recently that the Scottish Government has vowed to return to Labour policy of dispersing public service jobs throughout the country and yet in Highlands and Islands they are railroading HIAL into centralising Air Traffic Control jobs in Inverness, taking them away from our rural areas, at the same time.


“Put all these factors into the melting pot and it’s painting a pretty grim picture for the economy and infrastructure in the north” continued Rhoda Grant “but Labour will work to have this decision overturned.”