Lewis Community Windfarm Project congratulated in Scottish Parliament

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating Lewis based Point and Sandwick Trust on being listed in the Top 100 social enterprise businesses in the UK in the SE100 Index.

The SE100 Index is an annual listing designed to name, celebrate and learn from the UK’s 100 most impressive social enterprises.

This is the second year that Point and Sandwick Trust has been listed in the Index run by NatWest and Pioneers Post, which reviews social enterprise businesses on criteria including business sustainability, innovation and social impact.

Point and Sandwick Trust runs the UK’s biggest community-owned windfarm supporting local environmental projects with the income from the electricity that it generates.

Commenting on the listing, Rhoda Grant said “To be listed once is a great achievement but to be listed for a second time since being established in 2016 reflects the fantastic work the Trust is doing both in renewable production and in supporting local projects as a result.

“The community has benefitted to the tune of more than £1 million in donations and grants in the few short years since the Trust was established.

“Everyone involved is to be congratulated for again being recognised as being one of the UK’s most impressive social enterprises and being at the forefront of community renewable production.”

Details of Rhoda’s motion are below.

Motion Number: S6M-05300
Lodged By: Rhoda Grant
Date Lodged: 30/06/2022

Title: Lewis Community Windfarm Project Listed in Top 100 Social Enterprise Businesses in the UK

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates Point and Sandwick Trust in being listed in the Top 100 social enterprise businesses in the UK in the SE100 Index; notes that the SE100 Index is an annual listing designed to name, celebrate and learn from the UK’s 100 most impressive social enterprises; acknowledges that this is the second year that Point and Sandwick Trust has been listed in the Index run by NatWest and Pioneers Post, which reviews social enterprise businesses on criteria including business sustainability, innovation and social impact; understands that Point and Sandwick Trust runs the UK’s biggest community-owned windfarm supporting local environmental projects with the income from the electricity that it generates; further understands that since operations commenced in 2016 at the Western Isles site, more than £1 million has been given out in donations and grants; congratulates Point and Sandwick Trust on again being recognised as being at the forefront of community renewable production, and wishes all at Point and Sandwick Trust continued success for the future.

Profiting from Care – why Scotland can’t afford privatised social care

Scotland’s large private social care providers are associated with lower wages, more complaints about care quality, and higher levels of rent extraction than public and third sector care providers, according to new research from the STUC.

Written by Christine Berry, Sara Mahmoud and Mike Lewis, the research finds:

  • Nearly 25% of care homes run by big private providers had at least one complaint upheld against them in 2019/20, compared to 6% in homes not run for profit.
  • In older people’s care homes, staffing resources are 20% worse in the private sector compared to the not-for-profit sector.
  • Privately owned care homes only spend 58% of their revenue on staffing, compared to 75% in not-for-profit care homes.
  • Over the last six years, the public sector has paid on average £1.60 more per hour to care workers.
  • The most profitable privately owned care homes take out £13,600 per bed (or £28 of every £100 received in fees) in profits, rent, payments to the directors, and interest payments on loans. This compares to £3.43 in every £100 in fees for the largest not-for-profit care home operators.

The report argues that a truly transformative National Care Service must be based on a not-for-profit public service, delivered through local authorities with an ongoing role for the voluntary sector and sectoral bargaining through trade unions. It calls for the Scottish care home estate to be transferred out of private ownership gradually over time – for instance, through a multi-year plan backed up by Barnett consequentials from the UK government’s NI tax rise, Scottish National Investment Bank loans, ‘care bonds’ or capital borrowing. With ‘financial leakage’ in the region of £100 million per year, the report argues that, for the most extractive providers, this could pay for itself within a matter of years.

You can read the full report here: https://stuc.org.uk/files/Policy%20Papers/Profiting_from_Care_Report.pdf and you can view an STUC twitter thread about the report here: https://twitter.com/ScottishTUC/status/1542067963901235201.

Public Participation in the Parliament

The Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee is looking to hear from grass-roots community groups and individuals from across Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament is there to represent everyone in Scotland, but the Committee members know that some people are currently more likely to become involved in the Parliament’s work than others.

The Committee wants to speak to people from across Scotland to understand what would make it easier for people to work with us. They are keen to listen to your experiences and ideas – so that you can help shape the way the Parliament works in future.

To begin with, they will be focusing on three main groups:

  • disabled people
  • people from minority ethnic groups
  • people on a low income.

However, they are very happy to hear from anyone who feels that they would like to have more of a say.

Do you have thoughts, ideas or suggestions that you think could make a difference? If so, please complete this multiple-choice survey by 22nd July 2022. The survey is anonymous and will take around 10 minutes to complete. The survey is currently available in English, Gaelic and BSL (British Sign Language). Translations of the survey in Polish, Urdu and Punjabi are also being produced and the Committee is happy to translate into any other languages on request.

Highland Wildlife Park’s 50th Anniversary

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is delighted to attend the 50th anniversary of Highland Wildlife Park today and says that their research and conservation work is “a credit to the Highland region”.


The MSP is today touring the park and reflecting on its many successes over the past 50 years. Including, very recently, the birth of another 10 Scottish Wildcats to the park as part of a wildcat captive breeding programme which has been set to save the species.


Rhoda Grant MSP has had a close relationship with the park as she is a Species Champion for the Scottish Wildcat. This means she advocates for the species in the Scottish Parliament and she lends political support to the protection of Scotland’s threatened wildlife.


Today she received an update on the new proposed developments, the pine hoverfly breeding programme, saw the european grey wolves, european forest reindeer and saw wildcats Blair, Katrine and Staffa and received an update on  the wildcat conservation programme.


Speaking after visiting the park today Rhoda Grant MSP said: “I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate this incredible achievement by the Highland Wildlife Park. The park is truly is a credit to the region.

“The park has come a long way since its opening. Many older visitors will remember Felicity the Puma and the younger visitors will currently be keen to spot Brodie the Polar Bear as well as the new wildcats. The park is cherished by many of us for the fun it provides – for all ages. But not only that, it contributes to conservation the local economy, education and tourism which is great to see.


“I congratulate the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the staff who work within the park, past and present, for reaching this fantastic milestone.”



Madness to press ahead with Uig closure, says Rhoda Grant

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has called for “an urgent rethink” on plans to close Uig pier on Skye for at least six months from October with devastating effects for the economies of Harris and Uist.

Mrs Grant hopes to raise the issue at Holyrood on Thursday when she already has a question tabled about capacity on the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy routes.

She said: “It is madness to press ahead with the closure of Uig for at least six months when it is absolutely clear that no acceptable arrangements are in place to protect the islands’ economy and the basic need for people to travel between islands.

“I have asked the Scottish Government to reconsider the case for a temporary linkspan which I am assured is perfectly feasible but has so far been ruled out on grounds of cost. That has to be re-visited in the light of what their alternative is clearly going to cost the Western Isles economy”.

Mrs Grant urged constituents to sign the petition initiated by Harris councillor, Grant Fulton, which calls for either acceptable measures to be put in place or for the work at Uig to be postponed until a solution is in place.

MSP welcomes potential movement on delivery of certain goods to Orkney

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said she is pleased to see some potential movement on the ongoing matter surrounding the delivery of certain goods to Orkney.

The MSP was approached by a constituent who advised that Royal Mail refused to deliver what it considers “dangerous” products to Orkney. The “dangerous” items include spray paint, varnish and lithium batteries for use in laptops, tablets and hand held tools, amongst other items. The constituent had approached Royal Mail about the matter to no avail.

When she was contacted however, Mrs Grant thought the request was very timely as Royal Mail’s new Chief Executive had just been appointed and was charged with conducting a £1.8bn overhaul of Royal Mail by shifting its focus from letters to parcels so she set about raising the matter with the Chief Executive, Simon Thompson.

She said “The problem appeared to be that Royal Mail did not deliver “dangerous” items to Orkney because they fly goods in which means stricter laws. My constituent suggested to Royal Mail that they could either bring such items to Orkney by van themselves or by subcontracting the deliveries to other delivery firms.”

Having gone back and forth to Royal Mail over recent months, Mrs Grant has now received what she describes as a positive response from them which advises that as a business, they are always looking for opportunities to increase the range of goods that they carry and they will review options to carry these items. They also said that they are looking at the possibility of amending their services to the Scottish Islands.

Mrs Grant said “With online shopping and email fast replacing traditional mail deliveries, it seemed logical to me that Royal Mail were looking to overhaul the role of the organisation by shifting its focus from letters to parcels.

“The letter I received from them advises that as a business, they are always looking for opportunities to increase the range of goods that they carry and they will review options to carry these items.” She continued “They also said that they are looking at the possibility of amending their services to the Scottish Islands.

“This is potentially very good news for Orkney, and possibly other Scottish Islands, as it is well documented how many firms either refuse to deliver to the Highlands and Islands or charge exorbitant fees for doing so. Any progress on this will be welcomed and I have contacted Royal Mail again asking for an update on the position.” concluded Mrs Grant.

MSP delighted to be recognised as a Carer Positive Engaged employer

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said she is ‘delighted’ to have been recognised as a Carer Positive Engaged employer.

Carers Scotland, who administer the scheme, believe being recognised as a Carer Positive employer helps with issues related to workforce management and employee engagement, as well as wider social responsibility aims.

They state that the benefits to employers of having ‘carer friendly’ policies and working practices can include reduced levels of stress, reduced sickness absence, lower recruitment and training costs, increased staff morale and productivity levels.

Commenting on receiving the award, Mrs Grant said “I have always sought to be a supportive employer and I try to be flexible with my team as I know that adopting a flexible approach to working hours and practices, ultimately leads to having a happy and valued workforce.

“I believe adopting this approach also brings huge benefits to me as my team repay me with effort over and above what is expected of them.”

In awarding Carer Positive Engaged status, Sue McLintock from Carers Scotland said “I am delighted to confirm that Rhoda Grant MSP meets the criteria to be recognised as a Carer Positive Engaged employer.

“It is clear that the office operates a supportive and empathetic working culture, and this is certainly highlighted in the carer testimonials. It really shows the difference in reality that a supportive and flexible working environment makes.”

Mrs Grant continued “It is important to take account of employees caring responsibilities, and to try to accommodate this whenever possible.

“The pandemic forced a lot of organisations to look at their workplace practices and to adapt accordingly to blend work with employees’ personal caring requirements and, as such, the standard ‘9 to 5’ routine is becoming a thing of the past as employers and employees seek more flexibility in the working week.”

Topical Questions today: 31st May 2022

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant today quizzed the Scottish Government on how they are going to tackle off-market sales of Scottish land to “Green Lairds”.


Today, at Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament chamber, the MSP asked the Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan on what steps the Scottish Government are taking to protect communities from off-market land sales by so called “Green Lairds”.


This is after reports that over 11,000 acres of Cambusmore Estate in Dornoch is for sale after it sold off-market earlier this year.


The MSP highlighted that these types of off-market sales are increasing and they stop communities from purchasing local land. These “Green Lairds” also buy land and evict farmers to profit from carbon credits which adversely affects food production and food resilience in Scotland.


She then went on to ask that the Scottish Government end public subsidies to landowners who do not live on the land and pay their taxes in the UK.


The Minister answered Mrs Grant’s questions by highlighting the MSPs long standing interest in the issue and advising that in the Parliament’s last term, Scottish Government implemented the 2016 Land Reform Act and they set up the Scottish Land Commission. In this term the Scottish Government plan to introduce a Land Reform Bill which they will consult in the summer where questions will be asked on the uses of public money and the recipients thereof.


Speaking after Topical Questions Rhoda Grant MSP said: “While the Scottish Government drag their feet in tackling this issue, the amount of land held by a small group of billionaires continues to increase. This is an urgent issue that needs urgent action.


“Community ownership is, in my opinion, the best pattern of ownership for rural Scotland. Land is an economic asset, and when locally owned it has the potential to benefit both the local community and fight the climate emergency.”


Rhoda Grant MSP held a debate on this issue in September 2021 and has been calling for greater land reform and regulation by the Scottish Government for many years.


The term “Green Laird” refers to private purchasers and businesses buying 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.

SNP must listen to carers

Scottish Labour’s Health Team will today (Wednesday 18) meet with unpaid carers and their representative organisations to discuss their first-hand experience of the cost of living crisis ahead of the party’s debate on the issue.

The debate, taking place this afternoon, will seek to highlight the challenges being faced by both paid and unpaid carers as pressures escalate from the cost of living crisis, and will force parties to take a position on Scottish Labour’s comprehensive plans to support carers.

Regarding paid care, Scottish Labour will argue that poor pay and working practices in social care were exposed by the pandemic and have left a “recruitment crisis”.

The party are also pressing the SNP to match the increased mileage allowance for NHS staff in social care, calling it “shameful” that carers have been left with a lower rate.

The debate will also focus on the situation of unpaid carers who Scottish Labour argue need a strategy from the Scottish Government which should include the restoration and expansion of respite services, with entitlements to short breaks and wellbeing services.

Commenting, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for Public Health and Social Care Paul O’Kane said:

“It wouldn’t have felt right for us to go into this very important debate about the health and wellbeing of carers without talking to them face to face and hearing their stories.

“We want to listen to unpaid carers, take in what they are going through so that when we do begin the debate we don’t just have an understanding of statistics and figures – frightening as they are – but of real people living in the care world and how they are being hit by this escalating cost of living crisis.

“The pandemic showed us how important paid and unpaid care was, but also how badly undervalued and underfunded it has been.

“Now this cost of living crisis is adding pressures to carers’ lives, showing how little the Scottish Government has done to address the issues exposed by the pandemic. It is nothing short of shameful that the SNP have left carers out of pocket by refusing to uprate their mileage reimbursement.

“The SNP government need to sit down with carers and listen to what they are telling us – because it is transparently clear that their response to this crisis is falling badly short.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said:

“Throughout the pandemic we have seen unpaid carers become more isolated due to a lack of support and breaks from their caring role. This support must be put in place quickly to ensure that they are able to continue to care.

“We also need more professional care workers and to encourage people into this rewarding career we must value them. We need to ensure that they are well paid and that they receive the same terms and conditions as their health-based colleagues.

“In the Highlands and Islands home care workers are often expected to travel many miles between clients’ homes, this must be recognised and reimbursed in line with other workers in similar professions.”


Scottish Labour has accused the SNP/Green government of “betrayal”, as the parties teamed up with the Tories to quash Rhoda Grant’s attempt to put the right to food in law. 


Today, during Stage 2 of the Good Food Nation Bill, the Scottish Labour MSP attempted to amend the Bill to move forward plans to enshrine the human right to food in Scots law – something both the SNP and the Greens claim to support. 

The amendment would have given the new Act a responsibility to “give effect to the human right to food through good food nation plans”. However, it was voted down by the Greens, SNP and Tory members of the Committee.

Commenting, Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said:


“This is a complete betrayal of the thousands of people in Scotland struggling to put food on the table.

“The SNP and the Greens both claim to support protecting the right to food in law, but today they refused.

“This dither and delay is all the more shameful while the worst cost of living crisis in decades piles pressure on families across the country.

“Once again this SNP/Green government has failed to step up to the mark and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to make a difference in people’s lives.

“I will continue to fight to enshrine this basic human right in law, so we can tackle the scandal of food poverty once and for all.”