£3million Home Heating Support fund

The Home Heating Support fund has been launched to help Scots struggling with their energy bills amid a growing cost-of-living crisis. The Scottish Government scheme, administered by Advice Direct Scotland, is designed to prevent households falling into fuel poverty. The fund is open until 31 March and applications can be made on behalf of individuals by ‘referral partners’ through www.homeheatingadvice.scot. If you are aware of constituents who are struggling with their energy bills, their local council or housing association – or a charity who is supporting them – can refer them to the scheme.

Christmas message 2021

The current Conservative and Unionist government have been short on effective policies and big on three-word slogans (TWS). From, build back better, get Brexit done, take back control and at one point we had the wholly unremarkable ‘build build build’. It is hard to imagine a more vacuous slogan, but the Tories have had a good try at it. ‘Get a Jab’. I mean really, is that the inspiration you need? But it did get me thinking about messaging. At this time of year, we traditionally write cards to people we don’t see very often. At new year social media and group chats will fill up with messages prior to the bells and soon after. It’s the one time of the year when we are all more engaged in reaching out and sending messages of love and support. And inadvertently because of that, it’s a time of year when people who don’t have family and friends around them can feel especially lonely or isolated. Covid has maybe given us all a taste of that over the last two years, therefore we should be more aware of it. And more prepared to do something about it. It’s going to be another year of disruption and that will require flexibility to sustain ourselves and our communities. But I firmly believe that Inverclyde will survive and given a fair wind and the right people pulling in the right direction, we can thrive. Our record of community involvement and engagement during the Covid pandemic is as good as anyones. In very difficult circumstances, volunteers have worked with and augmented the existing services. In some cases, they have created bespoke services targeted at minority groups. There will always be the those that talk down Inverclyde and Scotland, the cringe isn’t just for Christmas. But I am uplifted by the knowledge that in Inverclyde and in Scotland we have far more people prepared to adopt a positive attitude and strive to improve rather than carp from the sidelines. The New Year will be what me make it. And if I may sign off for this year with a three-word slogan (technically four), then I shall wish you all, peace, love and understanding.

Impact of post office closures on local communities

With the UK Budget approaching, now is the time for the UK Government to provide a multi-year subsidy for the Post Office so that Subpostmasters and communities, such as Inverclyde, have certainty and stability.

Closing Post Office branches can severely harm local communities, given many local businesses and the most vulnerable rely on it for access to cash and other services.

It’s important that the UK Government acts to create a healthy environment for the Post Office network so it can continue to provide a valuable contribution to our society.  This means providing the necessary funding and that Post Office Ltd agree to guarantee a minimum income for every Subpostmaster so their hard work pays off and running a Post Office becomes an attractive opportunity once again.