Epilepsy Scotland – PIP petition

The introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has significantly disadvantaged people with epilepsy. DWP data shows that, of people with epilepsy who previously received DLA and have been reassessed for PIP, 54% were denied an award as a result of the transition. This is the second highest refusal rate and is over double the national average for all health conditions.

2018 DWP figures also show that of the third of people who appealed after the DWP denied them PIP, a huge 78% of people ended up being given the benefit. The fact that the appeal success rate is so high suggests poor and arbitrary decision-making on the part of assessors. It also indicates the inadequacy of the system in capturing the impacts of epilepsy, and the difficulty for claimants in navigating the initial claim – e.g. describing their condition and securing evidence.

These figures only cover those who have moved from DLA to PIP. DWP data suggests that 65% of people with epilepsy applying for PIP as new claimants have been denied the benefit.



Scottish referendum – 18th Sept 2014

Self-belief, not arrogance

Five years ago, at the count in Inverclyde, as I watched the referendum result unfold, I was full of hopes and aspirations for a new emerging nation. Early in the evening when the Clackmannanshire count was announced we knew we had lost the referendum. Mathematically victory was still possible, but the writing was clearly on the wall.  

Later the same evening we lost Inverclyde by 86 votes. We had moved from 26% YES to 49.9% YES, but a loss is a loss. Like me, many people were consumed with disappointment. The dream was shattered and as the adrenaline left our bodies so did the energy that had fuelled our activism. And yet we kept our dignity and supported each other through difficult days.  

The General Election of May 2015 gave us an opportunity to start to set things right. And the resulting 56 SNP MPs made it clear that the dream had not died. In the next General Election in 2017 it was apparent that the momentum had stalled and that many voters who had turned out in 2015 had become less motivated and maybe felt less engaged. Politics is a long game and it can do that to people. Especially when so many face the day to day struggle of finding work, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads. It’s understandable that many of those who do not live in a political bubble are less inclined to vote if the end game is not immediately obvious.  

The last five years has seen many changes in the political landscape. We have experienced two General Elections, a council election, a Scottish Parliament election the European Union referendum and the European Union election. But the biggest change is that despite Scotland voting 62% to remain in the E.U. we find ourselves in the unforeseen position of being taken out of the European Union. Unforeseen that is except to the genius that wrote in page 23 of the SNP manifesto in 2016, “We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will”. That person deserves a pat on the back because that statement encompasses perfectly why we need another independence referendum. And its not just because the outcome of Brexit will damage Scotland, it’s because the process of Brexit has shone a light on Westminster. It has asked difficult questions of the UK Parliament functionality and the machinery of the UK government. It has illustrated perfectly the disfunction that exists between Westminster and the devolved parliaments. It has highlighted the disdain for the Scottish Parliament that emanates from Westminster and it has magnified the incompetence of UK government ministers in their dealings with both the devolved administrations and the European Union.

A Westminster establishment that ruled by right has been asked to demonstrate professionalism and competence in the modern era and it has been asked to to do that in the public eye. And it has failed. While the UK Government continues to flounder, the next Scottish independence referendum will hinge on our self belief. Do you believe that Scotland should be governed by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland? And the answer must be a resounding YES.


Brexit – letter to Inverclyde residents

Dear Inverclyde residents,

As you will know, the last week at Westminster has been challenging and a battle over which direction the United Kingdom will take. The UK Government have indicated they are comfortable crashing out of the European Union without a deal. This would be devastating for both Inverclyde and Scotland as a whole. Ultimately, any form of Brexit would be damaging for Inverclyde. Crashing out of the EU with no deal would not only breach Scotland’s vote to remain, including the two thirds of Inverclyde voters who voted so, but would also push the UK into a recession, threatening 100,000 Scottish jobs, and inflicting lasting harm on living standards, public services and the economy.

That is why I was one of the MPs who’s started a legal action aimed at preventing Boris Johnson shutting down parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-49251511.

SNP MPs have voted consistently against no deal and Parliament has rejected a no deal three times this year. Alongside this, my SNP colleagues and I supported the Letwin-Cooper process in March to avoid a no deal, and we did the same again with Benn’s Bill which has become law.

If Boris Johnson wants an election, he must obey the law and take a no-deal Brexit off the table. It is beyond belief that the Prime Minister is disrespecting democracy by shutting down parliament and railroading through an extreme Brexit against the will of parliament and the people.

The SNP is ready for a General Election. We stand ready to bring down the UK government and give Scotland the chance to stop Brexit and to decide its own future.

Yours sincerely,


Ronnie Cowan MP

Member of Parliament for Inverclyde

Consultation on Greenock Parking Discs

Greenock residents are being given the chance to have their say on whether or not drivers should have to display a parking disc in the town centre.

The five week consultation starts on Monday 26 August and finishes on Friday 27 September.

I have been contacted by many constituents who have concerns with the present system so if you’d like to have your say then please visit the following link:


High Street Awards

I’m pleased to learn that Kempock Street in Gourock has been shortlisted for ‘Rising Star’ in this year’s Great British High Street Awards.  This is a welcomed opportunity to promote the high street and Gourock to the rest of the UK and highlight what Inverclyde has to offer.

I would encourage people to show their support for Kempock Street by posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #MyHighStreet and also voting at https://thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk

Our Inverclyde – community discussions

Join our community events to celebrate the present and shape the future. Eventbrite pages are now live for each event. Please feel free to use the links below  to find out more and to sign up to attend your community event, or indeed, just drop in on the day.








Scot Govt – EU Citizens

The Scottish Government have produced Stay in Scotland materials which will be sent to GP practices, nurseries, libraries and community centres across Inverclyde.  The package of support includes the provision of advice services for citizens affected by the EU Settlement Scheme who may have more complex needs or face particular challenges.  The service includes a national helpline where people can ger free, confidential and impartial advice.

The helpline can be contacted on 0800 916 9847 and for more information please visit www.cas.org.uk/brexit

As we know 63.8% of people who voted in the EU referendum, in Inverclyde, voted to Remain and stay in both the Customs Union and Single Market. 

However, we see the new right-wing UK Government determined to drag Scotland out of Europe on a no-deal which would be catastrophic for businesses and jobs throughout the country.

The Scottish Government have been consistent in it’s opposition to the UK Government plans and continue to argue in-favour of remaining in the European Union and the benefits which come with this, such as free movement of people, no tariffs on goods and reciprocal free healthcare.

All EU citizens living in Scotland are valued, welcome here, and we want them to stay.


Clyde Life – Summer 2019

On yer bike Invercyde!

One of my cherished memories from my childhood is going to Millport with my brother, sister and assorted cousins. We would hire bikes and cycle round and round Cumbrae just as many people had before us and many, like me, continue to do so to this day. Cycling round the island was a carefree and enjoyable way to spend summer days. As a child it was just fun and it gave me a sense of freedom and independence. As an adult I am maybe more aware of the benefits to my health and the financial savings compared to a private car or even public transport. Obviously depending on the distance of the journey and in the West of Scotland the weather and topography, it may not always be suitable to cycle but then again 60% of all journeys undertaken in Inverclyde are less than 5 kilometres (that’s 3.1 miles in old money) so maybe it’s not as unrealistic to cycle as you think. And those hills don’t need to be as daunting if you have an E bike. Electric battery assisted bikes are becoming increasingly common and they take the edge off the extra effort required to manoeuvre the hills that adorn Inverclyde. And if it’s just the weather that’s putting you off then specialist shops are full of suitable clothing but to be honest jeans, jumper, high visibility jacket and a helmet are enough. If you are wary of cycling after a long layoff then courses are available via the Bothy, located at Gourock Railway Station, and the expert supervision provided will ensure you are confident and safe. While the main roads may not be your idea of a safe, relaxing cycle there are many alternatives in Inverclyde. From the waterfront paths in Greenock town centre and Port Glasgow and the more rural routes around the Cut and Loch Thom. The Scottish Government has committed £51 million to Active Travel and locally the cycling Bothy, run by Josh Wood and Shona Morris along with Community Tracks fronted by Stewart Phillips are looking to utilise some of that funding by working with Sustrans to develop the cycling route 75 which runs through Inverclyde. The route needs some tender loving care and, in some parts rerouting, to make it more accessible. When we look to the future and the possibilities for cycling in Scotland we don’t need to look abroad and in particular the Netherlands, we need to look to the past and the Island of Cumbrae to understand that a cycling culture carefully nurtured and supported is perfectly feasible and indeed desirable in the West of Scotland.


Skills Development Scotland – Exam Results

Careers advice and support;

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national skills body and it delivers Scotland’s careers service. SDS professionally qualified careers advisers are available on the phone, online and in person year-round offering career information, advice and guidance.


In person;

SDS careers advisers are available across Scotland. SDS careers advisers work in every state secondary school in Scotland. Pupils will be able to access their support in classes, one-on-one or at school events. There’s advice for parents and carers too.

You can drop in to an SDS careers centre to get help at any stage in your career.



Scotland’s careers website My World of Work is packed with career information and advice.

Subject choices? Career planning? Supporting someone else’s career choices? My World of Work has it all covered.

You can build a personal profile and sign up for helpful updates and reminders.

Go to www.myworldofwork.co.uk


Over the phone;

SDS careers advisers are also available on the phone.

Our helpline is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on 0800 917 8000.

Advisers work closely with colleagues in our network of local careers centres, to make sure you get the help you need.

Help for parents and carers;

Find out about the jobs in greatest demand in Scotland, the routes in, and handling career conversations with your child at the times that matter most at www.mykidscareer.com.