A VOICE FROM WESTMINSTER
Like most other elected representatives in Fife, I have been inundated with complaints from people who have been experiencing serious problems when trying to book an appointment to receive their flu jab. On the back of this on-going problem, even following the health board’s reassurances, I have written to Tricia Marwick, Chair of Fife NHS Board expressing my concern and unhappiness, on behalf of my constituents, with the system that the health board has put in place this year. NHS Fife has, of course, assured us that there will be enough appointments and vaccines for everyone who is entitled to one, but the health board needs to learn from this year’s errors if they intend to change the system going forward.
I have joined SNP colleagues in Fife and have requested that the Scottish Government prioritises Fife if it’s Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 – 2025-26 is approved. The plan sets out the Government’s aim to increase spending on flood defence, per year, from £42 million to £150 million. Our communities saw unprecedented rainfall at the beginning of August, which devasted far too many people’s lives. Most communities that were badly hit, such as Kinglassie and Cardenden in this constituency, have experienced flooding from the rivers that run through the villages for many years. So, while this was a ‘first’ for such unprecedented rainfall, I fear that with the effects of climate change, this will become a more common sight as the years progress. I and many others have, for years, asked for better flood defence mechanisms to be put in place to protect these communities, but sadly to no avail. As ever, financial resources are always the biggest stumbling block for our Councils who have the duty to implement such defences. Therefore, I hope that all of Fife’s MSPs in the Scottish Parliament will agree with the Scottish Government’s planned spending increase, approve this without hesitation, and will get behind our call for Fife to be prioritised when spending is allocated.
Finally, the Public Accounts Committee – of which I’m the only Scottish MP who sits on it –released a report last week into the work of HMRC. As a Committee, we recorded our disappointment that so long after the pandemic started, HMRC still had not come up with a way of identifying small businesses that had lost out on previous support packages. Roughly 3 million workers were left without support, apart from applying for benefits, during the full lock-down earlier this year. At the time we were told there wasn’t enough time to design a financial support system for them. Nearly seven months after the first coronavirus restrictions were imposed, the excuse that there hasn’t been time is wearing a bit thin. Our recovery from the economic damage caused by COVID will depend on a diverse and thriving small business sector. There’s no excuse for deliberately excluding so many hard-working small business owners from the support they need