Welcome to my e-newsletter. Inside you'll find information about my work during November 2020
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Tommy Sheppard MP Newsletter
I hope this finds you safe and well as we look forward to a different festive season. I know that for many, the end of 2020 can't come soon enough and with the positive news about a vaccine having been approved this morning, I'm hopeful that 2021 will be better for us all. Below is some information about the work I've been involved in during November. As ever, please do get in touch if you have any questions or I can be of assistance.
As a reminder, the best place to get the most up to date advice remains the government and council websites:
Scottish Government: www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/ ([link removed])
Scottish Government Festive: [link removed]
UK Government: www.gov.uk/coronavirus ([link removed])
Edinburgh Council: [link removed]
You can also find a list of further helplines including those for parents, older people and those concerned about their mental health on my website ([link removed]) . And while my office remains closed to the public, you can still contact me and the team on 0131 661 8023 or by emailing [email protected].
At the start of the month, the Chancellor finally decided to extend furlough until March. After months of pressure from opposition parties including the SNP, the governments of the devolved nations, and numerous campaign groups, the decision was only made when England faced tougher restrictions. The UK government showing that once again the needs of England come first. After considerable ambiguity (and before the full details were agreed) I again asked Jacob Rees-Mogg for a debate on the fiscal framework under devolution. Again I get no actual answer, just distraction. If the UK government won't support Scotland, give us the powers to do it ourselves. Watch below:
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The Chancellor also then extended the Self-Employment Support Scheme. I welcomed this but too many are still missing out.
I've written to him once again to raise this - simply extending the scheme does nothing for the millions who weren't eligible in the first place.
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As we rapidly head towards the end of the transition period, I raised my concerns about the Shared Prosperity Fund with Jacob Rees-Mogg and suggested that the uncertainty over Brexit is partly why support for Scottish Independence has never been higher. No one is denying the result of the 2014 referendum. But in a democracy people have the right to change their mind. If Jacob Rees-Mogg truly believes what he's saying then why have we had three Westminster elections in the past five years?! Watch above.
And you may be aware that both Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have made comments recently that seek to undermine devolution. At Business questions, the Leader of the House refused to answer or distance himself from PM’s claim that devolution is a mistake – that’s because this domineering right-wing Tory government can’t stand that the people of Scotland keep rejecting them & electing. Watch ** here ([link removed])
I focused my Edinburgh Evening News column this month on a speech given by the new(ish) leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross as he sought to set out the case for the Union. You can read it ** here ([link removed])
Finally, I want to mention the UK government spending review. We've all heard the phrase 'unprecedented times' far too often this year because it's sometimes difficult to think of a better way to put it. But the UK government seems to think that one way to help with the economic impact is to cut public sector pay and overseas aid. It's appalling and incredibly short sighted. Not only that, as it's a spending review rather than a budget, there's no vote: and neither of these ideas were in their election manifesto last year so they have no mandate for them. I raised these points with the Leader of the House:
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It was great to join the Great to join 9th City of Edinburgh Guides this month to help them gain their Influence Stage 4 badge and the UK Parliament Week 2020 challenge badge. A really good Q&A session too and it’s great to see them using technology to meet virtually.
It was also good to catch up with a very well attended Southside Community Council. It's positive to see that local democracy can still flourish in these strange times with the use of Zoom.
It was great to catch up with John (Chief Executive) and Hermione (Scientific & Learning Director) at Dynamic Earth earlier in the month. Thanks to Scottish government funding they are now secure until the end of March are working on a recovery plan for next year. Their schools and education work has moved online but they're open at weekends for you to visit. Find out more ** here ([link removed])
It was a pleasure to meet Ellen, the President of Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) to find out how city students are coping with Covid-19 academic and social restrictions. Mass Covid-19 testing of students is now underway to allow them to return home. If you are an Edinburgh Uni student, book your test ** here ([link removed])
Restaurants across the city are facing a really tough time. I've heard from and talked to many about the challenges they face as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. This month I caught up with Mark and Fraser from Angels with Bagpipes – one of many restaurants determined to get through this pandemic and offering home deliveries.
I had a very interesting meeting with Anna Stamp and David Ridd from Edinburgh Bioquarter (next to the Royal Infirmary) on ambitious plans to ensure that our city's health science innovation hub expands to become a global centre of excellence over the next few years.
It was good to catch up with Emma and team from Crew 2000. Their drop in is now open again to bolster online counselling which they’ve ran all through pandemic.
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Tommy Sheppard MP . 94 Portobello High Street . Edinburgh, EH15 1AN . United Kingdom
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