Maureen’s Matters - This is little consolation

With the price of oil reaching a 12 year low, this is a turbulent time for the North East economy.

Last week BP announced 600 North Sea job losses, and other companies have also made announcements. Although reassurances have been made that the industry has a long term vision for jobs, this is little consolation to those who face redundancy.

My colleague Callum McCaig MP has called on the UK Government to take urgent action to support investment in the industry, so that it has a stronger future. Kirsty Blackman MP has sought assurances that safety is not being compromised in the bid to drive down costs, especially following the gas leak at the Alpha Brae platform.

In challenging times for family budgets, it is hard to believe that Moray Council has proposed an 18% Council Tax rise, and Aberdeen City Council is also considering a large tax hit on hardworking people. This is despite the fact the Scottish Government’s support for the Council Tax freeze has been “overfunded” according to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

Council Tax is regressive, which is why the Commission on Local Taxation recently recommended replacing it with a fairer system.

Raising it would hit the poorest families hardest, which is why my colleague Mark McDonald MSP has called on the leader of Aberdeen City Council to ensure it remains frozen for one more year. The SNP will be putting forward a fairer alternative in our manifesto this year, and I hope that other parties also offer constructive replacements.

Finally, I would encourage everyone affected by the flooding to contact floodrelief@aberdeenshire.gov.uk in Aberdeenshire or call 08456 080 919 in Aberdeen City. The Scottish Government has set aside £12m to provide a £1500 grant to affected homes, businesses and charities. I hope that the Councils disburse these grants quickly, to help people start to move on and face the challenges left behind by the damage.