I mentioned in last month’s Quair article about the threat to the Black Watch name. I was so concerned about this and I had received so many representations from constituents, that I obtained a debate in Parliament on this.
This debate was the first opportunity for Ministers to clearly set out the UK Government’s intentions. While taking some encouragement from the Minister apparently ruling out any threat to the golden thread of regimental names, cap badges and insignia, it is disappointing that he did nothing to unequivocally end the uncertainty over the future of our historic units. This is an issue about numbers as well as names. My SNP colleagues and I will certainly seek to hold the Westminster Government to account on this.
I want to highlight to readers the fact that hundreds of millions of pounds of Housing and Council Tax Benefit are going unclaimed in Scotland. Improving take-up rates for income-related benefits would benefit low-income families and would also enable them to be more active in the local economy.
It is particularly important as we approach the implementation of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, that no-one misses out on transitional support they may be entitled to. Research by Children 1st has revealed that the total loss of Housing and Council Tax Benefit to Scotland is between £248 – 443million. That is a huge amount of money that could be of real help to those who are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult times.It is estimated that between 15,200 –24,000 couples with children in Scotland are losing out on an average of £15 a week or £780 a year in unclaimed Council Tax Benefit.
Given those figures, I am sure that there are many hard-pressed families in Perth & North Perthshire who are not getting the support they are entitled to and I would urge anyone who thinks they might be missing out to get their entitlement checked out.
The UK Government was recently forced into some policy u-turns over their ludicrous plans for both a ‘pie tax’ and a ‘caravan tax’. These very poorly thought out proposals would have had a huge impact on small businesses across Perthshire.
This daft and damaging, half-baked idea would have upped the price of a pie and would have meant more paperwork and reduced profits for many hard-pressed businesses. The Westminster Government claimed the aim of the change was to ‘clarify the definition of hot takeaway food’, but ended up in a muddle that was as clear as gravy, leading to some utterly ludicrous potential scenarios around the question of when a pie would count as hot or not. Campaigners rightly pointed out that these plans were a recipe for disaster and I am very pleased that they have finally been ditched.
I am also pleased that they have backtracked on another daft scheme they had up their sleeves – the planned ‘caravan tax’ – which had also angered many people. I have received numerous representations from constituents on this issue and I raised it with the Treasury. The UK Government could do with a bit more reversing on this one, though, as they still intend to impose VAT on static caravans, albeit at 5% rather than the original 20%.
I can be contacted at my office in Blairgowrie at 35 Perth Street, Blairgowrie, PH10 6DL, you can call me on 01250 876 576 or email me at wishartp@ parliament.uk