I spoke recently in the House of Commons about the support being provided by the UK Government to help with energy costs – particularly for those most vulnerable and hardest hit.
The Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) is expected to save a typical household at least £700 on what would have otherwise been billed this winter.
The Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) discounts energy bills for non-domestic energy users to roughly a third of what they could have been.
And the Energy Bill Support Scheme (EBSS) provides at least £400 to every household with a domestic electricity supply.
On top of this, a £650 cost of living payment is paid to households on means-tested benefits – some 10,000 households in Banff and Buchan.
An additional £300 is paid to those in receipt of the winter fuel payment, and a further £150 to those in receipt of disability payments.
I raised the subject of this UK Government support in response to a motion tabled by the SNP, which proposed that people and businesses would somehow be better off outside of the United Kingdom.
The SNP asserted that the economic pressures experienced around Scotland at this time are somehow caused by being part of the United Kingdom.
It will come as no surprise to readers that I disagree with this assertion.
I also referred to the £400 billion UK-wide support provided to help the whole country through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Government received billions of pounds in additional funding – £8.6 billion in 2020-21 and a further £7.1 billion in 2021-22.
And the Furlough Scheme supported more than 910,000 jobs across Scotland.
More and more I hear from constituents – including those who may support independence, sometime in the future – that another referendum on independence, really isn’t a priority for most people in Scotland right now, particularly in light of current pressures.
Despite suggestions by the SNP, these pressures are not unique to the United Kingdom.
The ongoing impact of Covid-19 and Putin’s illegal war in Russia continue to be felt around the whole world.
No, breaking up our 300-year-old Union is not the answer to today’s economic challenges.
Both of our governments need to work together on delivering economic stability and quality public services – not a cynical, divisive and distracting independence campaign.
Regular readers will be aware of my efforts to engage with local health service providers.
I have met with GPs at Turriff and shared with them concerns raised at a public meeting I hosted back in August.
I also engaged with the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) who last week informed me that the Turriff Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) has recently started operating again – albeit for up to three sessions a week and by appointment through the NHS 24 system.
Due to personnel changes in the Scottish Ambulance Service, my engagement with them has been delayed but I have secured a meeting with them in the coming days to discuss the introduction of an ambulance in Turriff – something that I’d been told previously wasplanned for September.
Finally, in my previous column, I wished local plumber, Connor Cruden the best of luck at the WorldSkills Plumbing Finals in Germany.
I am therefore delighted to congratulate Connor on a fantastic achievement – winning a Medallion for Excellence and ending the competition as the seventh best in the world.