Postcode Lottery Dream Fund

Charities and community groups are being encouraged to apply for their share of a massive £3million funding pot. Launching today (Friday, July 14) People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund is looking for charities to apply for funding to bring their dream project to life.

The Dream Fund encourages collaboration between charities and good causes, bringing them together to apply for funding to finance their dream project – an idea they have always wanted to deliver but never had the opportunity to develop.

Funding from the scheme, now in its eighth year, will be offered over two years from 2018. This year’s prize fund is the largest ever with a top award of £1million and a total award fund of £3million. To date the Dream Fund has invested more than £7.3 Million in 24 projects across Great Britain, with previous winners including Heritage Heroes, a joint project between Canal & River Trust and Help for Heroes, and Missing People’s ‘Child Rescue Alert’.

Postcode Dream Trust is encouraging applications to Dream Fund 2018 from projects that fit within one or more of the charitable purposes which include: supporting families; improving people’s lives through animals; green communities and increasing life chances for young people.

Applications for the Dream Fund are open from Friday, 14 July until Tuesday, 22 August. Winners will be announced in January, 2018. Please visit www.postcodedreamtrust.org.uk to apply today.

Microbeads

I welcome today’s news that the Government have decided to implement a ban on ‘rinse off’ plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products.

Microbeads are tiny microplastic ingredients that are added to a huge variety of products but the particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean – endangering marine life.

I know that many constituents feel strongly about this issue and you may already be aware that I have contacted the Environment secretary about this issue on a number of occasions.

While this decision is a step in the right direction I hope the UK Government will consider evidence surrounding a comprehensive ban on microbeads and I will continue to monitor this issue.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/microbeads-ban-bill-uk-cosmetic-products-government-outlaws-microplastics-a7852346.html

Spouse Visa Rules

Yesterday the UK Government attempted to sneak out changes to it’s immigration rules for spouses, partners and children on the last day of Parliament. This is in response to a Supreme Court ruling which found the UK Government were failing to protect children and refusing to take into account alternative sources of income, support or savings.

The UK has some of the most draconian immigration rules in the world with an unnecessarily harsh income requirement, ludicrously complicated rules and ridiculous restrictions on how that income requirement can be met. Shockingly, almost half of the UK population would be excluded from ever being able to sponsor the person they love to come and join them, if that person happened to be from outside the EU.

The treatment of these families, and their elected representatives, has been totally disgraceful, and I look forward to returning to this issue after the recess.

Cumbernauld HMRC

Today, Parliament met for the last time before the summer recess and I used this opportunity to condemn the ‘bonkers’ proposal to close the Cumbernauld HMRC office and to demand that MPs are allowed to debate this issue.

A number of concerns have been raised about the centralisation of staff in expensive city centre accommodation, ridiculous assumptions about how far staff can travel and the complete lack of any assessment of the impact caused by this closure to the local economy.

It’s abundantly clear that these proposals just don’t stand up after scrutiny but the UK Government have failed to listen to damning reports from the National Audit Office or the Public Accounts Committee. Instead, they have carried on regardless and even signed contracts for new centres during the Purdah period.

We need a halt to the closure programme now and MPs must have the opportunity to debate this issue. The local community and thousands of HMRC staff deserve nothing less.

FOBTs APPG

Great to attend the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) AGM yesterday and hear abut proposals to reduce the maximum FOBT stake to £2.

FOBTs allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookie environment.

I recently obtained figures which show that a staggering £2,029,404 million was lost on these machines in Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East over a 12 month period.

You can find out more about my work on FOBTs here: https://stuartmcdonaldmp.com/…/stuart-mcdonald-mp-demands-…/

British Red Cross Event

Today in Parliament, I was honoured to host the British Red Cross for the launch of their new report ‘Can’t Stay, Can’t Go’ – which examines the plight of refused asylum seekers, trapped in a life of limbo after their application to remain in the UK has been refused – through no fault of their own.

The British Red Cross have adopted the motto: ‘refusing to ignore people in crisis’ and, by listening to the recommendations of this report, the UK Government have the opportunity to show compassion, protect some of the most vulnerable people in society and ensure that refused asylum seekers who cannot return home due to such issues as lack of
documentation are not forced into a lifetime of destitution.

You can read more about how this issue is affecting people here here: https://www.theguardian.com/…/asylum-seeker-stuck-15-year-l…

Fairtrade APPG

Delighted to attend the All-Party Parliamentary group for Fairtrade meeting yesterday and hear about all the exciting products and campaigns Fairtrade has been launching over the past year.

There are now over 1.66 million Fairtrade farmers and producers in 75 different countries. It’s through buying Fairtrade products, such as bananas, tea and coffee, that we help to improve the income, living standards, food security and wellbeing of farmers and plantation workers all over the world.

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Fairtrade through the APPG and I’m excited to hear about the new innovative products and campaigns they’re planning to launch in the coming months and years. Notably, their plans to explore the implications of Brexit for less developed countries, as well as their focus on contributing to the achievement of living wages and living income.

WHAT’S IT CALLED?

Enjoyed being able to talk up Cumbernauld in Parliament this afternoon in a debate about challenges facing New Towns today. Aside from the famous advertising campaign, Cumbernauld is lucky to benefit from a wonderful community spirit, some fantastic local organisations and a surprising amount of green space for a town of its size.

However, constituents would rightly be concerned if I didn’t use this opportunity highlight some of the major challenges facing the town – including transport issues, the regeneration of the town centre and the proposed closure of the HMRC office.

Also really interesting to hear about the experiences of other new towns and to start up a dialogue about how we can tackle some of these problems. While the solutions aren’t always straightforward, I hope and expect we can make some progress towards overcoming these challenges over the next few years.

Tackling Period Poverty

Brilliant that Scotland will lead the way in tackling ‘Period Poverty’ after the Scottish Government have launched a pilot project in Aberdeen, which will mean at least 1,000 women and girls from low-income households will receive free feminine sanitary products.

This pilot will help to inform how we can make feminine sanitary products freely available to low-income groups.

In Westminster, I’ll be working with our team of SNP MPs to hold the UK Government to their commitment to remove VAT from sanitary products.

You can also read more about tacking period poverty here: https://www.snp.org/pb_how_are_the_snp_tackling_period_pove…

Ivory Trade Ban

The WWF estimate that around 55 African elephants are needlessly slaughtered each day by poachers in order to demand for ivory – that’s one elephant every twenty five minutes.This is a truly shocking statistic and more must be done to stop poachers and prevent the trade in ivory before elephants are pushed to the brink of extinction.

However, there is also increasing evidence that the UK’s legal ivory market has been used as cover for the illegal trade in ivory so this morning I asked the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, whether the UK Government would consider an all out ban on the ivory trade in the UK.

The Foreign Secretary said the UK Government are committed to ending the sale of ivory in this country and that they will be pursuing an all out ban on ivory sales.