Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan has responded to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) statistics for 2020 by calling on all levels of governance to work harder to improve the lives of Inverclyde residents.
The local SNP MSP said that Inverclyde Council must take responsibility for its role in reducing deprivation across his constituency, but recognised that the local authority cannot tackle the issue alone.
Commenting, Stuart said:
“These statistics are a stark reminder that further work needs to take place locally to improve the lives of Inverclyde residents.
“The SIMD looks at the extent to which an area is deprived across seven domains: income, employment, education, health, access to services, crime and housing. A change in level of deprivation, or SIMD rank, shows that the relative deprivation compared to other parts of Scotland has changed, but this does not necessarily mean that the area has changed in an absolute sense.
“This means that deprivation in other areas may have reduced, rather than it having worsened in Inverclyde. Regardless, all stakeholders must take action to rectify this – and as the local MSP, I will hold both Inverclyde Council and the Scottish Government to account over these seven areas.
“The Scottish Government saved over 300 jobs at Ferguson’s, and were involved in bringing Diodes to Inverclyde to save jobs at the former Texas Instruments plant. A recently announced initiative by the Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, to maximise the economic potential of the River Clyde will improve job opportunities locally too.
“The attainment gap in Inverclyde is also closing; the Scottish Government has invested heavily in our school estate and health sector, with the new Greenock Health Centre build underway.
“However, it’s clear that more work is needed to improve people’s health and access to services and affordable housing. A lack of vision from Inverclyde Council is causing Inverclyde to stagnate.
“I wrote to the Finance Secretary at the end of last year making a case for Inverclyde to receive more resource from the local government grant. As we know, each local authority receives funding via a formula that all councils agree to with COSLA. If this formula were to change, councils would need to make a suggestion through COSLA. It would be interesting to know what suggestions Inverclyde Council has made in this regard.
“Mr MacKay thus made me aware that Inverclyde Council can make a special business case at any time for extra funding. Strangely enough, for a council that is constantly going on about not having enough funding, as of November last year, no special business case had ever been made.
“It’s telling that nowhere in Inverclyde Council’s own press release does Depute Council Leader Jim Clocherty take any responsibility whatsoever for the issue we face despite his party being in power since 2007.
“Last year, I offered to bring together all local stakeholders and form a ‘Team Inverclyde’ working group, similar to what happened in Dundee many years ago. Inverclyde Council did not want to work with me. I can assure you I am working hard every day for this area and will do whatever I can to improve the area’s fortunes.
“No one level of governance can turn around these statistics, but Inverclyde Council’s inability to recognise their role in alleviating the issues that lead to deprivation is counterproductive. I am not laying sole blame at their feet, but constantly refusing to accept any responsibility will not do anyone any favours.
“Finance is clearly important and we will always want more resource, however initiatives to improve communities are vital. This should be a wake-up call to everyone who cares for our community to bring forward their ideas and suggestions to take Greenock and Inverclyde forward.”