Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP has invited Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde to engage with the Scottish Government on the impact of deprivation on Inverclyde.
The invite came following a meeting the local SNP MSP had with the Finance Secretary on the Budget, where Stuart lobbied for more support for Inverclyde given the SIMD 2020 figures that indicated parts of Inverclyde are the most deprived in Scotland.
Commenting, Stuart said:
“My perception is that while areas in Paisley and Glasgow that were regularly falling to the bottom of the SIMD table where given direct support to tackle deprivation, other areas such as those in Inverclyde that weren’t the worst, but weren’t far off, have not.
“That’s why when I met with the Finance Secretary to put forward Budget proposals for further investment in Inverclyde, I reiterated the need for a review into local deprivation so policies and finance can be deployed to address this issue.
“Depopulation is another concern affecting Inverclyde, so I welcome the establishment of a Ministerial Population Taskforce and their population strategy that was published on 15 March.
“Many of the next steps contained within this strategy have the potential to entice people to relocate to Inverclyde to live and work, and provide opportunities for young people to encourage them to remain in the area – which is why I’m determined to provide input into this work to ensure Inverclyde reaps maximum benefit.
“As we look to recover from COVID-19 and refocus our efforts on issues like depopulation and deprivation, I welcome the total funding package of £188.6 million in 2021-22 for Inverclyde Council. This includes an extra £4.3 million to support vital day-to-day services – equivalent to an increase of 2.4% compared to 2020-21 – and includes £1.2 million to compensate Inverclyde Council for their decision to freeze council tax levels, which will help local households.
“The Scottish Government is also providing Inverclyde Council with £3.9 million to support COVID-19 pressures, which they will be able to spend as they wish for the maximum benefit of our community. The local authority will also receive an extra £2 million as a result of the Lost Income Scheme resulting from the impact of COVID-19.
“It will be up to the Council how to utilise this funding, but they could choose to support ALEOs such as Inverclyde Leisure, who I suggested could benefit from support going forward. The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of looking after our physical and mental health, so I think ensuring IL have high-quality facilities that are accessible to all is important to addressing long-term health inequalities in Inverclyde, which impact on deprivation.
“During my term as Greenock and Inverclyde’s MSP, my meetings with Scottish Ministers have been positive. They have listened to my concerns about deprivation and depopulation locally, and the issues that need addressed to improve our area.
“Many Ministers have visited local businesses and organisations and so know the wealth of talent and opportunities Inverclyde possesses. I look forward to building on this in the next parliamentary term as I hope to be returned as the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde.”