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eBrief from

Say Aye to the Vat Free Pie!

Cathy Jamieson MP
9 April 2012

Good News for Kilmarnock College

I was pleased to hear confirmation of the funding needed to make plans for the new Kilmarnock College Campus a reality. Principal Heather Dunk and her team have worked tirelessly to put the plan together. The new College will play a vital role in regenerating the former Diageo site, as well as providing a modern and up to date environment for students. I look forward to seeing the development take shape on the ground!

When local baker John Gall of Brownings, created a special Vegan Killie Pie for me, I never expected that the tasty treat could feature in controversy. Dubbed the Pasty Tax across the UK, the Governments plan to add VAT to hot food could see the price of a Killie Pie rise by 20%! If this had been announced on 1st April, we might all have had a good laugh, and thought it a joke. But announcing it in the Budget means that they are serious! Campaigns have already sprung up, and national media has been highly critical of the plan. The Chancellor found it hard to answer questions put by the Treasury Select Committee, and we are still left wondering whether VAT will be chargeable if you wait for your oven fresh pie to cool down before taking it away! Pies, sausage rolls and even traditional Hot Cross Buns could jump in price. And VAT will be added to other things that have traditionally been VAT free like holiday caravans, hairdresser chair rental, and even building work on churches! I have added my name to Opposition amendments which will attempt to defeat the "pasty tax", the Granny Tax and the abolition of the 50p tax rate. Meanwhile Bad Friday has seen hundreds of local parents with less cash to feed their families as cuts to Working Tax Credits come into force.

Clydesdale Bank praise local call centre staff

I spent time at the Kilmarnock call centre which provides services to the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. The centre provides a 24 hour service, with all calls from anywhere in the UK being routed initially through Kilmarnock. Staff from a wide variety of previous employment backgrounds have been recruited and trained to offer advice. Most of the staff live in Ayrshire, and senior officials from the Clydesdale Bank praised the quality of the workforce. A number of newly recruited staff were in training during my visit and it is hoped that more can be taken on in the future.

MS Society highlights concerns

With constituents continuing to contact me with concerns about the impact of the Governments Welfare Reforms, I took the opportunity of Parliament being in recess to meet with local members of the MS Society. Members explained how changes to disability benefits risk affecting their ability to work, where that is possible, and to get the individual care and support they need when their condition requires it.

Heritage Lottery Scheme seeks Grant Bids from local groups

When I recently dropped in to an event for young people in Parliament, I met some teenagers from Edinburgh who had secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Young Roots project. On making further enquiries, I discovered that no groups in my constituency have yet received funding from this scheme! Young Roots is a grant programme designed to engage young people aged 11-25 with their heritage. To receive a Young Roots grant, your project must relate to the varied heritage of the UK and: provide new opportunities for a wider range of young people aged 11 to 25 to learn about their own and others heritage; allow young people to lead and take part in creative and engaging activities; develop partnerships between youth organisations and heritage organisations; and create opportunities to celebrate young peoples achievements in the project and share their learning with the wider community. . There is no fixed deadline as grants are awarded on a rolling basis. Advice on suitable projects and details of how to apply are on the Heritage Lottery Website Please let me know if you make an application so that I can support your efforts and help get funding into our area.

Further issues were raised the policies of East Ayrshire Council regarding housing allocations, improvements and adaptations, as well as access to buildings and street layouts. I will be raising these matters with the Minister for Disabled people, and the Council.

Meeting with
Along with other Ayrshire MPs I was invited to meet with the Chair and Chief Executive of Ayrshire Housing, to hear how Govt policy will impact. With changes to housing benefit and underoccupancy rules set to come into force, many local tenants could lose out or be required to move to keep their full benefits. I am following this up with the Council and other local Housing Associations to assess the full impact.

Drop in Surgeries this week

Friday 13 April Muirkirk IFE Wing 10am & Saturday 14 April Newmilns Morton Hall 10am