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eBrief from

Cathy Jamieson MP
16 April 2012

VAT threat to charitable donations

Another week, another shambles following the Governments out of touch Budget. After the Granny Tax and Pasty Tax comes concerns from charities and the voluntary sector about the plan to cap tax relief on charitable donations. There are loopholes which must be closed on tax avoidance as I highlighted in a recent debate, but hitting charities is not the answer. Once again the Government does not seem to have thought through the real life consequences of policies which they have put forward.

5th December 2011

Crosshouse Hospital at leading edge with new Biomass boiler

Stamps rationed as price hike hits

Royal Mail has reportedly imposed a cap on the number of stamps available to buy ahead of a significant hike in price. Shops will only be allowed to purchase up to 20% of their annual allowance of stamps before the price rise comes into effect on 30 April, leaving some fearing that shops will run out. Many customers wish to stock up in advance of 30 April, when a massive 14p rise in the price of both first class and second class stamps will come into effect, with a 1st class stamp to cost 60p, and 2nd class rising to 50p. If a shortage is created, it is once again the public who lose out.

I joined Liz Marquis of the Energy Agency on a visit to Crosshouse Hospital to find out more about the recently installed Biomass boiler. One of only three of its kind in the UK, the boiler provides a more environmentally friendly way of ensuring heating and hot water is available for the hospital. Replacing the previous gas boilers, the new installation uses wood pellets, and it is hoped that these can in future be supplied from local companies.

More Street Surgery Dates Planned

I am now organising street surgeries for May and June so if you would like me to come to your street, please get in touch. Meantime, Drop In Surgeries will be held at 10 am on Friday 20 April in Shortlees Campus, and 10am Saturday 21 April at Stewarton Area Centre.

Whitelee windfarm visit

I could well understand why Whitelee was chosen by Scottish Power for Europes largest onshore windfarm when I visited last week. As well as an output supplying the equivalent of electricity needs for 180,000 homes, around 340,000 is paid out per year in Community Benefit Funding. There are over 90km of trails in the area, suitable for walking and cycling, as well as a hands on visitor centre and an Education Programme managed by Glasgow Science Centre. There is a proposal to add 5 more turbines to the site, and a Public Information Day is scheduled to be held in Fenwick on 25th April 2012, as part of the community consultation.

But there is no government incentive for diverting surplus food from disposal in the first place. It is also immoral that good food is thrown away when food poverty is growing. In the current economic climate, with rising energy and rent bills and a freeze on many incomes, food is sometimes one of the few flexible costs. A recent survey by Netmums found that one in five mums are skipping meals so their children can eat. Foodbanks rely on donations from supermarkets and manufacturers, of food that would otherwise be wasted, because.

More Big Lottery Funding available for Youth Projects

Aimed at third sector organisations, Young Start is funded by money collected from dormant bank accounts, and will provide grants of between 10,000 and 50,000 for up to two years for projects that help to unlock the potential of children and young people aged 8 to 24. It can fund a range of youth activities including: Using local artists in a creative arts project to improve young peoples confidence. Getting young people involved in sport through the use of local sports facilities. Young people teaching older people how to use technology and try new activities such as using the internet, social networking and gaming. Work experience tasters with local employers.

Love food, hate waste

My colleague Kerry McCarthy MP, who is coincidentally also vegan, has recently introduced the Food Waste Bill in the House of Commons. The Bill would ensure that more of the obscene amounts of food wasted by supermarkets and manufacturers is donated to charities, so they can redistribute it to the increasing number of people living in food poverty in the UK. It is estimated that in the EU, up to 50% of edible and healthy food gets wasted and that figure is set to rise by 40% by 2020 if no action is taken. So far Government policy has focused on improving methods of disposal (such as anaerobic digestion and composting) ahead of landfill.

Groups can download an application form at: and can keep up to date with the latest Young Start news at or following Young Start at