Labour Councillor Chris Kane slams the ‘appalling’ impact of Universal Credit in Stirling


At the December meeting of Stirling Council, councillors will hear about the devastating impact that the introduction of Universal Credit is having on our most vulnerable citizens.  A report, first presented to the Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee in November, was sent to full council because the impact was considered so vast and so great, that it cut across all council services.

Speaking at the November meeting, the Labour Convenor of the Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Chris Kane, said,

IMGP9304 (1)“It is difficult to overstate how much of a negative impact the introduction of Universal Credit has had in Stirling. 

 I am appalled that a policy, peddled as liberating and progressive, is being implemented in such a cavalier and cruel fashion.  Up and down the country, council after council are telling the same story:  Universal Credit is fundamentally flawed and is devastating to the most vulnerable people in our communities.

 We have heard stories today so astonishing they are almost inconceivable; women fleeing domestic violence being told that before they can begin the long grotesque wait for a new application to be processed, they must first spend weeks disentangling an existing joint claim, and must do it with their abusive partner at their side. 

 Stirling Council, and our third sector partners, have been preparing for this vicious storm for over a year.  It arrived on 28th June and it is showing no signs of abating; in fact, it is getting worse.    The question we must ask is not ‘are our services coping?’, but rather, ‘when will they break?’ 

 So, what must we do?  We must remit this report for consideration by the full council to ensure we have a coordinated response across all of our services and committees.  We must share our evidence of the stark reality of this unfolding disaster with the UK Government, in the vein hope that one more voice pleading for a reassessment might be enough to make a difference.  We must ask the Scottish Government to identify money to assist us; for while Local Authorities have the liabilities of Universal Credit it is Holyrood who have the power to provide mitigation resources. 

 Where this committee can influence change immediately is through internet access, particularly in our libraries. We must instruct our officers to establish what additional measures are required to ensure our citizens, many of whom do not have a computer or even an email address, get the support they need for a Universal Credit application process that is entirely online. 

 Finally, we must thank Stirling Council staff and our Third Sector partners such as Home Start, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Start-Up Stirling and the Stirling Carers Centre for their professionalism and compassion.  It is in stark contrast to the bureaucratic barbarism of the universal credit roll out.  

Stirling Council Labour Group Leader calls on local MSPs to show support for local services in next week’s budget.

Stirling Council Labour Group Leader, Councillor Danny Gibson, has today written to all local MSPs urging them not to support any minority Scottish Government budget that inflicts further financial pain and austerity on Scotland’s Local Authorities.

The letter, sent to constituency MSPs Bruce Crawford and Keith Brown, along with all Mid-Scotland and Fife list MSPs urges them to:

“show your support for our remarkable council staff and our treasured local services by pledging not to support a budget that inflicts more austerity, more cuts and more unnecessary pain on Local Authorities.”

The letter comes just days before SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is due to deliver his budget.  Last week the Accounts Commission said that Local Authority budgets have fallen across Scotland by 7.6% in real terms since 2011.

Councillor Gibson said,

IMGP9286 (1)“Whatever way the minority Scottish Government choose to dress it up, Scotland’s Local Authorities have less money to spend on essential services than they did 6 years ago.  We are heading towards a cliff for local services and rather than throw us a lifeline, the minority Scottish Government is pushing us closer to the edge.  It must stop and it must stop now.  We need the support of all of our local MSPs to stop more council cuts.”


The full text of Councillor Gibson’s letter can be read below:


 Funding for Local Authorities in 2018/19

 Next week the minority Scottish Government will publish its budget for the coming year.  This will include information on the grant being given to Local Authorities, including here in Stirling. 

 I am writing today to ask you to pledge to NOT support any Scottish Government budget that imposes more austerity and financial pain on Local Authorities.

 Last week the Accounts Commission confirmed that Local Authority budgets fell in real terms in 2017/18 compared to 2016/17 and have fallen across Scotland by 7.6% in real terms since 2011. This has resulted in 30,000 local government job losses over this period and Unison Scotland state that nine out of ten austerity job losses in Scotland have been in Councils”.

Whatever way the Scottish Government choose to dress it up, Scotland’s Local Authorities have less money to spend on essential services than they did 6 years ago. 

 If the Scottish Government do not act now to reverse the hugely damaging approach they are taking to Local Government finances, the question we must ask is not if council services will break, but when will they break? 

 We are heading towards a cliff for local services and rather than throw us a lifeline, the Scottish Government is pushing us closer to the edge.  It must stop and it must stop now.  We need the support of all of our local MSPs to stop more council cuts.”

 The Scottish Parliament has never had so many economic levers to use to support our vital local services. We need a wholescale review of council tax, rather than the tinkering around the edges we saw last year.  We need to use the tax raising powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect, not cut, the local services our citizens rely on every day. 

 You can show your support for our remarkable staff and our treasured local services by pledging not to support a budget that inflicts more austerity, more cuts and more unnecessary pain on Local Authorities.

 I urge you to tell Finance Minister Derek MacKay this before next week’s budget.

On budget day, you have a voice inside the chamber at Holyrood and, more importantly, a vote.  

 Kind regards

 Councillor Danny Gibson

Labour Group Leader on Stirling Council




Thursday 4 May is Stirling Council Election Day

Read our Manifesto For Stirling and you’ll see Labour have a vision for Stirling’s future and a track record of success.

Vote Labour to protect the local services – from schools, care services, paths, parks, roads and more – that touch our daily lives.

We need local Labour champions who will drive Stirling forward.

Stirling deserves better than SNP candidates who won’t even stand up to their own party and the damage the SNP Government are doing to local services.  Stirling Council’s budget has been CUT by £2.6 million this year by Nicola Sturgeon.

Stirling deserves better than Tory candidates who are following an increasingly right wing austerity agenda.  Send a message to the Tories that Scotland is shamed by the Rape Clause they’ve introduced.

Vote Labour and you’re voting for a plan to build hundreds more social homes across Stirling’s communities over the next four years.

Vote Labour for a municipal energy company to help tackle fuel poverty and ensure communities retain profits.

Vote Labour to help re-regulate busses to ensure they run to community not commercial priorities.

Vote for local Labour champions on May 4th


Stirling Labour sets out vision for Stirling with 2017 Manifesto

Bold new commitments to local bus and energy companies feature in Labour’s manifesto for Stirling.  The party’s key priorities were unveiled this week and include a promise to double to 1200 the number of hours of free pre-school childcare available to families, and realise the potential of £600 million in City Region Deal investment.  The document will help shape Stirling over the next five years if Labour return to power on May 4th.

Your Labour candidates who will deliver on manifesto commitments
Your Labour candidates who will deliver on manifesto commitments

Violet Weir, one of two Labour candidates standing in the Bannockburn ward, told an audience of local party members and guests that the Labour-led Administration had much to be proud about since coming to power in 2012.  Violet said,

violet-weir“We have created over 400 council homes, built new schools at Cowie and St Ninians, and the £35 million Stirling Care Village is months away from opening.  But we must go further and in the next five years we want to create more social rented homes that we have in the last five years.  We will promote Stirling to employers around the world and we will realise the once in a generation potential of the £600 million City Region Deal that Labour Councillors are negotiating.  We have a vision for Stirling and we will work tirelessly to deliver it in the face of continuing and unnecessary cuts to council budgets from the SNP Government at Holyrood.”

Chris Kane, one of two Labour candidates standing in Stirling East, spoke on the thinking behind the new approach to public transport and energy production.  Chris said,

IMGP9304 (1)“It is unacceptable that fuel poverty exists and that Stirling’s citizens can’t rely on public transport to get them where they need to be when they need to be there.   We want bus services run to community not commercial priorities. We want locally produced green energy with lower costs, fixed for longer periods. Stirling Council has the scale and the resources to kick start a local green energy revolution and sort out the buses and if Labour are in Administration in May, we’ll get to work and deliver for Stirling.”

The keynote speaker at the launch event was Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Alex Rowley MSP who said that Labour were the only party who offered a vision for Stirling’s future, backed up by a track record of success in the past.

To download a full copy of our manifesto, click here.

To read individual sections of our manifesto online, click on the links below:

  1. Introduction
  2. Jobs & the Economy
  3. Education & Young People
  4. Housing & Utilities
  5. Strengthening Communities
  6. Health & Social Care
Alex Rowley MSP with local members and candidates
Alex Rowley MSP with local members and candidates

Labour to explore creation of new Municipal Energy Company for Stirling

IMGP0548Stirling Labour’s manifesto will show a commitment to a new municipal energy company to help tackle fuel poverty and to help promote local energy production.   The Labour led administration has already installed 1500 solar panels on council house roofs, helping tenants reduce their annual bills by up to £300.  Labour’s plan would see a new municipal-led organisation look at ways to generate energy through district heating systems and emerging technologies.

In Stirling East, Chris Kane and Corrie McChord are standing for election.  Chris says,

Too much of our household income is spent on heating and that needs to change.  Fuel poverty and fuel security are only going to get worse if we rely on fossil fuels and national grids to generate and deliver our energy.    There are some exciting and innovative energy production methods emerging that can be achieved at community level and we need to support and develop them.  Labour want Stirling’s communities to have cheaper bills with costs fixed for longer periods.  We want profits reinvested in our communities and we want our environment protected.  Stirling Council have the clout and the scale to kick start a local energy revolution and a Labour-led administration would get it done.”  

Under the Labour-led administration, Stirling Council has already invested £8m on solar PV and has committed to invest a further £4.25m over the next two years on installations on another 1200 properties.

In Stirling North, Danny Gibson and Jennifer Preston are standing for election.  Danny says,

If reelected in May, Labour will spend the next six months pursuing a municipal energy company for Stirling.  The SNP will spend the next six months making up their minds on whether to allow fracking under Stirling’s Communities.  Stirling doesn’t need another fossil fuel, but we do need to ensure it is our communities who benefit from the rise of local green energy schemes.  Labour stands for good jobs, warm homes, caring communities and great education.  A municipal energy company will bring jobs, reduce energy bills, see profits reinvested in communities and teach our children that you can put environmental responsibility at the heart of what we do.”

The commitment to a new municipal energy company is part of a range of initiatives being promised by Stirling Labour, who are fielding candidates in all seven wards across Stirling.  Labour have led Stirling Council since 2012.  Elections to Stirling Council are being held on 4th May.  Labour’s full manifesto will be unveiled soon.

Kezia Campaigning In Stirling

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale was in Stirling at the weekend to open our campaign office for the forthcoming Stirling Council Elections.  Kezia joined candidates and activists at the shopfront in Riverside before heading into the city city to listen to voters and talk about Labour’s achievements in Stirling since taking charge of Stirling Council in 2012.

Cutting the red ribbon at our Stirling Campaign Office

Kezia said,

“the Stirling Labour-led Administration on Stirling Council has much to be proud of over the last five years, including becoming the first Local Authority in Scotland to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer and the first to introduce 600 hours of free pre-school childcare.  Add in two new primary schools, two new nursery schools and over 300 new council houses and a new Care Village and we know that Labour has been delivering for the people of Stirling.  With hundreds of millions of investment on the way to Stirling with the City Deal, I can’t wait to see what Labour Councillors will deliver over the next five years.”

Campaigners in King Street
Campaigners in King Street

Jennifer Preston, one of Labour’s two candidates for the Stirling North ward, which includes the city centre, said,

“It was great to see Labour students and elderly residents in animated conversation over the need for a regulated bus service that puts people before profit.  We talked about the need to ensure landlords treat tenants fairly and the benefits of a real living wage.  We also heard from local businesses about the concern they have over the Kerse Road bridge closure and the impact it could have on the city.  May’s election is about standing up for local services and having a vision for Stirling.  Labour always have and always will stand up for the people of Stirling.”

Engaging with Stirling residents and Labour activists on the issues that matter.
Engaging with Stirling residents and Labour activists on the issues that matter.

Stirling Labour call on Bruce Crawford MSP to clarify position on SNP censorship of poverty report

Stirling’s Labour politicians have reacted angrily to the news in Tuesday’s papers that the SNP Government pressured their own Poverty Adviser into deleting criticism of SNP policies that disproportionately affect low income families.

SNP Government advisor Naomi Eisenstadt has admitted that she complied with some requests from officials to change the wording of her findings before they were released to the public last week, despite SNP claims that she is completely independent.

Jennifer Preston, Labour’s Candidate in the Stirling North ward says,

IMGP9284 (1)“It is appalling that the SNP want to censor a report that they commissioned that could help low income families.  An SNP commissioned report that said that Local Authorities provide a range of vital services and these tend to be most used and most valued by households on low incomes.  An SNP commissioned report that said any reduction in these services would be damaging for low income households and for the strength of some local communities.  It is unbelievable that SNP politicians then went on to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from Local Authority budgets.  It is flabbergasting how little regard the SNP have for people who don’t toe the party line and worse, how little regard they have for those people most affected by the cuts across the country and across Stirling, including those in Raploch, Cornton, Top of the Town and Causewayhead.”

Stirling Council Leader Johanna Boyd says,

“This is damning evidence that not only are SNP policies harming the most vulnerable in our communities, but that SNP politicians are trying to cover it up and keep the public from learning what their own appointed experts think.  Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford needs to urgently clarify what he knew of this report prior to publication and if he thinks it is acceptable to censor expert opinion in this way.  We’ve been saying for years that the SNP’s brutally unfair approach to Local Authority funding is hurting those who can least afford it and now even SNP appointed officials agree with us.  When will the SNP stop trying to blame everybody else for the cuts to local services and start listening to the experts who say it is SNP policies that are the cause of the problem.”

The SNP Government Report, “Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality:  Shifting the curve – a report for the First Minister” was published on 20th January and is available to view on the government website.

Stirling North

Stirling North

In Stirling North, Danny Gibson and Jennifer Preston will be flying the Labour flag in the all-new 4 member ward which comprises Blairlogie, Cambuskenneth, Causewayhead, City Centre, Cornton, Forthside, Raploch, Riverside and the University campus.


Danny  currently represents Stirling East on Stirling Council where he also serves as Environment Convenor. He lives in Riverside with his wife and young son. Jennifer is a new face to local politics.  Jennifer lives in St Ninians with her partner Lawrence and is an Area Sales Manager for a manufacturing company.