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On Monday I attended the Scottish Labour Press Event / manifesto briefing. It quickly became clear that the mystery guest speaker was none other than former PM Gordon Brown. After opening contributions from Kez Dugdale and Jim Murphy, Gordon provided more detail on the latest commitments for providing more powers to the Scottish Parliament. Among other things, I think the proposal with the most potential is to devolve Housing Benefit. It makes sense to have housing policy and investment decisions in the same place as the main benefit source (1.8bn in Scotland) and I think it's possible that more progress could be made in accelerating the provision of affordable housing across Scotland.
On Tuesday I made my apologies and left the Finance and Resources Committee slightly early to head for our Technology Hub Centre at Firhill where new technology is made available to people with disabilities and those recovering from strokes, brain injury and other conditions. The occupational therapists there do some wonderful work with some mind boggling kit. HRH Princess Anne was paying a visit in her role as Patron of the College of Occupational Therapy. The visit went very well with staff and service users meeting HRH and discussing how different devices had made a real difference to their lives.
Yesterday saw a joint business breakfast, hosted by the Council and Heart of Midlothian FC at Tynecastle. The aim was to make the case for payment of the Living Wage by local employers. Keynote speakers included Ann Budge, Chair of Hearts and Cllr Frank Ross, Convener of the Economy Committee.
Cllr Gordon Munro, Vice Convener of the Economy Committee, chaired a panel discussion with Ann Budge and local businesses Standard Life, Bluebird Care and Rabbie’s. All speakers made a compelling moral, social and economic argument in favour of the Living Wage but all also stressed that they felt it had been beneficial to their business.
Gordon's Q&A session was very interesting and there was some good natured banter in view of his well known allegiance to Hibernian ! I was chuffed to get my photo taken on the pitch after with Ann Budge and John Roberston.
By the way, the current UK Living Wage is £7.85 an hour (minimum wage for 21 years and over is £6.50).