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  1. 5.30pm: The Engine Shed and supported employment member's debate

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Rachael Connors

All times stated are UK

That's it from us for today

That concludes our coverage of the Scottish Parliament on 3 December 2014.

The Local Government Committee and all today's chamber business at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live website.

Holyrood at night
Holyrood at night

We'll be back bright and early to bring you coverage of the Devolution Committee from 9am tomorrow morning, as it takes evidence from Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Until then have a lovely night.


In conclusion Mr Ewing says we can all do more in this area and it is one of the more "serious challenges" in Scotland today.

He pledges to work with colleagues Sarah Boyack, Jim Eadie, Marco Biagi to use the vast resources of Scotland to do "far better" for supported employees.

The minister says he feels "ashamed" that a better outcome has not been achieved for the Engine Shed.

"We must do better", he concludes.

PACE services

Mr Ewing continues by saying while good things are happening we must address this more effectively, and we must do "far better" in Scotland.

He recognises a range of support services needs to be in place and there is no one size fits all.

I'm a "passionate supporter" of supported businesses, he says.

The minister says we've heard in the debate the Engine Shed is a social enterprise which has helped many people get into mainstream employment, but changes of funding has led to it closing.

Supporters of the Engine Shed
Supporters of the Engine Shed

On business support he says there are potential support packages available from Scottish Social Enterprise.

Thirty employees are threatened with redundancy, he says, and PACE services have been offered to help them.

Business Minister Fergus Ewing

Business Energy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing says this is an "extremely important" debate.

The minister says he believes all people of working age should be supported to work when they wish to.

He says the "respect and sense of wellbeing" that comes from work are recognised.

Business Minister Fergus Ewing
Business Minister Fergus Ewing

Mr Ewing says it is quite shocking that the level of employment of those with disabilities is at 42%, but even more shocking those with learning disabilities is "shockingly low".

Engine Shed petition

SNP MSP Jim Eadie asks how do we ensure people moved in to jobs get the support to stay in the job.

He says without the Engine Shed the good record of placing people in to jobs would not be possible.

MSP Jim Eadie

The Engine Shed was helpful to prepare people for the workplace, he says.

He says there were online and paper petitions in Edinburgh with thousand of signatures to keep the Engine Shed open.

Supported employment

Ms Boyack says supported employment for adults with disabilities has never had a source of funding and that needs to be addressed.

The Lothian MSP says the danger is people will fall out of job market in absence of Blindcraft, Remploy and Engine Shed.

In January a company that will manufacture nurses' uniforms for the Scottish NHS took on a group of former Remploy staff.

Remploy sign

The 26 disabled workers were recruited by the Haven PTS Ltd factory in Stirling after the UK government withdrew Remploy funding last year.

Ms Boyack says there is a gap between the Scottish government's policy objectives and policy delivery on supported work.

The Labour MSP says there is an urgent need to review the situation.

The Engine Shed


Engine Shed website explains it is a social enterprise that helps young people with learning disabilities gain skills in a real work environment and supports them to move into mainstream, paid employment.

Trainees work alongside staff in our vegetarian café, organic bakery, organic tofu production unit and conference centre and help deliver a great service to customers while developing skills for life.

It says its young trainees are extra special and take pride on the quality of everything we do.

The website says:

"We have had to come to the regrettable decision that it is not feasible to continue our current operations because of lack of financial viability.

"This will mean that we will now plan how to wind down the current operations, which will in reality mean the closing down of the Engine Shed, over the next six months".

'Wind down'

Ms Boyack says she is pleased staff, family and volunteers from the Engine Shed are in the gallery.

She outlines the work of the Engine Shed, taking on trainees for up to three years and then finding placements with mainstream employers.

The Labour MSP says she has been a strong supporter of the Engine Shed and it's work and has heard much praise from families who have used the service.

Edinburgh city council building
Edinburgh City Council

Ms Boyack says the value of the grant from Edinburgh Council to the Engine Shed has reduced to less than it was in 2003.

Following its failure to secure funding, the management of the Engine Shed regretfully decided to wind down the operation.

Engine Shed and Supported Employment debate

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack is leading a debate on The Engine Shed and supported employment.

In her motion Ms Boyack says she is disappointed by the announcement by the Edinburgh-based training organisation, the Engine Shed, that it is to cease operation.

Ms Boyack understands that the organisation, which has offered individuals with learning disabilities a successful transitional work-based training route into paid work with a variety of local employers since 1989, will be wound up over the next six months due to funding pressures.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack

She is concerned that the

Engine Shed is the latest supported employment project in Edinburgh to cease operation following the recent closures of BlindCraft and Remploy in the city and is also concerned at the reported continuing gap between employment rates for disabled and non-disabled workers in Scotland.

The Labour MSP acknowledges the role of supported businesses in tackling the barriers that prevent many disabled workers from accessing employment and highlights the Scottish government's policy that every public body should have at least one contract with a supported business.

In her motion she says she is disappointed in response to freedom of information requests earlier in 2014 indicating that some 44 public authorities, including NHS boards, local authorities and central government organisations, do not meet this policy aim.

Ms Boyack says there is a need for a renewed effort to grow the supported employment sector in Scotland and prevent closure of further providers.

Decision time vote

The amendment, from Housing Minister Margaret Burgess, to Labour's private sector rent reform motion was passed with 64 MSPs voting for it and 53 MSPs voting against it.

This caused the Conservative amendment to fall.

Thus Labour MSP Mary Fee's motion was duly amended and then passed with 64 MSPs voting for it and 53 MSPs voting against it.

MSPs vote during decision time
MSPs vote during decision time

Health Secretary Shona Robison saw her amendment, to Labour's motion on the NHS, passed with 65 MSPs backing it, 38 against and 13 abstentions.

The amended motion was duly passed with 67 MSPs backing it, 37 against and 13 abstentions.

Decision time

Decision time is underway, with nine questions to be voted on.

Not a point of order

Labour MSP Neil Findlay asks to bring a point of order about the numbers of bed days lost and says Minister Maureen Watt accused him of getting the figures wrong.

The Presiding officer says that is not a point of order.

We need change now

Dr Simpson lists cuts that have been made to junior doctors, nurses and some senior posts.

Hospital corriodor
NHS Dumfries and Galloway spent 14% of its medical staff expenditure on agency locums in the last year

He warns the consequences will be felt in coming years.

"We need a root and branch review", he concludes.

Dr Simpson

Dr Simpson says there has never been a situation where the NHS has been described by the chair of the BMA as a "slow car crash over the past five years".

The outgoing chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland has warned that tough decisions need to be made if the NHS is going to survive.

The NHS in Scotland spent a record £82m on locums last year - an increase of £18m on the previous year

Dr Brian Keighley told the association's annual conference that it is time for all politicians to face up to some "hard questions".

"What I have seen over the past five years is the continuing crisis management of the longest car crash in memory - and it is time for our politicians to face up to some very hard questions." he said.

Dr Simpson says Dr Keighley also said the situation was like "rearranging the deckchairs on titanic".

He says we need an independent inspection agency, but not one that needs to be charged by the government in order to go in to a place.

Coming up: Decision time

MSPs will shortly vote on the motions and amendments from Scottish Labour's debates on the private rented sector and this debate on the NHS.

Labour closing

Dr Richard Simpson sums up the debate by saying regrettably since 2007 there have only been a tiny amount of health debates initiated by the government.

Dr Richard Simpson
Dr Richard Simpson

He says the government came in to power in 2007 under a false prospectus.

The public sector model is "radically different" to the path being folllowed by NHS in England and Wales, he says.

Dr Ryan Fields wears the goggles during a surgery
Dr Ryan Fields has used the goggles during the pilot study in America

Dr Simpson says there has been improvements in the area of waiting times.

Scottish government

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt criticises Labour MSPs and says that you can't praise staff on one side and say the NHS is failing on the other.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt

She says she is not denying there are challenges, but the government has a clear vision for the NHS which has been highlighted by those on the Health Committee who contributed in the debate.

Dr and nurse in hospital corridor

Ms Watt says the government is focussing its efforts to ensure the right people are available to do the right work at the right time.

The new minister says she hopes the opposition will agree to work in a cross party way to tackle delayed discharges.

Scottish Conservative Closing

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne is closing the NHS debate for her party.

Tory MSP Nanette Milne

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says the fact that the NHS has grown into the complex organisation it is, is a testament to the hard working staff.

Nurse pushing hospital trolley
Getty Images

She says SNP speakers have made predictable speeches and she does not think it is right to use the NHS as a political football.

Lets cut out the political points scoring, she says.

'New ways'

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says by and large staff gain a large satisfaction from their work in the NHS, despite not being well paid.

Nurses on a ward
Science Photo Library
The guidelines say there must be enough nurses to give patients the assistance they need

She says more people are living longer and the NHS is under pressure so we need a new approach.

Ms Milne explains that the pinch points are well known in the NHS and she doesn't like the inflammatory language of Labour's motion.

She says "new ways" need to be found to use resources well moving forward.

The Conservative MSP rejects Labour's proposal for a review of the NHS.

Conservative view

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne's amendment says for the successful integration of health and social care, there needs to be a clear focus on primary care, including allied health professionals and the third sector.

Nanette Milne

It goes on to highlight the interrelationships between the health and social care professionals.

Ms Milne also highlights Audit Scotland's call for a major overhaul in the running of the NHS to cope with future needs, particularly those of an ageing population,and calls on the Scottish government to work urgently and constructively with all parties to achieve a long-term effective plan to secure the future of Scotland's NHS.

No to review

Ms Robison concludes her speech saying Labour carry on calling for a Beveridge style review of the NHS, but the Beveridge review took four years and insists she does not want to put the NHS on pause.

The minister says the government knows what the problems are in the NHS and will act now.

'Delayed discharges'

Ms Robison says that under this government there are 7.6% more staff working in the NHS.

She says the NHS is treating more people and reducing the amount of time people have to wait for treatment.

"We are ensuring all NHS staff are paid at least the living wage and we are ensuring staff are well motivated and rewarded."

Hospital corriodor

But the health secretary says she is not complacent.

She tells MSPs she wants to focus on delayed discharges and drive forward health and social care integration.

"Delayed discharges are my top priority", she says.

2020 Vision

Ms Robison's amendment also highlights that the successful integration of health and social care will be key to the delivery of the long-term sustainable solution to delayed discharge, improved patient flow and effective and coordinated care at home.

Operating theatre

The minister calls on the parliament to support government's aim to work with stakeholders to take forward the continued development of the 2020 vision, as it has in the past, to reflect the increasing demands from patients and the new way that services will be delivered under integration.

The Scottish government's

2020 Vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting.

Health Secretary's amendment

New Health Secretary Shona Robison's motion says that to give certainty to future health service planning, the NHS revenue budget should rise in real terms for the remainder of the current parliamentary session and the next.

Her amendment welcomes that the protection of the NHS budget in Scotland which it says has seen the health workforce rise to a record high.

It further welcomes that, in the last year alone, NHS consultant numbers have increased by 6.6%.

The health secretary points out that, while delayed discharges today are significantly lower than they were in 2006, action between the Scottish government, the NHS and local government is required to reverse recent increases.

'NHS frontline resource budgets will be protected'

Health Secretary Shona Robison says she wants to put on record her appreciation for hard working NHS staff.

Ms Robison says the NHS must always "strive for improvement" but we must not forget that "progress is being made".

Health Secretary Shona Robison
Health Secretary Shona Robison

She says the aims are clear within the government's 2020 vision for health and social care.

NHS frontline resource budgets will be protected, she says.

'Whole scale review of the NHS'

The Labour MSP says we now have staffing shortages across many disciplines - GPs, midwives, specialist nurses, paediatricians, psychiatrists, emergency medicine, anaesthetists the list goes on.

Mr Findlay insists vacancies for consultant posts have doubled, spending on locums up by 60%, spending on agency staff up 106% over the last two years and money continuing, in all sorts of ways, to leak out of the system to the private sector.

New data reveals most health boards have increasingly relied on locums to fill staffing gaps since 2009

"In the last few days we have had the report into the Vale of Leven, Aberdeen Royal infirmary and NHS Grampian and there are serious issues in Fife, Lanarkshire, the Lothians and across Scotland."

"If ever there was a time to accept our argument for a whole scale review of our NHS and the establishment of a truly independent health regulator then that time is now."

Council funding cuts

Mr Findlay says the first mnister last week announced an extra £5m would be put in to deal with delayed discharges but that councils would have to match fund the governments contribution.

Elderly hands

"Presiding officer what planet is the First Minister living on?"

Council budgets are being hammered by this government, says the Labour MSP andservices are closing, jobs being slashed and assets sold - so where is the money going to come from?

Care crisis

The Labour MSP says council budgets have been cut by 11%, with authorities shackled and unable to raise money.

"15 minute care visits, a minimum wage sector with carers only staying in the job long enough until they can get another job elsewhere."

He says he met a young girl last year who got a job in social care - she received 4 days training in an office 1 and a half day shadowing another carer and was then on out on her own.

"On day one she had 30 clients to visit - the first was a man with a catheter in - she didn't know what it was, never mind able to deal with it. "

Elderly woman being comforted by a carer

"The next person she went to had a personality disorder and was abusive to her - she didn't know what to do.

"Her day went on like that - she was paid until 5pm only but finished at 10. £5:13 pence an hour was what she received.

"That is what we are doing to our elderly loved ones and to the young carers of the future. "

A and E

Mr Findlay says "Accident and Emergency departments are full to bursting unable to cope with increased demand and expectations."

Hospital corriodor

"Staff are frazzled, there is a recruitment crisis and junior doctors are under huge pressure, looking after up to 100 beds while still working far too long hours."

Audit Scotland

Mr Findlay says Audit Scotland states "the current level of focus on meeting waiting time targets may not be sustainable when combined with additional pressures of increasing demand and tightening budgets".

"There are signs that NHS boards are facing increasing difficulty meeting their financial targets, and some are doing this in unsustainable ways.

"Four boards required additional funding from the Scottish Government to break even, and five continue to rely on high levels of non-recurring savings".

State of the NHS

Labour's health spokesperson Neil Findlay is leading a debate on the state of the NHS.

Neil Findlay

"The NHS is under pressure like never before."

"From the front door of the GP surgery to the social care sector the pressures across system are immense and show no sign of abating. "

End of the debate

Mr Kelly says the SNP amendment is staggering in terms of its complacency.

Ms Burgess intervenes saying the government had done a number of things to improve the private sector and is currently consulting tenancy regime and rents

There was nothing in the government programme to address rent rises and security of tenure, it is on a go slow in terms of housing.

"It is not enough to chat about it, it's time we had some action."

'Staggering figure'

Labour MSP James Kelly says there are important issues being faced in the private rented sector.

Mr Kelly says because of a shortage of housing supply and poverty there are 368,000 people living in the private rented sector.

Scottish Labour MSP James Kelly

The two main problems are rising rent levels and security of tenure, he says.

The Labour MSP says rents have been going up in every region, the average level is £537 a month throughout Scotland a "staggering figure".

Scottish government closes

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess says the Scottish government has been working with Shelter in developing its strategy to reforming the private rented sector

Ms Burgess says the government is currently consulting on rent levels in the sector and a bill will be brought forward in the life time of this parliament, with the consultation being published next April.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess

The minister says: "We have built more houses in the last seven years than any previous administration."

She says the Help to Buy scheme is boosting the housing supply.

"I am also proud that we ended the right to buy", she added.

Conservative closing

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone says we heard much about the average rents in the private sector in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, but the nature of some of the tenants is that they are "extremely rich" and those figures distort the average.

Mr Johnstone says the private rented sector does different things in different parts of the country, this is a complex market place.

"The sector has by accident or design has become an essential part of our housing strategies."

Some members blame the private rented sector for every problem in a kind of witch hunt, says the Conservative MSP.

The primary issue is a lack of investment into bricks and mortar, insists Mr Johnstone.


Scottish Greens

Green MSP Patrick Harvie says we can not afford to treat housing like any other commercial transaction.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie
Green MSP Patrick Harvie

Housing impacts on our health, our employment, our dignity and our very identity, Mr Harvie says

He says many people no longer have access to social rented housing, private rented housing is all they have access to.

The Scottish Green party co-convener says good landlord would have nothing to fear from the imposition of a decent regulatory regime for the private rented sector.

'System is not broken'

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone says that there seems to be confusion between "rent control", which the Labour party says it is against, and restricting rent increases per year.

Mr Johnstone says rent control has had an adverse effect and introducing it today would make it difficult for landlords to access finance.

More houses
Steven McKay

Mr Johnstone says Shelter has a more "sophisticated and realistic understanding of the issues" than some MSPs.

The Tory MSP says despite Labour's claims "the system is not broken" and landlords are ready to engage.

Conservative amendment

Scottish Conservative Alex Johnstone's amendment says that the demand for private rented properties is expected to continue to grow, which is why private landlords are a vital part of the Scottish housing sector and should be given the flexibility and support necessary from the Scottish government to flourish in Scotland.

Alex Johnstone

It says many of the government's proposals for a complete reform of the current tenancy regime are welcome and will improve the private rented sector in Scotland.

However, Mr Johnstone is concerned that some of the provisions are very inflexible and will act as a disincentive for landlords, and he is opposed to the introduction of rent caps as international and historic evidence indicates that this will have a catastrophic impact on the available rented housing stock."


Ms Burgess considers that the government's approach to reforming the private rented sector will deliver the outcomes sought by Shelter Scotland's campaign, Make Renting Right.


Her amendment encourages stakeholders from all sides to respond to the government's consultation, and looks forward to stakeholders' views being reflected in the bill to reform private tenancies that the Scottish government plans to bring forward later in the parliamentary session.

'Good progress'

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess says the Scottish government recognised the growth of the sector in 2010.

She says it developed the first strategy for the sector in 2013.

Three aims were identified:

  • improve quality
  • deliver for tenants and landlords
  • increase investment for housing supply

She says rent rises were not recognised as an issue in consultations.

Ms Burgess says the government remains committed to implement a new tenancy regime for the private rented sector.

Increasing supply is very relevant where rents are high, she says.