Siobhan McMahon MSP wears it pink in Holyrood in aid of Breast Cancer Now

Scotland's MSP's Wear it Pink in support of Breast Cancer Now

Central Scotland Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon has shown her support for women with breast cancer by dressing up in pink and encouraging her constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday 23rd October.

wear it pink, the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, calls on supporters across the country to ditch the day-to-day colours and pull on some pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.

Siobhan McMahon joined fellow parliamentarians in wearing it pink in Holyrood to encourage people across Scotland to get involved. Now in its 14th year, wear it pink raises over £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer, and this year it is back and bigger, brighter and bolder than ever before.

Anyone can take part, whether in school, at work or at home. All you have to do is wear something pink and donate whatever you can.

Siobhan McMahon MSP said:

“Right now breast cancer is at a tipping point. Every year in Scotland around 4,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly nearly 1,000 people still lose their lives to the disease. This is why we all must come together to support Breast Cancer Now’s cutting-edge research, and, in wear it pink, there is a fun and simple way for everyone to get involved. 

“Together, we can make a big difference for women with breast cancer, now and in the future; I hope everyone in the local community will join me in wearing it pink on Friday 23 October and show their support for Breast Cancer Now.”

Launched in June 2015 with the ambition of ensuring that no one dies from the disease by 2050, Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, created by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

This is a day when we stand out, stand together and stand for something: wear it pink on Friday 23 October to support Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research. For more information or to register for wear it pink visit 


About Breast Cancer Now:

  • Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity working in Scotland.
  • Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live. The charity is determined to stop women dying from the disease, working in a new, collaborative way and bringing together all those affected by the disease to fund research, share knowledge and find answers.
  • Breast Cancer Now’s world-class research is focused entirely on breast cancer. The charity supports nearly 450 of the world’s brightest researchers at more than 20 locations across the UK and Ireland.  In Scotland we support 21 scientists, working on research projects in locations such as Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Together, they’re working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in Scotland.  Over 4,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and around 1,000 people die from the disease in Scotland each year.
  • Breast Cancer Now launched in June 2015, created by the merger of leading research charities Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
  • For more information on Breast Cancer Now’s work, visit org or follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.

Siobhan McMahon MSP Launches Consultation on Abolition of Social Care Charges

Launch event with Siobhan McMahon MSP, Ken Macintosh MSP, Cara Hilton MSP, Michael McMahon MSP, and Anne McTaggart MSP

Scottish Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon today launched a consultation on the abolition of non-residential social care charges.

The consultation was launched at the Scottish Parliament and will be open until Friday 30th January 2016.

Currently, many disabled people are being driven into poverty due to the increasing amounts of money that they have to pay as a contribution towards their social care.

Ms McMahon believes that non-residential social care is an equality and human rights issue and, therefore, should be free at the point of delivery. She also believes that the current system is unfair, because charging procedures for these care services differ considerably between local authorities.

Previously, a petition was lodged at the Scottish Parliament by the ‘Scotland Against the Care Tax’ group which was signed by 4013 people and urged the Scottish Government to abolish all local authority charges for non-residential social care services.

The consultation has received backing from many organisations including the ‘Scotland Against the Care Tax’ group, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, and Quarriers, who were all represented at the launch event.

There were also a number of people present from across Scotland who have experienced first-hand the difficulties these charges can present to disabled people who wish to enjoy the things in life that non-disabled people take for granted.

Also in attendance offering their support was Ken Macintosh MSP, Cara Hilton MSP, Michael McMahon MSP and Anne McTaggart MSP.

Siobhan McMahon MSP said: “By carrying out this consultation I hope to encourage debate on the system of social care charging in Scotland and find out the public’s views on the issue.

“For those people who use it, social care is an example of the essential practical assistance and support needed to participate in society and lead an ordinary life. Enabling disabled people to participate in the economic, social, cultural and civic life of the community not only allows them the freedom to exercise their human rights, but also benefits society as a whole.

“I believe that it’s now time to complete the journey that Scotland began 13 years ago when it became the first part of the UK to provide a degree of security for all older people when they started to need care to live in their own homes. We should make sure that this security is extended to everybody who needs social care to enjoy their basic human rights. That surely would be a fairer Scotland.”

Ian Hood, Coordinator at Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, said: “At Learning Disability Alliance Scotland we understand how important this issue is and I would urge as many people as possible across Scotland to respond to Siobhan McMahon’s consultation.

“Social care is essential to many disabled people in order to help them take part in the lives of the communities they were born and grew up in. It’s also essential for those who are facing the end of their lives and want to spend their time with dignity and respect in their own communities.

“One in five people in Scotland have a disability and the number of people living into their 80s and 90s is increasing. Finding an answer to the question of how our society manages their support and helps to keep as many people as possible being fully active and a functioning part of our community is essential.”


Notes to editors:

  • You can read the consultation document here, and respond by completing the online Smart Survey here.

For more information please c

Siobhan McMahon MSP Finds Out More About Energy Company Obligation Installations

Siobhan McMahon MSP finding out more about ECO installations

Central Scotland Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon this week met with representatives of ofgem to find out more about Energy Company Obligation Installations.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government scheme to obligate larger suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic premises in Britain.

You can find out more information about this here.

Siobhan McMahon MSP Speech: Debate on Progress in Scotland’s Economy

Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab):

The debate is important for our Parliament. Like many of my colleagues across the Parliament, I want to focus on how the Parliament can foster economic growth, not as a means to an end in itself but as a means of encouraging our constituents to reach their potential and reap the financial rewards.

I start on a positive note. I think that members of all parties accept the principle of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and that in that regard the Government’s commitment to promoting the living wage in the private sector is worth while and ought to be commended. We know that more than 400,000 Scots are paid less than the living wage. Around 51,000 of those people live in Central Scotland, the region that I represent. A living wage would mean, on average, an annual wage rise of more than £2,600 for every one of those people who is in a full-time position.

I know that I am not the only parliamentarian who has heard from employees and employers about the benefits of the living wage, not just for the workforce, which receives more equitable wages, but for employers. Research from the Poverty Alliance suggests that there is a direct correlation between the living wage being paid and a 25 per cent fall in absenteeism, that there is a positive impact on recruitment and retention and that some 80 per cent of employers think that paying a living wage enhanced the quality of staff’s work. The cabinet secretary acknowledged that in his speech. We know that the economic benefits of the living wage are impressive. Staff who receive the pay increase are likely to spend the money in their communities and on the businesses on which we rely for our economy to prosper.

However, the Government’s record on the living wage is not perfect. It is true that the Scottish Government is a living wage employer; it is rightly praised for that. However, many of the less glamorous jobs in the Scottish Government’s offices are outsourced to private sector companies, who are under no obligation to pay our cleaners, janitors or kitchen staff the living wage, despite it being something that the people for whom they cater and clean take for granted.

Scottish Labour has in the past introduced proposals in Parliament calling on the Scottish Government to rectify that situation. The proposals, which were supported by trade unions and charities alike across civic Scotland, demanded that the Government use its powers over procurement to promote the living wage in the private sector. However, the Government rejected them, in contrast to the stated aim of its motion: the desire to build a better, fairer Scotland in which our growing economy is used to improve the condition of the low paid.

I am pleased to speak in support of Jackie Baillie’s amendment. It reiterates our values and priorities, nowhere more so than in the last line, which states:

“the foundation of Scotland’s economic strategy must be a successful education policy and that therefore tackling educational inequality must not only be a political priority but also a spending priority.”

Our new leader Kezia Dugdale has spoken eloquently in the chamber and outside it about the need to ensure that our schools are world-class centres of learning, and she has argued strongly that we should not settle for standards remaining “satisfactory”.

I will take this opportunity to talk about school leavers, and to challenge once again the Scottish Government’s position on further education. As someone who went from high school to college and then on to university, I can personally attest to the importance of our college sector in preparing young people either for work or, as in my case, for higher education.

We know that it is predominantly people from less affluent backgrounds who go to colleges. With that in mind, it is difficult to understand how the Government can claim to be pursuing an economic strategy

“characterised by inclusive growth and opportunities for all”,

given that there are now 140,000 fewer Scots going to college than when the Government took office. As John Pentland and Mark Griffin said, we need to do more in that area to tackle the attainment gap, which the Government views as a priority.

As members know, I am passionate about seeking equality for disabled people in our society. It is for that reason that I submitted a freedom of information request last month to all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities asking for the number of staff that they employ in schools who are specifically trained to support pupils with additional support needs. I found that the number of those staff members had declined in 22 of the 32 authorities, representing an overall drop from 3,363 in 2012 to 2,963 in 2014 across Scotland. I urge the Scottish Government to investigate the matter urgently as part of its overall growth strategy. How can we as legislators hope to maximise the economic and societal potential of some of our most vulnerable people when, as they increase in number, we cut the specialist support that is available to them?

The Scottish children’s services coalition has already warned that the cuts to support staff could lead to the prospect of

“a lost generation of young people”.

We can add to that the fact that children who are identified as having additional support needs disproportionately come from lower-income families and areas of high deprivation. We must remove barriers, and not allow them to stay up.

I have previously called on the Government to use the public sector socioeconomic duty to properly scrutinise the legislation that it makes. I believe that the area that I have just highlighted is a perfect example of where the Government could use that duty.

Before I moved to my new position in the Scottish Labour finance team, I was the party’s spokesperson for women’s employment. It would therefore be remiss of me not to at least touch on the issue of how we can better encourage growth with maximum societal benefits by opening up metaphorical doors for women.

The fact that, in the 2012 flagship modern apprenticeship programme, 98 per cent of construction apprentices were male and 97 per cent of childcare apprentices were female has often been brought up in the chamber, and rightly so. It goes to show what can happen if care is not taken to maximise the potential of everyone in our society.

There is little doubt that Scotland’s jobs of the future lie in the STEM sector, as other members have mentioned. It is no secret that the levels of occupational segregation in that corner of the economy are staggering. Last year, only 68 engineering apprentices were female. In 2015, the Government’s “Maximising Economic Opportunities for Women in Scotland” report demonstrated that 73 per cent of female STEM graduates did not work in their respective fields after graduation.

A few months ago, I said:

“It used to be that advances in science and technology liberated women, but now they have the potential to hold them back.”—[Official Report, 2 June 2015; c 42.]

I never followed up by saying—as in retrospect I should have done—that the situation would also hold back our economic growth and aspirations for inclusive growth and opportunities for all.

Few members in the chamber would oppose economic growth, but economic growth for the sake of it is a rather hollow ambition. The Government has taken some encouraging steps in its Scottish economic strategy to broaden the spectrum of beneficiaries of growth in Scotland, but we believe that it must be bolder.

Our Parliament has significant powers over procurement and other areas that have yet to be utilised. We have full control over all matters concerning education, and as the Opposition it is our responsibility to say that the Government has thus far failed to use those powers to promote opportunities for all. The Scottish Government should not have to come out and tell us what its political priorities are: those should be evident in its budget and legislation. At the moment, they simply are not.


Siobhan McMahon MSP Speech: British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab):

It gives me great pleasure to close the debate for Scottish Labour. I start by congratulating my colleague Mark Griffin on bringing the bill to the chamber and on giving the deaf community a voice in Parliament. I know that the bill means a lot to him, as is evident from the effort that he has given it throughout its entire process. I also pay tribute to Cathie Craigie for her work in this area.

Mark and I share a regional office, and I know the hard work that he and his staff, Cathie and—in particular—Frank, have dedicated to the bill. I am pleased that that will be recognised at 5 pm tonight, when the Parliament, I hope, unites to pass this historic bill.

It is a great privilege for me to take part in the debate. As a member of the Education and Culture Committee when it scrutinised the bill, I heard first-hand evidence as to why we require it and what impact it is likely to have on people’s lives if it fulfils its potential. As Heather Gray, director of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill marks an historic moment for the deaf community in Scotland, many of whom have British Sign Language as their first or preferred language. The National Deaf Children’s Society strongly believes that, if implemented, this landmark legislation will become a key driver in Scotland towards more effective service provision, better opportunities, and improved life chances for deaf children and young people.”

However, we must not rest on our laurels. When I spoke in the stage 1 debate, I highlighted a number of issues facing deaf people in Scotland. I will not go through each of them again, but it is important to draw the chamber’s attention to the attainment gap that deaf learners currently face, which is extremely concerning.

Scottish Government figures for 2011-12 show that 36.4 per cent of deaf school leavers attained highers or advanced highers, compared to 60.2 per cent of hearing pupils. Scottish Government data also shows that, at only 26 per cent, deaf school leavers are less likely to go on to higher education than hearing school leavers, at 39 per cent. We also know from the Grimes report that only 8 per cent of teachers of the deaf can sign. We must address that. I hope that the Scottish Government closely considers the forthcoming report from the Education and Culture Committee on the attainment gap for people with a sensory impairment and that all issues highlighted in it will be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Statistics from the Scottish Council on Deafness show that up to 70 per cent of deaf people believe that they have failed to get a job because of their deafness. That is a sobering statistic but one that has become all too familiar.

In June this year, I had the honour of sponsoring the Action on Hearing Loss reception, which a vast number of MSPs attended. The reception was held to highlight deaf awareness week and the importance of everyone receiving deaf awareness training and learning about the communication needs of the 850,000 people in Scotland who are deaf or have hearing loss. At that event, we heard from Abigail Matheson about her experience of trying to gain employment. She said that employers’ lack of understanding of communication support, poor deaf awareness and lack of knowledge about the access to work scheme create barriers that prevent deaf people from having the chance to get into their preferred careers. She also raised the problems that deaf people often face at Jobcentre Plus, where staff will not always book British Sign Language interpreters or use the correct terminology when talking about deaf people and their individual communication needs.

We must do more to help people such as Abigail get the support that they require to enter the workplace. The bill will address some of the problems that she outlined, but it will not address them all. Mark Griffin and the organisations that support the bill have made it clear that the bill is the first step on the journey to improving the lives of deaf people in Scotland. It will not solve all the problems that deaf people face, but it is an important first step that the Parliament must take today. As we heard in evidence, the bill will give deaf people the opportunity to access life through their own language. There can be no stronger point to end on.

I look forward to supporting the bill at decision time.

– See more at:

Siobhan McMahon MSP Meets Malawian Farmer at SCIAF’s 50th Anniversary Reception

With Mary Jackson and Mercy Glyn.
With Mary Jackson and Mercy Glyn.

Central Scotland Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon attended the 50th anniversary reception of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) at the Scottish Parliament last week.

At the event on September 16th, Ms McMahon met with Mary Jackson and Mercy Glyn, who were visiting SCIAF from Malawi.  Mary is a farmer who benefitted from a SCIAF project and featured in the charity’s record-breaking WEE BOX Lent appeal which raised over £3.4million for its work in some of the poorest countries in the world.  Mercy works with SCIAF to help poor families in Malawi to work their way out of poverty.

The changing climate has made life harder for Mary as she can no longer rely on predictable seasonal rains. SCIAF gave her farm training, seeds and tools to help her cope with the erratic weather. Now Mary can grow more food and earn money to support her family.  Mary is now visiting Scotland to say ‘thank you’ to all the schools, parishes and people who have helped her and many others to work their way out of poverty.

Siobhan McMahon MSP said:

“I was delighted to be able to attend the SCIAF event at Holyrood last week to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It was fantastic to meet and speak with Mary and Mercy and find out about some of the fantastic work that SCIAF are doing in Malawi.

“I was lucky enough to visit Malawi, a country they call the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, in the summer of 2012. It was a fantastic experience which I found both harrowing and inspiring and I’ll always retain an interest in the future of the country and its incredible people. I’ve been a keen supporter of SCIAF’s work during my time in Holyrood and I’d like to wish them all the best for the future.”

Mary Jackson said:

“I’m really proud to be here in Scotland representing women in Malawi. Before the SCIAF project, nobody helped us. Life was very hard. Sometimes my children couldn’t go to school because the walk is very far and they were too hungry. Now they have enough to eat and they’re doing really well in school. If they continue to study hard they will achieve great things and will have a good life. I won’t have to worry about their future.”

SCIAF’s mission is to create a more just world for all in which everyone can live life, and live it to the full.  SCIAF is a registered Scottish charity, no: SC012302.

SCIAF works with people in some of the poorest countries in the world, providing emergency aid and practical long term support to those affected by hunger, poverty, war and disasters. In Scotland it brings together people in parishes, schools and across Scotland to lobby governments and big business with campaigns to address the causes of global poverty and injustice.

The Keys to Life implementation priorities 2015-2017 – Development Funding

Scottish Ministers are seeking applications for development funding to support the refreshed delivery approach for The Keys to Life, launched in June of this year.

The Keys to Life refreshed delivery approach aims to improve the lives of people who have learning disabilities in Scotland through a shared vision and four identified strategic outcomes. Working with a wide range of stakeholders, funding in 2015/16 will focus on five identified priority areas:

• Effective interventions for parents who have learning disabilities

• Effective interventions to tackle hate crime

• Alternative models to out of area placements for people with complex care needs

• Innovative social connectedness for people with learning disabilities

• Innovative employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities

You can find further information on the refreshed delivery approach here.

You can access the application form here > LD Development Funding Criteria

Funding applications are welcome from innovative projects which will help to develop and improve the lives of people who have learning disabilities in Scotland, in line with the Keys to Life outcome focused refreshed delivery approach.

Development Funding Timetable

Applications invited from 7th September 2015
Closing date for applications 9th October 2015
Organisations notified 30th October 2015


Your application should be sent to Christine McBain at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability  no later than 5pm on the 9th October 2015



Questioning John Swinney

Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab):

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason it is delaying publishing details of the draft budget. (S4O-04548)

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy (John Swinney):

The United Kingdom spending review will not be published until 25 November 2015, therefore we will not know what block grant is available to the Scottish ministers and delivery partners until that date.

Under the current devolution settlement, around 80 per cent of the Scottish budget is directly determined by decisions taken in Westminster and the application of the Barnett formula. That means that we have no alternative but to await the outcome of the UK spending review before publishing the draft budget. That has, of course, happened before. The Scottish draft budget was delayed, with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament, at both of the previous two UK spending reviews, in 2007 and 2010.

Scotland is not unique in being placed in this situation. Wales and Northern Ireland face the same problem. That is why on 21 August Jane Hutt, Arlene Foster and I jointly wrote to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to express our dissatisfaction at his failure to consult the devolved Administrations before the chancellor’s announcement.

Siobhan McMahon:

I am sure that the cabinet secretary agrees that any delay in publishing the details of the draft budget will have a serious knock-on effect on our local authorities and other public service partners. I understand that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said:

“in terms of financial planning and decision making the timescale is not the ideal situation”.

It is vital that there is sufficient time for proper scrutiny of the draft budget proposals, particularly now that the Scottish Government will be able to set a Scottish rate of income tax for the first time. What reassurance and certainty can the cabinet secretary provide to people who deliver our crucial public services such as schools, hospitals and social care, who are being kept in the dark and are unable to plan their budgets for next year?

John Swinney:

I acknowledge that the situation is not ideal, but it is not a situation of my making. As I said, we depend on the UK Government’s decisions for around 80 per cent of the Scottish budget, so it would be premature and foolish to publish our budget before having that information. I am pretty sure that that position is understood by our social partners. Indeed, I welcome COSLA’s approach in this respect. I thought that COSLA’s response to the likely timescale for the budget was entirely pragmatic and understandable.

Parliamentary scrutiny is a matter for parliamentary committees and is not for me to determine, but, as I have always done throughout my tenure as finance secretary, I will make myself available to interact with parliamentary committees in any way they choose as they scrutinise the Government’s budget.

See more at:



are you in

The voting age for Scottish elections has been lowered to 16.
This means that if you’re 16 or over on 5 May 2016, you’ll be able to vote at the Scottish Parliamentary Election (as well as in future local government elections).
You just need to register first. It only takes a few minutes and you can do it online at
During the week of 7 – 11 September schools and colleges across Scotland will be helping 15-17 year old students register to vote by taking time out to get #in during class time.
You’ll need to provide your date of birth and bring your National Insurance number to school that day (you will only need your National Insurance number if you are 16 or over), which you can find on official documents such as letters from HM Revenue and Customs. Otherwise, for help you can visit: lost-national-insurance-number.

Siobhan McMahon MSP Backs 25th Anniversary of World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

World's Biggest Coffee Morning
With Janice Preston, General Manager of Macmillan in Scotland raising awareness of World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in 2014

A Local MSP is calling on people in across Central Scotland to help raise money for a cancer charity – by drinking coffee and eating cake.

Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is celebrating its 25th birthday.

And the charity is hoping this year’s event will be the biggest ever with coffee mornings taking place across Scotland on September 25th.

Central Scotland MSP Siobhan McMahon said: “Macmillan want to make sure no one has to face cancer alone but they can’t do it without the amazing people who take part in coffee morning every September.

“Last year Macmillan raised a record-breaking amount of money from the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and I really hope they can repeat that again this year.

“It’s a fun and easy way to raise money to help Macmillan be there for people with cancer and their families when they are needed most.”

The official World’s Biggest Coffee Morning day is on September 25th but events can be held any time.

To find out more and to register visit:, call 0845 602 1246 or text COFFEE to 88080.

To access support from Macmillan visit or call 0808 808 00 00.

Tweet @macmillanscot using hashtag #coffeemorning