It may be a new year but it’s the same old narrative from the UK Government, who continue to prioritise legislation to ship vulnerable people off to Rwanda over dealing with the cost-of-living crisis.

With energy prices having increased by a further 5% and inflation – which had been coming down – rising again, it is astonishing that this is not at the top of their agenda.

The impact is severe, particularly on already vulnerable individuals, with Citizens Advice Scotland reporting that more than 40,000 households with a disabled person have been forced to skip meals so they can afford to charge the batteries on essential medical equipment.

It is utterly abhorrent that so many people are having to make these choices, but the UK Government seem indifferent to it.

They continue to reject SNP calls to remove VAT on energy bills, as Germany did, introduce a social energy tariff for those on the lowest incomes or, at the very least, bring back the £400 energy bill support scheme.

The irony, of course, is that Scotland is an energy-rich country with natural resources in abundance, but the chronic lack of investment by successive UK Governments in developing our infrastructure has kept us reliant on expensive gas imports and vulnerable to fluctuations in market prices.

And now, they are bringing forward the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill to introduce annual oil and gas licensing rounds in the North Sea which, they claim, will increase the UK’s energy security and lower fuel bills.

However, in reality, it will do no such thing as any oil and gas retrieved will just be sold to the highest bidder on the international market.

It is the bizarre nature of the UK energy market, under Westminster control, which is pushing up our energy costs. The international price of gas is even used to set the price of electricity, despite more than half being generated by wind – which did not become more expensive!

If we had the power to invest in electricity grid infrastructure and storage capacity, we could have clean, green energy flowing to where it is needed, minimising the need for gas and keeping our bills down.

The Bill will also do little to support a just transition to secure jobs for future generations as we move to net zero.

It is this short-term, cash-grab approach which has got us to this point and, even now, with a renewables gold rush across the globe, the UK Government refuse to look at the bigger picture. Scotland cannot afford to be left behind again – we have the energy, we just need the power to make the most of it.

One positive piece of news this week was the publication of a report by Public Health Scotland, looking at the impact of vaccination against the Human papillomavirus (HPV) in reducing the risk of cervical cancer.

The vaccine was introduced in Scotland for teenage girls in 2008 and extended to include boys in 2019.

The recent report showed a significant reduction in cervical cancer in all vaccinated women but, most encouragingly, there have been no cases so far in those who were vaccinated at the routine age of 12 to 13 years.

Along with improved screening, and a better understanding that 99% of cervical cancer is caused by HPV, there is a real chance to change cervical cancer from one of the most common cancers among young women to being a rare disease.

Another welcome development is Stagecoach extending their number 14 service from Irvine to Ayr to include Ayr Hospital, making it more accessible for outpatients, visitors and staff from North Ayrshire.

My next surgery will be in Drybridge Community Hall on Friday, February 23, from 11am to 11.45am.

Please note that appointments should be made in advance via my constituency office by contacting or 01294 311160.