Categories
Newsletter

Joe’s Blog – 26th February

Welcome to my latest blog. I hope to keep you updated on what has been happening in Dundee City West and in the Scottish Parliament. I will also provide regular updates on the 2021 Holyrood election campaign.

If you have any queries, or require my assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at snp@joe.fitzpatrick.scot

Please Follow My Social Media Accounts For Regular Updates:

If you haven’t already, I would be very grateful if you could:

Like and follow my Facebook page at: /JoeFitzPatrickSNP
Follow me on Instagram at: @JoeFitzSNP
Follow me on Twitter at: @JoeFitzSNP

Even better, if you could like and share my posts going forward, that would be enormously helpful in ensuring that they are seen by as many people as possible, so that we can convince as many people as possible to #BothVotesSNP on 6th May.

Register to Vote and Sign Up for a Postal Vote:

As the Scottish Parliament election in May fast approaches, make sure that you have registered to vote at your current address. You can register at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

With all of the uncertainty around Covid at the moment, lots of people are signing up for a postal vote. You can download a form to send to the Electoral Registration Office at: https://www.snp.org/postal-vote/

COVID-19 Update

Scotland’s phased and careful approach to easing lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress Coronavirus (COVID-19) was outlined by the First Minister earlier this week.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I know how hard current restrictions are after 11 long months of this pandemic, however they are working and we can now see our way out of them. We are in a far better position now than at the start of January and these measures are initial steps on a slow, but hopefully steady, route back to much greater normality.”

The updated Strategic Framework sets out the six tools the Scottish Government will use to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality to our everyday lives.

The immediate priority will continue to be the phased return of education, building on the return of some pupils to school. On the basis that progress in suppressing the virus and vaccinating key groups remains on track restrictions would be eased in the following order:

  • the next phase of school returns with the rest of the primary school years, P4 to P7, and more senior phase secondary pupils back in the classroom for part of their learning and the limit on outdoor mixing between households increasing to four people from a maximum of two households
  • the stay at home restriction to be lifted and any final school returns to take place. Communal worship to restart in limited numbers mindful of the timing of major religious festivals. This phase would also see the re-opening of retail, starting with an extension of the definition of essential retail and the removal of restrictions on click-and collect
  • return to a levels approach with all of Scotland moving to at least level 3, with some possible adjustments. This could mean that from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers

There is likely to be a gap of at least three weeks between each easing of restrictions to assess the impact of changes, and to check that it is safe to proceed further using the six conditions for safe easing set out by the World Health Organisation.

As the vaccination programme progresses, a return to more variable levels of restrictions, which can vary by location, is likely when it is safe to do so.

Ongoing financial support is set out in the Framework and will continue to be available to businesses as we emerge from lockdown. This includes the ongoing commitment to fund the Strategic Framework Business Fund and to provide Level 4 payments for an additional month once businesses are moved down a level. These proposals are contingent on receipt of additional consequentials from the UK Government.

More details about the planned easing of restrictions can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-strategic-framework-update-february-2021/

Vaccine Rollout

Almost 135,000 people have now been vaccinated in Tayside, which is around 38% of the adult population in Tayside. This means that NHS Tayside remains one of the top performing boards in Scotland in terms of population vaccinated.

The next people to be invited for vaccination are those aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions and adult unpaid carers. This is priority group 6 on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prioritisation list. This is one of the largest groups on the priority list so it may take several weeks to complete invitations for the whole group.

More info is available from NHS Tayside at:

https://www.nhstayside.scot.nhs.uk/News/Article/index.htm?article=PROD_345946

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“As we move through the JCVI priority list, we will continue to maximise the number of vaccinations depending on available supply. Although a small number of people in group 6 will already have been invited in some parts of Scotland, we are now able to begin to roll out these invites more widely. Boards will begin to send the invites as their supply levels allow, and once they have completed a good proportion of 65-69-year-olds.”

JCVI priority group 6 includes people aged 16 to 64 with the following conditions:

  • a blood cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • diabetes
  • dementia
  • a heart problem
  • a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
  • a kidney disease
  • a liver disease
  • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as HIV infection, steroid medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
  • rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or psoriasis (who may require long term immunosuppressive treatments)
  • who have had an organ transplant
  • have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • a neurological or muscle wasting condition
  • a severe or profound learning disability
  • a problem with the spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or those who have had their spleen removed
  • have a BMI of above 40
  • are severely mentally ill

https://www.gov.scot/news/next-stage-for-vaccine-programme/

Care home visits to resume

Routine indoor visiting of care home residents by relatives, friends and carers will be able to resume from early March with care providers supporting residents to have up to two designated visitors each and one visit a week for each visitor.

Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman said:

“The decisions regarding restrictions on visiting for care home residents have been some of the most difficult we have faced and I have the greatest sympathy for those who have been unable to see relatives and loved ones in person for so long.”

The nine levels of protection to mitigate the risks of resuming visiting are:

  • Effective Infection Prevention Control in each care home as standard practice at all times
  • Appropriate PPE and training on donning and doffing in a safe way and a safe place
  • Testing for all residents entering or returning to a care home
  • Three times weekly testing for all staff
  • Testing for all professional and other staff entering a care home
  • Testing for family visitors
  • PPE for family visitors
  • Vaccination of residents and staff
  • Public health and primary care support and guidance if symptoms or a positive case develops in a resident or staff member

https://www.gov.scot/news/care-home-visits-to-resume/

Let’s End Conversion Therapy in Scotland

At the Scottish Parliament’s Equality and Human Rights Committee, I spoke about the End Conversion Therapy campaign.

More info at: https://endconversiontherapy.scot/background

I believe that this is something that needs to be taken forward. It’s a bit of a shame on us all that in this day and age, with so many reforms, this kind of behaviour is still legal in Scotland.

I think we need to look at taking forward legislation to put beyond doubt that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable in Scotland.

22nd Poll in a Row Shows Majority for Independence

The new poll by Ipsos MORI is the 22nd in a row to show majority support for Scottish independence.

Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands, not those of Boris Johnson’s. www.yes.scot/signup/

The same poll also showed the SNP continue to lead in voting intention.

According to IPSOS MORI:

“The SNP retains a very comfortable lead in voting intention for both constituency and list votes in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections, with the Conservatives in second place and Labour in third.”

Headline Scottish Parliament voting intention figures for the constituency vote are:

SNP: 52% (-3 compared with 20-26 November)

Scottish Conservatives: 23% (+1)

Scottish Labour: 15% (+1)

Scottish Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)

Scottish Green Party: 3% (+2)

Other: 2% (unchanged)

Headline Scottish Parliament voting intention figures for the regional vote are:

SNP: 47% (unchanged)

Scottish Conservatives: 22% (unchanged)

Scottish Labour: 14% (-2)

Scottish Green Party: 8% (+1)

Scottish Liberal Democrats: 6% (unchanged)

Other: 3% (+1)

Both Votes SNP

In 2016, the SNP increased its constituency vote, but we lost our majority and ended up with fewer pro-independence seats. It was the list vote that got the SNP over the majority line in 2011. Scotland’s future is in your hands. Make it #BothVotesSNP for #IndyRef2.

The below video explains why it crucial to cast #BothVotesSNP if you support an independent Scotland.

That’s all for this week. As ever, if you have any queries or if I can help with anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via snp@joe.fitzpatrick.scot, or you can message me on Facebook at: facebook.com/JoeFitzPatrickSNP

Yours for Scotland,

Joe FitzPatrick MSP (Dundee City West Constituency)
a: 37 Dock Street, Dundee, DD1 3DR
t: 01382 843244
w: joe.fitzpatrick.scot

Categories
Newsletter

Joe’s Blog – 19th February

Welcome to my blog. I hope to keep you updated on what has been happening in Dundee City West and in the Scottish Parliament. I will also provide regular updates on the 2021 Holyrood election campaign.

If you have any queries, or require my assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at snp@joe.fitzpatrick.scot

Please Follow My Social Media Accounts For Regular Updates:

If you haven’t already, I would be very grateful if you could:

Like and follow my Facebook page at: facebook.com/JoeFitzPatrickSNP
Follow me on Instagram at: @JoeFitzSNP
Follow me on Twitter at: @JoeFitzSNP

Even better, if you could like and share my posts going forward, that would be enormously helpful in ensuring that they are seen by as many people as possible, so that we can convince as many people as possible to #BothVotesSNP on 6th May.

Register to Vote and Sign Up for a Postal Vote:

As the Scottish Parliament election in May fast approaches, make sure that you have registered to vote at your current address. You can register at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

With all of the uncertainty around Covid at the moment, lots of people are signing up for a postal vote. You can download a form to send to the Electoral Registration Office at: https://www.snp.org/postal-vote/

COVID-19 Update

Thanks to everyone continuing to follow lockdown restrictions, Dundee’s case numbers have fallen since the new year. On 8th January, Dundee had 375.7 case per 100,000 people with a test positivity rate of 12.9%. This had fallen to 47.5 cases per 100,000 people with a positivity rate of 3.2% by 16th February.

This shows that restrictions have successfully slowed transmission of the virus. The First Minister confirmed this week that the Scottish Government will soon be in a position to publish a revised strategic framework, which will set out in much more detail when and how we might gradually emerge from the lockdown.

Vaccine Rollout

Thanks to the incredible work of everyone involved in the vaccine rollout, we remain on schedule to meet all targets. I am extremely grateful to all the staff and also to those of you who have rolled up their sleeve in large numbers so far.

As at 8:30am on Friday 19 February:

1,386,152 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination and 29,015 have received their second dose.

  • 30,670 care home residents (exceeding the initial target for residents in older adult care homes and 96% of residents in all care homes).
  • 41,753 care home staff (93% of staff in older adult care homes and 80% of staff in all care homes).
  • 287,800 frontline health and social care workers exceeding the initial target provided by Health Boards.
  • 151,046 people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (84% of those on the shielding list).

Latest progress for each age group on first doses shows we have vaccinated:

  • 273,063 people aged 80 or over (exceeding estimated population based on the latest mid-2019 population estimates)
  • 205,981 people aged 75-79 (exceeding estimated population)
  • 261,681 people aged 70-74 (94%)
  • 220,470 people aged 65-69 (74%)

Phased School Return

The successful slowing of virus transmission has also meant that our youngest pupils can return to the classroom from Monday 22nd February.

The Scottish Government hope that further detail on the next phase of school return could be provided on 2 March.

Whilst the majority of primary and secondary school pupils will continue with remote learning until at least mid-March, I am sure you will agree that this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

As part of the move, The Scottish Government announced a package of support and safety steps including:

  • A further £40 million to help councils implement safety mitigations aligned with clinical advice
  • £60m of additional investment in education recovery, including employing more teachers, classroom support staff and facilities management
  • Twice weekly at-home testing to be offered to people who work in schools, early learning and childcare settings attached to schools, and senior phase pupils. Comprehensive testing guidance has been issued to schools and local authorities, and by the start of this week, more than 2,200 schools had received test kits, with deliveries to remaining schools continuing throughout the rest of this week. The programme will be expanded to stand alone childcare settings as soon as possible thereafter
  • All secondary pupils will be required to observe two metre physical distancing while in school and on school transport in the period immediately after the return. This is in addition to existing measures including the use of face coverings

Funding to Tackle Poverty and Inequality

A package of measures worth £37.2 million has been announced to tackle poverty and inequality, in this financial year.


The funding, confirmed in a Statement to Parliament by the Finance Secretary this week, will support the delivery of two key investments for 2020-2021:

  • A further £100 COVID Hardship Payment for qualifying low income families whose children receive free meals in schools and early learning and childcare settings
  • Additional funding of £20 million for councils to tackle financial insecurity at a local level, making almost £47 million available for this priority

More information is available here.

Council Tax Freeze

Last month, Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, announced a £90 million fund to compensate local authorities who choose to scrap planned rises in Council Tax.

We all know the financial impact that this global pandemic has had in Dundee and beyond. So it is great news that this SNP Government has sought to provide relief to households by supporting local authorities to freeze increases in Council Tax for the coming year.

Non-domestic Rates Relief Extended

Retail, tourism, hospitality and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 under proposals outlined this week. It is one of a series of measures proposed by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus (COVID-19) spending.

More information is available here.

Western Gateway Community Engagement

I recently met virtually with representatives of the Western Gateway Community group to discuss several issues that have arisen in the area.

I wrote to Planning Officers at Dundee City Council regarding the redevelopment of the Swallow Roundabout and have met virtually with the Executive Director of City Development at the Council. Today, I met with Springfield (developer) to discuss their plans for the redevelopment of the junction. I will continue to provide updates on this matter.

I am also in contact with the Council regarding glass recycling at Western Gateway. I have been informed that officers visited the area this week to identify two potential sites for glass bins. The Council will now need to enter discussions with landowners with a view to installing larger units to cater for the potential volumes of glass.

I am awaiting a response from Royal Mail regarding post boxes in the area. Additionally, I have met with Xplore to discuss connecting Western Gateway via new bus routes.

Concerns were also raised about the winter maintenance plans for some roads in the area. The specific area highlighted is the responsibility of Springfield. Following contact with the Chief Executive of Springfield, a commitment was made to grit the most problematic areas and ensure that grit bins are regularly filled. 

Independence Polling

21 polls in a row have shown that a majority of Scots now support Scottish independence. The most recent poll put support for independence at 53% among those expressing an opinion.

The same poll found a majority of people would vote SNP in the Scottish Parliament elections, with support for the SNP at 54% in the constituency ballot and 43% in the regional ballot.

In 2016, the SNP increased its constituency vote, but we lost our majority and ended up with fewer pro-independence seats. It was the list vote that got the SNP over the majority line in 2011. Scotland’s future is in your hands. Make it #BothVotesSNP for #IndyRef2.

The below video explains why it crucial to cast #BothVotesSNP if you support an independent Scotland.

That’s all for this week. As ever, if you have any queries or if I can help with anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via snp@joe.fitzpatrick.scot, or you can message me on Facebook at: facebook.com/JoeFitzPatrickSNP

Yours for Scotland,

Joe FitzPatrick MSP (Dundee City West Constituency)
a: 37 Dock Street, Dundee, DD1 3DR
t: 01382 843244
w: joe.fitzpatrick.scot

Categories
Coronavirus Sport

£55 Million For Sport To Help Cover Lost Ticket Revenue

A £55 million emergency sports funding package to tackle lost ticket revenue during the pandemic has been announced today by Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick.

The funding will comprise grants and low interest loans, including £30 million for Scottish Football at all levels of the game. Scottish Rugby will benefit from £20 million, alongside funding for basketball, netball, motor sport, horse racing and ice hockey, including support for ice rinks that support Scotland’s world-class curling programmes as well as recreational and professional skating. 

The package comes in addition to sportscotland’s £1.5 million COVID Recovery Support Fund. In partnership with the Scottish Government, the agency also loosened the criteria for its £32 million planned annual investment for the sports sector during the pandemic, allowing sports organisations to protect 1,600 jobs.

Mr FitzPatrick said:

“I am pleased to announce this substantial funding package, which will help to ensure those sports which have been worst affected by the loss of ticket revenue during the pandemic are able to bridge the gap in revenue until spectators are able to return safely to sports events in larger numbers.

“While restrictions on supporters at events have been vital in stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives, there can be no doubt that they have created real hardships for many sports clubs. These clubs are at the heart of our communities and, without urgent financial support, the survival of some could be in question. I’m delighted that we are able to provide significantly more support than the Barnett consequential funding received from the UK Government Sports Winter Survival package.

“I recognise that for football in particular, governing bodies, clubs and, of course, supporters themselves are desperate to see fans back as soon as possible. Sport brings great enjoyment to the many people who watch and play, and we don’t want supporters to be delayed in returning to stadiums for any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

sportscotland Chief Executive Stewart Harris said:

“This announcement is very welcome as the funding will help protect the immediate future of many clubs over the coming months.

“We will continue to work with a range of Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and the Scottish Government to prioritise this funding to ensure the survival of the sports at the heart of our communities.

“With the roll out of the vaccine this week there is real hope that we are beginning to see our way out of this pandemic, and we need to make certain that sport is in a good place and is a prominent part of the overall recovery plan.”

Background

On 19 November the UK Government announced a £300 million rescue package for sport in England. The majority of this, £250 million, was made up of loans, with £50 million in resource funding. No support was provided to either the men’s English Premier League or the men’s English Football League. During that announcement in the House of Commons, the UK Minister for Sport confirmed that consequentials would be forthcoming from that funding package.

In April, sportscotland and the Scottish Government loosened the criteria for the planned annual investment for Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and local partners, releasing 50 per cent of the total (£16 million). The remaining 50 per cent was released in August on similar terms. This has helped to protect more than 1,000 jobs in SGBs and a further 600 with local partners, clubs and community organisations as part of the Community Sport Hub (CSH), Direct Club Investment (DCI) and Active Schools programmes.

The full breakdown of the £55 million emergency sports fund announced today is as follows:

Scottish Football £20 million loan funding for the Scottish Premiership and £10 million in grants for all other levels outwith the Premiership – including tiers below the SPFL and women’s football    
Scottish Rugby£15 million in grants and £5 million in loan funding
Basketball£300,000 in grants
Netball£100,000 in grants
Motorsport£400,000 in grants
Ice Hockey and Ice rinks£200,000 in grants for Ice Hockey and £2 million in grants for Ice Rinks      
    Horseracing£2 million in grants
Categories
Business Coronavirus

New £185 Million Package For Scottish Businesses

COVID-19 assistance targets sectors in need.

Businesses across Scotland will benefit from a new £185 million package of targeted coronavirus (COVID-19) support.

The announcement follows discussions with business groups and sees a wide range of sectors benefiting, from taxi drivers and arts venues to travel agents and hospitality.

In addition, there will be additional one-off payments to hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand. These will be of £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value.

The package was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who also said she had written to the Treasury calling for Scotland to receive its share of rates relief reimbursed by supermarkets “to ensure this is spent on those areas hardest hit as part of Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19”.

Ms Forbes said:

“Today I am pleased to confirm an allocation of £185 million for new and additional business support in the new year. We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.

“We are developing grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for the food and drink sector, including £1.8 million for brewers.

“We will give £1.5 million to travelling show people ineligible for other support, while a new £19 million fund, plus a one-off grant, will help taxi drivers.

“I can also announce that further support of £60 million will be provided to the tourism sector, details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry.

“I am listening to the needs of business and we will continue to review and refine our COVID-19 support offer within the available resources.”

Specific support detailed in today’s announcement includes:

  • £15 million for the wedding sector and its supply chain, including photographers
  • one-off grants totalling £15 million for mobile close contact services, such as hairdressers
  • a £19 million fund and one-off grants for taxi drivers
  • £5 million for travel agents
  • almost £6 million for coach companies and tour operators
  • £1.5 million for visitor attractions

Background

More detail on the package will be announced in the coming days and businesses can expect to apply for all the new grant schemes in January.

Categories
Drugs Public Health

Residential Rehabilitation Working Group Publish Recommendations

This report provides a set of recommendations to the Scottish Government and other partners involved in reducing the harms caused by problematic use of alcohol and drugs – recommendations which aim to improve access to residential rehabilitation treatment.

Scottish Government Minister for Public Health, Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:

“I welcome the findings of the group. This research will help us to improve the provision and quality of residential rehabilitation services.”

Residential rehabilitation treatment for drug and alcohol problems is a well-established intervention acknowledged in the Drug Misuse and Dependence National Clinical Guidelines as an important option for some people requiring treatment. A recently published international review of residential treatment outcomes for substance use disorders, which included a methodologically strong study from Scotland, found evidence for the effectiveness of residential treatment in improving outcomes across a number of substance use and life domains. It is important there is access to this intervention evenly across Scotland and that national models are developed around planning, value for money, commissioning, referral pathways, types of intervention, discharge and aftercare, what constitutes good or best practice and monitoring or regulation.

The report can be found at:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/residential-rehabilitation-working-group-preliminary-recommendations-drug-alcohol-residential-treatment-services/

Categories
Coronavirus Housing

Christmas Eviction Ban Introduced in Scotland

Six week temporary halt to protect tenants

Enforcement of evictions from rented properties will be halted in Scotland for a six week period until mid-January.

The move will give extra protection to tenants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It will reduce the burden on local authorities, who have a duty to rehouse people made homeless through evictions, and will also make it easier for people to self-isolate if they choose to form extended bubbles during the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas.

Regulations will now be introduced that will prevent eviction orders being brought between 11 December and 22 January, with the exception of cases of serious anti-social behaviour.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“We took early action to, in effect, halt eviction action until March 2021 due to the pandemic. We have supported tenants throughout this difficult period through a number of actions including increasing our Discretionary Housing Fund from £11 million to £19 million to provide additional housing support and shortly we will introduce our Tenant Hardship Loan Fund.

“We are now taking this additional, temporary step after carefully assessing the unique housing situation created by the pandemic.

“A temporary ban on carrying out evictions will give additional peace of mind to tenants over Christmas and into the new year. It will also prevent additional burdens being placed on health and housing services, during a time where they are already working hard due to the impact of the pandemic.

“It will allow tenants who are facing eviction, and may decide to take the opportunity to form extended bubbles over the festive period in line with relaxed guidance, time to effectively self-isolate afterwards should they come into contact with a positive person.

“Where there is evidence of serious anti-social or criminal behaviour, including in cases of domestic abuse, evictions can still proceed as normal.” 

Background:

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 is an emergency law to protect renters in Scotland during coronavirus.

The temporary law applies to all eviction notices issued on or after 7 April 2020. The original end date was 30 September 2020. The Scottish Parliament has extended the law until 31 March 2021 with some changes to notice periods.

Further information on tenants’ rights during the pandemic can be accessed here: https://www.mygov.scot/private-rental-rights/

Categories
Education

SNP Funding Boost for Dundee Schools and Nurseries

New figures show half a billion in extra spending last year.

Joe FitzPatrick, MSP for Dundee City West Constituency, has welcomed new figures showing spending on education in Dundee rose by £10.7 million last year, up from £137.3 million in 2018-19 to £148 million in 2019-20.

The figures show councils across Scotland spent £547 million more on education in 2019-20 than the previous year – a real terms spending increase of 8%.

The increase was driven in large part by the SNP’s flagship policy of expanding free childcare.

Commenting, local MSP Joe FitzPatrick said:

“This SNP Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that our young people here in Dundee, and across Scotland, get the best possible start in life.

“We’ve handed local councils the cash needed to increase free childcare and early learning and are continuing to invest to improve attainment in schools.

“The coronavirus pandemic has understandably been a difficult time for schools and nurseries, and has underlined the importance of investing in education – which is why the Scottish Government is expanding free school meals over the summer holidays and providing extra financial support for higher education students.

“Despite these uncertain times, the Education Secretary has been clear that even more children and families will be able to benefit from this childcare expansion in the year ahead.”

Official Statistics publication of ‘Local Government 2019-20 Provisional Outturn and 2020-21 Budget Estimates – Revenue’ can be found here: www.gov.scot/isbn/9781839608346

Categories
Health

Encouraging Results from Minimum Pricing of Alcohol

Commenting on the Public Health Scotland report on off-trade alcohol sales in the year following the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:

“It’s now unarguable that the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in Scotland has delivered a reduction in the sale of alcohol.

“Today’s report found that MUP was associated with a net reduction of between 4 and 5% in off-trade alcohol sales per adult in its first year.

“These are very encouraging results for the first full year of our world-leading MUP policy. 

“The study takes account of a comparison with England and Wales, where MUP was not in place, and also factors such as underlying trends and seasonality. 

“The results mean it is reasonable to conclude that MUP was responsible for these reductions.“ 

Categories
Carers Coronavirus Social Security

£230 ScotGov Boost for Dundee Carers

Investment of £19.2 million to support 83,000 carers in Scotland, including 2,615 in Dundee.

As part of the next emergency coronavirus legislation, the Scottish Government is proposing an additional £19.2 million investment in Carer’s Allowance Supplement, which will deliver an extra £230 to carers in Dundee and across Scotland.

This is in recognition of the additional pressure that carers are under as a result of the ongoing pandemic. 

If approved by parliament, around 83,000 eligible carers will get an extra £230.10 through a special one-off Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement in June.

2,615 carers in Dundee will benefit from the extra payment.

“Carers in Dundee make an absolutely vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported by the Scottish Government.

“This one-off payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher level disability benefits.

“This additional payment will be an acknowledgement to carers that we know they are providing vital support to family, friends and neighbours, and playing an absolutely crucial role in our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“I am delighted that carers in Dundee are being recognised by the SNP Government for the important contribution they make to our communities in these extremely difficult circumstances.”

Dundee City West MSP, Joe FitzPatrick

As with the current supplement, they will not need to do anything to get this extra payment as it will be paid automatically to people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance.

This would mean that carers receive an additional £690.30 this year on top of their Carer’s Allowance and any other income. This supplement is not paid in the rest of the UK.

“We introduced the Carer’s Allowance Supplement to recognise the important contribution unpaid carers play in our society. They provide vital support to family, friends and neighbours. Our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus will see many of these carers experiencing additional pressures, particularly financial, right now.

“The payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher level disability benefits.

“This additional payment would be an acknowledgement to carers that we know that they are doing even more right now, and we thank you.”

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville
Categories
Coronavirus Mental Health

Supporting mental health

Further investment to help children and families during pandemic.

Key mental health services to support families, young people and autistic people are to receive more than £1 million additional funding.

Health Secretary Ms Freeman made the announcement today (Sunday) following 40 days of lockdown when many people have felt an effect on their mental health. The allocation of funding comprises:

• £768,000 for a relationships helpline to be delivered by The Spark counselling service
• £105,000 to support Young Scot to develop enhanced digital content and resources on mental health
• £205,000 to support 47,000 autistic people across Scotland, including funding to increase capacity at the Scottish Autism Helpline and help for the National Autistic Society to keep people in touch online during lockdown

Ms Freeman said:

“While everyone is experiencing different challenges at this time, the mental health of children, young people and families can be put under great strain.

“We appreciate that spending a lot of time together in isolation and home-working, home-schooling and juggling childcare can be really tough.

“This crisis means many people are dealing with anxiety, fear, uncertainty, anger or sadness. They may feel overwhelmed and relationships can be placed under a lot of pressure.

“We want to ensure that the right help and support is in place for the mental wellbeing of our children, young people and families. This package of measures focuses on prevention and recovery, and on maintaining healthy relationships throughout the current restrictions. It follows the launch of our national campaign, Clear Your Head, last week.”

Background

The Clear Your Head campaign highlights practical ways to look after mental health and wellbeing while continuing to stay at home – and signposts sources of help and advice.

The Spark is a third sector organisation which delivers counselling services to families across Scotland, including relationship and couples counselling and counselling for children and young people. They currently operate a Relationship Helpline on a small scale for nine hours a week. The number of the Relationship Helpline is 0808 802 2088 and this additional funding will enable the helpline to operate Monday-Thursday 9am to 9pm and Friday 9am to 4pm. 

Scotland has launched a digital resource called Mind Yer Time specifically to help children and young people learn about the healthy use of screens and social media. It supports mental and physical health online and was developed by the Scottish Youth Parliament and Children’s Parliament. In the first ten days since its launch the guide had almost 13,000 views.

The additional funding will allow the Scottish Autism Helpline to open 8am-8pm, seven days a week on 01259 222022.

Further details of the additional funding for autism support.

Categories
Coronavirus Drugs Prisons

Supporting people affected by drug use

Over £2 million for new package of support during coronavirus (COVID-19).

New measures to assist those affected by drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic have been announced by the Scottish Government.

The measures include:

  • £1.9 million to support people in prison on prescribed Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST) to switch to a new longer-acting form called buvidal
  • £150,000 for an enhanced offer of residential rehab to people leaving prison during the pandemic to support their recovery and to reduce the pressure on local services
  • widening the availability of overdose reversal drug Naloxone while measures to tackle coronavirus remain in place

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:

“While this public health crisis is ongoing, we must not lose sight of the fact there continues to be a significant number of highly vulnerable individuals who are at great risk of harm as a result of alcohol and drug use, who continue to need a wide range of help and support.

“Buvidal is an alternative to methadone or buprenorphine tablets which is administered by a seven or 28 day injectable dose, rather than daily administration. By making this available to people in prisons, we will support continuity of care, while reducing the need for daily contact and reducing pressure on our front line prison officers and NHS staff.

“Furthermore, a high proportion of those leaving or about to leave prison will require support for their recovery from problem alcohol or drug. Funding to pay for additional residential rehabilitation places will support their recovery and to reduce the pressure on local services.

“I welcome the Lord Advocate’s statement of prosecution policy in respect of the distribution of naloxone during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This will help to ensure that we can continue to support those affected by drug use and keep them safe.”

Joe FitzPatrick MSP on a visit to Addaction Dundee in 2019
Categories
Business Coronavirus

Extra £100 million Business Support

Scottish Enterprise have helpfully been in touch this afternoon to provide more information about eligibility for the additional £100 million financial support for businesses from The Scottish Government now open for applications at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/

Please see below and in the attached slides for info. ⬇️

Dear Joe,

Further to Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop’s announcement that the Scottish Government’s additional £100m fund for businesses impacted by COVID-19 will open for applications later today, we wanted to provide you with further information about this support.

Companies will be able apply via our partner website https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/. This grant funding has been divided into three distinct funds:

➡️ The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – a £45m fund for viable but vulnerable SME firms who are vital to Scotland’s economy

➡️ The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund – a £20m fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief

➡️ The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund – a £35m fund for newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants

In a collaborative approach, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise will deliver both the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund and the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, with support from Creative Scotland and VisitScotland.

The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund will be delivered by local authorities. Links to individual local authority applications are available via the https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/ website. Full information about the eligibility criteria for this fund has been attached.

We are acutely aware of how tough a time this is for businesses in Scotland, so demand for this additional funding is likely to be exceptionally high. A guiding principle for us throughout this crisis has been to provide support to those who need it most. Delivering this extra assistance will be no different and will be of vital importance in order to support the economy.

For the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, support will be targeted at businesses that can demonstrate the following:

➡️ Drive economic prosperity – for example through wages, employment, exports, supply chain, etc.
➡️ Are a supplier or potential supplier to NHS or other COVID-19 vital services
➡️ Are suppliers to other essential businesses
➡️ Can scale up or diversify due to COVID-19 opportunities
➡️ Continue to trade or can quickly come out of hibernation
➡️ Play an important role within their local community

For the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, support will be targeted at businesses in this sector that can demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19.

For each fund, companies must meet the following eligibility criteria:

The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund:

➡️ Companies with up to 249 employees that have been trading successfully prior to COVID-19
➡️ Less than €50m turnover or balance sheet total of €43m
➡️ Can demonstrate the funding will support the business to be viable
➡️ Not in financial difficulty before 31 December 2019
➡️ Must have business bank account

The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund:

➡️ Companies up to 49 employees
➡️ Experienced at least a 50% loss of current or projected revenue
➡️ Not in financial difficulty pre 31th December 2019
➡️ Are not in receipt of other COVID-19 government support, except Coronavirus Job Retention ‘Furlough’ Scheme
➡️ Not for pre-revenue companies
➡️ Must have a business bank account

We have all worked together at pace to ensure the appropriate infrastructure and capacity is in place to deliver this support. Resources have been reallocated to ensure this fund is administered at maximum efficiency. We have pulled together key individuals across our respective organisations, such as Account Managers and Specialists, to support the appraisal of applications.

Getting the money to recipients is of critical importance. We anticipate the application process will take no more than ten working days and successful applicants will receive funds paid 100% upfront within that timeframe.

Full details on what information companies will need to provide as part of the application process can be viewed at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/.

We expect that you have received a substantial number of enquiries from businesses in your constituency/ region about what support is available to them. Please do share this information with any companies you think would benefit from this assistance and meet the criteria we have outlined. We will also share this information via our various social media channels on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Only a collaborative approach will allow us to support companies and reset, restart and recover the Scotland’s economy. Thank you in advance for your support at this most challenging of times.

Kind regards,

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive, Scottish Enterprise

Carroll Buxton, Interim Chief Executive, Highlands & Islands Enterprise

Nick Halfhide, Interim Chief Executive, South of Scotland Enterprise

Iain Munro, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland