Categories
Business Coronavirus

More Business Support Now Live

£60 million for newly self-employed, close contact businesses and driving instructors.

Two funds to support people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic are now open to applications

Grants will be available for mobile and home-based close contact service businesses – such as make-up artists and hairdressers – as well as registered driving instructors.

The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, which paid out more than £11 million in vital support last year, will also re-open for a second round.

Both funds will provide £4,000 grants to successful applicants. Full eligibility details are available online.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“These new funds will support harder to reach businesses and newly self-employed people across Scotland as we continue to focus our efforts on helping those who are not captured by UK Government schemes.

“We’ve committed more than £3 billion to support businesses and protect jobs during the pandemic and I would encourage all those affected to check what support is available to help them through such a challenging time.”

Background

Full information on the Mobile and Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund and the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

Statistics published last week showed £244 million was paid to businesses through three funds in January alone.

COVID-19 advice and funding information is available via the Find Business Support website.

Categories
Children Coronavirus Social Security

Dundee Benefits from £100 COVID Winter Payments

£542,200 PAID TO FAMILIES IN DUNDEE CITY FROM SCOTTISH WINTER HARDSHIP FUND

5,422 FAMILIES RECEIVE £100 WINTER PAYMENT

5,422 families in Dundee City have received a £100 COVID winter hardship payment to support them through one of the most difficult winters in living memory.

New figures show that the SNP Government provided support to thousands in each of Scotland’s local authorities – with more than £14million paid out to families in December.

In Dundee City £542,200 was paid out to 5,422 families.

The payment, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was made available to families who were in receipt of free school meals and was paid from 30th November to the start of the winter school holidays.

Commenting, SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick said:

“With the Scottish Government rolling out the Scottish Child Payment and supporting hundreds of thousands of families across Scotland with the £100 COVID winter hardship payment, the SNP is making a real difference to people’s lives and lifting children out of poverty.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for families in Dundee City who may have faced lost earnings, increased food bills and cold weather. The £100 winter payment will hopefully have eased the financial strain many have been facing.

“In contrast to the Tories at Westminster, the SNP Scottish Government is doing all it can to ensure kids who receive free school meals do not go hungry.

“Alongside introducing the Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Grant and Best Food Grants, this SNP Government is committed to supporting children, whereas the Tories are planning to slash Universal Credit and get rid of the £20 uplift when families need it most.

“The only way Scotland can escape Westminster austerity and build a social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect is by becoming an independent country.”

Categories
Children Coronavirus Social Security

New Scottish Child Payment

Payments to start from late February.

More than 77,000 Scottish Child Payment applications have been received since Social Security Scotland started taking applications on 9 November.

The new benefit, which is unique to Scotland, will give qualifying parents and carers £40 every four weeks for each child under six.

The benefit starts today, meaning that Social Security Scotland is now able to do final eligibility checks and start issuing decisions.

The first decisions and payments will arrive from later this month.

Parents and carers who have not yet applied and have a child under six are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to get the maximum amount of money they are entitled to.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“This is a fantastic response to our new payment. Today marks the day that parents and carers will become eligible for Scottish Child Payment. We’ve had a great response and this is a very large number of applications. It will take time to work through these applications and I’d like to ask families for their patience while we work as quickly as we can to process these.

“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK. Announced in late June 2019 the new payment has been achieved at great speed.

“In 2021-22 we will invest £3.6 billion in social security payments supporting carers, young people, and low income families including £68 million for this new payment. Significantly more families are now relying on benefits due to the pandemic – some perhaps for the first time. Scottish Child Payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.

“We are proactively promoting this payment and we have written to everyone on the Universal Credit and HMRC tax credit databases who may be eligible to invite them to apply. .

“Covid-19 restrictions continue to put additional pressure on parents and carers and I recognise how busy families are. But I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet applied, to take ten minutes to get their application in – it’s vital that people get the money they are entitled to.”

Scottish Child Payment has been introduced ahead of schedule for children under six by building on the existing infrastructure for Best Start Grant payments. The payment is planned to be fully rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022. This is subject to data on qualifying benefits being received from the DWP to enable Social Security Scotland to make top-up payments.

Background

  • Application numbers are the latest figures available and correct as of Sunday 7 February.
  • People, who supplied their mobile number, will be kept up to date on the progress of their application by text.
  • People who apply from Tuesday 16 February will have their payment calculated from the day that they apply.
  • Scottish Fiscal Commission reviewed their forecasts in January 2021 to reflect how many families were taking up qualifying benefits from the DWP. The total figure of children forecast to be eligible for Scottish Child Payment in 2020-21 was revised slightly down to 173,000. The total number of households changed to 138,000.
  • Social Security Scotland delivers a number of benefits for families. This includes Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, School Age Payment and Best Start Foods. Applications can be made for Scottish Child Payment and all of these using a single straightforward form.
  • Scottish Child Payment together with the three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods could give families on low incomes up to £5,200 by the time their first child turns six.
  • People can apply by visiting mygov.scot/benefits or calling 0800 182 2222.
  • Scottish Child Payment is a new benefit and it is in addition to the UK wide Child Benefit.
  • To get advice on what benefits may be available parents and carers can access free, confidential advice through Money Talk Team. Visit Parentclub.scot to find out more.
Categories
Community Coronavirus Health Public Health

Vaccine Programme Exceeds Expectations

786,427 people have received first dose.

A total of 786,427 people have now received their first Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination in Scotland, including 93% of over-80s living in the community.

Some 99% of older adult care home residents have received a first dose, along with 89% of staff in older adult care homes. A total of 272,365 frontline health and social care workers have also been vaccinated, exceeding the initial target of 230,000 staff provided by health boards.

This week, following the opening of new mass vaccination centres, including the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and Aberdeen’s P&J LIVE at TECA, there has been a 49% increase in the number of vaccinations carried out compared with the previous week.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Scotland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is now delivering ahead of our expectations, thanks to the enormous efforts of our vaccination teams. I would like to thank everyone who is working tirelessly to make this a success, and also every individual who has taken up their offer of a vaccine.

“Our aim is to vaccinate as many people as possible with both their first and second doses. The vaccine deployment plan was predicated on an uptake of at least 80% in each cohort – though so far we are significantly exceeding that for care home residents and staff, frontline healthcare staff, and over 80-year-olds in the community. If you are aged over 80 but have not yet received your invite, you should contact your GP surgery so they can assist.

“We hope to see a significant drop in the disease due to the vaccination programme, however this will take a number of months to evaluate fully. In the shorter term, we are monitoring the uptake rate but we also have a comprehensive surveillance system in place to monitor outcome of vaccine efficacy and disease reduction.

“Each health board is working hard to get the vaccine into people’s arms as quickly as possible, and everyone eligible will be offered the vaccine as we work our way through the priority groups.”

Background:

Uptake rates for the COVID-19 vaccine so far are higher than the flu vaccine programme in 2019-20 and 2020-21, which was 79% for those aged over 65 in 2020.

Our deployment plan sets out our plan for how we will roll out vaccinations in Scotland to vaccinate 4.5 million people.

Categories
Carers Coronavirus Mental Health Social Security

Helping Vulnerable Young People Through COVID-19

Almost £1 million to support people into work.

Funding to help more vulnerable young people across Scotland into work has been announced by Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Part of the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee, the £986,702 investment will provide specialist pre-employment support for an additional 1,300 16 and 17-year-olds.

Two existing programmes delivered in partnership with the third sector – Our Future Now and Discovering Your Potential – will provide the support.

Ms Hyslop said:

“This pandemic continues to hit us hard – especially our young people who are facing fewer opportunities, and even more so for those who are vulnerable and have recently left school.

“As part of our national mission to create jobs, and through our Young Person’s Guarantee, we must all work together to help this generation who have been caught so cruelly in the eye of the coronavirus (COVID-19) storm.

“These two dedicated programmes, delivered in partnership with the third sector, will allow us to help even more young people access the support they need to build their confidence and develop valuable skills that employers require.”

Background:

Vulnerable young people are defined as those with multiple barriers to employment. This includes:

  • young people at risk of not being in education, employment, or training
  • young carers
  • young care-experienced people
  • young people with disabilities
  • young people with previous convictions
  • young homeless people
  • young people mental health issues
  • young refugees

Further information regarding the Young Person’s Guarantee can be found here.

Inspiring Scotland (who deliver Our Future Now) will receive funding of £500,702.

For further information please contact enquiries@inspiringscotland.org.uk.

The Young Person’s Consortium, which includes Barnardo’s, Action for Children, and The Princes Trust, deliver Discovering Your Potential. They will receive funding of £486,000.

For further information please contact tommy.mcdade@barnardos.org.uk.

Categories
Children Community Safety Coronavirus Education Health Public Health

New Measures to Tackle Virus

Supervised quarantine and expansion of testing as gradual schools return announced.

A series of new measures aimed at driving down coronavirus (COVID-19) rates in Scotland have been announced.

Current restrictions, including the ‘stay-at-home’ requirement, are set to remain in place until at least the end of February and schools will continue to be closed to most children for the rest of this month.

Nurseries and Primaries 1 to 3 are, however, now scheduled to return full-time on 22 February, subject to final confirmation two weeks from now that sufficient progress in tackling the virus has been achieved.

In an update to Parliament the First Minister confirmed that a managed quarantine system for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland regardless of which country they have come from will be introduced as soon as practicably possible.

In addition to guarding against the increased importation of new cases, access to testing to find cases and interrupt transmission already taking place in Scotland will be stepped up:

  • from the middle of February, routine testing of healthcare workers will be expanded to cover patient-facing primary care workers such as GPs, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists, as will testing for all patient-facing staff who work in hospices
  • from later this month, regular testing will be offered to support the return to schools and nurseries. Senior phase secondary school students, and all staff in primary, secondary and special schools, including school-based ELC staff, will be able to benefit from routine at-home testing two times a week
  • certain workplaces where the risk of transmission is greater and which provide essential or critical services, such as those within the food processing and distribution sectors and staff within emergency service control rooms, will also be supported to introduce routine workforce testing
  • targeted community testing will continue to be expanded – so that testing is available to people locally, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms
  • from mid-February tests will also be offered to all close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-enabling Test and Protect teams to identify their contacts and track, and break further, chains of transmission

In order to promote people’s ability to self-isolate when necessary, financial support will be significantly expanded to include all workers earning the Real Living Wage or less, as well as those in receipt of a council tax reduction because of low income. The £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant will also be extended to people who cannot work because someone they have caring responsibilities for is asked to self-isolate.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“As levels of the virus continue to fall in Scotland, it becomes ever more important that we stop the virus from being imported again. The threat of new variants is real and we must be ever-more vigilant.

“That is why we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from.

“We want to work with the UK Government to avoid travellers sidestepping restrictions and arriving in other parts of the UK before travelling to Scotland, however the most effective approach to prevent this and to stop new variants being imported is for the UK Government to introduce a compulsory quarantine for anyone travelling into the UK from overseas.

“Since we still have work to do these measures will not be introduced this week and more detail will follow shortly.

“We believe that targeted community testing can play a particularly valuable role in communities where prevalence is starting to rise rapidly which is why we have expanded our testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission.

“Lockdown is starting to slow down the virus. But we also need to pick up the pace in our vaccination programme. We are doing that and will accelerate the programme further over the next fortnight – providing that we have sufficient supplies of the vaccine – as we work towards being able to vaccinate 400,000 people a week by the end of the month. We are making rapid progress in protecting those who are most at risk from COVID-19.”

On schooling, the First Minister added:

“I am acutely aware of the pressure school closures is putting on working parents and on family life more generally.

“Our room for manoeuvre, given the current state of the pandemic, is limited. But the government is determined to use every inch of headroom we have to get children back to school.

“Based on the advice of our expert advisers, if we all agree to abide with the lockdown restrictions for a bit longer so that our progress in suppressing the virus continues, we can begin a phased, albeit gradual, return to school from 22 February.”

Background

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stay at home guidance – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Community testing schemes have already been agreed across seven local authorities, within the health board areas of Fife, Grampian and Ayrshire and Arran, with agreed community testing proposals across the majority of mainland Local Authority areas expected to be agreed by the end of the week.

Categories
Business Community Coronavirus Environment

Budget to Support Net-Zero Transformation

Record funding to deliver Scotland’s green recovery.

The Scottish Government will invest a record £1.9 billion in tackling climate change and creating good, green jobs in 2021/22.

Delivery of a ground-breaking £1.6 billion investment to transform heat and energy efficiency of buildings will get under way, directly supporting up to 5,000 jobs and tackling fuel poverty while rapidly accelerating the decarbonisation of an area which makes up a quarter of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Other highlights include delivering the first wave of the £2 billion Low Carbon Fund, including, in the first year alone, £14 million for the Green Jobs Fund. The heat in buildings budget will increase by £30 million to £213.4 million, while spending in forestry has been increased by £26.9 million to £121.2 million.

Further investment will support the delivery of major, multi-year commitments, including:

  • a £250 million peatland restoration programme
  • £120 million for zero-emission buses
  • over £500 million for Active Travel
  • £70 million to improve waste and recycling infrastructure
  • over £500 million for bus priority infrastructure.

To ensure Scotland realises the full benefits of COP26 in Glasgow, £8 million will be targeted to showcase the country’s global leadership in tackling climate change, accelerate climate goals both domestically and globally, and develop Scotland’s international influence whilst attracting green investment and innovation. An ongoing commitment to support countries most affected by the climate emergency will be met with £3 million for international climate justice.

Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“This is a Budget which rightly focuses on tackling the COVID-19 crisis and supporting our people, health service and economy in the immediate term, but it also lays the foundations to rebuild a fairer, stronger, and greener Scotland.

“Our commitment to tackling the twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss is unwavering and this cross-government investment ensures we support the transformational change required to become net-zero by 2045 – doing so in a way that protects our environment, creates good, green jobs and ensures no-one is left behind.

“Our commitment to ensuring Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19 is green has been prioritised despite the significant financial challenges of COVID-19, delays to the UK Budget, the UK Government Spending Review worsening our capital position and key powers remaining reserved to Westminster.

“2021 is a vital year for climate action and COP26 in Glasgow puts Scotland at the centre of a global to protect our people and planet. This Budget enhances Scotland’s role as an international climate leader, backing up the world’s toughest climate target framework with on-the-ground delivery.”

Categories
Children Community Coronavirus Social Security

Tackling Poverty and Inequality

Increased Budget investment for a Fairer Scotland.

Tackling deep-seated poverty and inequality will be supported by increased funding from the 2021-22 Scottish Budget.

To ensure all children have the best start in life, £68 million will be invested in the Scottish Child Payment, and £53 million will fund universal Free School Meals to all children in primary one, two and three.

Communities impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will continue to be supported through funds aimed at helping them recover and rebuild.

The 2021-22 Scottish Budget includes:

  • a near doubling of spending through the Tackling Child Poverty fund with £23.3 million of investment, and providing £6 million to local authorities to continue providing a school clothing grant worth at least £100 to every eligible child
  • £3.6 billion for social security to carers and those on low incomes
  • £150 million for fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures
  • £711.6 million for affordable housing and a new £55 million programme to support town centres
  • £32 million to promote equality and human rights, including actions to ensure this approach is embedded across government and the wider public sector
  • £15 million to further support children and young people with Additional Support Needs
  • more than £26 million of investment in the vital Third Sector
  • £81.6 million for projects to support community regeneration, town centres and 20 minute neighbourhoods – where people can meet their needs within a 20 minute walk from their home
  • over £12 million to support the Ending Homelessness Together action plan, including specific actions to scale up Housing First, end the use of communal night shelters, advance legislative protections for people experiencing domestic abuse and explore alternative routes to reduce migrant homelessness


Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“We are putting tackling poverty at the heart of the Budget. In two weeks we introduce our new game-changing Scottish Child Payment, backed by investment of £68 million.

“As well as mitigating the impact of UK Government welfare cuts, we are supporting carers, young people, and low income families through our range of new benefits. This year also sees the start of the introduction of the first disability benefits as we continue to establish a social security system that is based on dignity and respect and investing in our people.”

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“In addition to responding to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this budget is investing in actions designed to tackle deep-seated poverty and inequality including almost doubling our child poverty budget to £23.3 million. This means we will deliver our £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund commitment in full, continuing with investment in actions including our Parental Employability Support Fund, Access to Childcare Fund and innovative Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland programme.

“Funding for more affordable, greener housing is at the heart of the Scottish Budget, contributing to our net-zero ambitions while helping to ensure everyone has a home that meets their needs.

“We will also invest over £26 million in the local and national Third Sector infrastructure, support the capacity and growth of social enterprises, and ensure the Third Sector can help people and communities recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Background

Scottish Budget

Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement

Communities and Local Government 

Categories
Business Community Coronavirus

Rebuilding the Economy

Investing in jobs and skills.

Supporting people into employment and equipping them with skills they need will be at the heart of the economic recovery, backed with £1.1 billion of investment under the proposed Scottish Budget 2021-22.

Additional investment of £125 million will go towards the Young Person’s Guarantee, the National Transition Training Fund and other initiatives ensuring the future workforce has the skills needed for a green recovery and supporting those at risk of long term unemployment. This includes personalised employment support and retraining for those who have been made unemployed or are at risk of redundancy due to the pandemic.

Since November the Young Person’s Guarantee has provided funding for around 18,000 opportunities for people aged between 16 and 24 to help them into work.

Other funding for 2021-22 includes:

  • £230 million for Skills Development Scotland to deliver training
  • £100 million Green Jobs Fund to be delivered over the next Parliament
  • £27 million for national employability service Fair Start Scotland
  • £21 million towards Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships
  • £5 million for Community Jobs Scotland to create job opportunities for unemployed people aged 16 to 29

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted economies throughout the world and while Scotland’s economy has performed slightly better than the UK as a whole, the necessary restrictions to suppress the virus are continuing to impact economic activity.

“As well as providing emergency support to businesses to help them through this crisis, it is vital that we plan for the future. By providing our workforce with the support, skills and experience needed to drive a green economic recovery, we will ensure that our investment in a just transition protects and creates jobs.

“The Young Person Guarantee has to go hand in hand with economic recovery in Scotland. During this crisis we have taken action to support our young people who have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. This funding allows us to build on that success and meet additional demand.

“It also provides opportunities for those already in employment to upskill or retrain and supporting those who are further from the labour market in partnership with local authorities, third and private sectors to ensure no one is left behind.

“Underpinning everything will be our commitment to working in partnership with employers to invest in workforce development, create diverse and inclusive workplaces and pay people fairly for the work they do.”

Background

The Young Person’s Guarantee aims to give every young person the opportunity to study, take up an apprenticeship, a job or work experience or participate in formal volunteering within the next two years. £60 million was allocated to support the Young Person’s Guarantee in 2020/21.

Information about the 18,000 opportunities the Young Person’s Guarantee has provided funding for has been published. 

Categories
Children Coronavirus Education Health Mental Health

Physical and Emotional Welfare of Children

COVID support for teachers.

Hundreds of teachers who are new in post, or working in pastoral or child protection roles, are to be offered support to manage the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council for Scotland have partnered with social enterprise organisation KnowYouMore who will provide coaches for the new online one-to-one sessions. Sessions are already being offered to headteachers as part of a support package funded by the Scottish Government in 2020.

The new programme now includes support for more than 500 teachers in their first four years of post-probation to discuss any personal or professional pressures they are facing as a result of delivering remote learning.

Education Secretary John Swinney, said:

“COVID-19 has placed unprecedented strain on school staff and none more so than those who have pastoral care and child protection responsibilities ensuring the emotional welfare of our children and young people as we recover from the pandemic.

“The teacher support package I announced last year will complement the existing professional training and support already taking place for staff in schools across Scotland. Teachers need to be part of a supportive online community and have the space to stop and think about issues that are causing concern.”

Gayle Gorman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Education Scotland Chief Executive, said:

“Education Scotland is fully committed to ensuring the education workforce feel supported and I’m delighted this next phase of our coaching and mentoring offer is available more widely.

“We have found that it really benefits teachers to know there is someone with a listening ear who are there for them. Our 1:1 coaching and mentoring sessions for Headteachers have proved a really popular way of supporting their wellbeing and now the offer is also open to post probation teachers, teachers new to role and those with pastoral responsibilities. I would encourage more practitioners to sign up.”

Ken Muir, Chief Executive, of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, said:

“GTC Scotland is pleased to be working with our partners in education to deliver this important coaching to support hard-pressed teachers who are doing all they can to maintain quality learning in challenging circumstances. In addition to this coaching, GTC Scotland itself has invested heavily in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of education professionals and will continue to do so throughout the pandemic.”

Background

In September, 2020, the Scottish Government offered school staff new support as part of a £1.5 million funding package to help manage additional pressures as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Categories
Business Coronavirus

More Financial Support for Businesses

£7.3 million for travel agents, brewers and indoor football centres.

Three new funds to support businesses uniquely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will launch this week.

From today, local authorities will start to approach brewers, travel agents and indoor football centres inviting them to claim grants of £10,000 or £25,000. A higher payment of £30,000 will be available to the largest brewers.

Councils will brief around 400 eligible businesses on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details. Owners do not need to apply, or contact the local authority.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“We started 2021 in a way none of us envisaged nor wanted, with additional measures in place to limit the spread of the new strain of COVID-19, protect our NHS and save lives.

“These funds recognise the unprecedented challenges that brewers, travel agents and indoor football centres have experienced since March as a result of necessary restrictions.

“We are acutely aware that this support can never compensate for the full impact on business, but we must work within the resources that are available to us, and we continue to respond to the evolving economic challenges arising from the pandemic.”

Background

The Scottish Government has allocated £3 billion in business support since the start of the pandemic on top of support available through the UK Government.

Grants available:

• £10,000 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £18,000
• £25,000 for premises which have a rateable value of £18,001 or above
• £30,000 for brewers only operating a property with a rateable value of over £51,000 or production over 5,000HL in 2019

More information on the Brewers Support Fund

More information on Support for Travel Agents

More information on Support for Indoor Football Centres

Categories
Coronavirus Education Social Security Universities

Support for Students in Hardship

£30 million of additional funding.

Students experiencing hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be supported by £20 million of Scottish Government funding.

A further £10 million has also been allocated to universities and colleges for income lost in providing rent rebates.

To complement the additional £30 million, the Scottish Funding Council is also repurposing £5 million of student support funding towards discretionary funding for FE students in the college sector.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The impact of the pandemic on students has been significant. Not only has there been disruption to their education, we know that many students face financial difficulties with accommodation, associated costs or challenges in getting jobs. This additional £20 million will help to alleviate the financial pressure and stress facing many of our students.

“We are also supporting institutions, many of which have lost revenue by giving students rent refunds or rebates, with an additional £10 million.

“This announcement builds on the £37 million package of support the Scottish Government has already provided to support students during the pandemic.”

Matt Crilly, President of NUS Scotland, said:

“NUS Scotland welcomes this crucial support from the Scottish Government at a time when students are struggling. We know many of the traditional sources of student income have been decimated during the pandemic, so it is a relief to know there will be additional funding for those experiencing hardship.

“This support is essential in helping Scotland uphold its commitment to fair access to education. While Scotland has made important advances in recent years towards widening access to further and higher education, the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and threatens to erode this progress. This funding helps ensure we are not only supporting students from all backgrounds into education, but also helping them stay in education.”

Shona Struthers, chief executive officer of Colleges Scotland, said:

“We welcome any additional funding to support college students across Scotland at this incredibly difficult time. Many of our students are learning from home and with additional financial hardship caused by the pandemic – we are sure that the much-needed additional funds from Scottish Government will prove beneficial to students during this lockdown period. Colleges Scotland will work on behalf of the sector to highlight ongoing challenges.”

Background

Details on how this £20 million assistance for students will be distributed will be confirmed shortly.

More information on the support available for students is available online.

Categories
Business Coronavirus

Supporting the Wedding Sector

Increased fund to go live this week.

A £25 million fund to support the wedding sector and its supply chain will open to applications this week.

In recognition of the ongoing challenges faced by the sector, a further £10 million has been added to the £15 million announced in December.

Launching on Thursday (28 January) the fund will provide one-off grants of up to £25,000 for eligible businesses in the sector impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including wedding venues, photographers, caterers and suppliers.

The fund will be managed regionally by Scotland’s three enterprise agencies – South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Finance Minister Kate Forbes said:

“This £25 million fund will ensure one-off grants of up to £25,000 reach eligible business as quickly as possible and there is no equivalent fund in other parts of the UK.

“The pandemic has had a severe impact on Scotland’s wedding sector, and we know that the current restrictions, while entirely necessary in our fight against COVID-19, continue to take their toll on the sector. I’d encourage all those who think they are eligible to find out more about applying – we want to help as many businesses survive this pandemic as we can.

“We have allocated over £3 billion to help businesses since the start of this pandemic. However, we know it can never compensate for the unprecedented affect this has had on business. We will continue to work with the resources available to us to protect businesses and build a stronger recovery for Scotland.”

The Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance’s (SWIA) Co-Founder Caroline Inchyra said:

“On behalf of the Scottish wedding industry, we are delighted that the sector has secured £25 million funding from the Scottish Government.

“We must thank the Scottish Government for recognising the wedding industry as a vital sector in the Scottish economy, and the enterprise agencies for working with us to ensure this fund has as much impact as possible.

“This funding will give renewed hope to the many businesses who have been unable to operate in a viable way for almost a year.

“The SWIA looks forward to a continued positive working relationship with Scottish Government as the wedding industry navigates a path through the most difficult trading conditions this highly resilient sector has ever faced.”

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) said:

“At this extremely difficult time, all three enterprise agencies are pleased to be working with the Scottish Government to offer support through the Scottish Wedding Industry Fund.

“This fund aims to support those businesses whose main income comes from the wedding sector. The industry supports a significant number of jobs, with over 26,000 weddings and civil partnerships taking place in Scotland in 2019.

“The wedding industry is particularly vital to the South of Scotland, which in 2019 hosted almost 5,000 ceremonies – more than 18% of the national total – and in Gretna Green has one of the most iconic wedding locations in the world.

“This is one of the most challenging times any of us has ever faced but all three enterprise agencies are fully committed to supporting as many local businesses as possible in to survive this pandemic and hopefully look forward to a brighter future.”

Background:

Visit Find Business Support for more information.

Businesses must be in one of the following sectors;

  • Venues
  • Videographers
  • Photographers
  • Marquee Hire (includes tipi)
  • Wedding Attire
  • Florists & Event Stylists
  • Caterers
  • Cakes
  • Transport (not including taxis)
  • Event Supplies (Cater hire, decorative items)
  • Hairdressers & Make-up Artists (Non-mobile)
  • Entertainment (Band, DJ, Piper, String Quartet)
  • Jewellery Designers/Makers/Sellers
  • Wedding Exhibitions/Events
  • Wedding Publications or Listing Sites
  • Celebrants
  • Wedding Stationery
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Categories
Carers Coronavirus Health

Extra Funding to Support Unpaid Carers

Additional £750,000 investment will help people take a break from caring roles.

An investment of £750,000 in local carer centres will increase support for unpaid carers of all ages, helping them to take a break from caring and access other much-needed help.

This recognises some of the challenges faced by unpaid carers, with many regular sources of support having stopped or moved online due to the pandemic.

It also comes in response to concerns about increasing pressure on carers – particularly while many traditional respite breaks are restricted or unavailable.

The funding will allow local carer centres to react flexibly to the needs of carers in their areas. Feedback from national and local carer representatives suggests there is a demand for extending existing services such as befriending, counselling or online support groups, as well as offering additional grants for carers which can be used for expenditure such as leisure equipment, hobbies or entertainment subscriptions.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Unpaid carers play a vital role in society but without the right support, caring relationships can break down, which can result additional health or social care support being needed for the cared for person, their carer, or both.

“This funding will enable carer centres to decide how best to promptly meet local need. It is designed to ensure more unpaid carers – including young carers – can benefit from a much-needed break and emotional support.”

On behalf of Scotland’s National Carer Organisations, Don Williamson, Chief Executive of Shared Care Scotland, said:

“COVID-19 has made life hugely challenging for unpaid carers, many of whom are struggling on with little or no opportunity to have any breaks from their caring. We therefore very much welcome this additional funding from Scottish Government which will go towards increasing the capacity of local carer services so they can provide support to more carers, including with accessing breaks, to help them over the particularly difficult winter months.”

Categories
Coronavirus Health

Independent Hospitals to Support Elective Care

Additional capacity to ensure urgent treatment continues.

Five independent hospitals are supporting NHS Scotland with elective care from this week, to ensure clinically urgent patients can continue to be seen and treated.

This additional support comes on top of the extra capacity already being provided by NHS Golden Jubilee and NHS Louisa Jordan for a number of elective treatments and outpatient appointments.

Following arrangements set out in the NHS Winter Preparedness Plan, the private sector hospitals will primarily support planned urgent care and cancer treatment, including breast surgery, urology, and gynaecology.

This will allow those who require planned urgent elective care to continue to be seen and treated, enabling health boards to concentrate on the front line response to COVID-19 and A&E services.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“The additional capacity provided by the independent sector, NHS Golden Jubilee and NHS Louisa Jordan is very welcome, and I am extremely grateful to all staff involved for their continued hard work.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with Health Boards to ensure those requiring urgent elective and vital cancer care can be seen as quickly and safely as possible.

“Even as we expand our vaccination and testing programmes, the number of COVID patients within our hospitals remains very high – so it is absolutely vital that people continue to stay home, protect the NHS, and save lives.”

Background:

NHS Winter Preparedness Plan 2020-21

As of Monday 18 January, the independent hospitals that will support NHS capacity are:

  • Albyn NHS Grampian
  • Kings Park NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Tayside
  • Nuffield NHS Lanarkshire
  • Spire NHS Lothian
  • Ross Hall NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

More than 10,000 procedures have been performed at NHS Golden Jubilee since services recommenced in July, across orthopaedics, ophthalmology, heart and lung surgery, endoscopy and diagnostic imaging, including:

  • Over 5,000 cardiothoracic and cardiology procedures – both planned and emergency
  • 1,516 orthopaedic patients
  • 2,114 ophthalmology patients (cataracts)
  • 1422 endoscopies
  • In addition, the recently opened NHS Golden Jubilee Eye Centre will perform more than 18,000 procedures each year

NHS Golden Jubilee has also carried out 565 urgent cancer operations to support the NHSScotland recovery plan.

NHS Louisa Jordan has been working with four NHS Boards to provide over 19,000 outpatient appointments across 14 specialties. These include orthopaedics, diagnostic imaging such as CT scanning and general x-ray, dermatology, oral medicine, plastics, rheumatology, breast clinics and occupational health services.

Over 19,000 NHS and social care staff have been vaccinated at the site, including 5,000 on Saturday.

Over 5,200 individuals from NHS Boards, the Royal College, Universities and Colleges have also been trained using the healthcare facilities and simulations on site.

Categories
Coronavirus Health Public Health

Strengthening Lockdown Restrictions

Measures to maximise the impact of lockdown.

Further measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and limit non-essential contact will be introduced this weekend.

Nobody who lives in a Level 4 area should leave or remain outside their home except for essential purposes.

Working from home arrangements will be strengthened through updated statutory guidance. Working from home should now be the default position for all businesses and services, and only those who cannot do their job from home should be asked to go to the workplace.

From Saturday non-essential click and collect retail services will be prohibited in Level 4 areas and further changes will be put in place to how services open for essential purposes operate. Timeslots will be required for collection and people should not enter a store to collect an item. Businesses providing takeaway food will also operate on a ‘non-entry’ basis only, meaning customers cannot enter the premises when placing or collecting orders.

Restrictions banning the consumption of alcohol in public places will also be introduced.

In a statement to Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The situation we face in relation to the virus remains extremely serious.

“We must continue to do everything possible to reduce case numbers – this is essential to relieve the pressure on our NHS and to save lives.

“Both individually and collectively, these additional measures – in further reducing the interactions that allow the virus to spread – will help our essential efforts to suppress it.

“At this critical and dangerous moment, please: Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”

Background

The new regulations apply to all parts of Scotland currently in lockdown and will come into effect at 00.01 on Saturday

Read the Coronavirus (COVID-19): stay at home guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister’s statement 13 January 2021 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Click and Collect services offered by essential retailers can continue but will be suspended across retail other than for:

  • clothing and footwear stores
  • homeware stores
  • garden centres/plant nurseries
  • baby equipment shops
  • electrical goods (including repairs)
  • key cutting and shoe repair shops
  • bookstores
Categories
Children Coronavirus Education

Extra Remote Learning Funding for Schools

More teachers, digital devices and support for families.

A new package of £45 million will help local authorities to provide support to schools and families as they deal with the challenges of remote learning during lockdown, Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed today.

Councils may use the funding – sufficient to fund 2,000 additional teachers – for purposes including recruitment of additional staff, additional digital devices or to provide additional family support. This is on top of £160 million already committed for education recovery since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total additional support provided to more than £200 million since the start of the pandemic. Private and third sector day care of children settings will also receive almost £4 million in temporary financial support.

Mr Swinney has also asked HM Inspectors of Education to commence with a national review of the quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country with the first report published next Friday, 22 January.

We will ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to support a safe return including enhancing our testing programme in schools. We expect that pilots of two different testing models – one using in-school testing with Lateral Flow Devices (LFD), and another involving at-home testing using PCR tests – will begin in a small number of schools from next week.

Mr Swinney said:

“I appreciate only too well the additional burden home learning is placing on many of our children and their families. After the last period of school building closures we commissioned an Equity Audit, published today, to better understand the impact on children’s learning and health and wellbeing, particularly disadvantaged pupils.

“Since the start of the pandemic our funding has led to an additional 1,400 teachers and over 200 support staff being appointed. The new funding can be used to recruit further staff – which might include teachers, classroom assistants, administrative staff, home/school link workers or other support workers – as well as the resources that families and schools need to support home learning, including additional digital devices where there is any remaining unmet need, and other home learning resources.

“The quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country will be reviewed by HM Inspectors of Education. A programme of ‘national overviews’, will commence immediately and last for the duration of remote learning. These will seek to identify what is working well and where further improvement is required. These overviews will be published weekly to ensure they are available for everyone to learn and build from, starting week ending 22 January.

“I am aware that remaining open for very small numbers of children creates pressure for some childcare providers, and I can therefore confirm we will make temporary financial support of up to £3.8 million available for each four week period of restrictions to day care of children providers and childminding settings caring for 12 or more children who remain open for vulnerable and keyworker children during these restrictions. We will confirm details as soon as possible.

“If the evidence tells us we can get some pupils back safely, we will do that, and we will ensure the package of mitigations in schools remains robust and tailored to the circumstances we face. As part of that work, we expect that pilots of two different testing models – one using in-school testing with Lateral Flow Devices, and another involving at-home testing using PCR tests – will begin in a small number of schools from next week, helping to inform options for wider rollout.

“I am grateful to our hardworking, dedicated teaching professionals for their intense work to plan, organise and deliver learning. The virus will be beaten, and schools will return fully to intensify our efforts to achieve excellence and equity for all of Scotland’s children.”

Background

Advice and support for parents and carers is available at the Parent Club.

The Equity Audit is available here.

Further information on the support for private and third sector childcare providers is available here.

Categories
Business Coronavirus

Extending Support For Hospitality, Retail And Leisure

January grants top-up announced.

A significant top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level 4 restrictions will be paid following an announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of:

  • £25,000 for larger hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000
  • £9,000 for larger retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the 4-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic top-up.

For the majority, this top-up will be combined with the next tranche of payment for the Strategic Framework Business Fund due to go to businesses on 25 January.

Businesses that haven’t yet applied for either of these funds should submit an application as soon as possible through their local authority website. Applications are now open.

Ms Forbes said:

“Since the start of the pandemic Scottish Government support for business and the economy has reached almost £3 billion – more than a third of our total coronavirus (COVID-19) funding, demonstrating our commitment to provide as much help as we possibly can to our businesses.

“As promised, this additional support for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses will be available this month, in some cases doubling or tripling the amount of support we are providing. Applications are open now and payment will be made this month.

“Crucially this essential funding will also help to close the gaps in UK wide support for these impacted sectors and our one-off support for larger hospitality premises of £25,000 is considerably more generous than the £9,000 grant on offer in England.

“I’d encourage all eligible businesses to apply through their local authority if they have not done so already. Of course we are acutely aware that this support can never compensate for the full impact on business, but we must work within the resources that are available to us, and we continue to respond to the evolving economic challenges arising from the pandemic.”

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium said:

“Shops and high streets across Scotland have been left reeling by coronavirus. These enhanced cash grants for retail business are a financial lifeline which will help non-essential stores through the current phase of being unable to open and trade.

“There isn’t a taxpayer-funded support scheme which can replace the potential losses of store closures, so it is very encouraging that the Finance Secretary has listened and responded positively.”

Background:

  • larger hospitality businesses are those with a rateable value of £51,001 or more
  • smaller hospitality businesses are those with a rateable value of £51,000 or less
  • larger retail and leisure businesses are those with a rateable value of £51,001
  • smaller retail and leisure businesses are those with a rateable value of £51,000 or less

For more information visit Find Business Support 

Categories
Children Coronavirus Education Public Health

Remote Learning For Schools

Guidance for teachers and families published.

Guidance for teachers and families to support remote learning in schools has been published by Education Scotland.

It has been created in partnership through the Education Recovery Group and sets out a shared understanding of the key principles of remote learning, the support and resources available for teachers and families and what children and young people are entitled to.

This is in addition to remote learning guidance already produced by local authorities for schools to plan and prepare.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“Our national e-learning offer, launched in June 2020, is already strengthening the remote and e-learning option available to schools. All authorities and schools in Scotland are already able to access to live, recorded and supported learning resources, while more than 50,000 devices such as laptops have been distributed to children and young people to help with remote learning.

“I am grateful for the huge amount of work that has already been done to prepare for next week and more is being done in order to continuously improve the national remote learning offer. This guidance sets out a range of entitlements for children and young people during the period of remote learning. It highlights the importance of achieving an appropriate balance of live learning and independent activity and an entitlement to ongoing dialogue, reflection and feedback with teachers.”

Background

Read the guidance.

Categories
Children Coronavirus

40,000 Baby Boxes delivered

Support for new parents.

More than 40,000 Baby Boxes have been delivered to expectant parents this year.

It brings the total number delivered since the start of the scheme in August 2017 to 163,397.

The most recent available figures indicate that around 93% of expectant parents are taking up the opportunity to receive a Baby Box.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said:

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has been challenging for all of us, and particularly so for expectant parents and new mums and dads. Face-to-face support from family and friends has had to be restricted for safety reasons and the pandemic has added to financial worries for many families.

“Supporting new parents this year especially has been vital. The Baby Box, which ensures that every family with a newborn has access to essential items, is part of our commitment to giving every child the best start in life.”

Jackie Tolland, Chief Executive of Parent Network Scotland, said:

“Having been involved in the Baby Box since its inception, I am really pleased that the feedback has been positive. We need to do everything we can as a country to ensure that all children receive the opportunity to have the best start in life.”

Background

Each box contains a large number of essential items for parents and babies, including a selection of clothes from newborn up to the age of six months, a digital thermometer, and bath towel. The box itself comes with a mattress and can be used as a safe sleep space.

Find out more at Parent Club Scotland