Thursday 4 May 2017
Voters across Scotland will go to the polls to decide who runs their local council for the next 5 years.
These are hugely important elections. Councils provide services that are so ingrained in our daily lives – your local schools, your bin collections, road maintenance and social care – that it can be too easy to take them for granted.
I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of using your vote and exercising your democratic right.
We will all be looking on with baited breath for the results and none more so than here in Glasgow.
Green Home Loans
Home-owners can now apply for an interest free loan of up to £32,500 to improve the energy efficiency and use of renewable technologies in their properties.
The Home Energy Scotland Loan Scheme – launched on May 2 – makes a total of £34 million funding available to owner-occupiers and private landlords to install energy efficiency measures, such as external or internal wall insulation, double glazing, boilers, warm air units and other forms of renewable technology that can be used in the home.
The updated scheme has been created by combining two separate and existing programmes, the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland Loans Scheme, and the Home Energy Scotland Renewable Loan Scheme. It contains an up to 25% cash back offer for a limited time.
Individual householders or private sector landlords looking for a loan or further information should call 0808 808 2282, or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-scotland-loan or www.homeenergyscotland.org or www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland for further details.
General practice staff will be given additional training to develop their skills thanks to a £2.5 million investment from the Scottish Government.
The move is part of plans to develop the skills of the whole practice team, making it easier for patients to access the right person at the right time.
Receptionists and practice managers will be able to access training on signposting patients to the most appropriate source of help or advice. This could be a service available in the practice or elsewhere in the community, such as a community pharmacist or a local optician. Staff will also be up-skilled to allow them to take on more of the administrative tasks currently carried out by GPs.
Additional training will also be made available for general practice nurses, so they are better equipped to meet the needs of patients with multiple health conditions. This is part of the move towards developing enhanced nursing roles within general practice.
New figures show an 18 year low in the percentage of offenders reconvicted within a year and the average number of reconvictions per offender.
Reconviction Statistics 2014-15 also show that offenders released from custodial sentences had a higher chance of reoffending than those given a Community Payback Order (CPO).
The reconviction rate for those given CPOs is 4 percentage points lower than in 2011-12, the first full year after they were introduced, and also lower than for the community orders they replaced.
Al-Anon Family Groups were in the Scottish Parliament this week to highlight their work and I stopped by their exhibition stall to chat to them about their work.
It is a worldwide fellowship of men and women affected by someone else’s problem drinking. Its aims are to help these people to a better understanding and way of recovering from the family illness of alcoholism.
There is a very good presence of support offered by Al-Anon throughout the city and I would encourage those who are affected or know of someone affected by this to contact Al-Anon or you can access a list of meetings here: http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/listing/helplineindexday/glasgow?items_per_page=All
Good news this week as the Scottish Government announced investment of £8.35 million from its SPRUCE fund to support the refurbishment of vacant office space in Glasgow city centre.
It’s a move that will deliver around 71,000 ft2 of new high quality Grade “A” office space for the city as well as create and support hundreds of new jobs.
With total investment expected be around £16.4 million, Tarn Crag Limited (TCL), a subsidiary of commercial property investor Praxis, will refurbish Dalmore House, a landmark building on St Vincent Street. It is expected the refurbished office space will be able to accommodate more than 500 workers.
Construction works have now commenced with the offices due to be ready for lease by October this year
Glasgow has a shortage of high quality office space and this latest investment will increase the city’s stock, making it an even more appealing proposition to locate and do business in.
The fact that it will support 196 new jobs in construction plus training and apprenticeship places in the city is very welcome news and will boost the local economy.
Chinese Community Visit
What a wonderful visit this week from members of the Chinese Community which was kindly co-ordinated by Michael Kam from ng Homes. The group including John Thorburn, Vice-Chairman, ng homes, participated in a tour of the Parliamentary complex including the debating chamber and sat in on the afternoon’s chamber business.
Myself and Bob Doris MSP met up with them for a coffee and chat and I was overwhelmed by the warm reception. It was particularly lovely to meet up with Ron and Joy Liu from Paisley whom I assisted more than 30 years ago when I was a local Councillor. They very generously presented me with a beautiful Chinese knot.
Social Security Panel
As the Convener of the Social Security Committee I wanted to remind you all about the call for volunteers to take part in the Scottish Government Experience Panels which will close on 12 May.
The Scottish Government will become responsible for some of the benefits currently paid out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
They want to work with people who have recent experience of these benefits so that they can design a new social security system with – and for – the people of Scotland.
Complete the registration form online or print out the registration form and return it by post to, Freepost SOCIAL SECURITY EXPERIENCE PANELS. If you need additional support to register, you can call us on Freephone 0800 029 4974 and we will help you to complete it over the phone.
The Freephone line is open between the following times:
Monday – Friday: 0830 – 1800 and Saturday: 0900 – 1700
Phone line translation is available if required. British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact us via www.contactscotland-bsl.org. Text phone users can call using the 18001 prefix or SMS users on 07467 447375.
To join the Experience Panels, you will need to fill out the registration form with your details so that you can be contacted about taking part in future Experience Panels research.
The information that you provide will be used for research purposes, will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared outwith the Scottish Government.
A new scheme will reduce women’s risk of developing breast cancer by helping them lose weight and become more active.
The £1 million pilot scheme, funded by the Scottish Government, will be led by the University of Dundee as a research trial and supported by the charity Breast Cancer Now. Women aged over 50 attending their routine breast screening appointments will be asked to take part in the trial, ActWELL, which will run in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Breast Cancer Now is looking for 24 volunteers to train as lifestyle coaches to support the trial. They will work with women to help them make lasting changes focussed around physical activity, diet and weight.
Around 4,600 women in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and around 1,000 will lose their life to the disease. It is estimated that 38% of breast cancer cases in post-menopausal women could be prevented by lifestyle changes linked to inactivity, poor diet, alcohol consumption and weight.
Anyone interested in volunteering as a lifestyle coach can get full details and an application form on the Breast Cancer Now website.
The closing date is 12 May. Successful applicants will receive full training and successful applicants must be available for their first training sessions on June 12 and 13.