Ebrief

Thursday 17 January 2019

Brexit

Scotland and EuropeAnother week closer to our exit from the European Union and the Westminster Government continues to push a deal that no-one wants – the second rejection taking place this week. And the Prime Minister managed to cling onto power.

An invitation has been extended to opposition party leaders and Ian Blackford MP set out the following in a letter to the PM:

For us to enter into that discussion there needs to be a clear indication of willingness on the side of the government for these to be genuine negotiations. That requires a clear gesture of good faith by you and your government.

Discussions around cosmetic changes to your deal, which has now been rejected by Parliament will not move this matter forward.

It is my view that if you are able to confirm that the extension of Article 50, a ruling out of a No Deal Brexit and the option of a second EU referendum would form the basis of those discussions, then we could participate in them. 

Let’s see what is offered!

Student Visit

01.19 cogc students

It was great to meet up with and welcome student representatives from City of Glasgow College (CoGC) to the Scottish Parliament this week.

CoGC Student Association (SA) is a democracy — it’s run by a presidential team and student executive committee, who are all students at City of Glasgow College.

Their Class and Faculty Rep systems ensure feedback from every student reaches the management of the college. As well as supporting students in dealing with academic appeals and college disciplinary procedures.

They also organise trips such as this one to the Parliament and what better way to find out and observe democracy in action.

Sanitary Products

Further funding to increase the number of places where free sanitary products are available has been announced and it’s worth noting that, the Scottish Government became the first government in the world to introduce access to free sanitary products for all students in schools, colleges and universities.

Local authorities will now have more funding to widen the number and range of places free sanitary products are available locally, increasing the roll-out of the Scottish Government’s world leading action and access beyond schools, colleges and universities.

Beginning now and for next financial year, a total of £4 million is being made available to local authorities, who will deliver the expansion. They will work in partnership with other organisations to meet local needs and increase availability.

Rare Diseases

01.19 genetic allianceRepresentatives from Genetic Alliance were in Parliament this week and I took some time to chat to them about their work in Scotland.

There are roughly 300,000 people in Scotland affected by a rare disease.

European Reference Networks (ERNs) connect patients, clinicians and researchers across Europe. They provide the infrastructure that allows knowledge about rare diseases to be shared across borders. ERNs have taken significant effort and investment to develop, and they form the most ambitious pan-European health collaboration.

At present, there are 24 thematic ERNs, involving around 20,000 healthcare professionals in 300 centres of excellence across 26 EU Countries. In Scotland, seven centres of excellence across the following four NHS Trusts: NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; NHS Tayside; Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee; and, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, participate in ERNs. Helping patients and families with a wide range of conditions including rare skin, lung and bone disorders.

Brexit is putting the future of ERNs in jeopardy and it is looking increasingly like clinicians will be required to leave ERNs on 29 March 2019.

You can find out more about the campaign here: https://www.geneticalliance.org.uk/our-work/healthcare-and-delivery/protect-european-reference-networks/

Employment Support

Views are being sought on the detail of a new benefit that aims to help young people with the costs associated with the transition into the workplace.

The proposed Job Grant consists of a one-off cash payment of £250, or £400 for a young person with children, which will be available to those between 16-24 who were out of paid work for six months prior to finding employment.

The grant will assist towards travel costs or could be used for clothing, lunches and other expenses that need to be met by someone entering work after a lengthy period of unemployment and ahead of their first salary.  It will complement wider Scottish Government initiatives that support people into employment, such as Fair Start Scotland.

Find out more here: https://consult.gov.scot/social-security/job-grant-eligibility-criteria-consultation/

Drug Driving

01.19 drug driving graphicScotland’s stringent road safety laws will be strengthened further by the introduction of drug driving limits and roadside testing on 21 October this year.

There will be a zero tolerance approach to eight drugs most associated with illegal use, including cannabis, heroin and cocaine, with limits set at a level where any claims of accidental exposure can be ruled out.

Meanwhile, a list of other drugs associated with medical use will have limits based on impairment and risk to road safety.

This will make it easier to hold drug drivers to account as there will no longer be a requirement to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner.

Regulations laid in the Scottish Parliament, subject to MSPs’ approval, will permit prosecutions where different drug types are found to be above specified levels.

Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have been making preparations and are on track for implementation in October.

Business Support

01.19 business graphicBusinesses will be able to access more than £100 million to help them expand and unlock investment through the next phase of the Scottish Growth Scheme.

Through a variety of appointed fund managers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across Scotland will have the chance to apply for financial support, which includes microfinance loans of up to £25,000, debt or loan finance of up to £100,000, and equity investment in deals of up to £2 million.

As part of this phase of the initiative, Scottish Enterprise has also introduced a loans scheme in the range from £250,000 to £2 million, or up to £5 million in exceptional circumstances, for growth-focused SMEs with a viable business plan and a clear ability to repay the debt.

SMEs seeking to explore this funding should in the first instance contact the relevant Fund Manager or in relation to the new Scottish Enterprise loan scheme, contact Scottish Enterprise directly at https://www.scottish-enterprise.com/

 

 

 

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