Thursday 4 June 2020
Black Lives Matter
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis is deplorable and in direct response to the actions of those police officers we have witnessed protests against the actions of those officers and indeed all forms of racism take place across the USA and other cities around the world.
I am utterly shocked and truly appalled by the actions of the police officers involved and find the comments and actions of President Trump in direct response to the murder of Mr Floyd and the protests abhorrent and dangerous.
I believe that this incident is symptomatic of ongoing prejudices faced by black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. The actions of the police officers involved have resulted in mass protest and civil unrest at the time of the COVID-19 global pandemic, to which people from BAME backgrounds are often already exposed to the worst of the health and economic consequences.
My SNP MP colleagues in Westminster have rightly called on the UK Government to cease exporting riot control equipment to the USA and I wholeheartedly support this step.
Demonstrations have taken place in cities all over the world with the powerful message that #BlackLivesMatter, and I stand firm in my position that there is no place for racism in Scotland or anywhere else.
However, I would encourage anyone seeking to protest to please remember we are still in the throws of the Covid-19 pandemic and we must all stick to Scottish Government guidance and stay at home, social distancing of no less than 2 metres and regularly washing our hands to continue to suppress the spread of the virus.
Test and Protect
I understand that people may be worried about the risks of potential phone scams with the Test and Protect system but the NHS already has a number of protections in place to stop potential fraudsters and ensure all information is kept confidential.
Contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify who they are calling by name. They will not ask for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything.
The tracers will be supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform, allowing teams to identify outbreaks and reduce transmission for high risk groups.
Trace and Protect is one way we will tackle this pandemic, but physical distancing and good hand hygiene continues to play a huge role as minimise the spread of infection.
You can access more information on the Test and Protect scheme here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-test-and-protect-summary/
The UK government must extend the Brexit transition period in light of coronavirus particularly with new analysis showing billions of pounds could be wiped from the Scottish economy.
The transition arrangements currently keep the UK close to the EU and can be extended for two years – beyond 31 December – if the UK Government asks for an extension by the end of this month.
But a new study from the Scottish Government says if an extension is not agreed, Scottish GDP could be up to 1.1% lower after two years. The cumulative loss of economic activity from leaving the EU would be up to £3 billion over those two years – on top of the devastating effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The paper indicates there will be further major costs from Brexit for years to come and also highlights that without an extension or having a free trade deal in place, Scotland’s agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing sectors will be especially badly hit.
You can read the study here https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-19-case-extending-brexit-transition-period/
Best Start Grant
Covering the costs of a child starting school can be tough on family finances, especially in the current climate and I wanted to highlight the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant which is open for applications.
A one-off £250 payment is currently open to eligible families, with a child who was born between 1st March 2015 and 29th February 2016, who will be starting primary school later this year.
The School Age payment can be used for anything from a new pair of school shoes or arts and crafts materials for children.
The Scottish Government are determined that every child, regardless of circumstances, gets the best start in life. So in these unprecedented and difficult times, I’d encourage families across the constituency and beyond to check what other financial support they may be eligible for too – such as school clothing grants or free school meals.
You can access further information by calling 0800 182 2222 to find out more or apply.
NHS Looking Ahead
The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport set out the next steps for the NHS as we take the tentative steps in resuming non Covid-19 NHS services.
I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate in the Parliament this week highlighting issues and concerns constituents have raised with me.
You can access the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12669&i=114626
In recognition of the additional pressure that unpaid carers are under at this time, the Scottish Government will be making a Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment later this month.
This one-off payment is in addition to the regular six monthly Carer’s Allowance Supplement. As a result, eligible carers will get a payment of at least £460.20. This will be paid from Friday 26 June.
As with the current supplement, carers will not need to do anything to get this extra payment as it will be paid automatically to people who were living in Scotland and in receipt of Carer’s Allowance on 13 April 2020 eligibility date. Social Security Scotland will write to eligible carers in advance.
If you require further information please contact the Freephone number on 0800 182 2222 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday).
We celebrate Volunteers’ Week annually this week in recognition of the contribution and work of millions of volunteers who give up their time to help others.
During this pandemic, volunteers have signed up to help in record numbers through the Scotland Cares initiative – over 53,000 in one month – joining the thousands of people who were already helping, either with one of Scotland’s many voluntary and community sector groups or informally with neighbours.
I know many people across the constituency have taken on Covid-19 related volunteering roles to help communities deal with the many consequences of the coronavirus, and it’s more important than ever to show our appreciation for their hard work.
I want to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who have helped the NHS & their local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to do so.
Volunteers will be critical in our efforts to support and rebuild our communities, and I am sure I speak for everyone in Glasgow Kelvin when I say we are all appreciative and grateful to those who are ensuring people across the country get the help and support they need.
If you would like to find out more on volunteering visit www.volunteersweek.scot
Whilst we are now in Phase 1 of our path out of lockdown having seen and read reports of a number of people breaking the Government guidelines I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the virus is still very much with us.
We have all struggled with the measures put in place to save lives but we must continue to be vigilant to ensure we continue to suppress the virus.
Please continue to stay at home for the majority of your day, if you are going out for essentials, exercise or to meet with another household, you must continue to keep a social distance of 2 metres and as always washing your hands regularly to avoid picking up the virus and spreading the virus.
So please stay home as much as you can and stay safe.