Thursday 18 June 2020
Lockdown – Phase 2
We have all been waiting patiently for the First Minister’s statement on Phase 2 of our path out of lockdown and I very much welcome the contents of the statement.
You can access the full details of what to expect in Phase 2 here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s Route Map through and out of the crisis – Phase 2 update
I should also point out that it is now mandatory to wear facemasks when accessing public transport as announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport today this is in addition to current advice to wear facemasks when in an enclosed environment.
Further information on how we can all help protect the NHS and save lives can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 2: staying safe and protecting others (physical distancing)
Everyone is entitled to peaceful protest, what is unacceptable is a minority hijacking those peaceful protests to run amok in our city streets spouting vile and racist language and causing fear.
What we have witnessed over the past week in George Square and other parts of the city centre has been utterly shameful.
In direct response to this appalling behaviour I took the opportunity to raise this in Parliament on Tuesday, the full exchange can be read here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12697&i=114847 however the following day George Square and the Asylum Seekers protest was hijacked by what I can only term as racist thugs.
This cannot and will not, be tolerated.
We should also remember we are still in the throws of a pandemic and I would reiterate the First Ministers caution on mass gatherings – these should not be happening and our efforts should be focused firmly on suppressing the virus.
Free School Meals
Whilst the UK Government are happy to spend £900,000 on a paint job for a vanity project they had to be dragged kicking by the incredible efforts of Marcus Rushford to provide free school meals for children. In stark contrast, the Scottish Government pledged to continue its support over the summer.
Children eligible for free school meals will be among those who continue to be supported over the summer through a package of £27.6 million of additional funding from the Scottish Government.
The funding will ensure councils are able to continue the provision of free school meals during the summer holidays and other food provision to help low income families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The number of children receiving free school food has risen by 53,000 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the impact of the pandemic on family incomes and financial circumstances.
The extra funding will also enable councils to continue to support a range of people who may be facing new or continuing barriers to accessing food including due to reduced income caused if they are asked to self-isolate through contact tracing – until the end of September.
If you or someone you know is unable to access or afford food and cannot get the help they need from family, friends or neighbours please call the national assistance helpline. The free helpline number is 0800 111 4000, or can be contacted via a textphone on 0800 111 4114. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.
Age Scotland have launched their Friendship Campaign, a telephone line which aims to help older people stay connected, at a time when many are struggling, by offering a service which will support, comfort and reassure those in need.
This is a great initiative and much needed at this time when so many older people are shielding and stuck inside.
Anyone calling the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222, which also offers advice and information for older people, can request a friendship call.
The Scottish Government is consulting on raising the age at which a young person can be referred to a children’s hearing from 16 to 18.
Currently only 16 and 17-year-olds who are already within the children’s hearing system can be referred or have their order continued until they are 18.
The proposal is that the bar on new referrals is removed so all young people between 16 and 18 can benefit from the range of protective and supportive measures available through children’s hearings.
The consultation which can be accessed here https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/age-of-referral-to-the-principal-reporter/ runs until October, and asks whether improvements are needed to the advice and support available for young people who are victims of crime.
Return to Work
A £230 million Return to Work package has been unveiled to help stimulate Scotland’s economy following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The initiative covers construction, low carbon projects, digitisation and business support and will provide a flow of work for businesses and support jobs. It is funded by the reallocation of underspends from schemes interrupted by COVID-19.
New projects featured in the package include:
£51 million for business support, including boosting high growth companies
£78 million for construction, including £40 million for regeneration projects and £20 million for roads maintenance
£66 million to kick-start our green recovery, including £7 million to equip buses for physical distancing and the return to work
£35.5 million for digitisation, including justice and education services
The Return to Work package is part of a process to harness Scotland’s talent and resources and build a modern economy that is robust, fair and sustainable. But it is only a start and the Scottish Government will continue pressing the UK Government both for new financial powers and greater certainty over funding.
These additional powers are now absolutely essential – without them Scotland will be planning for recovery with one hand tied behind our back.
As always please continue to be vigilant in following Scottish Government guidelines to ensure we can continue to suppress the virus.