The Scottish Government brought forward a motion for debate on Employment Support in Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to contribute.
The UK Government is set to pull the Job Retention Scheme in October despite calls for months from the Scottish Government for its extension.
An extension of 8 months could well provide the critical support needed for businesses and employees across the country, particularly those sectors that are not in a position to re-open and rebuild their businesses.
This is just another example of how our hands are tied. If we were an independent country we would be making our own decisions. We would have borrowing powers. But our reality for the time being at least, is that we have to go cap in hand to the UK Government to persuade them to do the right thing. To save jobs, to save businesses and put a halt to mass unemployment and the despair that comes with it.
You can access the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12823
Short Term Lets
The rise in the number of short term lets across the city in particular the city centre has caused real difficulties in terms of anti-social behaviour with party flats and the demise of local communities with vested interests in the area they live.
This week the Scottish Government launched their latest short-term lets consultation, which closes on 16th October. I very much welcome this move and hope that those who have a view on the future of short term lets and how they operate will take the time to contribute to the consultation here: https://www.gov.scot/news/regulation-of-short-term-lets/
Internal Market Bill
Another shambolic week for the UK Government with the resignation of the Advocate General for Scotland Lord Keen of Elie.
The decision by the Advocate General for Scotland makes him the latest in a series of Tory grandees to look to resign over the UK government’s plans to break international law with the Internal Market Bill, which threatens the Good Friday Agreement and the future of devolution.
This Bill would allow the UK Government to dictate how money is spent in devolved areas without the consent of Scottish Ministers. It puts at risk funding for a whole host of capital programmes – schools, hospitals and infrastructure. It reverses the devolution process and the Scottish Government will continue to oppose any attempt to bypass the Scottish Parliament and Government, which are elected by the people of Scotland.
There has been an outpouring of community spirit across Glasgow Kelvin and none more so than from the staff and volunteers at the Annexe Communities and I felt it appropriate to have their efforts acknowledged with a parliamentary motion, recognising their unstinting commitment to the local community.
As soon as lockdown was announced staff and their 23 volunteers immediately began coordinating the PATCH (Partick and Thornwood Community Help) scheme.
They supported vulnerable and older people who had no family support, no internet access to order food online, were self-isolating or shielding and were existing Annexe Communities participants.
However, the scheme was rapidly expanded with over half of those served being new referrals from housing associations, sheltered housing complexes, mental health charities and other support organisations, including younger people who were living with underlying health conditions.
Annexe Communities acknowledge the support they received from Fair Share, the Scottish Government, the National Lottery, local supermarkets and butchers, which enabled them to deliver 3,400 bags of shopping, equating to over 20,000 meals
Their ability to adapt and respond quickly to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable during these unprecedented times demonstrates its commitment to supporting its local community and the people who live there, and I thank everyone involved for their incredible efforts.
Home Energy Efficiency Help
Fuel-poor households are to benefit from a further £16 million investment to improve energy efficiency in their homes.
The money will be used to improve insulation and install energy efficient heating systems, including those using renewable technology, contributing to Scotland’s net zero targets and helping to meet a key Programme for Government commitment.
Warmer Homes Scotland, the Scottish Government’s national fuel poverty scheme, will receive £6 million, while area based schemes delivered by local authorities will receive £10 million.
You can access further information here: https://www.homeenergyscotland.org/
Humanitarian Emergency Fund
Three charities helping the people of Beirut recover from a disastrous explosion are to be supported by £300,000 from the Scottish Government.
The explosion in the port area of the city on 4 August killed more than 200 people, injured thousands, and left up to 300,000 people homeless.
The British Red Cross, Christian Aid and Tearfund will each receive £100,000 through the Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF) to run projects in the city.
The charities and local partners will provide funds to those still affected by the disaster so they can access food and security, shelter and repair to housing, medical supplies and treatment.
The funding will also support community based organisations who have taken on a range of key responsibilities to deliver vital services since the explosion – but are themselves now in urgent need of support to continue.
For more information on the HEF go to https://www.gov.scot/policies/international-development/responding-to-humanitarian-crises/
As always and particularly in light of the restrictions across the city please follow the FACTS:
Face coverings in enclosed spaces
Avoid crowded places
Clean hands and surfaces regularly
Two metre distancing; and
Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms