PAISLEY’S MSP CALLS FOR ACTION TO HELP SELF-EMPLOYED

With more than 330,000 self-employed workers in Scotland, the Scottish Government has called upon the UK Government to offer further financial protection and to make sure they are not be left behind or forgotten in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, asked the First Minister and Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to provide an update on the engagement the Scottish Government has had with the UK Government on financial protection for self-employed workers in the leisure and entertainment industry during a special ministerial statement in Holyrood on Tuesday 24th March.

In response to his question, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance confirmed that while the removal of the Minimum Income Floor is welcome, it does not go far enough for everyone within the workforce. In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kate Forbes and Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, have urged for a more comprehensive version of the Jobs Retention Scheme to encompass the self-employed.

Paisley’s MSP said:

Geroge Adam MSP

“It is important now more than ever that we continue to scrutinise all plans and legislation coming out of Westminster to make sure everyone in Scotland’s workforce is offered as much financial protection as possible.

“While it is very encouraging to hear of increased contact between the Scottish and UK Government, the measures taken by Westminster so far – while welcome – do not go far enough to protect the many self-employed workers unable to work now across Scotland.

“Actions taken in other countries suggest there are credible mechanisms that can support the self-employed. In Norway and Denmark for example, wage support schemes have been extended to cover the self-employed by covering their lost incomes based on earnings in previous years. If they can do it, so can we.

“I’ve been contacted by many self-employed workers, particularly in the leisure and entertainment industry in Paisley, so as your MSP I made sure to raise this issue in the chamber and highlight the concerns my constituents have. I know the Scottish Government will do all it can to make sure everyone gets the most comprehensive support package possible but for anyone who needs further information, up to date advice can be found at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice.”

ASDA SUPPORTS VULNERABLE GROUPS, THE ELDERLY, AND STAFF

Asda has unveiled new plans to support customers – particularly those in vulnerable groups – along with the wider community and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As of the 20th March, large stores will be prioritising elderly and vulnerable customers from opening until 9am – asking other customers to leave their shopping until later in the day – to allow those who need essentials to get them while the store is quieter. Additional restrictions on stock will also be put in place with customers only permitted to buy up to three of any product across all food items, toiletries, and cleaning products, to help everyone get what they need.

For staff, the supermarket giant have guaranteed full pay to those who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and will provide full pay for 12 weeks to those who have been identified as being part of a vulnerable group and need to self-isolate.

The temporary closure of non-essential services, such as the rotisserie and pizza counters, along with more limited opening hours of some stores, will also be implemented to allow staff more time to restock the shelves and thoroughly clean.

George Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“After praising the quick response of Iceland to this virus outbreak, it is very encouraging to see Asda follow suit and institute measures to protect the most vulnerable in society. While I understand the thinking behind ‘panic buying’, it is important that we try to keep our shopping habits as normal as possible, and think of those who would really struggle if left without.

“Bulk buying may be possible for some but we must also remember those who diligently budget week to week and cannot afford to stock up – along with those who may only be able to get to the shops at certain times or need help to do so. By placing restrictions on the amount of products any one person can buy, Asda are doing their bit to make sure everyone has a chance to get what they need.

“While COVID-19 continues to spread, it is brilliant to see such a large company also thinking of their staff and the implications not working might have on them and their families. Granting full pay during self-isolation periods will be a weight of many peoples’ shoulders and will go a long way in encouraging those who are unwell or at risk to follow the Government advice and stay at home.”

£2.2 BILLION FOR BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY COVID-19

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop has addressed the Scottish Parliament on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Scotland.

In her statement she warned that as a result of coronavirus, the Scottish economy is facing an immediate collapse in demand.

She outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support businesses including a package of measures worth £2.2 billion from 1 April:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board
  • urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
  • extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“These are unprecedented times so it is important that we do all we can to support the economy and the business industry in our communities as much as possible. Depressed economic activity right now is inevitable as we stay home to protect the most vulnerable in society, but this additional funding will go a long way in mitigating the impact this will have on our communities.

“Small businesses are the bread and butter of our communities and here in Paisley we have a great selection of restaurants, pubs, and entertainment venues at our disposal – we need to support them as much as we can to make sure these wonderful establishments are able to return to normal service when COVID-19 is contained.

“Lots of our favourite places are now offering a new or increased takeaway and delivery service, so I know that is something I will be taking advantage of when I can to help these businesses stay afloat.

“Life as we know it is changing to protect the most vulnerable in society, but everybody has a role to play in helping contain this outbreak. However it is important to remember that just because we are anxious and reducing our contact with family, friends and colleagues doesn’t mean we need to lose our sense of community and good old Paisley spirit.”

SNP BUDGET DELIVERS £3.4 BILLION FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

ANTI-POVERTY PAYMENT TO BENEFIT 14,400 CHILDREN IN RENFREWSHIRE

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has called on local politicians from all parties to get behind historic funding for Scotland’s new social security agency – a move that will put money directly into the pockets of low-income families and carers across Renfrewshire.

SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has committed a landmark £3.4billion allocation for benefit spend in the next year – including funding to deliver the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment by the end of this year.

An estimated 14,400 children from 9,000 families across Renfrewshire will benefit from the Scottish Government’s new anti-poverty payment – with the first payments made before Christmas 2020.   

The Scottish Government has already introduced seven benefits including Best Start Grant, which offers financial support to low-income families in the early years of a child’s life and the Funeral Support Payment, the standard rate of which is being increased from £700 to £1,000, from April.

The Scottish Welfare Fund also increases by £3 million, from £38 million to £41 million for 2020/21.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“The SNP’s plan to commit £3.4 billion to social security is central to our commitment to tackling child poverty, and create a social security system with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.

“This £3.4 billion will go directly to the people in our town who need it the most. Yet, these are just the first steps in the delivery of even more benefits to support people in our society as the Scottish Government looks to tackle inequality and reduce poverty.

“Tory cuts are driving too many families into poverty – but the SNP are determined to use every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet.

“MSPs across Renfrewshire and frankly, across Scotland, should now get behind the SNP’s proposals to secure substantial funding and support for carers and low income families in their communities.”

Holyrood passes plans to transform Paisley’s economy

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has said the new Scottish National Investment bank will help encourage economic growth across Renfrewshire, after the bill to introduce the body was formally agreed to in Holyrood today.

MSPs from all parties gave their backing to the Scottish Government’s blueprint for the investment bank that will begin investing in businesses and communities later this year – committing to invest at least £2 billion in its first ten years.

The bank will have an important role in helping Scotland meet its ambitious climate change targets – forming part of the SNP’s Green New Deal to kick-start investment and build the momentum needed to reduce emissions and create high quality jobs in the process.  

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

“The Scottish National Investment Bank will help us reach our world-leading climate change targets while transforming lives right here in Paisley.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, that’s why the bank will invest in firms and community projects that are looking to play their part in tackling the global climate emergency.

“Individuals, and small local businesses, the length and breadth of Scotland are set to benefit from this historic move as we move towards a low carbon economy fit for the future. I look forward to seeing the bank’s impact in our town and the impact Scotland’s [positive changes can have on the planet as a whole.”



SNP SUPPORTING LOW INCOME FAMILIES IN PAISLEY

Paisley’s MSP George Adam has welcomed new figures showing that 2,140 payments to low income families have been made under the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods schemes in Renfrewshire.

The Best Start Grant package is putting more money in the pockets of low income families than the DWP system it replaced.

The Grant comprises three cash payments:  the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, for parents with babies up to 6 months old; the Early Learning Payment, for when your child is 2 to 3 and a half years old; and the School Age payment, for when your child reaches school age.

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that can be used in shops and online to buy healthy foods for children under 3.

The vast majority, 70%, of the 3,075 applications processed from Renfrewshire were approved by Social Security Scotland. 

Across the country, £17.8 million of Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments have been made to support people between 10 December 2018 and 30 September 2019.

George Adam said that these figures show what could be achieved if Scotland had full powers over social security.

Paisley’s MSP commented:

“These payments are making a big difference to families right here in Paisley who are continuing to be pushed to the brink by continued Tory welfare cuts.

“This SNP Government has strived to mitigate the worst effects of the Tories’ austerity agenda but Brexit looms like a storm cloud above our heads.  Any form of Brexit will hit the Scottish economy and drive more people into poverty – with analysis showing a no deal Brexit will push 130,000 people into poverty. 

“The Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments sit in stark contrast to the two-child cap, benefits freeze and disastrous Universal Credit rollout recklessly imposed by the Tories in Government. The SNP has sent a strong message about the kind of country we can be – free from these uncaring Tory policies. 

“We can create a social security system which works to protect people rather than treating those on low incomes with the hostility and suspicion they have been subjected to under the Tories.

“Only a vote for the SNP will ensure that we can escape Brexit, put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands and foster a society built upon dignity and respect.”

TORY WELFARE CUTS DRIVING PAISLEY FOOD BANK DEMAND

New figures from the Trussell Trust show that thousands of three day emergency food parcels were handed out in Renfrewshire this year. 

Between 1st April 2019 and 30th September 2019, across Renfrewshire, 3,314 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by food banks in the Trust’s network – including 1,388 provided for children.

The statistics released today show April to September 2019 to be the busiest half-year period for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network since the charity opened.

These shocking figures follow a trend of increased food bank demand since the roll out of the UK Government’s Universal Credit policy.

Geroge Adam MSP

The main reasons cited for people needing emergency food in Scotland are low benefit income (38%), delays (19%), or changes (17%) to benefits being paid.

Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

“The SNP has strongly opposed the benefits freeze, the two child cap and the disastrous roll out of Universal Credit but these callous Tory welfare cuts have pushed more and more Scots into poverty.

“This increased reliance on food banks in our community is the most damning indictment of the UK Government’s approach to our society’s most vulnerable people. 

“Food bank organisers and volunteers are dedicated and compassionate individuals but, let’s be clear, they should not be needed.  It is unacceptable that food bank provision has become commonplace under the Tories’ watch. 

“The upcoming election is a chance to hold the Tories to account – and the SNP are the only party who can beat the Tories in Scotland.

“Scotland must have the option to escape from Brexit and yet more Tory austerity.”

GEORGE ADAM MSP URGES OLDER PAISLEY BUDDIES TO ATTEND HEARING LOSS CHARITY’S EVENT IN SHOPMOBILITY

Paisley’s MSP George Adam is backing a charity’s service urging Paisley Buddies to get their hearing checked and start benefiting from using hearing aids and assistive equipment.

As Action on Hearing Loss Scotland estimate 70% of people over 70 have some kind of hearing loss, Paisley’s MSP is encouraging the town’s older residents in particular to attend an upcoming information event which the charity’s Hear to Inform and Connect service is running in Shopmobility.

The service’s Information Manager, Malaika Rose, will be available to give hearing checks and provide details about the full range of support that is available for people who have hearing loss during the event in Shopmobility, The Paisley Centre Car Park, Storie Street between 10.30-12.30 on Friday 25 October.

George Adam MSP said:

“I’m pleased to back Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s call on older people in Paisley to take the opportunity to get their hearing checked at the charity’s upcoming event in Shopmobility and get reassurance about the straightforward process of being fitted with hearing aids and accessing other support to reduce the impact of hearing loss in everyday life.

“I also encourage community and social groups throughout Paisley to contact Action on Hearing Loss Scotland for free information talks to help raise awareness about the signs of hearing loss, how hearing aids and assistive equipment can help and the best ways to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Teri Devine, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, said:

“We appreciate George’s support for our Hear to Inform and Connect service, which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and we look forward to welcoming many local people to our event in Shopmobility on 25th October.

“We want to ensure that everyone who may have hearing loss are informed about the importance of getting fitted with hearing aids programmed to meet their individual needs so that they can fully participate in conversations and stay active and connected with others in society.”

For more information about the service, email: info.scotland@hearingloss.org.uk, or telephone/text: 07388 227407.

PAISLEY’S MSP GEORGE ADAM WEARS IT PINK FOR BREAST CANCER NOW FUNDRAISER

Paisley’s MSP George Adam added a dash of pink to his usual attire to support Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink fundraiser, which takes place on Friday 18 October.

Since launching in 2002, wear it pink has had an enormous impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer, raising over £33 million to date. George is calling for his constituents to join him by signing up for wear it pink and helping to fund world-class breast cancer research and life changing support for those affected by the disease.

Breast Cancer Now supporters Alison Tait and Jane O’Neill, who have both been affected by breast cancer, joined George at the Scottish Parliament.

Alison Tait, 49 from Edinburgh, is a single parent living with incurable secondary breast cancer. Commenting on why she is supporting this year’s wear it pink day she said:   

‘“Being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer turns your world upside down. Breast Cancer Now does incredible work that makes a real difference for people like me who are living with this disease.

“In May 2018, I helped Breast Cancer Now to launch the Perjeta Now campaign in Scotland. It successfully made this extraordinary drug routinely available to women in Scotland living with incurable secondary breast cancer – giving them nearly 16 months of extra life compared to other treatments.

“Fundraising events like wear it pink help to support Breast Cancer Now’s invaluable work and I would like to encourage people across Scotland to get involved and donate what you can.”

George Adam MSP, said:

“Every year in Scotland, around 4,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 1,000 women die of the disease. That’s why I’m encouraging my constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day on Friday 18 October.  

“The money raised by this wonderful event has such a huge impact, allowing Breast Cancer Now to fund vital research and support for those living with a diagnosis. I hope that everybody will wear it pink this October and support this very important cause.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said:

“Breast cancer still affects so many of us, and our goal as a charity is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well. The money raised from wear it pink is so crucial to this helping us to fund vital breast cancer research and support for those affected by the disease.

“We hope that by wearing pink himself, George will encourage more people to wear it pink in on 18 October and help us to continue to fund vital breast cancer research and support.”

Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their school or workplace. No matter how people chose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support.

Wear it pink on 18 October and raise funds for breast cancer research and support. Visit wearitpink.org to register and claim your free fundraising pack.

PAISLEY’S MSP QUIZZES OPENREACH

George Adam MSP quizzed engineers from Openreach about Scotland’s digital future during a drop-in session at the Scottish Parliament this week (Thursday).

      The Paisley MSP heard about the work being done to upgrade the country’s broadband network and how politicians can help industry investors to speed up the build.

      He also tried connecting tiny glass fibres used to transmit data at the speed of light and chatted to some of the 220 new apprentices taken on by Openreach in Scotland this year.

      George Adam MSP said: “Scotland’s at the start of a digital journey from old copper cables to full fibre technology, where the fibre doesn’t stop at the street cabinet but goes all the way to the home. It’s more resilient and future-proof as well as faster – with fibreoptic cables as thin as a hair able to deliver gigabit speeds.

      “This was a great opportunity to learn what that will mean for local people, businesses and future public services like education, healthcare, transport, energy, water and housing. Good connectivity supports productivity and economic growth but also brings really valuable new opportunities for sustainable communities.”

      According to thinkbroadband, the UK’s largest independent broadband news and information site, nearly 94 per cent of Scots can currently access superfast broadband at 30Mbps+.

      More than 2.6m Scottish households and businesses can connect to Openreach’s digital network through their service provider – including household names like BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

      However, the focus is now shifting to ‘ultrafast’ full fibre, as the copper network reaches the end of its life. Openreach is the UK’s leading full fibre builder, with plans to reach four million homes by March 2021.

      Work is already under way in Edinburgh, Greater Glasgow, West Lothian and Kilmarnock as part of its Fibre First programme. This week it was announced that Aberdeen, Ayr and Stanecastle (Irvine, North Ayrshire) will be next to benefit.

      The drop-in event was hosted by Brendan Dick, chair of the Openreach Board in Scotland, who said: “We can’t build a new full fibre network for Scotland without support from our public sector partners. It won’t be quick or easy, but action to reduce red tape and remove barriers will speed things up.

      “The Scottish Government has already reduced the tax on fibre infrastructure but we also need to make street works and getting access to land and blocks of flats simpler and mandate full fibre for all new housing developments, which we think is a no-brainer.

      “But this is not simply about putting wires into the ground. It’s about what full fibre technology can do for Scotland, helping to answer long term challenges like energy use, climate change and sustainable rural communities.”

      Openreach is recruiting 220 trainees in Scotland this year, building on its biggest ever recruitment of 400 new engineers last year. They join its 3,200-strong Scottish workforce.

      It has invested more than £500,000 in fibre training centres in Livingston and Dundee to make sure engineers have the right skills to deliver the new full fibre network.