SNP ANNOUNCE FREE SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS IN PROGRESSIVE VISION TO TACKLE POVERTY IN THE FACE OF TORY CUTS

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, has welcomed the announcement that every primary school pupil in Paisley will be eligible for free school meals, all year around, if the SNP is re-elected in May. 

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, set out this latest step in the drive to tackle child poverty and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals at the SNP annual conference this weekend.

The SNP previously extended eligibility for a free school lunch to all P1 to P3 pupils while P4 to P7 pupils are eligible based on a range of income and benefits criteria.

Now, in the face of predictions that Westminster cuts will drive child poverty rates even higher, the expansion – estimated to cost around £230 million per year in additional expenditure – will introduce a free year-round breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils from August 2022. 

George Adam said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government ensured that children in our townwould continue to receive free school meals over the holidays.

“But we will not stop there. If the SNP is re-elected in May, every single primary school pupil in Paisley will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, all year round.

“And unlike the Tories, we didn’t have to be publicly shamed and condemned into choosing to feed hungry children – that is the basic duty of any government.

“This ambitious expansion of the free school meals scheme is the next step in our battle to stop the Tories forcing more and more kids into poverty, support families, and make Scotland the best place to grow up.

“That progressive vision, underpinned by human rights, equality and wellbeing, is exactly why people in Scotland continue to put their faith in the SNP.”

GEORGE ADAM DELIGHTED NHS WORKERS IN PAISLEY WILL RECEIVE £500 BONUS

Paisley’s MSP has shown his delight that around 34,000 staff members in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will be recognised for the hard work and sacrifice they have shown during the COVID-19 pandemic by receiving a bonus of £500 from the SNP Scottish Government. 

The payment was announced this week at the SNP conference by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that all NHS staff would receive the bonus as a thank you, with part-time workers being given a proportionate amount. 

The bonus was one of several policies announced at the SNP 2020 Conference to support hard-working families, including a promise to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils all year round and a £100m hardship fund to help those most in need during the pandemic. 

Commenting, George Adam said: 

“NHS staff in our town have worked so hard to keep everyone safe during the pandemic and put their lives on the line to treat some of the sickest patients with the disease. 

“I am delighted to see all their work and sacrifice is being rewarded by the Scottish Government with this £500 payment. 

“It is now up to the Tories at Westminster to make sure NHS staff receive payment in full, if not then all their clapping on their doorsteps in the early stages of the pandemic will be worth nothing.” 

SNP FUNDING BOOST PUTS MORE TEACHERS IN SCOTTISH SCHOOLS

Paisley’s MSP has welcomed news that 1,250 new teachers, and 155 support staff, have been recruited in schools across Scotland in recent months – with 24.4 additional primary teachers and 25.84 additional secondary teachers in Renfrewshire alone.

The SNP Government pledged £80 million of support this summer to help local authorities’ recruitment for the safe re-opening of schools.

Councils across Scotland indicate that an estimated further 200 teachers are also in the pipeline with 100 extra support staff also expected to follow.

Last month, figures from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) showed that the number of newly-qualified teachers going straight into employment has risen by nearly 30% under the SNP’s leadership.

Analysis also revealed that the number of teachers in Scotland under the age of 45 has risen to 61.5% of the workforce as of 2019. In 2009, the majority of teachers were over 45.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s absolutely vital that local authorities are fully supported to ensure that our schools remain safe for pupils, teachers and staff.

“Thanks to significant investment from the SNP Government this summer, we now have hundreds of extra teachers and staff in our schools to support their safe re-opening.

“These additional teachers and support staff will not only bring much needed resilience to Scotland’s education system, but they will help compensate for the loss of learning suffered by pupils during lockdown.

“I want to express my appreciation once again for our amazing teachers, and wider schools workforce, right here in Paisley, who are helping to ensure our young people continue to get the education they deserve during these tough times.”

PAISLEY TO LOSE OUT ON HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS AS VITAL EU FUNDING COMES TO AN END

Paisley is set to lose out on hundreds of thousands of pounds of local funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Structural Fund (ESF) as a result of Brexit.

Large scale projects across the country have been funded by grants through both the ERDF and the ESF, but with the UK leaving the European Union in 6 weeks, the money from these schemes, which have been used to invest in infrastructure, connectivity and employment, will no longer be available to the UK.

The funds have been available for more than 40 years and invested £5.6billion in the UK.

During the Brexit negotiations the UK government has announced its intentions to replace the scheme but provided no guidance to the Scottish Government on how it would work. Therefore, the Scottish Government has set out its proposals for a Scottish Shared Prosperity Fund (SSPF).

The SSPF will focus on four key areas to improve – empowering places, reducing poverty, enhancing wellbeing and increasing skills, growing business and jobs.

Commenting, George Adam, Paisley’s MSP said:

“As we hurtle towards the Brexit trapdoor we are starting to see the devastating impact leaving the EU will have on communities like ours and others across Scotland.

“Initiatives funded by the ERDF and ESF have brought real benefits to us and it is extremely disappointing that we will no longer have access to those funds.

“If the UK government continues on its trajectory of grabbing funding and powers from Scotland then we may never see this money again – the lack of transparency on any future replacement is very worrying.

“Scotland is once again bearing the brunt of a Brexit we did not vote for as we are dragged out of the EU. An independent Scotland within the European Union would still have access to these funding streams.”

UK GOVT MUST URGENTLY U-TURN ON PLANS TO REMOVE £20 BENEFITS UPLIFT

Thousands of people in Paisley will be plunged into poverty as the UK government plans to end vital coronavirus support to people receiving benefits such as Universal Credit.

Thousands of people in Paisley rely on Universal Credit but are now set to lose out on the £20-a-week uplift brought in to provide a lifeline during the pandemic.

Geroge Adam MSP

The Tory government is set to take away the uplift and reinstate the Minimum Income Floor by April 2021. A Scottish Government report calculates that the decision will cost households in Scotland up to £476million.

Commenting on the news Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“The Tories’ proposals to withdraw this £20 uplift in April would pull the rug out from under thousands of families in our town at a time when they need support the most.

“The pandemic is not over yet – so the UK government needs to reconsider these plans and tailor them for the needs of people who are either out of work or whose self-employed income has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19.

“I would urge the UK government to take into consideration the impact this decision will have on people in areas like Paisley and urgently reverse it.

“The SNP Government is doing all it can to support families who are struggling, by introducing game-changing benefits like the Scottish Child Payment, and we will continue to build a benefits system that is kind, caring and compassionate with the limited powers we currently hold.

“But only an independent Scotland would give the Scottish Government full social security powers to build a fair system that gives families the support they need.”

RENFREWSHIRE MOVED UP INTO TIER 4

Following the First Minister’s address to the Scottish Parliament on the 17th November, Renfrewshire has been moved into Tier 4 with the public being asked to stay at home where possible, and continue to be increasingly vigilant and careful so as to slow the spread of coronavirus within the community and protect the NHS.

The decision to move Renfrewshire and neighbouring local authorities into Tier 4 is due to no sustained improvement in the number of cases over the last week, continued evidence of projected pressure on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, and in anticipation of winter pressures so as to ensure there is sufficient NHS capacity to meet demand.

Like with Tier 3, anyone living in Renfrewshire must not travel outside the local authority area unless travelling for essential reasons such as work, healthcare, or caring responsibilities, and indoor visits to any household outside your own or extended household is prohibited.

Tier 4 level restrictions also mean all non-essential shops must close along with cafes, restaurants, pubs, hairdressing and beauty salons, and all other leisure facilities which were allowed to remain open – albeit under select circumstances – in Tier 3.

While this is not the decision the First Minister wanted to make, these further restrictions are necessary in light of the increase in positive COVID-19 cases and those admitted to hospital over the past week.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said:

“I am acutely aware that for many individuals and businesses these decisions will be disappointing and distressing. They demand more sacrifice from all of us.

“However they are necessary to ensure that the NHS can cope with the range of pressures it will face over the winter, and will give us the best possible chance – albeit in a limited and careful way – of being able to ease restrictions in all parts of Scotland for Christmas.

“We must get through the next few months as safely as possible – and that means tough decisions can’t be avoided, no matter how much you, and I, fervently wish they could be.

“Notwithstanding the difficult decisions today for significant parts of the country, the levels system is still allowing us to avoid a national, one size fits all lockdown such as is currently in place in England. In order to sustain this it is essential that we all abide by travel restrictions and to underline how important this is, I can confirm that the guidance that has been in place in recent weeks will become law from Friday.

“I can never thank everyone enough for all the sacrifices that are being made. And I will never underestimate how difficult it is. But I hold to the belief that love and solidarity – albeit with a lot of help from science – we will get us through this. And that soon we will be looking back on it, not living through it.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“While I know this is not what anyone in our town was hoping for, I am sure we can all agree that it is vitally important that we get the rising number of cases under control as quickly as possible so as to protect our health service coming into winter, and protect our friends, families, and loved ones from becoming unwell.

“The next three weeks will undoubtedly be challenging but the hope is that introducing tighter restrictions now will allow us to have a bit of respite over Christmas and the festive period – and I know that will give solace to many who are struggling right now.

“It is crucial as we move forward to continue to think of FACTS in everything that we do, and to follow the updated guidance and restrictions to the letter.

“Our tiered system in Scotland allows for a more tailored approach to the blanket lockdown we experienced back in March so it is imperative that we do not breach the travel restrictions that will become law on Friday.

“Although we are now living with tier 4 in Paisley, we must not leave the Renfrewshire area to take advantage of the lower restrictions in other parts of the country as this would only selfishly put other local authorities’ progress in jeopardy – and in turn effect the whole country and our collective hopes for an easier festive period. “To echo the First Minister, I know things may seem bleak right now but the end of this pandemic is within our grasp if we all come together and do our part for the good of the nation.”

RENFREWSHIRE COVID-19 UPDATE

Following the First Minister’s briefing on the 10th November, Renfrewshire remains in Tier 3 with the public being asked to be increasingly vigilant and careful so as to slow the spread of coronavirus within the community and protect the NHS.

While there is no immediate requirement to move any local authorities into Level 4 – the highest level – this is being kept under strict review and will be evaluated regularly in line with the most up to date data and scientific evidence.

Anyone living in Renfrewshire must not travel outside the local authority area unless travelling for essential reasons such as work, healthcare, or caring responsibilities, and indoor visits to any household outside your own or extended household is still prohibited.

The First Minister again stressed the importance of travel restrictions in bringing down the infection rate of the virus and acknowledged the sacrifices being made across the country.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The sacrifices everyone is making are hard – and they feel never-ending. But they are helping. They have made a difference, and they are saving lives. There is no doubt that the restrictions we have put in place have dramatically slowed the spread of the virus.

“But hospital admissions are still too high. The number of new cases we are seeing – more than 1,000 a day on average – is also too high. And we cannot be sure that we are seeing a sustained fall in cases.

“As I have said repeatedly in recent days, a rising or even plateauing rate of infection is not a stable position. We want to see a decline in cases. And so we will be monitoring the situation carefully in the days ahead.

“In light of the situation I have just outlined, it would clearly not be prudent to ease restrictions today.”

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, is urging Renfrewshire residents to keep following the rules, keep up to date with the most current guidance, and to keep looking out for each other as best as they can.

George said:

“This year has certainly been a challenging one but as Paisley and wider Renfrewshire remains in Tier 3, it is clear that we are not out of the woods yet and must therefore keep doing all we can to slow the spread of COVID and ultimately help save lives in our community.

“I know many of my constituents were hoping for better news and will be disappointed to see our town remaining in Tier 3, but the hard decisions we’re all making are working and keeping our friends, families, and neighbours safe.

“If we keep following the rules and up to date guidance, we will come out of this stronger than before.”

Further information and advice on local protection levels can be accessed at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/

CHANCELLOR MUST “GET A GRIP” OF GROWING TORY UK UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS AS SNP CALL FOR MORE ACTION TO PROTECT JOBS, BUSINESSES AND INCOMES

The SNP has said the Chancellor must do more to “get a grip” of the growing Tory UK unemployment crisis – as new figures reveal rising UK unemployment and record redundancies.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Market Survey, published this morning, revealed the UK unemployment rate has risen to 4.8%, with 782,000 fewer people in employment since March, and the number of redundancies at a record high of 314,000 – a record increase of 181,000 on the quarter.

In Scotland, the employment rate estimate rose over the quarter to 74.0% and the unemployment rate estimate was unchanged over the quarter at 4.5%. 

The Scottish Government has announced additional support including a £60 million Young Person’s Guarantee, to ensure everyone aged between 16 and 24 has the opportunity of work, education or training, and a £25 million National Transition Training Fund to help up to 10,000 people aged 25 and over, who have lost their jobs or are at risk of redundancy, to develop the skills required to move into sectors with the greatest potential for growth.

Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The Chancellor must get a grip of the growing Tory UK unemployment crisis – and do more to protect people’s jobs, businesses and incomes.

“The SNP has been warning for months that the UK faces a winter of mass redundancies if the Tory government fails to act – and the evidence is now demonstrating that fact. For many, the long-overdue Tory U-turn on furlough cuts came far too late – causing thousands to lose their jobs unnecessarily and forcing many good businesses to go under.

“With UK unemployment rising, and redundancies at record levels, it’s crucial the Tory government urgently fixes the gaps, which have seen millions excluded, and delivers meaningful investment to stimulate the economy, support businesses, and boost people’s incomes – including making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits.

“We cannot afford a return to the lasting social damage that Tory mass unemployment in the 1980s and 1990s caused to communities across the UK. Millions have already seen their incomes slashed and many more jobs could be lost if action isn’t taken now.

“In Scotland, the SNP government is taking the action it can, including by introducing the £60million Young Person’s Guarantee, the £25 million National Transition Training Fund, and continued support for businesses and workers – but with the full economic powers of an independent country we could do so much more.

“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. By withholding investment and blocking the devolution of financial powers, the Tory government has hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, who has long been critical of the UK Government’s disregard for Scotland, said:

“Frankly, at this point I don’t think the people of Scotland need any more reason to have no faith in the UK Government.

“The constant confusion, lack of clarity and yoyo-ing on critical decisions is abysmal and now it is affecting real people and real jobs. The time it took Boris and his cronies to extend the furlough scheme has been far too late for thousands of workers and that is just not acceptable – especially when people in our town suffer at their expense.

“For too long the people of Paisley have been let down by Westminster and to play politics during a global pandemic is just not on in my book. The Scottish Government are doing all they can to mitigate the real impact COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions are having on peoples’ lives – but unfortunately they’re having to do this with one hand tied being their back.

“Westminster need to act now or let the Scottish Government have full control over its own finances and resources so they can continue to act in the best interests of the Scottish people and do what’s right.”

GEORGE ADAM ASKS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ABOUT FUNDING FOR LOCAL BUS NETWORKS

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, asks the Scottish Government when funding for bus priority infrastructure will be made available to local authorities and has welcomed the announcement that the Bus Partnership Fund has been launched.

The new Bus Partnership Fund will support local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to tackle the negative impact of congestion on bus services so that bus journeys are quicker and more reliable – encouraging more people to travel by bus.

The Fund will complement the new powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 and will enable local authorities and bus operators to work together to make bus use more attractive, increasing bus usage and patronage, and in turn lead to greater investment, better services and importantly successful green recovery.

In answer to George Adam’s question, Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said:

“In the 2020 Programme for Government, the First Minister re-affirmed our commitment to the landmark investment of over £500 million in bus priority infrastructure.

“We had paused work on that during the pandemic for obvious reasons, but now we want to look ahead. I am therefore pleased to announce that the Bus Partnership Fund will be launched today.

“This will support local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to tackle the negative impact of congestion on bus services so that bus journeys are quicker and more reliable, encouraging more people to travel by bus.

“I believe that partnership is key and I want to see ambitious proposals placing bus priority at the heart of holistic sustainable transport futures, linking with active travel alongside further action and investment from local authorities and bus operators.”

George Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP said:

“I’m delighted by this announcement and am really looking forward to how increased funding and ambitions decisions will positively impact bus services right here in our town.

“Having a reliable and timely bus network in Paisley is a lifeline for so many so I hope this new fund will encourage others to use public transport and explore our town.

“The Scottish Government have long made accessible and reliable public transport a key priority; not only to ensure all Scots can get out and about safely, but also as part of their ongoing commitment to protecting the environment and making sure Scotland is as green as possible.”

FURLOUGH U-TURN, AFTER SIX MONTHS OF SNP PRESSURE, IS LONG-OVERDUE

The SNP has welcomed the long-overdue Tory U-turn on furlough support but said it is “far too late” for thousands of workers who have already been made redundant after months of Tory cuts, delays and uncertainty.

Responding to the Chancellor’s statement, Alison Thewliss MP said Rishi Sunak had been forced into this shambolic last-minute U-turn after six months of pressure from the SNP and devolved governments – and said it was “a democratic disgrace” that Westminster was only willing to act when England faced lockdown and not when Scotland needed support.

The SNP Shadow Chancellor said the Tory government had hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to the crisis by withholding funds and blocking the devolution of financial powers – and said the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.

Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:

“This long-overdue Tory U-turn is welcome but it comes after six months of sustained pressure from the SNP and devolved governments, who have consistently called for a full furlough extension but were repeatedly told ‘no’ by Westminster.

“The Chancellor has been forced into this shambolic last-minute U-turn after months of Tory cuts, delays and uncertainty. For many it is far too late. Thousands have already lost their jobs, many good businesses have gone under, and millions have been excluded completely. The UK faces a Tory unemployment crisis – and the blame lies squarely with Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.


“It is a democratic disgrace that Westminster was only willing to act when England faced lockdown and not when Scotland needed support – proving yet again that Scotland will never be an equal partner in the UK. By withholding funding and blocking the devolution of financial powers, the Tory government has hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis.

“We await the full details of this announcement, to ensure Scotland will receive full 80 per cent furlough and self-employed support, on current eligibility, with the gaps in the system filled, whenever it is required by the Scottish Government in future. That it will apply equally at 80 per cent to people in all tiers of restrictions, and that Scotland will get its full share of Barnett consequentials from support for businesses and local government in England.

“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. Other countries have used the powers at their disposal while Tory cuts and delays have caused unemployment to soar. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP said:

“I’ve said since the beginning of this pandemic that this is not the time to play party politics but the actions of the UK Government this week – going back and forth on furlough support for Scotland – has been abysmal.

“Playing favourites here when the main aim of the Government should be saving lives, protecting the NHS, and making sure people’s livelihoods are saved and there for them when we return to some semblance of normality is disgraceful.

“I am obviously very happy that Paisley buddies worried about their job security and future employment have now been given the clarity they need if Scotland needs to go back into lockdown, but at this point – after months and months of pleas from the Scottish Government and our MPs down in Westminster – it is long overdue and may even be too late for those who have already been made redundant.

“I’m tired of seeing my constituents and the people of Scotland being treated like second class citizens in this supposed UK partnership of equals, and the yo-yo act this past week only emphasises how much disrespect Westminster has for our country and our people.

“I wish I could say I’m surprised by this turn of events but after years of nothing more than disregard and contempt, this seems par for the course. We deserve much better than this so I can only urge those still on the fence about Scottish Independence to take a long and hard look at how we’ve been treated during this pandemic – and honestly, how we’ve been treated for years.

”There are definitely better days coming for us, but I don’t think it will be as part of the United Kingdom where we are not respected or regarded in the slightest.”