PAISLEY’S MSP WELCOMES RENFREWSHIRE MOVING TO LEVEL 0 OF COVID RESTRICTIONS

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed the announcement from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Paisley and the rest of Renfrewshire will move from Level 2 to Level 0 on Monday 19th July along with every other local authority in Scotland if they are not already there.

Moving to level 0 means that 8 people from 4 households will be able to meet indoors and 10 people from 4 households can meet in an indoor setting such as a pub or restaurant. 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors; up to 2,000 people can attend stadia seated, 1,000 standing, with 400 people indoors. The limit on attendance at weddings and funerals has also increased to 200.

International travellers arriving from amber list countries will not have to self-isolate if they have had two COVID vaccines, but the advice remains not to travel unless it is essential.

The First Minister also made it clear that face masks will continue to be mandatory in certain settings and are likely to be in the future.

George said:

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement that Paisley and the rest of Renfrewshire will move to Level 0 from Monday July 19th – this is a welcome step in easing restrictions and returning to normality.

“This is our one last push towards normality and I am very grateful for the efforts of everyone in our town to follow the rules and keep everyone safe.

“To get us over the line we need to continue to follow the rules and, if you have not already, get vaccinated. There is a walk-in centre set up here for anyone who has not yet had a first dose or if you have waited 8 or more weeks for your second dose.

“Vaccination is our route out of the pandemic and we are in a race between the virus and the vaccine – we cannot allow the virus to get ahead.

“I would urge everyone to follow the rules laid out in the First Minister’s statement to ensure we can move to a greater sense of normality on the Scottish Government’s route map on August 9th.”

PAISLEY’S MSP WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT TAKING OVER SCOTRAIL

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed the announcement that the SNP Scottish Government is taking over the running of the country’s rail franchise, which will see Scotland’s railways firmly in the hands of Scotland’s people.

ScotRail services will move into public sector control when the current franchise with Abellio expires – expected to happen in March 2022.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson announced that rail services will be run by an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government’s decision to run our railways through what it known as the ‘Operator of Last Resort’ has been shaped by a number of factors, including faults with the current franchising system, uncertainty from a year-long delay in the UK Government’s rail review and the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Commenting on the announcement, George said:

“This bold move by the SNP Scottish Government will bring welcome stability and certainty to those who use our railway for work and leisure, both in Paisley and across the country.

“And the news that current ScotRail staff will transfer to the new Scottish Government owned company, with their terms and conditions protected, will also provide much-needed security to those who rely on our railways for their livelihoods.

“The SNP have long argued that the future structure of Scottish railways should be in Scotland’s hands. It’s well beyond time that the Tory UK Government listened and devolved rail powers to Holyrood.

“However, this move is both bold and welcome and will ensure Scotland’s rail users are provided with a well-run and reliable and service we rightly expect.”

FIRST MINISTER ANNOUNCES TIMETABLE FOR EASING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

On Tuesday 16th March the First Minister outlined the Scottish Government’s timetable for easing the current COVID-19 restrictions and published the phased plan in ‘COVID-19: Scotland’s Strategic Framework.

Since the Strategic Framework was originally published on the 23rd February, significant progress has been made in suppressing the virus and while there is no room for complacency and every effort must continue to be made to reduce transmission within our communities; the Scottish Government have been able to extend their planning horizon with the following indicative dates.

From the 2nd April the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement will be lifted and replaced with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, Local Authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period).

From the 5th April, assuming the data allows and the virus is continuing to be suppressed, a range of current restrictions in level 4 areas will be lifted. This includes:

  • the resumption of outdoor contact sport for 12-17 year olds
  • the return of college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland as most likely not to complete this academic year (estimated as 29% of learners)
  • the reopening of non-essential ‘click and collect’ retail

The list of retail permitted to open is also set to be extended on the 5th April and will grow to include:

  • garden centres (indoor and outdoor)
  • key cutting shops
  • mobility equipment shops
  • baby equipment shops
  • electrical repair shops
  • hairdressers and barbers (with shopfronts – not mobile services – and by appointment only)
  • homeware shops
  • vehicle showrooms (appointment only) and forecourts.

By the 12th or 19th April, depending on term times, all children and young people will be back to school full-time.

From the 26th April the Scottish Government expect a more significant reopening of the economy and society will begin, and this is likely to include:

  • the extension of outdoor socialising to permit up to 6 people from up to 3 households to gather
  • allowing 12-17 year olds to meet outdoors in groups of 6 from up to 6 households
  • travel within all of mainland Scotland permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place)
  • remaining shops can reopen and mobile close contact services can resume
  • gyms can reopen for individual exercise
  • tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)
  • work in people’s homes to resume
  • driving lessons to resume
  • weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol permitted)
  • libraries, museums, galleries re-open
  • outdoor hospitality to open till 22:00 with alcohol permitted.
  • indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 20:00
  • social mixing in indoor public places will be subject to current maximum of 4 people from up to 2 households

The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.

Three weeks on from the publication of the last update, and given the progress with the vaccination programme and what we have learned about its impact on reducing transmission of the virus; the First Minister was also in a position to add a new indicative date for further easing of restrictions.

With this in mind, from the 17th May the Scottish Government are hopeful they will be able to introduce the following easings:

  • re-introducing in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
  • further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 22:00 outdoors with alcohol permitted
  • adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
  • cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open
  • small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints
  • colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
  • more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
  • non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, said:

“While nothing here is set in stone and is obviously dependant on continued progress in supressing the virus and ensuring our NHS can run smoothly, I know the indicative dates set out by the First Minister today will be very encouraging and much welcomed by everyone here in Paisley.

“I know we are all desperately missing seeing our friends, families, and loved ones – and of course doing all the things we used to enjoy before COVID-19 necessitated the restrictions we have been living under for the best part of a year now – but it is important that we do not rush our return to some semblance of normality and find ourselves right back to where we were before Christmas.

“I hope the phased plan set out also gives business owners and those who have been on furlough or out of work some hope that the economy and the many sectors which have been heavily impacted by coronavirus are set to reopen and trade again very soon.

“There is no denying the past year has been incredibly challenging so I hope the First Minister’s update helps to lift Paisley’s spirits and give us all the push we need to keep following the guidance and restrictions to the letter as it is only when we all do our bit that long lasting progress is made – and most importantly, maintained.”

PAISLEY’S MSP WELCOMES SNP COMMITMENT TO BUILD 100,000 HOMES & SUPPORT 14,000 JOBS

George Adam, MSP for Paisley, has welcomed a commitment by the SNP to deliver 100,000 affordable homes in Scotland by 2032 – if re-elected in May.

The Housing to 2040 plan will create 14,000 jobs and invest £16billion in housing infrastructure across Scotland, including right here in Paisley.

Key plans from the scheme include:

  • delivering 100,000 more affordable homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these being for social rent.
  • setting a single set of standards for housing quality and accessibility
  • establishing a new fund to help local authorities bring empty homes back into residential use.
  • ending homelessness and rough sleeping once and for all.
  • decarbonising heating in all homes in line with Scotland’s climate ambitions.

Commenting, George said:

“I am delighted the SNP has committed to delivering 100,000 affordable homes over the next decade. It is extremely ambitious and clearly shows our dedication to delivering for families and communities across Scotland, including here in our town.

“The SNP government has already delivered almost 100,000 affordable homes since 2007, which is a massive contrast to the record of the last Labour-Lib Dem administration in Scotland – who famously built just six new council homes in their last four years in office.

“This election gives voters the chance to decide who should be in charge of Scotland’s COVID recovery – a Scottish Government with the interests of people here at heart, or a Tory government that we didn’t vote for, led by the likes of Boris Johnson.

“Only a vote for the SNP will enable us to build a fairer, more equal Scotland and continue delivering for communities here in Paisley and across the country.”

GEORGE ADAM BACKS BUDGET TO DELIVER FOR SCOTLAND & SECURE COVID RECOVERY

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has voted to pass the Scottish Government’s budget for 2021/22 – securing additional funding for our NHS, education, local government, and other vital frontline services with total investment increasing by £3.8 billion.

The amended Budget will ensure the introduction of free school meals for all primary school pupils by August 2022, free bus travel for all under-22s, £15m for active travel and £10m for energy efficiency projects.

The deal will also include an £800 pay rise for public sector workers earning less than £25,000, a 2% uplift for those earning up to £40,000, and an extra pandemic support payment of £130 for households in receipt of council tax reduction.

George Adam said:

“In the face of Tory cuts to Scotland’s capital grant, the SNP has delivered certainty and stability for our economy with a budget that delivers for every single person who lives in Paisley.

“This budget is being delivered in exceptional circumstances as we continue to battle a pandemic that has shaken our society and economy to the core, and as we face the harmful impacts of a hard Tory Brexit. 

“By voting against these plans for stability and certainty for the economy in our town, Labour and the Tories have shown they aren’t remotely interested in doing what’s best for Scotland. They’re far more concerned with launching failing party-political attacks against the SNP.

“In contrast, the SNP in government is getting on with the job of delivering for Scotland – with a budget protecting public services in the face of Tory austerity and cuts.

“With an election just weeks away, this is a Budget the SNP can be proud to stand on. It’s a good deal for Paisley and a good deal for Scotland – and I’m delighted it has now received the support of the Scottish Parliament.”

GEORGE ADAM URGES EMPLOYERS IN PAISLEY TO APPLY FOR APPRENTICESHIP GRANT

Paisley’s MSP has urged employers in town to apply for the SNP Government’s £15 million Apprenticeship Employer Grant.

Marking Scottish Apprenticeship Week, that runs from 1st to 7th March, the MSP has encouraged employers to make the most of the fund which would provide £5,000 for taking on or upskilling a 16 to 24-year old apprentice for those aged up to 29 years who are disabled, care leavers and minority ethnic and £3,500 for taking on or upskilling an apprentice over 25.

The grant will help increase the number of employers able to take on an apprentice or upskill an existing staff member. The fund closes on 25th March or until funding levels are exceeded.

Commenting, George said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the jobs and opportunities available for young people and employers have faced incredible challenges due to the pandemic – that’s why the SNP Government has introduced the Apprenticeship Employer Grant.

“To mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week, I am encouraging local businesses in Paisley to register for the scheme and take on apprentices – creating jobs and teaching our young people new skills.

“Alongside the Young Person’s Guarantee the SNP Scottish Government is taking steps to ensure we build a resilient recovery – and to do that we need a resilient workforce and our young people will be at the very heart of that.”

PAISLEY’S MSP DELIGHTED BY PLANS TO RESUME CARE HOME VISITING

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, asked the Scottish Government when care home residents will be able to see close friends and family and was delighted by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport’s response.

Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, confirmed on the 24th February that safe, indoor visiting will resume from early March so long as the wide range of protections already in place are maintained and rigorously sustained. This will allow everyone living in adult care homes, no matter their age, health, or otherwise, to have meaningful contact with their families and loves ones.

Since the COVID vaccine rollout began in December, over 99.9% of older care home residents and 95% of care staff in Scotland have received their first dose so the vaccination program will work alongside other protective measures including infection prevention and control; testing prior to hospital discharge; PPE, and testing of all staff and visitors in ensuring residents are as safe as possible when visiting resumes.

Additionally, updated care home visiting guidance ‘Open with Care’ has been published to support the return of indoor visiting and ensure that there is meaningful contact between care home residents and their loved ones. The revised guidance recommends that all care homes should support residents to have up to two designated visitors each with one visit a week for each visitor from early March.

Care homes can access support from local oversight teams who have provided ongoing advice and support throughout the pandemic, and the Scottish Government is providing funding for reasonable additional costs incurred as a result of the pandemic – including staffing and non-staffing costs associated with facilitating safe visiting in care homes.

George Adam said:

“It goes without saying this past year has definitely been one of the most challenging in our recent history but I know COVID-19 has been especially difficult for people who have lost loved ones, or been separated from their friends and family members residing in care homes.

“While the restrictions on visiting have undoubtedly been necessary to protect those most vulnerable to coronavirus and the challenges it brings, that necessity has not made it any easier for my constituents living in care homes and their loved ones. That is why I asked the Scottish Government when visiting can resume – and I was absolutely delighted with the Cabinet Secretary’s response.

“From early March safe, indoor visiting is set to resume so long as all current guidance and practice is upheld and diligently implemented, and I know this will mean the world to so many individuals and families right here in our town who have been separated until now.

“Care home staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support continued contact between residents and their loved ones but we all know that nothing really compares to in person contact with those most important to us.

“The updated guidance ‘Open with Care’ has been published to help support the return of such contact and I hope this gives everyone living or working in a care home in Paisley – together with their families and friends – a positive boost after an unprecedented year.”

SLOW AND STEADY ROUTE OUT OF LOCKDOWN ANNOUNCED

Following the First Minister’s announcement on the 23rd February, Paisley’s MSP is hopeful the ‘slow and steady’ approach taken by the Scottish Government will ensure Scotland returns to some semblance of normality as safely and effectively as possible.

While the top priority remains the gradual reopening of schools – with all primary pupils set to be back in class from March 15th, and high school students following on April 5th – it is expected that there will also be some easing of social restrictions over the next six weeks if it remains safe to do so.

On the basis that progress in suppressing the virus and vaccinating key groups remains on track, four people from two households will be allowed to meet outdoors from March 15th and the stay at home order is set to be lifted from April 5th.

By April 26th the levels system of restrictions would then be reintroduced which would allow non-essential retail, pubs, restaurants, gyms and other leisure facilities to reopen – alongside less restrictions on socialisation.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I know how hard current restrictions are after 11 long months of this pandemic, however they are working and we can now see our way out of them. We are in a far better position now than at the start of January and these measures are initial steps on a slow, but hopefully steady, route back to much greater normality.

“Our intent remains to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible.

“At the moment, and for a bit longer, we need to rely very heavily on restrictions to suppress the virus. This is essential when the virus is so transmissible, and when case numbers are still quite high. In time though – once the vast majority of the adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine – we hope that vaccination will become our main tool for suppressing the virus.

“The Strategic Framework is deliberately cautious at this stage but in the coming weeks, if the data allows and positive trends continue, we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“I fully support the First Minister’s careful and cautious approach to the easing of restrictions and am hopeful that this updated Strategic Framework will allow us to get back to doing the things we love as safely and quickly as possible.

“I know how challenging this past year has been for so many of us here in Paisley and I know it could be tempting to start bending the rules as the number of COVID cases starts to reduce – but it is vital at this point that we do not act rashly and follow the slow and steady plan set out by the First Minister for the best chance of long term virus suppression and success.”

SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT OPENS TO FAMILIES IN PAISLEY

George Adam has welcomed the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, which is set to make a difference to families across Paisley at a time when they need it most.

The new SNP Scottish Government benefit will provide families with a much-needed boost as it will give eligible families and carers £40 every four weeks for each child under six.

Payments are due to start at the end of this month and Paisley’s MSP is urging parents who have not applied yet to do so as soon as possible.

Commenting, George said:

“The introduction of the Scottish Child Payment will be a welcome boost for families across our town and I would urge anyone who hasn’t applied to do so as soon as they can so they can receive this benefit that is unique to Scotland.

“The Scottish Child Payment has been described as ‘game-changing’ as it will make a difference to the lives of thousands of children across Scotland.

“As the Scottish Government rolls out this new benefit it is in stark contrast to the Tories at Westminster who are planning on taking away the £20 uplift to Universal Credit at a time when families need it most.

“Along with the Best Start Grant and other benefits rolled out by Social Security Scotland, the Scottish Child Payment is forming part of a benefits system built on dignity, fairness and respect, working for the people of Scotland, not against them.”

THOUSANDS TO BE INVESTED INTO DRUG AND ALCOHOL SERVICES IN PAISLEY

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed millions of pounds of funding from the Scottish Government for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, including those in Paisley.

Announced by Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, £145.3m will be committed to alcohol and drugs services, including £50m to reduce drugs deaths in Scotland.

Last week, the SNP Government provided £3 million for NHS boards to increase provision of residential drug rehabilitation placements and improve access to treatment and harm reduction services – including £103,737 for Renfrewshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership.

The Scottish Budget 2021-22 commits £16billion in total to improving the nation’s health and supporting the NHS in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting George said:

“The millions of pounds committed in the Scottish Budget to tackling drugs deaths across the country demonstrates how seriously the SNP Scottish Government is taking the issue.

“Over the past year, the pandemic has presented an incredible challenge for our health and support services and that has been recognised by the Scottish Government with a commitment of £145m into drug and alcohol services.

“We have some fantastic services here in Paisley, many of which are run by volunteers who give up their time to help the recovery of others, so I am sure this funding will be a boost to them.

“We know that action is needed now to tackle the drugs death emergency Scotland faces. Along with the appointment of the new Drugs Minister, the SNP Government is making significant steps to tackle Scotland’s drugs crisis. 

“The SNP will continue to provide investment for direct interventions to address health inequalities, exacerbated by COVID-19, to create a Scotland where we can all live longer, healthier lives.”