FACE COVERING EXEMPTION CARDS LAUNCHED BY SNP GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT EVERYONE TO FEEL SAFER

The Scottish Government has produced a face covering exemption card, to support those who are unable to wear one to feel more confident and safe when accessing public spaces and using public services.

The Scottish Government was the first of the devolved administrations to produce guidance on the use of face coverings – recognising exemptions where people are unable to, or it would be inappropriate to, wear a face covering. These include exemptions due to health conditions or disabilities, or for those providing care for someone with a health condition or disability, or if a face covering cannot be applied and worn in the proper manner safely and consistently.

The current exemption policy was developed in consultation with a disabled people’s organisation and the initial message received was that the onus should be placed on society to be accepting and understanding of exemptions, rather than for the individual to prove their exemption.

However, following further consultation with a range of equality stakeholders, it was determined that a card be created to provide people who are exempt with a tool to help them feel comfortable to actively participate in society without fear.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley Anne Somerville, said:

“Everyone who can do so is legally obliged to wear a face covering where it is mandated by law. But there are some people who cannot, due to health conditions, disabilities or other special circumstances where a face covering may cause difficulty or distress.

“Discrimination against people in this situation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, therefore we have developed this card in conjunction with a range of equality stakeholders as something which can clearly communicate to others if you are exempt from the regulations.”

The face covering exemption card is branded with the Healthier Scotland and NHS Scotland logos under the FACTS for a Safer Scotland campaign.

A physical card can be requested from Disability Equality Scotland to wear on a lanyard or hold in a wallet, while a digital card is also available to be displayed on a phone, tablet or other device.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, is also very supportive of this new initiative and said:

“Wearing a mask or another face covering while out and about is of paramount importance right now so it goes without saying that we should all be wearing one if we can.

“However as noted by my colleague above, there are occasions when those with health conditions or disabilities cannot wear one so no one should have to face persecution or discrimination from members of the public under these circumstances.

“This new card scheme will hopefully go long way towards helping those exempt from wearing a face covering feel more at ease when shopping or going about their daily activities, and with any luck will equally serve as a reminder to us all to be more considerate and kind moving forward.

“These are undoubtedly challenging and difficult times, but harassing others will not make the current climate any more manageable.

“I know many people in Paisley unable to wear a mask will be grateful that the Scottish Government have taken this step.”

Morven Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Equality Scotland, said:

“Since face coverings became mandatory, we have been inundated with calls from our members, many of whom cannot wear face coverings for a variety of health reasons.

“The launch of the Scottish Government exemption card will help disabled people to feel more comfortable and confident to go about their daily lives free from fear of harassment and abuse.”

Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland, said:

“We are pleased that a Government backed exemption card has been created and we hope this will ensure no one faces any more prejudice during this very stressful time.”

Physical and digital cards are available to request online from 29 October at www.exempt.scot or via a free helpline on 0800 121 6240.

LOCAL MINERS CONVICTED DURING STRIKE TO BE PARDONED AS SNP GOVERNMENT LEADS THE WAY TO “RIGHT A HISTORIC WRONG”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed news that Scottish miners convicted during the year-long strike in the 1980s are to be pardoned by the SNP Government.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, made the announcement in Holyrood today following the publication of an independent review into the matter.  

It is believed about 1,400 miners were arrested across Scotland and more than 500 were convicted.

The pardons scheme will require new legislation to be introduced by the SNP Government and passed by the Scottish Parliament in due course.

Commenting, George said:

“A great number of miners across Scotland have suffered for years due to the excessive convictions handed out during the strike and for decades, these men and their families have had to deal with the consequences.

“Although the strike may have taken place 35 years ago, there is still much anger in many of our local communities about how the miners were treated – and rightly so.

“Personally for me, watching the strike unfold and the way these hardworking men were treated with such contempt and disregard is what drove my passion for justice, dignity and respect as a young person, and it is definitely one of the key reasons I am where I am today – fighting for Scotland and the people of Paisley to make sure no one is treated so badly by the UK Government again.

“This collective pardon also applies posthumously and that in of itself is clear evidence of the SNP Government’s aim to right a historic wrong. I am proud to be a member of such a progressive and fair party and hope this announcement helps bring some peace to those who have suffered unnecessarily for so long.”

Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf MSP, said:

“The pardon is intended to acknowledge the disproportionate impact arising from miners being prosecuted and convicted during the strike – such as the loss of their job.  It will also recognise the exceptional circumstances that resulted in former miners suffering hardship and the loss of their good name through their participation in the strike.

“It is also vital to acknowledge that many officers involved in policing the strike found it an incredibly difficult time – being rooted in their communities and having family members who were miners.”

PAISLEY’S MSP: SLAPPING EXTRA CHARGES ON TO THE COST OF ESSENTIAL PPE IS ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has branded the UK Tory government’s decision to allow the temporary suspension of VAT on personal protective equipment (PPE) to expire as “shocking”.

VAT on PPE was cut to 0% in May following a campaign from trade union groups and opposition parties, with the cut applying to items such as face masks and aprons.

It was initially due to return to 20% in August, but was extended until October 31.

The Tories’ planned changes mean that businesses, charities and individuals in Paisley will now be slapped with extra charges when purchasing essential PPE to protect against the COVID-19.

George Adam said:

“The UK government’s decision to slap extra charges on to the cost of essential PPE in the middle of a global pandemic is absolutely shocking.  

“Right now, cases are rising across the UK and the safety of our key workers and care providers in Paisley is more important than ever – yet this is when the Tories think it is acceptable to add an extra financial worry to their already full plates.

“Many local businesses are struggling just to get by, and our care sector is already stretched as they deal with the Covid-19 crisis and the increased pressures of the winter season. The last thing anyone needs right now is to be penalised for protecting themselves or their staff.

“Boris Johnson must reverse this decision before these changes come into effect at the end of this week – and if he doesn’t I know all of us here in Paisley will remember this for a very long time.”

2,295 LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS IN RENFREWSHIRE SUPPORTED BY SNP GOVERNMENT THROUGH CRISIS GRANTS OVER LOCKDOWN

The Scottish Welfare Fund made 2,295 crisis grant payments to people across Renfrewshire in the last financial quarter – an increase of 21% on last year – to help pay for essentials such as food, heating costs, and household necessities. 

Latest figures show that the Scottish Welfare Fund has paid out a total of 50,125 grants to households in Renfrewshire since it was established 2013. 

The Scottish Welfare Fund awarded £5.2 million in crisis grants across Scotland between April and June 2020, up 77 per cent on the same period last year – after Scottish Government increased the amount of funding available for the fund. 

Paisley’s MSP said:

“The Scottish Welfare Fund is an important example of the kind of action the SNP has taken to ensure there is additional financial support in place for people in our town coping with the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“This vital support stands in stark contrast to what is happening at Westminster, with Tory MPs voting to deprive children of free school meals, and robbing Scotland of crucial funding to support our most vulnerable. 

“While the Scottish Government works to improve provision for families in Paisley facing poverty, we continue to have to spend money to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from UK government benefit cuts. 

“For as long as welfare decisions remain at Westminster, the SNP will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support people across Renfrewshire to get through this challenging time.”

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES COVID-19: SCOTLAND’S STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK

The Scottish Government has published COVID-19: Scotland’s Strategic Framework which sets out how Scotland will work to suppress the virus and the reasoning behind the decisions the government has made will need to make moving forward.

The framework is rooted in tackling the four harms we know the virus causes and sets out the proposal to move from the current Route Map approach to a strategic approach based on five levels of protection – each with graduated packages of measures to reduce transmission of the virus – that can be applied locally or nationally, according to the evolving patterns of infection and virus transmission.

The Scottish Government will engage with the Scottish Parliament on the detail of the framework, and put this to a debate and vote next week.

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, said:

“This strategic framework and five tiered approach emphasises the Scottish Government’s detailed and thorough response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and highlights their continued commitment to protecting our NHS and saving the lives of Scottish people across the country.

“The proposals, set to be debated in parliament next week, aim to support our health and social care services; mitigate the social harms caused by the continued restrictions; support the economy and the devastating impact the past seven months have had on businesses, and ultimately suppress the virus to the lowest possible level while striving to return our everyday lives to some semblance of normality.

“As Paisley’s MSP, I want the absolute best for my constituents and our town, and I completely understand how hard this year has been for everyone. But throughout all the challenges we’ve faced so far, I’ve witnessed a tremendous sense of community spirit and I know our town will continue to rally together and help each other weather the continued difficulties caused by this crisis.

“As we move forward we must all resolve to do our part so our health and care services, communities, and economy can best be protected – and the best way to ensure that is to follow the necessary protective measures, take care of ourselves and look out for each other.

“Above all we must remember a better future lies ahead and I certainly am looking forward to the day we will all be reunited again.”

Further information and the complete strategic framework can be found at https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-19-scotlands-strategic-framework/

7,420 CHILDREN IN RENFREWSHIRE TO BENEFIT AS SNP GOVERNMENT PROVIDE £10 MILLION TO EXTEND FREE SCHOOL MEALS OVER HOLIDAYS

More than 7,400 children across Paisley and Renfrewshire will benefit from extra funding to extend free school meals over the Christmas and Easter holidays.

£10 million has been made available by the SNP Government so that councils can continue providing free school meals through the winter breaks with future funding confirmed to extend support over Easter.

On Wednesday, Tory MPs voted to reject a plan to extend free school meals into the school holidays, arguing that it was not the job of schools to “regularly provide food during the school holidays”.

No Scottish Tory MP voted to support the plan, despite recent indications from Douglas Ross that he wishes to end the Tories’ opposition to the free school meals provision. 

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“Many families in Paisley are under considerable financial pressure at this time, and with less than two weeks until the UK government prematurely shuts down the furlough scheme, that’s unfortunately only set to get worse. 

“This important investment will support around 7,420 children and young people across Renfrewshire and will undoubtedly help families meet the cost of meals over Christmas, February and Easter holidays.

“The Scottish Government’s decision to extend the free school meals scheme will be a great relief for many hard-pressed parents.

“The Tories at Westminster had an opportunity to support thousands of families worrying about how they will put food on the table in the weeks ahead, but they refused to do so. 

“It’s clear that Westminster has a lot to learn from the SNP’s approach to tackling food insecurity and building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect.”

PAISLEY’S MSP WELCOMES PROPOSED DELAY TO FIRE ALARM REGULATIONS

George Adam has welcomed the announcement that new legislation which requires all homes in Scotland to have interlinked smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will be delayed until February 2022.

The Scottish Government yesterday confirmed that it will ask Parliament to approve a 12-month delay in the deadline to carry out this important safety work. 

If the delay is approved, the new regulations, which extend the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds to all homes in Scotland, will be moved back to February 2022. 

The Scottish Government has already made over £15m of loan funding available for Social Landlords to procure and install the necessary alarms which should help ensure that social tenants are safe in their homes. 

George Adam MSP

The Scottish Government has also provided additional funding of £870,000 in each year for the last two years to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to support their Home Safety Visits for vulnerable and high-risk people

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, said: 

“Fire safety is an absolute priority for all of us, and these improved regulations will mean that everyone in Paisley will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.

“However, given the impact of Covid-19, and the difficulties this legislation was likely to cause for people seeking to install new alarms, it is welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay the deadline by 12 months. 

“As Paisley’s MSP, you all know I will continue to look closely at ensuring people have the support, information and advice they need to make changes in advance of the new standards coming into force in February 2022.”

PAISLEY’S MSP ENCOURAGES APPLICATIONS FOR SCOTLAND LOVES LOCAL FUND TO HELP SUPPORT COMMUNITY SHOPPING AND PROMOTE TOWN CENTRES

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP has encouraged projects in Paisley to apply for a new £1 million fund, which has been launched by the SNP government to help promote town centres and online businesses and encourage people to spend locally. 

Grants of between £500 and £5000 will be given out as part of the Scotland Loves Local scheme, which aims to enable visitors and residents to safely shop, eat and relax within communities.

The funding aims to support small scale improvements that will help motivate people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety, and can be used for measures such as protective screens, physical distancing markers, hand sanitising equipment and PPE.

George said: 

“We all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s now more important than ever to consider shopping locally and supporting the brilliant local businesses right in our town.

“The Scotland Loves Local campaign – which will provide grants of between £500 and £5,000 – encourages people to think how they can safely support people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety.

“This £1 million fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, is an exciting opportunity for local projects and locally-based online businesses to support town centres and promote their local community.  “I know this money will be a real boost for communities across Paisley and I look forward to the difference this will make in our town.”

The funding is being provided by the Scottish Government and administered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership. Applications opened on Sunday October 18th and will close on Friday November 25th, and it is anticipated that grants will be allocated to successful applicants within a month of the fund launching.

More information and guidance on how to apply can be found at https://www.scotlandstowns.org/scotland_loves_local_fund_application_form_and_guidance

SNP GOVERNMENT EXTENDS SUPPORT FOR LOCAL BUS SERVICES

Paisley’s MSP has welcomed an announcement that the SNP Government will further extend its funding support for Scotland’s bus operators.

Announced today by Scotland’s Transport Secretary, the SNP Government will invest up to £52.6 million in maintaining Scotland’s bus services between November 2020 and January 2021.

This latest announcement is in addition to the £109.7 million in funding that the SNP Government has been providing since June to support bus services.

Bus travel typically accounts for just under three quarters of all public transport journeys. This funding is to cover the anticipated loss of fare-paying passenger revenue that operators will experience due to physical distancing and reduced carrying capacity during a period when more people would normally be travelling.

George Adam MSP

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP said:

“So far the SNP Government has invested over £109 million in maintaining Scotland’s bus services during the pandemic.

“This is a difficult time for bus operators with physical distancing and reduced passenger numbers hitting the industry hard. This further £52 million will go some of the way to alleviating that strain.  

“While we must follow the latest guidance and walk or cycle where possible, I want to thank all of our public transport operators and staff here in Paisley who have helped keep Scotland’s key workers moving in recent months.

“The SNP Government will continue to work with passengers, businesses and bus operators to provide a safe and frequent bus network for those who need to make essential journeys.”

GEORGE ADAM URGES CONSTITUENTS TO APPLY FOR SELF-ISOLATION SUPPORT GRANT

Paisley’s MSP has urged constituents who face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate to apply for a £500 self-isolation grant offered by the SNP Government.

The new Self-Isolation Support Grant will help people in Paisley who would lose income if they needed to self-isolate, such as those unable to work from home.

This grant is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefits, with some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship.

Applications for the Self-Isolation Support Grant opened on 12th October and will be delivered through the existing Scottish Welfare Fund, which is administered by local authorities.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“We know that self-isolation can be tough, but it is essential to protect people and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“To ensure people do not experience financial hardship as a result of doing the right thing, the SNP Government has introduced this new £500 grant for people on low incomes who have been asked to self-isolate.

“It’s essential that we do everything we can to support people throughout this challenging time.

“These payments will help ensure people in our town do not have to make a choice between self-isolating and supporting themselves financially.

“Applications for this new benefit are now open, and I’d urge anyone in Paisley who is facing a loss of income due to self-isolating to apply for it.”