SNP GOVERNMENT TRIPLES SUPPORT FOR TAXI DRIVERS IN PAISLEY

Paisley’s MSP has expressed his delight that taxi and private hire drivers in Paisley will have access to three times the amount of Scottish Government support than they did last year.

Eligible drivers will be able to claim a £1,500 grant to cover fixed costs, boosting the support available to them by the Scottish Government.

A total fund of £57million has been available to taxi and private hire drivers – three times more than the allocated funding in December.

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP said:

“I am delighted the SNP Scottish Government has increased the funding available to taxi and private hire drivers. Many of these drivers in Paisley have gone above and beyond the call of duty by providing transport for key workers and taking people safely to hospital appointments.

“This substantial increase in support for them is the recognition they deserve in what has been a tough time for the industry due to the lockdown restrictions.

“Despite the restrictions, many fixed costs have still remained for drivers, such as general maintenance, licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments and the increase in funding will cover these expensive costs.

“I would urge the local council to contact firms quickly to ensure they can receive the money in their account as soon as possible.”

PAISLEY’S MSP DELIGHTED AS THOUSANDS APPLY EARLY FOR SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT

George Adam has shown his delight as thousands of families in Scotland have applied for the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment early, and is now urging any families in the area who have not yet applied for the scheme to do so to ensure they do not miss out on any money.

So far, Social Security Scotland have had 56,000 applications since the process opened in November. The Scottish Child Payment is set to be rolled out on 15th February.

Paisley’s MSP said:

“It is extremely encouraging to see so many families sign up early to receive their Scottish Child Payment when it is rolled out in February by the SNP Scottish Government.

“When the payment is introduced it will provide a real difference to families across Scotland at a much-needed time.

“This is just the start of the work Social Security Scotland is introducing to make a real difference to the lives of people right here in Paisley, with the Scottish Child Payment described as ‘game-changing’ by anti-poverty charities. 

“I would urge anyone who has not yet applied to the scheme to make sure they do so they do not miss out on any money they are entitled to.”

PAISLEY’S MSP DELIGHTED BY ANNOUNCEMENT OF INCREASED BUS FUNDING

On Tuesday, George Adam asked the Scottish Government whether COVID-19 funding for bus operators will be extended beyond 17 January 2021 in a bid to ensure his constituents have access to suitable public transport during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the question from Paisley’s MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, announced up to £29 million in further funding to support bus operators to maintain bus services between 18 January and 31 March 2021.

This is in addition to the £162.3 million in funding the Scottish Government has been providing since June to support bus services and will cover the expected loss of fare revenue due to carrying capacity constraints as a result of physical distancing and reduced demand.

Bus travel typically accounts for almost three quarters of public transport journeys, so this funding will be vital in keeping public transport running for those who need it while capacity is reduced due to physical distancing.

George Adam said:

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging for most industries, it’s important that our public transport system remains operational despite reduced capacity and the pressures of social distancing.

“Our local bus services are vital in keeping Paisley connected and moving, and it is crucial that operators are able to continue to function as normal so we can safely travel to work, access health services, or visit loved ones when necessary.

“With that in mind, it was important to me to ask what further funding was available so I am delighted to hear of this increased support from the Scottish Government and their continued commitment to our transport network.

“I’d like to highlight here that while the Government remains committed to doing all it can to help the bus industry deliver services; it is vital that the public continues to follow the latest travel guidance and walk, wheel or cycle wherever they can.

“With the public’s help we can provide safe public transport while protecting public health.”

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCE £55 MILLION EMERGENCY FUNDING PACKAGE FOR SPORT

A £55 million emergency sports funding package to tackle lost ticket revenue during the pandemic has been announced today by Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick.

The funding will comprise grants and low-interest loans, including £30 million for Scottish Football at all levels of the game. Scottish Rugby will benefit from £20 million, alongside funding for basketball, netball, motor sport, horse racing and ice hockey, including support for ice rinks that support Scotland’s world-class curling programmes as well as recreational and professional skating. 

The package comes in addition to Sportscotland’s £1.5 million COVID Recovery Support Fund. In partnership with the Scottish Government, the agency also loosened the criteria for its £32 million planned annual investment for the sports sector during the pandemic, allowing sports organisations to protect 1,600 jobs.

Mr FitzPatrick said:

“I am pleased to announce this substantial funding package, which will help to ensure those sports which have been worst affected by the loss of ticket revenue during the pandemic are able to bridge the gap in revenue until spectators are able to return safely to sports events in larger numbers.

“While restrictions on supporters at events have been vital in stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives, there can be no doubt that they have created real hardships for many sports clubs. These clubs are at the heart of our communities and, without urgent financial support, the survival of some could be in question. I’m delighted that we are able to provide significantly more support than the Barnett consequential funding received from the UK Government Sports Winter Survival package.

“I recognise that for football in particular, governing bodies, clubs and, of course, supporters themselves are desperate to see fans back as soon as possible. Sport brings great enjoyment to the many people who watch and play, and we don’t want supporters to be delayed in returning to stadiums for any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

Sportscotland Chief Executive Stewart Harris said:

“This announcement is very welcome as the funding will help protect the immediate future of many clubs over the coming months.

“We will continue to work with a range of Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and the Scottish Government to prioritise this funding to ensure the survival of the sports at the heart of our communities.

“With the roll out of the vaccine this week there is real hope that we are beginning to see our way out of this pandemic, and we need to make certain that sport is in a good place and is a prominent part of the overall recovery plan.”

Spectator sports in Paisley will receive a share of the £55million package, and the support will help teams such as St Mirren Football Club cope with a difficult period where they have been unable to welcome fans to matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has long been a fan and supporter of St. Mirren FC and knows the hardship local sports clubs have faced since the beginning of the pandemic, was equally delighted with the announcement of increased funding.

He said:

“As a local football fan myself, I know how challenging this year has been for our clubs and the industry as a whole. It’s vital therefore that we have an industry to go back to, participate in, and enjoy once it’s safe to do so which is why I am delighted by this announcement from Mr FitzPatrick and the Scottish Government.

“Like many of you, I miss wrapping up and going to see a game at the weekend as for me nothing compares to cheering on my team, surrounded by other roaring fans, and enjoying the sense of community and togetherness the game creates – regardless of whether we win or lose. But I will only enjoy it once again if I know myself and my fellow fans aren’t endangering ourselves in the process.

“No one wants to see our beloved teams or clubs suffer which is why the Scottish Government have been working closely with clubs and sporting authorities from the outset of the pandemic to make sure all levels have access to the support and advice they need at this difficult time.

“Things many be challenging right now, but I know this emergency funding will make a massive difference and our collective sacrifices will all be worth it when we return to our stadiums, halls, and sporting events safely in the future.”

BUSINESSES IN PAISLEY TO RECEIVE SHARE OF £185 MILLION SCOTGOV FUNDING

Businesses in Paisley are set to receive their share of a targeted Scottish Government coronavirus fund worth £185million. 

The funding was announced today by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and will benefit a wide range of sectors, such as taxi drivers, arts venues and the hospitality sector. 

The Scottish Government is developing grant schemes for hospitality, the events sector, live music, arts, indoor football centres and the food and drink sector. A further £60 million will also be provided to the tourism sector. 

In addition, there will be additional one-off payments of either of £2,000 or £3,000 available for hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand.

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

“This Scottish Government funding, which is designed to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this health crisis, is very welcome here in Paisley.

“There is now light at the end of the tunnel, but we are coming into a notoriously difficult period for businesses as we head into the winter months, and this package should help support local businesses struggling to get by and support the sectors worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Local businesses and industries here in our town are understandably concerned about the impact that coronavirus will have on our economy, but the Scottish Government will continue to listen to the needs of business and review and refine the Covid-19 support on offer.

“I’d encourage all businesses here in Paisley to continue to ensure they are receiving all the support they’re entitled to.”

PAISLEY AND RENFREWSHIRE MOVED BACK DOWN TO LEVEL 3

Following the First Minister’s address on the 8th December, Renfrewshire will move down into Level 3 from Friday 11th December at 6pm.

The past 3 weeks of severe Level 4 restrictions has seen the prevalence of positive cases reduce to levels where a move to Level 3 has been deemed safe and appropriate, and although the number of positive tests fluctuates on a daily basis, the national average for test positivity in the week up to Friday 4th December was back under 5% – the threshold that the WHO uses to determine if an outbreak is under control. This progress is also reflected in hospital and intensive care statistics and has put the country in a much better position to cope with the inevitable difficulties of winter.

Despite the progress that has been made, the First Minister advised that a move back down to Level 3 does not remove the need for a cautious and careful approach moving forward as the risks and challenges of the next few months are clear.

Under Level 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 still prohibited. However Level 3 does permit the reopening of non-essential retail businesses, along with the hospitality, beauty and leisure industries – albeit under the same restrictions as previously.

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, said:

“I know this will be very welcomed news by most of us here in Paisley and I’m delighted that our local businesses who have been closed for the past 3 weeks will be allowed to reopen and trade again.

“However like the First Minister stressed, this reduction in levels does not by any stretch of the imagination mean we are out of the woods yet – and if the increase of positive cases we saw last month has taught us anything, it’s that COVID can rapidly spread throughout our community again if we’re not careful.

“This week has been a very positive one with the first doses of the vaccine now administered to some of the most vulnerable in our communities, and I know many people will be looking forward to being able to see friends and loved ones under the temporary restrictions for over the festive period – but above all I would urge everyone living and working in Paisley right now to really question whether their journeys are essential so we can keep making progress against this horrible illness.”

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.”