GEORGE ADAM WELCOMES FOOD FUNDING FOR PAISLEY FAMILIES

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed confirmation that Paisley families unable to access food due to coronavirus will get support from the Scottish Government.

Local authorities are sharing £30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food Fund to support those struggling.

Renfrewshire Council have been allocated £1.063 million from the fund, which is one part of the £350 million Communities Fund.

This funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions, and pregnant women.

Councils will have the flexibility to use this additional resource in ways that best meet emerging local needs and circumstances, working with community groups and businesses to support home delivery, provide financial help and meet dietary requirements.

Commenting, George Adam, said:

“Coronavirus has brought enormous disruption to all of our lives, and some people will be concerned about accessing food. This is a distressing enough time with families and friends separated and unable to visit loved ones without having to worry about food or where their next meal is coming from.

“This investment will help those in Paisley who are most at risk – such as older people and children eligible for free school meals – to access food through this unprecedented crisis. I hope this will go a long way in helping to ease one worry many families will have right now.

“Free school meals are vital for families across Paisley and are an important way of ensuring children receive the nutritious food they need. That is why it is so important that support continues while schools remain closed. 

“This is just one part of the support the Scottish Government is providing to individuals and businesses to protect jobs and incomes which we continue to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The £350 million Communities Fund was announced by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell on 18 March 2020.

Since it was announced, over £100 million of new support has been delivered to local authorities to assist their efforts. This includes £50 million in hardship funding, £22 million to bolster the Scottish Welfare Fund and £30 million from the Food Fund.

The guidance shared with local authorities outlines seven key principles to support local thinking about how funding can best be targeted and deployed. People worried about food during the COVID-19 crisis should therefore contact their local authority for further information on the help and support available to them.

PAISLEY’S MSP HAILS POWER OF “COMMUNITY SPIRIT” IN HELPING THOSE IN NEED AS LOCAL SERVICES BEGIN DELIVERIES FOR VULNERABLE RESIDENTS IN PAISLEY

People in Paisley at highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus will begin to receive home deliveries of essential groceries as of Friday, 3rd April.

Letters from the Scottish Government have been issued this week to those who are at greatest risk from the virus, to offer guidance on shielding from infection and information about the support available, which includes access to home deliveries through a text message service.

Locals who have already signed up to the service have been texted with the option of starting their weekly deliveries of essential food items including soup, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as toiletries such as shower gel and toilet roll.

Those in the high risk group who have received a letter but do not have access to a mobile phone will be able to register for deliveries through Renfrewshire Council’s main switchboard number – 0300 300 0300, Monday to Friday, between 8.45am and 4.45pm.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“This is the greatest test we’ve faced in a lifetime and this scheme will ensure those most at risk from coronavirus get the support they need.

“The community spirit shown here in Paisley over the last few weeks has been absolutely amazing with friends, family and neighbours going that extra mile to look out for one another. I didn’t expect anything less from Paisley buddies but it is wonderful to experience the sense of togetherness that’s abundant even though we’re apart.

“It is hugely important however that everyone who receives a letter, and requires this support, signs up to this service immediately to make sure they are fully stocked with essential items.

“We have to prioritise those most in need, and by continuing to work together we can ensure everyone here in our community remains safe. I know this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but I also know that the Paisley’s spirit will only get stronger as this lockdown continues and we will all come out of this more resilient than before.”

The grocery delivery service will be led by Brakes and Bidfood with the first deliveries expected on 3 April.

The six categories of risk – as agreed by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers – are:

1. Solid organ transplant recipients

2. People with specific cancers:

a. People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer

b. People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment

c. People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer

d. People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors

e. People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD

4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)

5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection

6. People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease

Further information can be found here: https://news.gov.scot/news/deliveries-for-high-risk-groups

PAISLEY’S MSP URGES PEOPLE TO ‘STAY LOCAL’ WHEN EXERCISING

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has urged constituents to ‘stay local’ when exercising and walking dogs, and avoid any unnecessary travel that could help spread coronavirus.

Official advice from the Scottish and UK governments warns that people should not be driving somewhere with the intent of doing exercise or walking their dog – with new powers granted to police to enforce these regulations.

To protect yourself and others from illness and save lives, people in Paisley should also avoid driving to well-known local gathering places such as the Gleniffer Braes and other beauty spots across Renfrewshire.

George Adam said: 

“Of course exercise is extremely important for peoples’ physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s important to note that people in Paisley can leave their homes for exercise once a day, with members of their own household.

“However, you should only be outside for a reasonable purpose – buying food or essential household or medical supplies; travelling to or carrying out essential work; exercising once a day; or providing care or assistance to others.

“People in Paisley should make use of gardens – if they can – and stay local when exercising or walking dogs, to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus. 

“This is about saving lives and protecting our NHS. We all recognise how unusual these regulations are and the Scottish Government will act to remove these restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, but in the meantime we must all continue to do our bit and stay home as much as possible.

“I know how isolating and difficult this must be for everyone, but staying home is a very small ask compared to the lifesaving work all of our frontline staff and key workers are doing to make sure we survive this outbreak.” 

Please use the following guidance in order to stay safe:

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible 
  • do not travel unnecessarily
  • you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
  • keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household at all times
  • gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

PAISLEY’S MSP CALLS ON RESIDENTS TO VOLUNTEER DURING PANDEMIC

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has called on buddies to volunteer in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new ‘Scotland Cares’ campaign has been launched to encourage people to volunteer.

While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.

Those wanting to volunteer to support their community have three options which are signposted from the Ready Scotland website:

• returning NHS workers will be directed to existing voluntary arrangements in NHS Scotland

• people wishing to offer their support to our public services, including the NHS and local authorities, will be directed to a site co-ordinated by the British Red Cross

• those looking for opportunities with other charities or community groups in their area will be directed to Volunteer Scotland for information

Commenting, George Adam, said:

“In these difficult times, I know people across Paisley want to make a difference in their community.

“While not everyone will be able to volunteer, this new Scottish Government campaign will help people to make a real difference. 

“The Scottish Government is working closely with local government and a range of partners to co-ordinate the volunteering effort across Scotland.

“Through the readyscotland.org website, we can connect people to where their contribution is most needed in their local community.

“For some, that may involve roles responding to specific needs in health and social care. For others, it may be that we draw on their skills, enthusiasm and energy in the weeks and months to come.

“It is important to remember that the most helpful thing many of us can continue to do to help the NHS is to stay at home and follow all COVID-19 guidance.”

Volunteers who want to support their communities should visit www.ReadyScotland.org to find out how they can help.

The website is being constantly updated and provides advice on volunteering safely and the organisations to register an interest with such as Volunteer Scotland and the Red Cross.

Businesses who can offer support should email covid19response@gov.scot

In line with Scotland’s current stay at home rules the public can only volunteer to carry out tasks which involve leaving their home, once a day, if you are not required to be isolating and are not in any risk categories.

Please check the latest advice at www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus

LOCAL SUPERMARKETS GIVE PRIORITY TO NHS HEROES AND THE VULNERABLE

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to change life as we know it, Paisley supermarkets rise to the challenge and do what they can to make sure our frontline NHS workers and vulnerable groups can get what they need – while minimising the risk of spreading the virus as much as possible.

Asda, Morrisons, and Iceland – all in the Paisley area – have set aside dedicated hours for the elderly, vulnerable, and NHS staff to shop without anyone else in store allowing them to make essential purchases without long queues and the worry of empty shelves.

In Asda on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 and 9am, NHS workers will have priority, and while specific shopping hours for elderly customers has yet to be introduced, the company will be assisting the most vulnerable get access to its online delivery service. Morrisons have adopted a similar policy for NHS and social care workers on Monday to Sunday, 7-8am, and are offering a food box service of essential items for vulnerable people who cannot get a delivery slot.

Iceland, the first store to implement protected hours, are continuing to operate for the elderly during their first hour of opening and for NHS staff during the last hour of trade; while Aldi are ensuring that frontline healthcare professionals and emergency service personnel will get priority at the checkout on Sundays between 8 and 9am.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“As I’ve said before, day to day life is certainly different for most of us here in Paisley but that does not mean we can’t continue to do our bit for those in the healthcare sector going above and beyond right now; or for those who are vulnerable and need a little extra help.

“It is great to see the big supermarkets now implementing protected hours and doing all they can to ensure both staff and customers are as safe as possible when shopping for essentials. When doing my own essential shop, I noticed social distancing signs and the introduction of Perspex screens at the checkouts – seeing companies take responsibility for continuing to spread awareness and act accordingly is exactly what’s needed right now.

“While these are indeed unprecedented times, it is during times like this that a community shows what it’s really made of. By working together with businesses, staff, and customers alike to make sure everyone is supported as much as possible; I have faith that we will come out the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever. The sense of community across Scotland – and indeed the globe – right now is when the best of humanity can shine through.”

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

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

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

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

Paisley’s MSP said:

Geroge Adam MSP

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

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

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

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

ASDA SUPPORTS VULNERABLE GROUPS, THE ELDERLY, AND STAFF

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

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

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

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

George Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

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

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

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

£2.2 BILLION FOR BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY COVID-19

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

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

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

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

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

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

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

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

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

SNP BUDGET DELIVERS £3.4 BILLION FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

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

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

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

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

Holyrood passes plans to transform Paisley’s economy

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

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

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

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

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

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

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