FIRST MINISTER ANNOUNCES MORE RELAXED MEASURES ALONG WITH MANDATORY FACE COVERINGS AS WE TRANSITION THROUGH PHASE 2

On Thursday 2nd July, the First Minister detailed plans to relax certain restrictions as we enter the second stage of Phase 2 and prepare to transition into Phase 3 over the coming weeks. These increased freedoms are dependent on the ‘R’ number – the rate of infection spread within the community – remaining low.

As of Friday 3th July, outside cafés and beer gardens will be allowed to reopen with strict physical distancing and hygiene measures in place, alongside the reopening of self-contained holiday homes such as caravan parks and camping sites where residents do not share common spaces or facilities.

Travel restrictions have also been relaxed throughout Scotland – with the exception of certain postcodes in Dumfries and Galloway where infection rates have recently risen – permitting journeys of over 5 miles for leisure purposes. Children under 11 years old have also been given the green light to play and socialise with other children and their families without observing a 2m distance as the medical evidence suggests children are at much lower risk of COVID-19.

While the First Minister acknowledged this will be a welcome announcement to many, she has urged for caution and care to be upheld at all times to avoid spread and transition to Scotland’s rural and island communities, or to those still at risk of infection and complications.

Places of worship and the conditions under which they will be able to reopen for communal prayer will be clarified next week as the First Minister continues to discuss with Scotland’s main faith groups ways in which some semblance of normality can be resumed.

Alongside the relaxation of certain restrictions, face coverings in shops will become mandatory as of the 10th of July to protect both staff and customers and society at large, with the public urged to use face coverings on voluntary basis until then.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

“I’m sure like many in Paisley, I welcome the First Minister’s recent briefing and the announcement that outdoor restaurants, cafés and beer gardens have been given the go ahead to reopen. I am certain this will not only make a massive difference to business owners, employees and the economy in general, but also to those experiencing loneliness and isolation who are now able to socialise locally.

“Likewise I am sure the reopening of caravan parks and the freedom for holiday makers to travel to second homes and other self-contained holiday units will be a blessing after months of lockdown – especially with the school holidays in full swing – and allow many families to spend time with their kids away from home safely.

“While I am incredibly pleased that Scotland is making quick progress in containing coronavirus to allow these new measures to come into effect; it is vital that we all keep taking the necessary precautions and follow the guidance as best as we can to avoid a second spike and the need for further restrictions in the future.

“With increased freedoms it can be easy to get complacent and forget we are still very much in the middle of a global pandemic. The Scottish Government’s way is working and the statistics are proving that – but we must all keep doing our bit, observe social distancing and keep personal hygiene high to protect our communities and continue saving lives.”

FREE SCHOOL MEALS EXTENDED IN PAISLEY AS PAISLEY’S MSP WELCOMES ADDITIONAL AN £27.6m FOR FAMILIES ACROSS SCOTLAND

Children in Paisley eligible for free school meals will be among those who continue to be supported over the summer through a package of £27.6 million of additional funding from the Scottish Government.

Renfrewshire Council will receive £441,000 funding from the SNP government to support the continued provision of free school meals during the summer holiday period, and £504,000 for the wider provision of food support. 

This funding will ensure that Renfrewshire is able to continue the provision of free school meals during the summer holidays and other food provision to help low income families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

George Adam MSP

George Adam said: 

“We know that this pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, so it’s right that the Scottish Government has ensured our town can continue to provide free school meals and support families, children and young people who need some extra help at this challenging time. 

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

“I know this extra support will make a huge difference to children and their families right here in our town and across Scotland, and help to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society receive support during this pandemic.”

Individuals who are unable to access or afford food and cannot get the help they need from family, friends or neighbours are encouraged to call the national assistance helpline. The free helpline number is 0800 111 4000, or can be contacted via a textphone on 0800 111 4114. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

Callers will be put through to speak to someone at their local council who will be able to provide advice on what types of help are available. This might include:

– food, if you’re not able to get the day-to-day food you need

– medication, if you’re not able to pick up the prescriptions you need

– access to local social work services

– emotional support

– contact with local volunteer groups

HOLYROOD BACKS £8.56 MILLION FOR PAISLEY TO TACKLE COVID-19

Paisley’s MSP has welcomed a Holyrood vote approving £8.56 million extra funding for Renfrewshire in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost £258 million extra funding has been approved for vital local services across Scotland, such as food provision for those in need, education and social care.

The Scottish Government is in discussions with local authorities over providing a further £72 million – which will bring the total additional funding to almost £330 million.

This extra funding is on top of the local government finance settlement of £11.4 billion, which already provided an increase of £589.4 million (5.8%) compared to the previous year.

George Adam said:

“The pandemic has put real pressure on families and local services, and it’s right that the Scottish Government has ensured Paisley has more cash to deal with this.

“This funding boost is supporting access to food, welfare payments and frontline services. “I also welcome the additional flexibility given to councils in how money is spent, allowing resources to be diverted to the COVID-19 response if required.”

SNP ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS IN PAISLEY

Paisley’s MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of extra financial help for students facing financial hardship over the summer months. 

The Scottish Government has brought forward early access to £11.4 million of discretionary funds – which will be administered by colleges and universities – to support higher education students. 

Students are, due to UK government rules, unable to claim Universal Credit or other benefits.

Scottish students studying in Europe as part of EU Portability or historically arranged schemes will also be able to access a £100,000 emergency fund administered by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). 

George Adam MSP said:

“Many students in Paisley will have expected to find paid work over the summer to cover their rent or save for the following term – but are now, through no fault of their own, unable to do so. 

“I know this Scottish Government support will be welcome news for those students who rely on part-time jobs over the summer months, who could find it difficult to cover their living costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No student should face financial hardship as a result of this crisis – and these new measures will support students until the start of the next academic year when bursary, grant, and loan payments will begin again.”

£4,558,000 FUNDING BOOST FOR RENFREWSHIRE SCHOOLS

Paisley’s MSP praises the SNP Government’s announcement of a £50million package of support to improve attainment in local schools and has said pupils living in Paisley’s most deprived communities will benefit from targeted funding from the Attainment Scotland Fund to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.  

Renfrewshire Council will receive a £4,558,000 investment from the SNP Scottish Government to support pupils from deprived backgrounds and to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, schools and local authorities will have flexibility to redirect some of this funding from existing plans to best support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families, with a continued focus on equity in education.

Nine local councils with the highest concentrations of deprivation in Scotland, known as “Challenge Authorities”, will share £43 million of investment from the Attainment Scotland Fund. In addition, a further £7 million will be shared from the Schools’ Programme between 73 additional schools with the highest concentration of pupils from areas of deprivation.

This £50 million package is in addition to the £250 million Pupil Equity Funding package announced in May for the next two years and an investment of £9 million to provide 25,000 laptops to assist pupils learning at home.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“Closing the poverty-related attainment gap remains the defining mission of this Government and the challenges presented by the current pandemic mean that efforts to deliver equity in education are more important than ever. This funding will allow local authorities and schools to provide targeted help for some of our most disadvantaged pupils.

“I have given local authorities additional flexibility in how this funding is deployed in light of the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in. This will allow schools and councils to swiftly adjust plans and to work together to identify opportunities to undertake collaborative approaches in response to the current crisis.

It is important too that Headteachers continue to be directly involved in any decision made about the deployment of Schools’ Programme funding and Pupil Equity Funding.”

Commenting, George Adam MSP said:

“In Government, the SNP has put closing the poverty-related attainment gap front and centre of its plans to improve education.

“This latest funding boost for Paisley demonstrates the Government’s ambition to transform our schools and ensure that every young person gets the chance to succeed in life, regardless of their background.

“There’s still a lot to do in reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland – but universal benefits like free school meals for our youngest pupils, free prescriptions and free higher education are helping keep more money in the pockets of hard working families here in our town.

“The Education Secretary, John Swinney, has also handed councils the flexibility to use this funding to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic so no child gets left behind and I know this will go a long way to make sure all Paisley children have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU’RE CALLED BY AN NHS CONTACT TRACER

Scotland’s approach to implementing the ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy, Test and Protect, is now live across the country.

Test and Protect will help us gradually change the restrictions that help to suppress COVID-19 so society can adapt to a new normal.

If you experience any one of the symptoms – a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – you must immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days.

As soon as you start showing symptoms you should go to www.nhsinform.scot or call 0800 028 2816 to arrange to get tested.

When contacting individuals who have tested positive, contact tracers will ask people to identify others who they’ve been in close contact with and places they’ve been 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms up until the time they’ve self-isolated. This information will then be inputted into contact tracing software and used to identify and contact those identified.

The positive individual will not be named by the contact tracer in line with patient confidentiality, unless they agree to have their details disclosed to help the contact tracing process.

Importantly, contact tracers will not ask anyone for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything. The data gathered will be stored securely by NHS Scotland and safely destroyed as soon as possible after the pandemic concludes.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

“I understand that people may be worried about the risks of potential phone scams, but the NHS already has a number of protections in place to stop potential fraudsters and ensure all information is kept confidential.

“Contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify who they are calling by name. They will not ask for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything.

“The tracers will be supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform, allowing teams to identify outbreaks and reduce transmission for high risk groups here in Paisley.

“Trace and Protect is one way we will tackle this pandemic, but physical distancing and good hand hygiene continues to play a huge role in minimising the spread of infection.”

Test and Protect was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.

What people can expect when called by a contact tracer:

  • contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify the call recipient by name
  • contact tracers will only ask for information about your movements and the people you have been in close physical proximity to
  • contact tracers will not ask for personal information like bank accounts, or medical records and will not offer services to you, or try to sell you anything they may send a text message or email to provide links to online guidance and support

A privacy statement about the use of information as part of contact tracing can be found on the NHS Scotland site – https://www.informationgovernance.scot.nhs.uk/covid-19-privacy-statement/

GEORGE ADAM ENCOURAGES PARENTS IN PAISLEY TO APPLY FOR BEST START GRANT

Paisley’s MSP has encouraged parents of children aged four to five to apply for the SNP Government’s Best Start Grant.

A one-off £250 payment is currently open to eligible families, with a child who was born between 1st March 2015 and 29th February 2016, who will be starting primary school later this year.  

The School Age payment can be used for anything from a new pair of school shoes or arts and crafts materials for children.

The payment is part of the SNP Government’s Best Start Grant, a package of three payments for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit and Housing Benefit – to help at key stages in a child’s life.

Commenting, George] said:

“Covering the costs of a child starting school can be tough on family finances, especially in the current climate.

“The SNP Government’s school age payment offers low income families, or those who receive support like Universal Credit, a £250 payment around the time children start at primary school.

“We’re absolutely determined that every child, regardless of circumstances, gets the best start in life. So in these unprecedented and difficult times, I’d encourage families across Paisley to check what other financial support they may be eligible for too – such as school clothing grants or free school meals.”

CALL FOR UK GOVERNEMNT TO ENSURE £70 MILLION FUNDING PLEDGES ARE HONOURED

 
Paisley’s MSP has called on the UK Government to honour the coronavirus funding pledges made by Boris Johnson after they seem to have backtracked on £70 million worth of funding for business and charities in Scotland.
 
On 2nd May, the UK Government announced a £617 million extension to business grants, which it advised would generate £60 million of funding consequentials for Scotland under the Barnett Formula. 
 
However, the UK Government informed the Scottish Government this week that this additional funding would not now materialise, which will cause concern for businesses and industry in Paisley.

Furthermore, last month £35 million of consequentials was earmarked to the Scottish Government in respect of charity support direct grant, but this was amended by the Treasury to £25 million at a later date.

Commenting, George Adam MSP said:
 
“Funding commitments from the UK Government have to be taken in good faith as we work through this pandemic, but the fact that Boris Johnson’s government has simply pulled the rug on £70 million of funding completely undermines the whole process.
 
“The Scottish Government committed to spending that money in the belief that the UK Government would honour its word – Tory MSPs in Paisley and the West of Scotland should urgently seek reassurance from their colleagues in the Treasury that future funding announcements will be robust and reliable enough to act upon without creating unnecessary financial risks.
“We’ve already seen the Scottish Government take action to fill gaps in UK-wide support schemes, so the last thing we need is an additional financial burden put on businesses in our town because of the Treasury’s shameful decision to short-change Scotland. 

“The UK government must act immediately to ensure the £70 million they promised is allocated as quickly as possible and in its entirety, so that the Scottish Government can continue to protect jobs and businesses right here in Paisley.”

PAISLEY’S MSP: HOW ARE WE SUPPORTING THOSE UNABLE TO BE WITH RELATIVES RECEIVING END OF LIFE CARE

During Vitual Question Time on Thursday, George Adam, SNP MSP for Paisley, asked the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport how the Scottish Government is continuing to monitor advice for those receiving palliative and end of life care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to his question, Jeane Freeman confirmed that the Scottish Government is continually in communication with care homes, hospices and services providing end of life care to ensure both residents and families are treated with dignity and respect despite the difficult circumstances posed by the virus.

Ms Freeman reiterated that she will remain in active contact with the hospice network across Scotland to ensure that any additional clarification on the guidance is available when necessary, and will continue to ensure that institutions are supported in their implementation of visiting policies for those receiving palliative care safely and compassionately.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, institutions across Scotland have implemented a range of measures to protect the health, safety and well-being of residents and their families in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus and limit transmission between parties.

George Adam said:

“Since becoming Paisley’s MSP, I have always made palliative care and end of life choices a priority of mine as I feel passionately about ensuring both hospice residents and their families are treated with the upmost compassion and dignity at the most difficult time in their lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many residents and families understandably confused and anxious about what the new social distancing and lockdown measures mean for them, so it was important to me that I raised this question during Virtual Question Time and put it at the front of the agenda.

“I know the Health Secretary is going above and beyond right now to make sure care homes, hospices, and all health service providers are kept up to date with the most accurate guidance and are continually supported to ensure they can implement said guidance as safely and efficiently as possible.

“I can’t imagine the hardship faced by many across Scotland who are currently separated from their loved ones or facing uncertainly surrounding visiting policies or access to family members receiving palliative care. I want you to know that I am thinking of you right now and will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure you have as much support as possible during these difficult times.”

2,680 CARERS IN RENFREWSHIRE DUE TO RECEIVE EXTRA PAYMENT

Paisley’s MSP praises the vital work done by carers across Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic and asked what is being done to support unpaid careers during First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

As an unpaid carer himself, George Adam was delighted with the response to his question and the announcement that thousands across his local area are due to benefit from a one-off payment during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Government has revealed plans to invest £19.2million to provide further support to Scottish carers during the Covid-19 crisis.

If approved by parliament, around 83,000 eligible carers across Scotland will get an extra £230.10 through a special one-off Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement in June – with around 2,680 people in Renfrewshire to benefit from this additional financial support. 

The extra payment will be paid automatically to people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance.

George Adam said: 

“Carers in Paisley make an absolutely invaluable contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported by the Scottish Government.

“This one-off payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher level disability benefits.

“This additional payment will be an acknowledgement to carers that we know they are providing vital support to family, friends and neighbours, and playing an absolutely crucial role in our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. “I am delighted that carers right here in our town are being recognised by the SNP Government for the important contribution they make to our communities in these extremely difficult circumstances.”