14 May: COVID-19 Update


National Updates

Lockdown

The changes set out by the Prime Minister during his statement this week only apply to those living in England. Since health is a devolved matter, the Scottish Government continues to set the rules for lockdown across Scotland.

The First Minister announced yesterday that the only change to guidelines in Scotland is to allow people to go outside for exercise more than once a day. That exercise must still be close to home and should not be with anyone from another household.

National Digital Wellbeing Hub

A new national digital wellbeing hub has been launched today. It will help enable health and social care workers and carers to look after their physical and mental health.

It is specifically tailored to support the challenges being faced by everyone in health and social care, the hub will provide advice on self-care and personal resilience to help users to recognise their own ‘warning signs’. Information about services and resources available at national and local level within NHS Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) and local authorities will also be available. 

You can access the Hub here.

Getting Online

A new £5 million programme will offer an internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to vulnerable people who are not already online during the response to coronavirus.

The Connecting Scotland programme will connect 9,000 people who are considered at clinically high risk themselves so they can access services and support and connect with friends and family.

Eligible digitally excluded people will be identified by local authorities and third sector organisations and offered a device with a mobile internet data package, which will be delivered to their homes. A ‘digital champion’ will provide phone and online support for an initial period of six months.

More information is available here.

Support for Landlords

A £5 million fund will offer interest-free loans to landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the coronavirus crisis.

The Private Rent Sector Landlord COVID-19 Loan Scheme will offer eligible landlords up to 100% of lost rental income for a single property.  It will support private-sector landlords who are not classified as businesses, have five or less properties to rent and have lost rental income due to tenants unable to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information is available here.

Furlough support

We were glad to see that following cross-party pressure, furlough support has been extended through to the end of summer after reports that it would be wound down. There are still gaps in the scheme including for new starters who are missing out on help, and Alistair has joined the cross-party campaign to increase support for this group.

Self-employed support

In welcome news, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has opened for applications ahead of schedule. If you are self-employed you can apply here. While we continue to highlight those left out, the progress made in opening the scheme is positive.

Local Updates

Shetland Coronavirus Hub

The Shetland Coronavirus Hub is available to support anyone who is vulnerable as the result of the pandemic. The Hub can arrange a wide range of support, including emergency food parcels, shopping by volunteers, information about local food shops and delivery, and access to foodbanks if required. 

Anyone who is in need of support should contact Shetland Coronavirus Hub on 0800 030 8780 or email covid19support@shetland.gov.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

Testing

We have raised issues surrounding the availability of Covid-19 testing with both the UK and Scottish Governments. It’s important that tests in Shetland are carried out and results returned quickly. And equally important that anyone who would be eligible for a test on the Mainland can access one in Shetland too. Beatrice has written to the Scottish Government to ask that all options are explored to boost testing capacity on site in Shetland.

Business Support 

We are continuing to highlight gaps in business support where island businesses are falling through the cracks. Beatrice has written to the Scottish Government to ask for more local flexibility to take account of historical rates anomalies and business operating from domestic or non-rateable premises, amongst other issues.

Self-catering

In recent days we have heard from constituents who are unable to access the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme due to their status as self-catering accommodation providers. These issues have been raised with the Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes MSP, and Alistair is writing to the Chancellor on this matter as well with the aim of resolving the gap in support.


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