24 April: COVID-19 Update

National Updates

Looking Beyond Lockdown

The Scottish Government has published a paper outlining how decision will be taken on controlling coronavirus whilst restoring a degree of normality to everyday life. The paper recognises that we will need to find a “new normal”.

Feedback on the document is invited from members of the public to help inform the government’s work.

The document is available here: https://www.gov.scot/news/looking-beyond-lockdown/

COVID-19 Committee

The Scottish Parliament has formed a committee to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s response to coronavirus. Beatrice has been appointed to the committee.

In the first session on Friday she asked the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs for more information on how the government is communicating its message to the public whilst highlighting the digital divide that exists in Scotland regarding access to technology that might be used to tackle the virus.

Financial Wellbeing

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is encouraging people who are concerned about their financial wellbeing to get in touch. MaPS provides free independent and advice and guidance.

Up to date guidance can be found online at:

Business Support

The Scottish Government has provided more details about how the £100 million fund, announced last week, to support the self-employed and SMEs will be allocated.  The fund will be broken down as follows:

  • £34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by Local Authorities, will be allocated to the newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants
  • £20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies in partnership with Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of business rates relief
  • £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland

The Scottish Government is also providing £1 million to top up Creative Scotland’s Bridging Bursaries in the not-for-profit sector. The announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/news/lifeline-support-for-business-confirmed/

The Government has also clarified the following points regarding existing support for small businesses and self-catered accommodation:

  • “If a business is not in receipt of the SBBS but is eligible to receive it, they may still be eligible to apply for the grant.”
  • “properties need to have been made available to let, and not necessary have been let, for the 140 days.”

Support for Business Start-ups

A £1.25 billion support package has been announced by the UK Government to help businesses driving innovation and development across the UK. 

The package includes £750 million of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development and a new £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund. Further detail on the eligibility criteria and fund operation will be published in due course.

The full details of the announcement are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/billion-pound-support-package-for-innovative-firms-hit-by-coronavirus

Motor Insurance Rebates

I am supporting a cross-party call to the Chancellor to encourage motor insurance providers to give rebates to customers, after findings that insurance claims have dropped 50% during lockdown. Admiral Car Insurance has already offered a £25 rebate and we are pushing for other providers to follow suit.

Police Scotland Survey

Police Scotland is asking members of the public to fill in a survey to help them track public confidence levels and experience of their approaches to policing during the lockdown.

The survey will capture people's feeling of safety, what is being done well, and any concerns which the police can address operationally and through their information campaigns. The survey will also capture feedback from those who have contacted the police during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The survey can be accessed on https://consult.scotland.police.uk/surveys/your-police-2020-2021

BBC Education Support  

The BBC are providing online resources to support young people who are currently learning at home. Bitesize Daily will deliver a daily tailored programme of learning across the BBC Scotland channel, BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Bitesize website and app, BBC Four and BBC Sounds.

The roster will offer 14 weeks of curriculum-based learning for children across the UK.

More information can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize

Scottish Youth Parliament Report

Northern Isles SYP representatives have contacted me with a report created on young people’s feelings about coronavirus and the impact it has had on their lives. There are some important findings on wellbeing and mental health and I’m grateful to them for sharing – if you would like to read it yourself you can find it here.

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK has created a web guide containing the information and important links so people can keep up to date with caring for themselves and others during this uncertain time. 

The page can be accessed here: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/coronavirus-and-cancer

The Scottish Cancer Coalition has also developed a resource that signposts people affected by cancer to information and support services that are available during this time. 

The full document is available here: https://vhscotland.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support-resources-during-covid-19/

There is also a nurses’ hotline (0808 800 4040) which people affected by cancer can ring (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) if they have any questions.

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