Government must immediately fund childcare deferrals, not wait until 2023

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has written to the Minister for Children and Young People to demand that legislation securing childcare funding for parents who want to defer their child’s school start is immediately brought forward.

Following the campaign run by ‘Give them Time’, the Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd agreed on the need for legislation to upgrade parent’s right to defer and still receive funded childcare. However, the legislative tweak proposed by the Scottish Government would only make this change from August 2023.

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Wishart and Carmichael call on Pensions Secretary to resolve Winter Fuel Payment issues

Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart, and Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, have today written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions calling on her to take direct action to resolve disruption to Winter Fuel Payments and the system’s helpline. The helpline, intended to support elderly recipients of the Winter Fuel Payment, was disrupted for several weeks, with caseworkers, the Citizens Advice Bureau and constituents unable to get through to support workers in case of problems with their payment and no explanation from the Government on the reasons for delays to payments.

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Wishart pushes for update on re-opening of DigitalBoost fund

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart today sought an update on the re-opening of the Scottish Government’s DigitalBoost fund. The DigitalBoost Development Grant was designed to help businesses enhance their digital reach. It was suspended last week shortly after opening due to the volume of applications.  

At a meeting of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, Ms Wishart said the local businesses want to access funding to help with marketing for when it is safe to welcome visitors back to the islands. She asked for an indication of whether the fund will be re-opening.  

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Wishart raises vaccination for vulnerable islanders travelling for medical treatment

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart today sought assurances from the First Minister that at-risk islanders travelling for medical treatment can be considered for priority Covid-19 vaccination.

At First Minister’s Question’s today, Ms Wishart said:

“A small number of my constituents need to travel to Mainland hospitals, for appointments, including weekly visits for life-saving cancer treatment. And that necessary travel can leave them more exposed than most. They are extremely vulnerable, but are not yet eligible for the vaccine – even though some are on the cusp.”

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Lib Dems call for supply teachers to be employed to provide precious support

Responding to calls from the EIS for supply teachers to be brought in to help support teachers and pupils struggling in the current remote working arrangements, Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP said:

“It makes no sense for qualified supply teachers to watch the crisis from the side-lines. Teachers and pupils need every help they can get. Supply teachers have valuable skills and experience, and can provide precious additional support."

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Wishart repeats calls for action to resolve Brexit seafood disruption

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has repeated calls for government action to address Brexit export issues hampering the Scottish fishing industry.

During today’s topical question session Ms Wishart said: “The fishing industry has been used as a political football and there’s anger in the Shetland fleet.” She called for cross government action to secure a solution to export issues to avoid long-term damage to the fishing industry.

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Education Secretary is "evasive, not decisive" over future of remote learning

As teachers and pupils prepare for the start of the second week of remote learning, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has called on the Education Secretary to make sure his education quangos better support teachers with remote learning.

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Wishart highlights benefits of new bomb disposal technology for marine life

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today sought an update on Scottish Government consideration of new bomb disposal technology that would help reduce the impact on marine life compared to traditional disposal methods.

In a Holyrood Environment question session today Ms Wishart said:

“It’s estimated that there is over 100,000 tonnes of unexploded munitions in British waters. Many will be on sites in Scotland earmarked for offshore windfarm development. As the Scotlink Orca Species Champion, I’m concerned about the impact of clearing munitions on cetaceans. Detonations and explosions can displace animals and cause permanent hearing loss and fish breeding grounds can also be impacted.

“I’ve had correspondence with the Cabinet Secretary about new disposal technology, low-order deflagration. What progress has been made to bring forward a policy change to make use of the technology to help protect marine life?”

The Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment recognised the potential benefits of deflagration technology on reducing acoustic impacts but said the government is awaiting further evidence that the technique is commercially viable.

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Wishart: urgent action needed on fisheries

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for urgent action from government to resolve issues hampering Scotland’s fishing industry. Ms Wishart made the comments after a statement in Holyrood on the management of Scotland’s fisheries.

During the statement, Ms Wishart noted that the Shetland fleet is “bitterly disappointed” by the content of the Brexit fisheries agreement. She sought assurances from the Rural Economy Secretary that the local industry be fully involved in designing a workable catching policy to replace the CFP landing obligation.

Ms Wishart is calling on the UK Government and Scottish Government to work together to urgently resolve trade issues damaging Scottish seafood exporters and make sure they are adequately compensated.

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Wishart secures Covid-19 business support

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed the announcement of approximately £3 million in additional support for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses in the islands. The move follows representations from Ms Wishart to the Scottish Government to help businesses affected by lockdown measures.

Ms Wishart and her colleague Orkney MSP Liam McArthur pushed for discussions between the Scottish Government and local government to secure funding to help island businesses affected by coronavirus restrictions but who were excluded from support available in Level 4 areas.

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