Shona's Weekly Roundup - 8th February 2021
Welcome back to my newsletter, which is intended to keep you updated on my parliamentary activity and provide you with a general picture of what’s been going on in Parliament, as well as provide an update on the 2021 Holyrood election campaign, which is stepping up rapidly.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the huge increase in constituency enquiries and the regular uncertainly over Parliamentary business the newsletter was temporarily stopped in order to allow my team and I to focus all our energies on responding to the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic.
The steps and sacrifices we have all taken and made have been hard; however, there are now signs for cautious optimism that real progress is being made in reducing infection rates while vaccinating those most vulnerable giving us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
As always if you have any questions and comments about what’s going on in parliament or anything else in the newsletter please do not hesitate to get in touch via email@example.com
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As the Scottish Parliament election in May fast approaches, make sure that you have registered to vote at your current address. You can register at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
With all of the uncertainty around Covid at the moment, lots of people are signing up for a postal vote. You can download a form to send to the Electoral Registration Office at: https://www.snp.org/postal-vote/
At her regular Tuesday COVID update to Parliament the First Minister announced that average daily case numbers had more than halved in the past three weeks and that test positivity has reduced as well.
In the seven days up to 29 January it averaged 6.6% - still higher, but closer than it has been in recent weeks, to the 5% that the WHO considers to be indicative of an outbreak being under control. This trend has continued throughout the week with latest figures standing at just under the important 5% threshold.
Due to this progress the First Minister indicated that should these trends continue we may be able to begin looking towards a careful and gradual easing of current restrictions around the start of March. Parliament will receive an update on the 16th of February.
Vaccination: The First Minister also confirmed that 98% of care home residents had received their initial vaccination and that the Government was on track to vaccinate those aged 70 and over by mid-February. The Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed earlier today that 92% of over-80s in the community
and 47% of 75 to 79-year-olds in the community have now been vaccinated.
Schools: It was also announced that subject to continued progress schools would begin a phased return to from 22 February, following the February mid-term break.
At First Minister’s Questions I raised the issue of the real need to extend financial support for those on low incomes how need to self-isolate.
In response the First Minister outlined changes which will extend eligibility to those earning the real living wage or less, to people who are in receipt of council-tax reduction because of low income, and to those who meet eligibility criteria and have caring responsibilities for someone over 16 who is asked to self-isolate.
You can watch this by clicking the image below:
It's been confirmed that as a result of the Scottish budget, Dundee City Council will receive a funding boost of £7.7 million for 2021-22.
Similarly, NHS Tayside is set to receive £819.9 million in 2021-22, a funding boost of £11.4 million for 2021-22.
Domestic Abuse Bill
I recently spoke in support of legislation aimed at creating additional support for people who are at risk of domestic abuse, particularly where they are living with their abuser.
I support its adoption because:
The Bill creates additional protection for people who are at risk of domestic abuse, particularly where they are living with their abuser.
Police and courts will gain powers to remove suspected abusers from victims’ homes and ban them from re-entering under new legislation.
The Bill will also allow social landlords to end or transfer a tenancy of a perpetrator of domestic abuse to prevent a victim becoming homeless and enabling them to remain in the family home.
I highlighted the fact that In the year 2018-19, reported incidents rose by around 2 per cent, but in the early part of 2020, particularly during the first lockdown period due to the pandemic, the number of incidents was 9 per cent higher than it was for the equivalent period in 2019; which many studies have attributed to the social isolation and loss of informal support networks experienced as result of COVID-19 restrictions.
I also welcomed the provisions aimed at avoiding homelessness highlighting comments made by Scottish Women’s Aid, who said:
‘Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland, with women often facing the impossible choice between living with an abuser and making themselves and their children homeless.’
I also took the opportunity to raise the issue and highlight a new scheme being rolled out in pharmacies and Boots stores whereby victims can make a discreet gesture signalling a need for help by asking for "ANI", which stands for action needed immediately; they will then usher them into a private space where they can receive support by a trained pharmacy worker on the premises.
Finally, I had the opportunity to lead the open debate for the SNP in response to the Conservative Party’s motion calling on us to stop planning for a referendum on Independence if in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections, we receive a mandate for one from the Scottish people.
I and many others pointed out it poll after poll has shown not only increasing support for independence but overwhelming support for the principal of a referendum, it will be for the Scottish people to decide their own future no-one else.
That's all for this week. As ever, if you have any queries or if I can help with anything, please don't hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours for Scotland,