January

Question S5W-34386: Constitution and External Affairs

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by John Swinney (06/01/2021):

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today. These Regulations implement some of the changes that the First Minister announced on 4 January 2021.

In order to address the current, heightened public health risks places of worship will be closed for most purposes. These Regulations also reduce the number of people who are able to attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration and also prohibit funeral teas or wakes from taking place in Level 4 areas. The Regulations require snow sports centres, showrooms within larger retailers, independent clinics, independent hospitals and independent medical agencies in relation to certain procedures or treatments to close in Level 4 areas. The Regulations also require 2 metre distancing to be maintained in workplace canteens.

The Regulations have been published at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2021/3/contents/made.

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Question S5W-34399: Education, Communities and Justice

Ross Greer, West Scotland, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to extend the current regulations to protect tenants from eviction.

Answered by Kevin Stewart (07/01/2021):

We are doing all we can to support tenants to remain in their homes whilst the pandemic continues to be a risk to public health. An important part of this was introducing a temporary ban on the enforcement of eviction orders across both the private and social rented sectors from 6 December to 22 January.

Since then, the emergence of a new variant of the virus has significantly altered the public health landscape and led to the First Minister's announcement that from 5 January, mainland Scotland will move from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes.

The continued rise in cases caused by the new variant of the virus means that we must continue to take unprecedented action to ensure everyone, including renters, are protected from the health, social and economic harms of the virus by being able to remain in their homes during this time.

Therefore, regulations will be laid in Parliament next week that will ensure no eviction orders can be enforced within an area under level 3 or 4 restrictions. These regulations will come into force from 22 January and be in force until 31 March, in line with other Coronavirus regulations.

As indicated before, this unprecedented action is not taken lightly, we know the rights of tenants and landlords need to be balanced. Landlords too face uncertainty and financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, which is why these regulations will be reviewed every 21 days.

We will continue to ensure that there are exceptions to this for the most serious circumstances - such as illegal occupation, antisocial behaviour, and criminal behaviour including domestic abuse.

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Question S5W-34428: Constitution and External Affairs

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it intends to introduce pre-departure testing for all international arrivals.

Answered by Michael Matheson (08/01/2021):

The Scottish Government has assessed that pre-departure testing for all international arrivals is required to minimise the risk of imported transmission and we will introduce this measure as soon as is practically possible. Pre-departure testing will complement our existing international travel regulations and ensure that we safeguard against imported cases and in particular protect against new strains of coronavirus such as those identified in Denmark and South Africa.

There remain outstanding operational and practical issues to resolve but we will aim to have this measure in place to a similar timeframe as the other UK nations. I will report back to Parliament with further detail when these issues have been resolved and pre-departure testing is ready to be implemented in Scotland. It remains the case that non-essential travel to or from Scotland is currently illegal and will not change with the introduction of pre-departure testing.

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Question S5W-34447: Education, Communities and Justice

Bill Kidd, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government to provide an update on the staggered return of college and university students in Semester 2.

Answered by Richard Lochhead (08/01/2021):

Given the current prevalence of the virus, and in light of the restrictions now in place to help control the spread of the new variant of COVID-19, learning will be online-only throughout January and February for the vast majority of university students. There will be some exceptions: where critical learning cannot be delivered remotely; for a very small number of students who have remained in student accommodation over the winter break; or for student wellbeing reasons.

The vast majority of university students are not therefore not expected to return to campuses and student accommodation until the start of March, as advised by their university.

Colleges must continue to follow the rules that apply to their own area’s protection level guidance. In level 4, that means learning and teaching will be predominantly online with exceptions only for the delivery of critical and time-sensitive learning, assessments and work placements that cannot be delivered remotely or postponed. The number of students attending colleges should be kept at the absolute essential minimum.

 


 

Question S5W-34473: Constitution and External Affairs

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what the outcome is of its latest review into border health measures, and whether there will be any changes to the regulations.

Answered by Michael Matheson (11/01/2021):

We have reviewed the border health measures closely over the last 28 days and have assessed that there continues to be a requirement for the regulations to remain in place to reduce the risk of imported transmission and safeguard public health in Scotland. The regulations continue to be an important and proportionate part of the Scottish Government response to managing the pandemic. We continue to keep country and sectoral exemptions under review and where there is clear evidence we will not hesitate to make changes to the regulations.

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Question S5W-34522: Constitution and External Affairs

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its plans for pre-departure testing of international travellers.

Answered by Michael Matheson (12/01/2021):

From 04:00 on Friday 15 January 2020, passengers travelling to Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area must have a valid negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their vessel. This will be checked by operators, and passengers with a positive test result or an invalid certificate will be refused boarding. A valid test result must be from a PCR test, or another highly reliable test with at least 99% specificity and 97% sensitivity for detecting COVID-19; it must show the test was taken within three days of beginning the journey; and the result must be presented in English, French or Spanish. Children aged 10 and under are not required to take a test, and there are a very limited range of further exemptions that will be specified in regulations.

Border Force will undertake spot checks of passengers arriving in Scotland as an additional measure to ensure compliance with this requirement, and will be able to apply a Fixed Penalty Notice of £480 if they identify travellers without a valid certificate.

This new requirement, being implemented by administrations across the UK, provides an additional level of protection to guard against importation of the virus. This is important due to the emergence of variants of the virus across the world. Pre-departure testing does not replace the requirement to quarantine on arrival – passengers must isolate for 10 days, unless they have travelled only in countries or territories on the exempt list; or they are able to claim one of the limited sectoral exemptions.

Under the current restrictions in Level 3 and 4 across the country, it is illegal to travel to or from Scotland without a reasonable excuse. People should not be travelling unless it is genuinely essential they do so.

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Question S5W-34591: Constitution and External Affairs

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by John Swinney (14/01/2021)

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today. These Regulations implement the changes that the First Minister announced on Wednesday, 13 January.

In order to address the current, heightened public health risks, the Regulations adjust the restrictions surrounding click and collect services. They also prohibit the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places and do not allow customers to enter food and drink takeaway outlets in Level 4 areas. These Regulations tighten the existing stay at home requirement to ensure non-essential activities are not undertaken when leaving the home for permitted activities and restrict the ability to carry out work or services for the upkeep, maintenance or functioning of other people’s homes to essential work only in Level 4 areas.

The Regulations also prohibit evictions from taking place in Level 3 or 4 areas and require the closure of child contact centres in Level 4, with the exception of child contact centres which are provided by local authorities. An exception is also made for all contact centres to be allowed to open for the purpose of handovers of a child to a person with whom they do not or will not live, and their return from a handover to a person with whom they do or will live. Finally, the Regulations allow premises which are required to close to the public to open, if it is for the purposes of providing a venue for vaccination.

The Regulations have been published at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ssi/2021/17.

 


 

Question S5W-34576: Constitution and External Affairs

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it it has made any recent changes to the country exemptions list for International border health measures, and whether it plans to delay the implementation of pre-departure testing until next week.

Answered by Michael Matheson (14/01/2021):

Following identification of a new variant of coronavirus in Brazil, the Scottish Government as part of a four nations response has decided to impose additional restrictions on all arrivals from countries in South America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. These measures will also apply to several countries and territories with strong travel links to South America; namely Portugal, including Azores and Madeira, Panama, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) and the British Overseas Territory the Falkland Islands. 

The Scottish Government also supports the UK Government’s intention to use reserved immigration powers to implement a travel ban for arrivals from these countries. With the exception of British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents all arrivals from the affected countries will therefore be denied entry to the UK from 0400 on Friday 15 January. British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents are still required to isolate with their households for 10 days, and will not be able to use exemptions from isolation. 

We have also made the decision this week to remove Aruba;Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; and Qatar from the country exemptions list due to concerning data on coronavirus in those countries. These changes will also come into force at 0400 on Friday 15 January 

The Scottish Government intended to introduce pre departure testing on Friday 15 January. The UK Government has announced overnight that they would be delaying the implementation of pre-departure testing until Monday 18 January, to allow international arrivals and international passengers time to prepare. The Scottish Government is therefore also obliged to delay implementation to allow for coordination between the UK Government’s regulations and the relevant Scottish regulations. Pre departure testing will now come into force at 0400 on Monday 18 January.

Further information on these changes is available here; Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and quarantine - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)’

 


 

Question S5W-34657: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support urgent elective care, in light of the rise in COVID-19 admissions to hospital.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (19/01/2021):

Whilst the need to protect non COVID-19 healthcare activity remains paramount, it will inevitably be affected by the degree to which we can suppress the virus. Consequently, given the differing levels of virus prevalence we are seeing across the country, we need to give our clinicians and NHS Boards flexibility to manage the demands of this continuing emergency situation.

Due to these demands, NHS Boards are stepping back their non-urgent routine procedures consistent with the Framework for Clinical Prioritisation of Elective Care. To support NHS Boards and to ensure that urgent elective and cancer patients continue to receive treatment, and following the arrangements set out in the NHS Scotland - winter preparedness plan: 2020 to 2021 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot), we have secured further capacity from the private healthcare sector in Scotland. Our strategy for using the private sector is to ensure that there is a green pathway for those patients who require vital planned care. The private sector hospitals will provide support for breast surgery, urology, and gynaecology.

This support comes on top of the additional capacity already being provided by NHS Golden Jubilee and NHS Louisa Jordan for a number of elective treatments and outpatient appointments. This will allow NHS Boards to concentrate on the front line response to the impact COVID19.

The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with NHS Boards to ensure those requiring urgent care can be seen as quickly and safely as possible.

Even as we expand our vaccination and testing programmes, the number of COVID patients within our hospitals remains very high – so it is absolutely vital that people continue to stay home, protect the NHS, and save lives.

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Question S5W-34718: Economy

Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when it plans to publish the precarious and flexible work research.

Answered by Jamie Hepburn (22/01/2021):

In response to discussions at the Education and Skills Committee in 2019, research was commissioned on young people’s experiences of precarious and flexible work. An independent report into Precarious and Flexible Working will be published on the Scottish Government website later today.

The research report presents findings on young people’s experiences of precarious and flexible work. These findings cover a number of areas including young people’s circumstances, awareness of contractual status, types of precarious or flexible working conditions, experience of precarious and flexible working conditions and views around changing working circumstances. The research emphasises the importance of the individual’s circumstances in their determination of whether their contract arrangements are appropriate or not. These findings support our policy approach within the Young Person’s Guarantee of taking a person centred approach to policy design and delivery.

In response to the report’s recommendations, we have updated The Young Person's Guarantee website to signpost young people who want to change their current contract status out of precarious and flexible work, to guidance which will support them to do this. The findings from the report will be discussed with the Young Person’s Guarantee Implementation Group, whose membership includes the STUC. In particular the matter of young people not having formal contract arrangements, which is explored within the research, will be considered further as part of our ongoing fair work considerations within the Guarantee. We will also consider the potential of further research in relation to the impact Covid-19 has had on young people’s experiences of precarious and flexible work.

The Scottish Government promotes and encourages flexible working and works with employers to encourage flexible, agile and inclusive workplaces that benefit all employees, including those participating in the Young Person’s Guarantee. However the inappropriate use of zero hours contracts and other non-standard types of employment that offer workers minimum job or financial security is not supported by Scottish Government. This is stated in the criteria for Fair Work First, the relaunched Scottish Business Pledge and is reflected within the Young Person’s Guarantee.

 


 

Question S5W-34726: Economy

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the early payment of Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) funding this year, whether it will provide an update on when and how convergence 2020 money will be distributed.

Answered by Fergus Ewing (22/01/2021):

I am very pleased that LFASS 2020 payment runs commenced 2 months earlier than 2019 system payments, continuing our pattern of improvement. LFASS payments go to nearly 11,000 of our farmers and crofters, but because of EU rules the 2020 payment is only 40% of the 2018 rate. I promised previously that we would find a way to make up that shortfall.

Therefore, I can announce that we are now in a position to start paying out the £71.8m of convergence 2020 money. These payments will start to appear in bank accounts by the end of the month and will benefit around 18,000 farmers and crofters. The distribution methodology to be used is similar to last year and has been agreed with stakeholders. Further details will be available on the Rural Payments website. This money rights a historic wrong and will help to support our farmers and crofters through these challenging times.

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Question S5W-34744: Constitution and External Affairs

Gillian Martin, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by Kevin Stewart (22/01/2021):

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today. These Regulations prohibit mortgage repossession evictions from taking place in Level 3 and 4 areas from 23 January 2021.

This change will ensure mortgage repossessions cannot be executed within an area under level 3 or 4 restrictions. These provisions will provide home owners with similar protection as those in the rented housing sector. The key purpose in stopping mortgage repossessions at this time is to prevent households becoming at risk of homelessness and being forced to enter (possibly multiple) other households at a time when household mixing is otherwise prohibited.

The Regulations have been published at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2021/35/contents/made.

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Question S5W-34822: Health and Social Care

David Torrance, Kirkcaldy, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/01/2021       

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the work being carried out to support the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s health and social care workforce at this time.

Answered by Clare Haughey (28/01/2021):

The Scottish Government is very grateful to all health and care staff for their hard work, commitment and professionalism over the Covid-19 response.

As we outlined on 22 January, the Scottish Government is pleased to be able to make £500,000 available to Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships to fund additional practical support this financial year, in recognition of the support that health and social care staff may need at this time.

Today I have written to the Health and Sport Committee outlining the range of measures that the Scottish Government is taking to support the health and social care workforce.

This includes an update on the funding being allocated to Health Boards to enable them to recruit psychologists and other staff dedicated to supporting the mental health of the health and social care workforce. This funding will create up to 16 FTE posts to support the workforce over the next two financial years.

This funding to Boards is one component of a wider programme of work through the Health and Social Care Mental Health Network to support the wellbeing and mental health of the workforce, in line with the commitments made through the Programme for Government.

This includes the development of our National Wellbeing Hub and digital resources, a National Wellbeing Helpline and a new Workforce Specialist Service.

The Scottish Government will continue to work with partners across health and social care to respond to the emerging needs of the health and social care workforce.

 


 

Question S5W-34841: Constitution and External Affairs

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the coronavirus legislation in place.

Answered by John Swinney (28/01/2021):

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Directions by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today.

These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to provide that premises which are required to close to the public or operate in restricted ways in Level 3 and 4 areas may be used for purposes connected to an election if they are suitable premises which a returning officer or electoral registration officer has requested the use of in connection with the carrying out of any of their functions.

These Regulations adjust the restrictions on drive-in and drive-through events to make clear that they are not permitted in Level 3 and Level 4 areas.

These Regulations adjust to examples of a reasonable excuse to enter a Level 4 area to bring the marriage, civil partnership and funerals excuses into line with the excuses to leave home for those living in a Level 4 area.

Finally, these Regulations extend the expiry date of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Directions by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 from 31 January 2021 to 31 March 2021. This changes brings the expiry into line with the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

The Regulations have been published at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2021/49/made.

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Question S5W-34849: Health and Social Care

Ruth Maguire, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/01/2021    

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress with the Distress Brief Intervention associate programme, which was announced in 2018.

Answered by Clare Haughey (29/01/2021):    

The first DBI associate site went live in Moray in 2019; the lead agency and local DBI provider there is Penumbra.

There are now two more areas with associate programmes which have gone live this month. These are Inverclyde; and Ayrshire & Arran. The lead agencies and local DBI providers for these programmes are the Scottish Association for Mental Health & Penumbra respectively.

In the associate programme sites, the lead agencies are working closely with local partners including Health and Social Care Partnerships, Police Scotland, Primary Care, Emergency Departments, and others to provide DBI locally.

In addition, the Programme Manager for DBI is in discussion with several other areas in Scotland who have also expressed an interest in joining DBI as associate programmes. The associate sites are important building blocks towards our 2020 Programme for Government target of having DBI embedded in all Health Boards by 2024.

In 2019 we also expanded DBI so that it became available to 16- and 17-year olds. This was a commitment from Programme for Government 2018.

In addition, as part of our wider response to the Covid pandemic, in Spring 2020 we introduced a new pathway to DBI, in which people contacting NHS24 in emotional distress from anywhere in Scotland can, where assessed as appropriate, be referred for DBI support.

I would like to thank all our partners involved in the development and implementation of DBI thus far, for the vital support which they have provided to people in distress.

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Question S5W-34871: Constitution and External Affairs

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by Michael Russell (29/01/2021):   

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today. These Regulations move Na h-Eileanan Siar from Level 3 to Level 4 as a result of the latest information.

The Regulations have been published at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2021/54/contents/made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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