MIDLOTHIAN BUSINESSES GET £5.4 MILLION AND EAST LOTHIAN BUSINESSES GET £10.8 MILLION SUPPORT THROUGH CRISIS
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed new figures showing that 454 businesses in Midlothian, and 915 businesses in East Lothian, have received Scottish Government grants to support firms through the coronavirus crisis.
A total of £5.4 Million has been awarded in Midlothian, and a total of £10.8 million has been awarded in East Lothian through a Scottish Government scheme to support small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.
This grant support is worth over £1 billion to business, and is part of the wider business support package worth £2.3 billion.
So that funding can be distributed as quickly as possible, eligibility for the grant scheme is linked to the non-domestic rates system.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“This is a very difficult time for businesses.
“This Scottish Government funding is designed to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this health crisis.
“Our support for business is now worth £2.3 billion, which is more than we have received from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes with tailored support for the Scottish economy.
“I encourage all businesses in Midlothian and East Lothian to ensure they are receiving the support they’re entitled to.”
PUBLIC ENCOURAGED TO BE VIGILANT AND REPORT SCAMS
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie has encouraged people in Midlothian and East Lothian to be aware of scams and fake news following an increase in reports across Scotland about scam emails, text messages, and doorstep callers.
Across the UK there is evidence fraudsters are increasingly targeting members of the public, as well as organisations of all sizes, with emails, texts, telephone calls, social media messages and online shopping scams relating to the outbreak.
Police Scotland have now launched a new Shut Out Scammers resource to protect the public and businesses from COVID-19 related scams. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also launched an email reporting service, which the public can use to report any suspicious activity.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
"While the community response to the coronavirus outbreak in Midlothian and East Lothian has been overwhelmingly positive, it's disappointing to see a few individuals taking advantage of the situation with unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages.
"During this coronavirus crisis, everyone in Midlothian and East Lothian should take extra care to ensure that they only share information from trusted sources, ask for identification from all doorstep callers, and never hand over any personal information.
"It’s vital that people in Midlothian and East Lothian remain vigilant against scams during this challenging time and report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities."
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has said that the public must prepare for restrictions on normal life to continue for some time.
The comments come as the Scottish Government published a new document outlining how decisions will be taken to control coronavirus (COVID-19) while restoring a degree of normality to everyday life.
The paper - COVID-19: A Framework for Decision-Making - sets out the position during this ongoing period of lockdown and outlines the factors that must be considered as we move gradually to ease restrictions.
It also recognises that new ways of living – effectively a “new normal” – may have to be in place for some time to come.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
“It is welcome that the Scottish Government has published an outline of how and when the lockdown may be lifted, and I urge everyone to take the time to read the document.
“It is vital that any decision to ease restrictions is based on the best scientific advice possible – but we are in uncharted territory and we must be prepared to adapt. That might mean having to reapply restrictions after they are lifted.
“It is only when we are sure the virus is under control that we can even start to ease any of the restrictions because the virus will not have gone away.
“There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to be clear about the factors that will inform decision making.
“In the coming days and weeks members of the public will be invited to contribute their thoughts and views on the next steps we must make together.
“Unfortunately, returning to what we regard as a normal life will not be possible in the near future, so we need to prepare for a new normal until treatments and a vaccine offer different solutions.
“While these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”
Colin Beattie MSP has called on the UK government to extend the Brexit negotiation deadline to avoid a further big economic hit on top of the coronavirus crisis, and to ensure that every effort is put towards tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK has formally left the European Union but is currently in a “transition period.” This means it is following EU rules and therefore has full access to the European market – which will be vital for the economy when the coronavirus crisis eases.
A two-year extension to this transition period is on offer but the Tory government at Westminster is instead pressing on with complex negotiations, at the height of the crisis, which will mean the UK leaving with either no trade deal in place or a very limited deal at the end of this year.
According to a report by the Chief Economist, the economic impact of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic could see GDP fall by around a third.
If the UK government continues to pursue its Brexit plans, Scotland's economy faces further economic damage - a loss, compared with EU membership, of up to £12.7 billion – the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in Scotland by 2030.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
"For the Tory government to pursue its plans to impose a hard Brexit on the country, while we are facing a global health emergency, is reckless in the extreme.
“Midlothian and East Lothian voted to remain in the EU – just like every local authority in Scotland – and it's clear that businesses here simply do not have the capacity to prepare for Brexit when they are fighting to survive the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
"People and businesses in Midlothian and East Lothian will be understandably concerned about this, so it's imperative that the UK government does the responsible thing and requests an extension to the transition period to avoid even more economic and social damage.
“There is still time for the UK government to change course, listen to the public, and ensure that every effort is put to tackling the Coronavirus pandemic."
Colin Beattie MSP has encouraged people to be aware of scams and fake news following an increase in reports across Scotland about scam emails. Police Scotland have issued a warning on this matter following nearly 100 reports of this kind from the last few days.
Colin Beattie MSP commented:
‘It is extremely unfortunate that people are trying to take advantage of people in the middle of a global pandemic. I hope that I can make constituents aware of these scams that are currently on the increase.
It is very important when you receive these emails that you do not send the perpetrators any money. These emails may contain one of your personal passwords and in this scenario, you should change the password on any accounts it is associated with. Do not respond to the email, instead report it as spam, then delete it. If you still feel anxious, you can also report this matter to the police on 101.
I hope that these scams stop soon and that none of my constituents are affected by this. It can be very scary to receive emails of this nature, especially when they contain personal information, claim to have webcam footage or say that they have access to your contacts. It is important to try to remember that this is likely just a generic email, even though the experience is unpleasant and feels personal.
It may also be important for parents to speak to their children at this time to make them aware that they need to be responsible online. It is important that young people feel that they can discuss anything suspicious.’
Mr Beattie went on to discuss recent conspiracy theories which have been hitting the headlines over the last few weeks, including the theory relating 5G to the spread of Covid-19.
‘Spreading these conspiracy theories is extremely irresponsible and frankly dangerous. We have seen damage to infrastructure, such as phone towers, as a result of these theories. These attacks destroy essential network connections that people may currently rely on for support and waste the valuable time of our emergency services.
There is not a link between Covid-19 and 5G, and it is not acceptable for people to damage infrastructure as a result of fake news. This is very reckless at such a tense time and will cause additional pressure that is unnecessary when people already have so much on their minds. Services are strained, and people are already scared.
Can I urge everyone to ignore fake news and not further information that seems unrealistic. Always look for reliable sources if you are unsure if something is true or not. The best way to get accurate information right now is to keep up with the Scottish Government guidance and the NHS advice.’
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has written a letter to local medical practices to ask them to ensure that they are not pressuring anyone to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form against their wishes. This is following reports that blanket DNR policies are being put in place, particularly in residences of older people. Reports have also suggested that elderly and vulnerable people are being encouraged to sign up to DNR’s without adequate discussion on the subject.
Mr Beattie commented:
‘It is vital at this time that everyone feels the health service is reliable and supporting them with the correct level of care. People who are vulnerable, such as the elderly or those with underlying health conditions, will be, understandably, anxious at this time about catching the virus. It is important that we do all that we can to ensure they do not feel isolated and that the help they need is in place.'
'It has been concerning for me to hear reports that DNR policies are being enacted for people in these situations without adequate consultation with patients. It is crucial that these people are treated with respect and dignity and this means ensuring that patients have their wants prioritised when making decisions around resuscitation.’
‘I have written to local GP Practices on the topic of Do Not Resuscitate forms, which are always a sensitive topic but are particularly prominent in this time of crisis. In my letter I stressed to the medical practices across Midlothian North and Musselburgh that they must treat individuals with the utmost respect in relation to DNR Forms. It is especially important that they do not pressure or influence individuals to sign DNR Forms. Further to this, settings such as care homes should not be putting blanket DNR policies in place for all members and we must ensure that this is not happening under any circumstances.’
‘We must respect the wishes of individual people in these circumstances. It is important that those who are vulnerable are not put under any additional undue pressure as a result of worries from being influenced into signing a DNR.’
‘Our NHS workers, alongside other key workers, are hugely important to our society and I would like to thank them for all their hard work. This is an unprecedented crisis of the highest degree and has changed everyone’s lives. We are extremely lucky to have these workers putting themselves on the front line to ensure everyone is protected. I hope that our services across Midlothian North and Musselburgh, and indeed across Scotland, will continue to provide the highest standard of care and attention to patients, despite the challenges we are currently facing.’
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed confirmation that Midlothian and East Lothian families who are unable to access food due to coronavirus will get support from the Scottish Government.
Local authorities are sharing £30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food fund to support those struggling.
Midlothian have been allocated £446,000 from the fund and East Lothian have been offered £447,000. The funding is one part of the £350 million Communities Fund.
The funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.
Councils will have flexibility to use this additional resource in ways that best meet emerging local needs and circumstances, working with community groups and businesses to support home delivery, provide financial help and meet dietary requirements.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“Coronavirus has brought enormous disruption to all of our lives, and some people will be concerned about accessing food.
“This investment will help those in Midlothian and East Lothian at most risk, such as older people and children eligible for free school meals, to access food through this unprecedented crisis.
“Free school meals are vital for families across Midlothian and East Lothian and are an important way of ensuring children receive the nutritious food they need. That is why it is so important that support continues while schools remain closed.
“This is just one part of the support the Scottish Government is providing to individuals and businesses to protect jobs and incomes.”
Colin Beattie MSP, Christine Grahame MSP, and Owen Thompson MP have been working together to ensure that constituents are supported and have the necessary advice in protecting themselves against Covid-19.
SNP MSP, Colin Beattie said:
“This is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes and the measures we take to deal with it must reflect its magnitude.
“The changes we are asking people to make are difficult, but are absolutely essential to help us slow down the spread of the virus as much as we can.
“If somebody has symptoms of Covid-19, a persistent cough or a fever, they should isolate themselves for seven days – and anyone else in a household where someone has symptoms should isolate for 14 days.
“The first port of call for anyone looking for information is the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot.
“The best way to support our NHS is to follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible. Staying home will help to protect lives and everyone must play their part in this. However, we know that many people are looking for other ways to help – and those wanting to volunteer should visit www.readyscotland.org.
SNP MP, Owen Thompson commented:
“We are grateful to the very many companies that are being responsible by actively supporting homeworking and allowing staff the time off for isolation.
“Employers should make decisions about what is essential work - it should not be up to employees decide whether or not they should go in to work.
“Workers should not be placed under unnecessary and unacceptable pressure regarding their terms and conditions.
“It is vital that all businesses act responsibly and align fully with the social distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath. Further guidance for employers has been prepared and is published on the Scottish Government website.
“The Scottish Government has announced a £2.2bn package of support to help sustain businesses and, crucially, help them pay staff and treat staff fairly.
“We must all adhere to these measures to help us slow down the spread of the virus as much as we can.”
SNP MSP Christine Grahame noted:
“I’d ask everyone to ensure they’re up to date with the most recent advice and take the steps needed to protect themselves, as my colleagues have said. Together we can protect our NHS and save lives.
“In the midst of this we’ve seen some excellent examples of communities pulling together across Midlothian and there are now a number of groups set up, working in conjunction with the council to support people.
“The Scottish Government is sending out letters to the 200,000 most vulnerable people in Scotland 90,000 of which are already out and starting to be received – if you receive one and need help with things like groceries as a result of being asked to stay home for 12 weeks please do not hesitate to reach out to local support, they are there to help.”