first minister

bioris johnstone

20th March 2020 Update, Benefit help and Wages help unprecedented in this country’s history.

 

Lots of help with Wages and benefits please watch for full information.

Government to pay up to 80% of wages in coronavirus outbreak

Rishi Sunak announces scheme offering up to £2,500 a month to those not working

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced the government will pay the wages of British workers to keep them in jobs as the coronavirus outbreak escalates.

In an unprecedented step, Sunak said the state would pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers kept on by companies, up to a total of £2,500 per month, just above the median income.

Coming just days after announcing a £350bn bailout package of loans and government grants to help businesses cope with the lockdown of large parts of the economy, the chancellor said his plan was one of the most comprehensive in the world and “unprecedented in British history”.

“We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs,” he said. “It’s on all of us.”

Sunak said there would be no limit on the funding available to pay people’s wages.

The government is also deferring the next quarter of VAT payments, which is the equivalent of injecting another £30bn into the economy and is designed to help companies stay afloat.

Sunak was speaking alongside Boris Johnson at the daily Downing Street press conference after schools shut to most children until further notice. The prime minister said the measures were intended to be temporary, as part of a “joint objective” between people and the government to beat the disease.

“We will do everything in our power to help. Supporting you directly in a way that government has never done before, in addition to the package we have already set out for business,” Johnson said.

The government has come under mounting pressure in recent days to do more to support ordinary people after taking unprecedented steps to help businesses through the worst of the outbreak. Growing numbers of UK firms are teetering on the brink of collapse amid the lockdown measures, threatening widespread job losses as demand for goods and services evaporates.

Pressure had been mounting on the chancellor to introduce a universal basic income – guaranteed regular payments from the state – to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus with 150 MPs demanding the step was taken to support people across the country. There had also been calls to emulate US plans to hand American citizens direct cash payments worth more than $1,000 (£852) as part of a stimulus package worth more than $1tn.

The government has been forced to revise its approach to tackling the Covid-19 outbreak on a daily basis as the increasing severity of the health pandemic and damage to the economy unfolds.

Economists at Deutsche Bank forecast the British economy could suffer the worst recession for a century – outstripping the 2008 financial crisis – with millions of workers losing their jobs and the unemployment rate doubling.

Sunak had initially earmarked £12bn in last week’s budget to soften the impact of the Covid-19 health pandemic, although the chancellor was rapidly forced to come back with fresh measures, while promising to do “whatever it takes” to see the UK through the crisis.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT-LOGO-2011

Published: 19 Mar 2020 

Exams will not go ahead, teaching, learning and support can continue with local flexibility.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT-LOGO-2011

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has updated Parliament on the decision to close schools and confirmed that:

  • the exam diet will not go ahead this year. The Scottish Qualifications Authority will put in place a certification model using coursework, teacher assessment of estimated grades and prior attainment
  • local authorities are taking measures to protect vulnerable children who rely on schools for hot meals or a safe and supportive environment
  • children of key workers will have continuing access to learning or childcare

Mr Swinney said:

“My priorities are to ensure the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff, and to maintain teaching and learning wherever this is possible, guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts.

“Teaching, learning and support will continue – albeit in different ways for different groups of children. For the majority, this will be through distance learning and online learning, with different forms of on-going contact with teachers rather than in-school, face-to-face. Teachers and other staff who are well will continue to be working.

“For vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers, local authorities are developing approaches to support them. We will not cut adrift vulnerable young people who often rely on school life for hot meals or for a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.

“Parents are not expected to be a teacher or to recreate the school day – your school will be giving you some resources and suggestions as your first port of call.

“It is a measure of the gravity of the challenge we now face that the exams will not go ahead this year. With the support of the wider education system, a credible certification model can be put in place in the that can command confidence in the absence of the exam diet – to ensure that young people in our schools and colleges who through no fault of their own are unable to sit exams, are not disadvantaged.”

Background

The Deputy First Minister’s statement in full.

The SQA will develop a certification model to replace the exam diet. Pupils in S4-S6 with coursework for national qualifications to complete will be informed by their schools how to complete this.

Local authorities will put in place appropriate arrangements to support vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers – this may include exceptional provision to continue to attend school or local childcare that the local authority put in place. Those with complex additional support needs who are learning and living in residential special schools will continue to receive the care and support they require and any long-term health conditions will be taken into account.

Local authorities are also being encouraged to work with local childcare providers in the private and third sectors to ensure ongoing provision to enable key workers to remain in work. Funding will continue to allow contractual payments to private and third sector providers, including childminders, for statutory early learning and childcare hours to continue. This is worth £220 million to the childcare sector in 2020-21.

A £70 million food fund from the support package for communities announced yesterday will support access to food, including provision of free school meals. Pupil Equity Funding will be relaxed to allow headteachers and local authorities to support the most vulnerable childrens’ needs during this time.

Local authorities can deploy the 2020-21 uplift in funding for the 1140 hours expansion as flexibly as is needed to support families and childcare providers during this period.

Key workers are those who work in posts which ensure that essential services can be delivered, or those who cover tasks within the local community which support the vulnerable and aid community resilience. The exact definition will vary based on local needs.

The Student Awards Agency Scotland will endeavour to continue to fund students on time, and students will be updated throughout. The Further and Higher Education Minister is working closely with the Scottish Funding Council, college and university principals and unions.

A security staff manager at intu Braehead is in the running for a top national award. Stephen Stronach, 36, from Linwood, Renfrewshire is one of three students who have been shortlisted for the Chartered Management Institute Student of the Year Award. He has recently passed his Level 8 Award in Management and Leadership as a mature student after intu Braehead paid for a lecturer from West College Scotland to visit the centre to give lectures to a dozen security staff. Stephen, a security duty manager, who has worked at intu Braehead for 14 years explains: “I’ve never had any further education qualifications before and it’s been great learning the theory behind the things we do on a day-to-day basis. “I really appreciate the opportunity the company has given me and I’m sure having this qualification will help me develop my career.” Peter Beagley, intu Braehead centre director said: “Stephen has studied hard to get this management and leadership qualification and his dedication has been recognised by the fact he has been shortlisted for this CMI Student of the Year Award. It’s a fantastic achievement.” The Chartered Management Institute is the UK’s only chartered professional body dedicated to promoting the highest standards in management and leadership excellence. The outright winner of the Student of the Year Award is due to be announced next week.

A security staff manager at intu Braehead is in the running for a top national award.

Stephen Stronach, 36, from Linwood, Renfrewshire is one of three students who have been shortlisted for the Chartered Management Institute Student of the Year Award.

A security staff manager at intu Braehead is in the running for a top national award.  Stephen Stronach, 36, from Linwood, Renfrewshire is one of three students who have been shortlisted for the Chartered Management Institute Student of the Year Award.  He has recently passed his Level 8 Award in Management and Leadership as a mature student after intu Braehead paid for a lecturer from West College Scotland to visit the centre to give lectures to a dozen security staff.  Stephen, a security duty manager, who has worked at intu Braehead for 14 years explains: “I’ve never had any further education qualifications before and it’s been great learning the theory behind the things we do on a day-to-day basis.  “I really appreciate the opportunity the company has given me and I’m sure having this qualification will help me develop my career.”  Peter Beagley, intu Braehead centre director said: “Stephen has studied hard to get this management and leadership qualification and his dedication has been recognised by the fact he has been shortlisted for this CMI Student of the Year Award. It’s a fantastic achievement.”  The Chartered Management Institute is the UK’s only chartered professional body dedicated to promoting the highest standards in management and leadership excellence. The outright winner of the Student of the Year Award is due to be announced next week.

He has recently passed his Level 8 Award in Management and Leadership as a mature student after intu Braehead paid for a lecturer from West College Scotland to visit the centre to give lectures to a dozen security staff.

Stephen, a security duty manager, who has worked at intu Braehead for 14 years explains: “I’ve never had any further education qualifications before and it’s been great learning the theory behind the things we do on a day-to-day basis.

“I really appreciate the opportunity the company has given me and I’m sure having this qualification will help me develop my career.”

Peter Beagley, intu Braehead centre director said: “Stephen has studied hard to get this management and leadership qualification and his dedication has been recognised by the fact he has been shortlisted for this CMI Student of the Year Award. It’s a fantastic achievement.”

The Chartered Management Institute is the UK’s only chartered professional body dedicated to promoting the highest standards in management and leadership excellence. The outright winner of the Student of the Year Award is due to be announced next week.

paisley pirates

(playoff quarter finals, first leg)

Pirates more than matched their hosts for the first fifty minutes of this quarter final tie, before dropping their guard in the final ten minutes to concede four goals and leave themselves with a hazardous second leg in two weeks’ time, when they will now have to beat the Comets by three goals on aggregate to progress to the playoff finals.

paisley pirates

After a scoreless opening spell, the game burst into life as the visitors went ahead just on the eight minute mark as Abercrombie shot past Shearer to break the deadlock, but they were ahead for only twenty seconds as Comets went straight to the other end and equalised through McBean. However, Finnish star Sami Harju restored Pirates’ lead within another ninety seconds, with assistance from Kenneth, and the score remained the same until the eighteenth minute, when Abercrombie netted his second to stretch the lead to 3-1, but within a minute Pokorny had pulled it back to a one goal game, to finish the scoring for the session.

After a quiet start to the middle period Pokorny bagged his second in 27 minutes to tie the scores, but within a minute Walker scored with an unassisted effort to restore Pirates’ advantage, and while both sides took penalties the extra man made no difference to the score, and the visitors went for the second break nursing a narrow 4-3 lead.

 With a one goal advantage, and a home second leg to follow, Pirates were looking good for a win in the tie, but after a scoreless opening 10 minutes in the session, the roof fell in on the visitors. Beattie equalised again for the visitors, and while Conor Spiers restored the lead inside a minute, the hosts responded with three strikes in four minutes through Robertson and a double by McBean, the latter completing his hat trick in the process, and while Pirates did go for another goal to narrow the gap, they were unable to do so, thus giving Comets what could prove to be a critical two goal cushion at 7-5 for the deciding leg on Saturday 28 March at 6.30pm at Braehead Arena.

Photo Booth London

SymaShazad_10

A woman who gave her mother a second chance at life by donating her kidney has spoken of the importance of people within black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities discussing organ donation ahead of World Kidney Day (12 March 2020).

SymaShazad_10

Syma Shahzad, 40, who donated to mum Anees Haq in 2008, shared how she was challenged about her decision due to conflicting beliefs and knowledge within her community, and encouraged people to think about what they would want to happen and discuss it with family.

Syma, who works as a pharmacist in Glasgow, added her support to the awareness drive ahead of World Kidney Day (12 March 2020), as statistics show the proportion of patients from minority ethnic communities in Scotland on transplant waiting lists has gradually increased over the past two years.

In March 2020, 10.5 per cent of those on the active waiting lists for a transplant from a deceased donor were recorded as being from a minority ethnic group, compared to 9.2 per cent in March 2018.

Statistics show that in the last five years, around half as many families of minority ethnic eligible donors supported organ donation after their loved one’s death, compared with the families of white eligible donors.

People from black and Asian communities are more likely to develop conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis than white people, which increases the likelihood of them needing a transplant1.

A kidney transplant is more successful if the donor and recipient share the same ethnicity.

Worried about the impact of dialysis on her mother’s life after she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2007, Syma raised the possibility of her donating her kidney.

A healthy person can lead a completely normal life with one kidney, and a kidney from a living donor generally offers the best outcomes for patients living with kidney failure who need a transplant.

Syma said:

“From the outset, our consultant at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary was fabulous. He helped us progress everything as quickly as possible so we could make sure the transplant went ahead before my mum had to start dialysis.  I had the first tests in March 2008, and successfully donated my kidney to her in the October of that year.”

Speaking about her faith Syma said:

“Being Muslim, there’s a lot of stigma attached to organ donation. I believe I wasn’t doing anything to put myself in danger, I was simply helping give my mother a better quality of life. For me that was the ultimate decider.

“My belief is that whatever your time is destined to be, your time will be; but whatever you can do to improve that quality of life is essential.

“Within our community, there are so many challenges around mindset and conflicting religious knowledge. I was very headstrong and wouldn’t let anyone dissuade me from doing this. With Asian people being at a higher risk of diabetes, and the associated kidney problems, I would love to see more people considering donation.

“I would encourage anyone who’s unsure about their stance on organ donation to sit down and consider what would happen if it was someone in your family who needed a transplant. Having been through it with my mother, if I could I’d do the same for anyone else in that situation.”

From Autumn 2020, the law around organ and tissue donation after death is set to change to an opt-out system.  This means that if people aged 16 and over have not recorded a decision about donation, they will be considered as a possible donor when they die, unless they are in one of the excluded groups.

Jen Lumsdaine, Lead Nurse for Living Donation Scotland said:

“Patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who need a kidney transplant tend to wait longer due to a shortage of donors.

“As Syma’s story illustrates, living donation can ensure a better outcome for the patient, and dramatically reduce the time a loved one has to spend on dialysis.

“Choosing to donate a kidney remains an exceptional gift, and living donation will continue to be vital part of continuing to improve transplant numbers when opt-out legislation is introduced, so more lives can be saved and transformed.”

To find out more about living donation visit livingdonationscotland.org

paisley pirates

Less than a week after going to Tayside for a successful Scottish Cup semi final tie, Paisley Pirates are once more heading for the Dundee Ice Arena this Saturday, where they will again face the Dundee Comets, this time in a two legged tie which will determine which club will be one of four to progress to the end of season playoff finals, again in Dundee, in April.

paisley pirates

Pirates will be hoping for a similar outcome to their Scottish Cup semi final tie with the Comets, where a 10-6 aggregate win saw them progress to the final, which sees them anticipate a cup final appearance the following weekend, again in Dundee, against Murrayfield.

In the meantime, however, their eyes are firmly fixed on the matter in hand, which is to set up the second leg of the playoff match at Braehead Arena on Saturday 28 March (face off 6.30pm) for another aggregate win, in what will be their SIXTH match against the Comets during the current season. To date, Comets have beaten Pirates three times to one, but the latter scored an important two legged win in the Scottish Cup, and will be hoping for a similar outcome over the two legs, to give themselves a chance of retaining their playoff title for another year.

Face off in Dundee is at 6.30pm.

paisley pirates

Paisley Pirates helped young fan Josh O’Neill have a very special birthday last weekend, when they were asked to help make his 6th birthday one to remember.

His dad Michael wrote to the club saying that his young son, a P1 pupil at St Charles’ School in the town, was a huge Pirates’ fan, who dreamed of one day scoring a goal at Braehead-and his favourites responded in style to make his wish come true. Off Ice Operations Manager Jackie Turley takes up the story:

paisley pirates

“When we received Michael’s email, we had a wee bit of a problem, as our schedule means we don’t have another home game until 28 March, but we wanted to help Michael bring his son’s wish to life, so to speak, so we put our thinking caps on, and invited both of them down to our training session where we were preparing for our important Scottish Cup semi final tie against Dundee Comets the following weekend. As a community club we’re always pleased to get the chance to give something back to the fans who support us, and this was a perfect opportunity.”

“We showed him round the dressing room, introduced him to his favourite mascot, Shivering Timbers, and then took him round to meet the players and set up a shoot out area from where he took shots against two of our goalies, Danny Morris and Callum Donaghy. He was a bit over-awed by it all but, encouraged by the players, he fired home half a dozen shots, and we’ll certainly want to speak to him again when he turns 16”, she joked. “After the shoot out, we gave him a birthday card signed by all the players, and presented him with a commemorative puck, a specially scaled down hockey stick, and a Paisley Pirates top with his favourite character, Shivering Timbers, our mascot, on it, so we hope we were able to give him something to make his birthday a bit special.”

Dad Michael said,” I can’t thank the club enough for the lengths they went to in order to give Josh a special day. He talked about nothing else leading up to the event and was thrilled to bits for what they did for him, even if it went way beyond what he and I were hoping for from the Pirates.”

flybe

A spokesperson for AGS Airports which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: “The loss of Flybe is a devasting blow for the airline’s employees and the tens of thousands of passengers who relied on its routes. It unfortunately brings into stark focus the fragility of the UK’s domestic connectivity. Earlier this year the UK Government committed to levelling up all regions of the UK by conducting a review of regional connectivity. It’s vital this work is progressed as a matter of urgency and reforming Air Passenger Duty (APD) is part of that review. We are already speaking to other airlines about backfilling the routes operated by Flybe for which there is clear demand. In the meantime, the advice to passengers who were scheduled to travel with Flybe is not to travel to the airport and to visit the Civil Aviation Authority’s website for further advice at www.caa.co.uk/news.

flybe

Government response to the collapse of Flybe

A Government spokesperson said:

“Following a commercial decision by the company, Flybe has ceased trading.

“We recognise the impact this will have on Flybe’s passengers and staff. Government staff will be on hand at all affected UK airports to help passengers.

“The vast majority of Flybe routes are served by different transport options, and we have asked bus and train operators to accept Flybe tickets and other airlines to offer reduced rescue fares to ensure passengers can make their journeys as smoothly as possible.

“We know this will be a worrying time for Flybe staff and our Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Service stands ready to help them find a new job as soon as possible.

“We are working closely with industry to minimise any disruption to routes operated by Flybe, including by looking urgently at how routes not already covered by other airlines can be re-established by the industry.

“Through the reviews of regional connectivity and Airport Passenger Duty we have announced, we will bring forward recommendations to help ensure that the whole of the UK has the connections in place that people rely on.

“Flybe’s financial difficulties were longstanding and well documented and pre-date the outbreak of COVID-19. We are well prepared a potential outbreak and this week we have set out an action plan with details of our response.”

wedding

wedding

Brides-to-be are being urged to book now to avoid missing out on a spot with one of Scotland’s most sought-after makeup artists.

Award-winning hair and beauty expert Nicola Blackstock has seen a huge surge in interest since being named makeup artist of the year at the second Scottish Beauty Industry Awards in June.

Paisley-based Nicola has been busy expanding her business, Nik Makeup Artist, since then and is training up three new assistants to help pass on her skills.

“That was the biggest achievement of my career so far and since then my business has just absolutely flourished,” says Nicola, who’s also in the running to win a coveted Scottish Hair and Beauty Award in December, on the same night as she’s nominated for the Renfrewshire Business Awards. Nicola is also up for winning the Scottish wedding awards 2020.

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