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14 January 2021

North-East MSPs Welcome Funding for Schools and Families

North-east MSPs have welcomed a new package of £45million to help local authorities to provide support to schools and families as they deal with the challenges of remote learning during lockdown.

The funding was announced by Education Secretary John Swinney and councils can use the funding for purposes including recruitment of extra staff, additional digital devices or to provide additional family support.

Both Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson MSP have welcomed the move.

The cash-boost is on top of £160 million already committed for education recovery since the start of the pandemic.

Private and third sector day care of children settings will also receive almost £4 million in temporary financial support.

Photo predates COVID
and social distancing
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I welcome this further tranche of funding to help support the many families across the north-east having to home school and work all in the same house.

“We know how important additional resources are to support children remote learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would like to say a big thank you to all the dedicated, hard-working teachers who are having to educate children in challenging circumstances.

“And to parents who’ve face additional pressures of working from home as well helping their children to learn and care for their wellbeing.

“Funding for childcare for vulnerable children and key worker families can help to protect children at risk and allow frontline staff to help protect us all as we continue to work from home and protect one another against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This new funding will be vital in helping to support teachers and home learning right across my constituency and indeed the country.

“Remote learning can be very difficult and funding to allow more support and to ease the burden placed on all those contributing to children’s learning is a very necessary step.”

12 January 2021

'Hammer Blow' as Scottish Seafood Exporters Losing 'Up to £1 million a day'

Tory Brexit Sell-Out Causing Chaos for Scottish Businesses

The SNP has renewed calls for the UK government to compensate businesses in Scotland suffering the effects of the Tory Brexit sell-out – after industry leaders warned that post-Brexit delays are costing Scottish seafood exporters over £1million per day.

James Withers, head of Scotland Food & Drink, told PoliticsHome that Scottish seafood exporters to the EU “could be losing upwards of one million pounds in sales a day” as a result of Brexit disruption and delays.

David Leiper, managing director of Peterhead company Seafood Ecosse, said the situation facing exporters was “a disgrace” and questioned: “Why should private companies take the pain for government incompetence?”

Alastair Roberts, who owns three fishing boats in Greenock, told LBC yesterday that Brexit “has ended up a lot worse than expected” and warned that “buyers in France, Spain, Italy […] will go elsewhere” for their seafood as a result of Brexit delays.

It has also been reported that some fish prices fell by as much as 80% at Peterhead market yesterday due to new paperwork demands and export blockages.
SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The fact that the UK government only completed the Brexit deal days before the end of the transition period - which they repeatedly refused to extend - has simply made it impossible for businesses to properly prepare.

“Scotland has been dragged out of the EU against our will and now huge damage is being done to one of our most valuable food exports, with our seafood sector being hammered to the tune of £1 million a day.

“The Tories must now answer for their betrayal of our fishing and seafood sectors, apologise to the Scottish businesses bearing the brunt of Boris Johnson's sell-out deal, and pay compensation to those who face the devastating double-whammy of Brexit during a global pandemic.

“The SNP repeatedly warned that there would be no Brexit advantage to the fish processing industry, and the Tory promise of a ‘sea of opportunity’ for the Scottish fishing industry has now been exposed as completely hollow.

"Scotland has been ignored by Westminster throughout this whole Brexit process. The only way to protect our interests, regain the benefits of EU membership and secure our place in Europe is to become an independent country."

Stevenson Slams Tories Broken Promises to North-East Farmers

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed Westminster for breaking its promises to north-east farmers just weeks after the end of the Brexit transition period.

It comes after the UK Tory government announced plans to consult on the introduction of gene-editing.

Commercial planting of GM crops is currently banned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland following decisions in 2015 – but without EU protection, the Tories are now threatening to overrule the devolved administrations and drive down Scotland’s high-quality food standards.

Despite the ban, the Tory Power Grab Bill allows ministers to override Scottish Ministers in certain areas, including in farming and food standards.

The proposal to introduce pesticide neonicotinoid is a promise which has been explicitly broken after Michael Gove promised not to U-turn on it. The pesticide is used for sugar beet but is harmful to bees.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“The harsh realities of the Tories’ Power Grab Bill are coming home to roost now, with Boris Johnson’s government threatening to impose GM crops on Scotland – despite a ban.

“Our local food and drink sector is world-renowned for being of the highest quality, so these plans to introduce GM crops will come as a devastating blow to the industry that is already struggling to deal with the impact of Brexit.

“Thanks to the Tories, the UK’s global reputation may well be damaged beyond repair, but we want to maintain Scotland’s clean, green reputation when it comes to food and drink standards.

“If the Tories won’t listen to the warnings from Scottish farmers right here in the north-east, and across Scotland, then it is clear the only way to protect Scotland’s interests is as an independent, European nation.”

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