New figures show that 3,615 businesses in South Lanarkshire have received support from the Scottish Government to support them through the coronavirus crisis. 

A total of £40.68 million has been awarded to businesses in South Lanarkshire through a Scottish Government scheme designed to support small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.

Across Scotland, over 83,000 grants valuing £942 million have been awarded through the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Scheme.

 

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Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said: 

“This pandemic has put real pressure on businesses across South Lanarkshire. 

“The SNP Government has provided swift and substantial financial help to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this unprecedented crisis.

"This package of support for businesses is welcome, and will help alleviate the hardship some individuals and businesses in South Lanarkshire may be facing. 

“I’d continue to encourage any eligible businesses facing economic instability to apply for the support offered by the Scottish Government.”

Local elected members in Hamilton have reacted with fury to the decision by First Glasgow to cancel the X1 express link between Hamilton and Glasgow City Centre as part of withdrawal of a number of routes. First Glasgow announced the decision on Friday 3rd July without consultation citing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes after the X1 was spared cancellation in February following public outcry from the local community and elected members, with a petition by Rebecca Creechan reaching over 4,600 signatures. First Glasgow had announced this decision after a meeting with local politicians on 11th February at their Caledonia Depot in Glasgow.

In response Christina McKelvie MSP, Angela Crawley MP and Margaret Ferrier MP have written to First Glasgow demanding an urgent meeting to highlight the demand that exists for the X1 service and the damage cancellation would cause to those returning to work from Hamilton and the surrounding area as lockdown eases.

 

Commenting Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse said:

“For First Glasgow to cut the X1 service without any consultation with the community is entirely unacceptable.

”For many people in my Constituency this service is an absolute lifeline and with lockdown easing and more people across Hamilton returning to work the demand for the X1 will only increase.

“I will be raising my concerns directly with First Glasgow and highlighting the damage they will be doing to the local community if they attempt to follow through with their kneejerk decision to cancel the X1.”

Commenting, Angela Crawley MP for Lanark and Hamilton East said:

“I am extremely disappointed that First Bus have decided to remove this vital service with very little communication.

“After months of working alongside the company to promote the service, it is a slap in face to receive an email late on a Friday night advising of their decision.

“I understand the pressures on public transport as a result of lockdown and social distancing, but to scrap the service without understanding the demand is the wrong decision.

“Many of my constituents are returning to work as lockdown eases and more will attend college and university in September.

“That commute will be made more difficult and more passengers will be pushed onto busy trains as a result of First’s decision.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting to discuss their decision and to ask what contingency arrangements are in place to support my constituents as they commute to and from Glasgow city centre.””

Commenting Margaret Ferrier MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said:

“Cutting the X1 service sends out entirely the wrong message about our priorities as we start to ease lockdown and recover from Covid-19. Remobilising bus services safely is an essential part of getting our economy moving again and dropping the X1 will do nothing to help my constituents get to where they need to be.

“The X1 provides a lifeline for Hillhouse residents to get to Glasgow, a fact recognised by FirstBus when they decided to retain the service in February amid a public outcry. The demand is there for the X1 service and FirstBus needs to adapt their strategy to encourage safe and sustainable use of the X1, as more and more people return to work and leisure activities in the coming weeks.

SALARY THRESHOLD WOULD HARM ECONOMY & PUBLIC SERVICES IN SOUTH LANARKSHIRE

The UK's proposed new immigration system could halve the number of people coming to Scotland, risking labour shortages in key sectors, an independent expert group has warned.

New research shows that 50.5% of migrants who want to work in South Lanarkshire would be ineligible to come to the UK under Westminster proposals - shutting the door on our ability to recruit talented, skilled and dedicated workers from Europe and elsewhere.

According to previous analysis by the Expert Advisory Group, 53% of roles filled by employees in Scotland earn less than £25,000, including up to 90% of jobs in the care sector.

Holyrood’s Finance Committee has also warned that demographic changes could pose risks to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.

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SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said: 

“The COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated the UK’s reliance on key workers who have come to Scotland from all over the world. 

“This pandemic has shown beyond doubt that people working in the roles which the Tories describe as ‘lower-skilled’ are absolutely vital to our communities.

“Without migration, South Lanarkshire could face a demographic crisis that could hammer public services like the NHS – as an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers. 

“But despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans which will be immeasurably damaging to South Lanarkshire and Scotland.

“We need the power to attract and retain the workers we need to fund our public services, and allow our economy to flourish.”

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Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

My door is open to anyone who seeks advice and support, so you can  phone or email me at any time.

You also have the option of visiting  constituency surgeries on Mondays. You don't need to make an appointment.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter, which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do  sign up here.

Back to School, back to costs!


Pupils from across all of South Lanarkshire have been helped out with the price of school uniforms. COSLA confirmed that all 32 local authorities have implemented an increase for school clothing grant. 

The £100 minimum grant to all eligible families was put in place for the start of the academic year, relieving the financial pressure for South Lanarkshire families and pupils as they return to school. 

This announcement from the Scottish Government will provide real, tangible help to families feeling the strain. 

We all know the stress and pressure that the return to school can bring, with clothes, shoes, bags and all the accessories. 

In South Lanarkshire, we have already made great strides in providing pupils with school clothing through the Back to School Bank. 

It's great to see our Scottish Government taking an action that provides real help.


Motor Neurone Disease 

Some of you already know that I take a close interest in living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as my own father did for many years before he died.

In June, just before we went off for the summer holidays, we marked MND Awareness Week. 

The Scottish Government has invested £2.5 million annually in the Specialist Nursing and Care Fund since 2015, more than doubling the number of MND specialist nurses across Scotland.


The new Health and Social Care Standards, introduced in April, seek to provide better personal outcomes for everyone and to ensure that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.

Everyone is entitled to care that meets their needs and upholds their rights.

The Euan MacDonald Centre, at Edinburgh University, https://www.euanmacdonaldcentre.org was started up with funds from Euan - just 29 when he was diagnosed - and his father, Donald. It's a fantastic resource, and I was directly involved with Euan on the building of a voicebank for patients to access, allowing them to pick out a voice sound that is closest to their own natural voice.




The Scottish Government recognise that research is essential for the development of new and effective approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of Motor Neurone Disease – investing in both research capacity and in bringing MND studies to Scotland.
 
Are you being scammed?

Watch out! What do you know about skimming or fake ATMs? The cleverer technology gets, the cleverer online scammers get to keep up. Phishing, harvesting, identity theft, hacked information such as BA's embarrassment last week. British Airways is facing a possible fine of around £500 million over a data breach that compromised 380,000 card payments after regulators said they were "making inquiries" into the incident.

 

So I took up the cause at Larkhall Trinity Church last week and invited in experts to explain more.

The ‘Scam Awareness Surgery’ was designed to make sure the citizens of Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse are made more aware of the latest scams and frauds. 

Research from Citizens Advice Scotland had shown that over 61% of over 65s have been approached by a scammer. Other schemes include computer repair/ phishing scams and home and identity fraud

Scammers can target anyone, but especially older people and anyone who has a vulnerability that makes them an easier target.

I thought it was important to give you the opportunity to ask questions and find out how best to protect yourselves against this ever more sophisticated form of theft.

Thanks especially to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards and Police Scotland for coming along to give east to understand help and guidance that will make sure people here are more protected and secure whether that's at an ATM or purchasing something online.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks with more news.