MIL-OSI UK: Businesses concerned about Brexit

Source: Scottish Government

A new report has been released outlining the extent of concern amongst Scottish businesses over Brexit.

EY consulted over 80 businesses and trade associations in Scotland – and every organisation said that Brexit-related uncertainty was a major concern with businesses highlighting risks to competitiveness, profitability and, in some cases, their viability.

The report says: “The impact of Brexit on consumers in Scotland could be significant through price rises on all imported goods as a consequence of tariffs, border frictions and a weaker currency.”

Commenting on the findings Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“This report demonstrates the costs to Scotland of a Brexit we did not vote for and demonstrates why a no deal Brexit must immediately be taken off the table by the UK Government. It captures the authentic voice of Scottish business and offers further evidence of the severe and disproportionate impacts that a no-deal outcome would have in Scotland. 

“Many businesses highlighted the risks to their competitiveness and profitability, some were worried about future viability and a number are already reporting negative impacts on investment, the costs associated with planning for Brexit and recruitment of staff.

“On top of the damage it is clearly causing to Scottish businesses Brexit, in whatever form, will cost jobs, make people poorer, damage our society and undermine the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain in the European Union.

“The UK Government must now take urgent steps to rule out a no-deal Brexit, which threatens to have devastating consequences for jobs, businesses and communities, extend the Article 50 process and hold a second referendum on EU membership.”

The Scottish Government has a dedicated website to help businesses prepare for Brexit.

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MIL-OSI UK: Supporting young people at risk of going missing

Source: Scottish Government

Two leading charities are joining forces to develop materials to educate children and young people about the dangers of going missing and encourage them to access support.

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham has announced that Missing People and Barnardo’s have been jointly awarded £30,000 to develop the new resource in consultation with children and young people and Education Scotland.

The project supports the goals of Scotland’s National Missing Persons Framework, which aims to improve the way agencies and organisations work together to support vulnerable people and help prevent individuals from running away.

Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham said:

“Almost 23,000 missing person investigations were conducted by Police Scotland in 2017-18 – nearly two-thirds involving children and young people. Whether young people are struggling with their mental health or experiencing difficulties at home, it is important that they understand the dangers of running away and can access professional help and support so they know going missing is not their only option.

“The vast majority of missing people are returned safe within 48 hours but we are determined to continue to improve how we safeguard and support the most vulnerable. That is more important than ever at this time of year when the end of the festive period can give way to stresses and strains in relationships.”

Susannah Drury, Director of Policy for Missing People said:

“Only 1 in 20 young people in Scotland who run away reach out for professional help. Most young people simply don’t know that support is available to help them stay safe including Missing People’s 24/7 free and confidential Runaway Helpline.

“So, we are delighted to be working with Barnardo’s Scotland and young people themselves to develop this resource that will inform young people about how they can stay safe and get the support they need if they are thinking about running away or have been reported missing.”

Daljeet Dagon, National Programme Manager for Child Sexual Exploitation for Barnardo’s Scotland, said:

“We’re very pleased to be working with Missing People and young people to develop this new resource. The experience and perspective that young people bring to the resource will ensure it is tailored for the right audience and has the most impact.”

Background

National Missing Persons Framework

In 2017/18, 64% of Police Scotland missing persons investigations related to a missing child or young person.

Many organisations are involved in work relating to missing people. Depending on the circumstances, these may include local authority social work departments, Police Scotland, housing providers, hospitals, care homes for the elderly, children’s homes, schools, or a range of third sector organisations which support vulnerable people, communities and victims of crime.

The resources are expected to launch in Autumn 2019.

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MIL-OSI UK: Funeral Expense Assistance

Source: Scottish Government

A new benefit providing help for people on low-incomes to meet the costs of a funeral is on course to be delivered by the Scottish Government through Social Security Scotland by summer 2019.

Funeral Expense Assistance (FEA) will replace the current DWP Funeral Payment in Scotland and improvements mean around 40% more people will be eligible to apply. FEA will provide financial support directly to those who need it most at the point of bereavement. Regulations enabling delivery of this new system have been laid in Parliament today.

As with all Scottish Government benefits, Funeral Expense Assistance has been developed with input from those with experience of the present system – helping identify and address the parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing and improving the process and removing barriers to apply.

Welcoming the progress in delivering the new benefit, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events any of us can face. At that difficult time, it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“Our Funeral Expense Assistance will increase eligibility by around 40% and so reach far more people struggling with the costs, and is backed by around £2 million additional funding.

“Help will be provided towards burial or cremation costs, certain transport costs, plus £700 for other costs such as funeral directors fees or flowers. We have committed to annually uprating the £700 to take account of the impact of inflation – something the UK Government has not done since 2003.

“This is a demand led benefit and forecasts are that we will spend £6.3 million in the first full year of operation – 25% more than the DWP spent on this benefit in 2017/18. And like the Best Start Grant, we will encourage people to apply and get this financial support to people who need it most.

“I am pleased that this benefit will be available later this year and will deliver an improved scheme to help those on lower incomes pay for the cost of a funeral. This fits well with our wider work to tackle funeral poverty and the cost of funerals.”

Background

View the Funeral Expense Assistance regulations.  

The payment has three elements:

  • Burial or cremation costs
  • A flat rate payment towards other expenses for example, funeral director fees, coffin, flowers.
  • Certain transport costs

The average DWP Funeral Payment was £1,372 in 2017/18.

Scottish Government work to tackle funeral poverty is set out in the Funeral Costs Plan, which is being progressed in partnership with the funeral industry, councils and the third sector.

Following a public consultation, we are finalising guidance on funeral costs, to help improve the availability and transparency of funeral, burial and cremation costs, helping people understand, compare and choose services that are right for them.

The Scottish Government has also encouraged people to talk about and plan their funeral, as set out in the Planning Your Own Funeral leaflet.

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MIL-OSI UK: Supporting young people in custody

Source: Scottish Government

A leading Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist is to oversee the independent expert review of mental health and wellbeing support for young people in custody.

Consultant Forensic Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Helen Smith will work closely with the HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and others to review support for young people in HM Prison & Young Offenders Institution Polmont.

The review is one of the actions across government which aims to improve support for vulnerable children and young people.

Dr Smith, who is also clinical lead for West of Scotland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, brings extensive experience of work to improve the mental health of young people in secure care.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has also announced the scope and terms of reference of the review, in a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Justice Committees.

The review will consider arrangements including:

  • The background information available to the Scottish Prison Service ahead of admission
  • Reception arrangements on entry
  • Ongoing support and supervision while in custody.

Mr Yousaf said:

“This review will focus specifically on young people in custody and will draw directly on the views and lived experiences of staff, young people and their families at Polmont. It will require a wide ranging approach with a specific understanding of the particular difficulties faced by young people, so I am pleased that Dr Smith, with her considerable experience and knowledge, has been appointed to provide expert counsel.

“Any death by suicide is tragic and the impact on family and friends is unimaginable for most of us. We have made both suicide prevention and reforming young people’s mental health key priorities with a significant focus on early intervention. Some of this will be achieved through the Children and Young People’s Taskforce, led by Denise Coia, and the Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, chaired by Rose Fitzpatrick. However, it is imperative that we take a focused approach to addressing concerns that have been raised about support for young people in custody. This Expert Review will provide that.”

Dr Helen Smith said:

“I’m looking forward to working with HMP&YOI Polmont and NHS Forth Valley to examine the support given to vulnerable young people at a very difficult time in their lives. This opportunity also allows me to consider whether any lessons can be transferred between Secure Care, the Scottish Prison Service and other relevant agencies.”

The text of the letter to the Justice Committee is as follows:

Dear Convenor,

EXPERT REVIEW OF MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN CUSTODY- TERMS OF REFERENCE

Further to my letter of 23 November informing Committee Members that I had instructed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMIPS) to work with a mental health expert to undertake a review of the provision of mental health services and support for young people entering and in custody at HMP&YOI Polmont, I am writing to update you on progress.

A range of work has been taken forward since the announcement, including the confirmation of Dr Helen Smith (Consultant Forensic Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, who is the clinical lead for West of Scotland CAMHS and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Glasgow) by HMIPS as the mental health expert for the review. Dr Smith has extensive experience of working with young people with mental health and wellbeing issues, including within the care and justice systems.

A short life working group has also been established to support the review, including representation from social work, the Children’s Reporter Administration; Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the third sector including Barnardo’s Scotland and the Scottish Association for Mental Health. The review will also draw directly on the views and lived experiences of staff, young people and their families. The review will continue to involve a number of cross-Governmental Ministerial portfolios and I attach the Terms of Reference for the review which have been agreed by all relevant portfolio Ministers.

HMIPS will present the findings of the review to Ministers in Spring 2019 around the same time as the publication of the routine inspection findings of HMP&YOI Polmont undertaken on 29 October -1 November 2018. Scottish Ministers, special advisers and the Permanent Secretary are covered by the terms of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016. See www.lobbying.scot St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG www.gov.scot  

My officials and I will continue to work in close collaboration with the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and Ministers for Mental Health and Childcare and Young People and relevant officials to ensure lessons are drawn across the relevant work already underway in mental health provision and support, suicide prevention and in youth justice, including the work of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and the joint Scottish Government and COSLA Taskforce on Children and Young People’s Mental Health. Links will also be made to the current independent Care Review, which is working to deliver lasting change to the care system.

I trust this information is helpful.

HUMZA YOUSAF

Background

The scope and terms of reference can be accessed via the attached link.

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MIL-OSI UK: Rise in European visitors

Source: Scottish Government

The number of overseas visitors from Europe increased sharply by 22% in the 12 months to the end of September 2018, according to official statistics released today. 

In the same period, spending by European visitors in Scotland also registered an increase of 7%, jumping from £1.08 billion to £1.15 billion.

Overall international trends were positive, with a growing number of international visitors choosing Scotland as their preferred destination.

The figures also show:

  • 14.3% increase in overseas overnight visits to Scotland (from 3.1 to 3.5 million)
  • 3.3% increase in overseas tourism expenditure in Scotland (from £2.18 to £2.25 billion).

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said:

“I am pleased that Scotland’s tourism industry continues to perform strongly, despite the challenges posed by Brexit. The sector continues to attract an increasing number of visitors from the EU and beyond, who come to enjoy our varied heritage and breath-taking natural landscapes – outperforming the UK in attracting overseas visitors.

“Our tourism industry is of vital importance to the Scottish economy. As visitors continue to come to Scotland, spending more time in the country and travelling to more destinations, this is a welcome boost for tourism businesses across all of Scotland. 

“European and international visitors are a huge asset to our tourism sector, economy and wider wellbeing. As set out in our recent discussion paper, all the scenarios point to Brexit – and the end of free movement of people – having a damaging effect on the recruitment and retention of EU staff in the tourism sector. We will do all we can to ensure European visitors can continue to travel to Scotland freely and provide the certainty that people and businesses want.”

Background

The ONS publication ‘Overseas travel and tourism trends’ provides information on estimates of completed international visits to and from the UK, and earnings and expenditure associated with these visits.

Over the 12 months to September 2018, there was a 5.4% fall in overseas overnight visits to the UK, and a 7.9% fall in overseas tourism expenditure in the UK, compared to the previous 12 months.

The Scottish Government published a discussion paper on Scotland’s Population Needs & Migration Policy.

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MIL-OSI UK: Record number of students from deprived areas at university

Source: Scottish Government

A record number of full time first degree students at Scottish universities were from the most deprived areas in Scotland last year. 

New figures show that, in 2017/18, 15.6% of students entering university were from the 20% most deprived areas. This is 0.4% short of the Government’s target for 2021. 

Last year also saw an increase in the total number of Scottish students enrolling in Scottish universities. 

The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show the latest progress in the drive to widen access to higher education.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education. I’m pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas.

“Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance.

“It is also great to see a record number of enrolments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/18. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions.”

Background

Between 2016/17 and 2017/18:

  • Total Scottish domiciled students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) increased by 1.2% to 160,875
  • The number of students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at Scottish HEIs increased by 2.1% to 247,110
  • Entrants (undergraduate and postgraduate) to Scottish HEIs increased by 3.2% to 104,520
  • EU and non-EU domiciled enrolments to Scottish HEIs increased by 1.7% and 5.1% respectively
  • Qualifiers from Scottish HEIs increased by 2.4% to 76,595

Following the Commission on Widening Access, a target was set that, by 2021, 16% of students entering university will be from Scotland’s most deprived backgrounds, increasing to 20% by 2030. At 15.6% for 2017/18, this is just 0.4 percentage points off the 2021 target.

The latest UCAS statistics from the 2018 End of Cycle Report showed an increase in acceptances for 18 year old students from deprived backgrounds.

The full set of information on 2017/18 enrolments published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency is available as an interactive publication

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MIL-OSI UK: Expanding access to free sanitary products

Source: Scottish Government

Further funding to increase the number of places where free sanitary products are available has been announced by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell.

Local authorities will now have more funding to widen the number and range of places free sanitary products are available locally, increasing the roll-out of the Scottish Government’s world leading action and access beyond schools, colleges and universities.

Beginning now and for next financial year, a total of £4 million is being made available to local authorities, who will deliver the expansion. They will work in partnership with other organisations to meet local needs and increase availability.

Announcing the expansion at a visit to Move On, a FareShare food centre involved in distributing sanitary products to low income people, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“As the first country in the world to provide access to free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities, we are going even further to increase the number of places where these vital products are available and reach more people on low incomes.

“In a society as rich as Scotland, no one should have to suffer the indignity of not having the means to meet their basic needs. We also want to continue to reduce the stigma and address the overarching gender equality and dignity issues that affect everyone who menstruate, regardless of their income.

“We are working to support people in a thoughtful and dignified way, working in partnership with organisations such as the COSLA and Move On.”

Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson said: 

“COSLA  welcomes the wider roll-out of free sanitary provision across our communities. Extending provision beyond education settings will help ensure that no one experiences disadvantage, anxiety, stigma or embarrassment because of lack of access to suitable products.

“COSLA, and our member councils, were amongst the first organisations in Scotland to offer free sanitary products and this wider role out further enhances this provision.”

Background

 In August 2018, the Scottish Government became the first government in the world to introduce access to free sanitary products for all students in schools, colleges and universities

Move On is a franchise holder of FareShare and operate FareShare Glasgow and West of Scotland. Their new food and training depot delivers surplus food supplies to children and families experiencing food poverty. In May 2018 the Scottish Government provided £500,000 to FareShare to expand access to sanitary products through their network of third sector partners. FareShare’s network spreads across over 1,000 community organisations and groups and over 20,000 people are already benefitting from this initiative.

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MIL-OSI UK: Supporting young people into jobs

Source: Scottish Government

Views are being sought on the detail of a new benefit that aims to help young people with the costs associated with the transition into the workplace.

The proposed Job Grant consists of a one-off cash payment of £250, or £400 for a young person with children, which will be available to those between 16-24 who were out of paid work for six months prior to finding employment.

The grant will assist towards travel costs or could be used for clothing, lunches and other expenses that need to be met by someone entering work after a lengthy period of unemployment and ahead of their first salary.  It will complement wider Scottish Government initiatives that support people into employment, such as Fair Start Scotland.

Launching the consultation at StartScotland, an employment provider in Edinburgh, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“The transition in to work for young people who have been unemployed can be a difficult one.  Getting to and from their place of work and having appropriate clothing can be costly, especially if you’ve been managing on the low income provided by out-of-work benefits and don’t have savings to fall back on.

“The Job Grant aims to help with those costs and make their first few weeks in employment easier. Keeping young people in work is key to keeping them healthy, both physically and mentally.

“We want to introduce the Job Grant as swiftly as we can so are consulting now to  get views on the proposed eligibility criteria and the format of the proposed payment.  Our aim is to deliver a benefit that meets the needs of young people entering work and I urge anyone who shares that desire to take part in the consultation.”

Nick Young, General Manager at StartScotland, said: “This new grant, alongside the other measures being implemented by the Scottish Government, is a welcome addition for Scotland.

“We know that re-entering the workplace, or even finding employment for the first time, can be a tricky time for people. So anything that supports people as they make the transition can only be a good thing.

“Fair Start Scotland is delivering a fantastic service to help people with disabilities and health issues gain the right skills they need to find and maintain that all important job.”

Background

The public consultation will run until 9 April 2019.

The eligibility criteria have been developed following discussion with young people and their representative organisations. Eligibility will be determined through tests carried out by Social Security Scotland on the date of application. 

The consultation also proposes support is extended for care leavers, recognising that they may face particular challenges moving into employment.

The proposed main eligibility conditions are:

  • Aged 16-24 years inclusive (apart from care leavers who will be eligible for a year longer) and not previously receiving a Job Grant
  • Out of paid work and in receipt of a qualifying benefit for six months or more (except for care leavers who only need to be on a qualifying benefit at the time of the job offer and do not need to meet the time requirement)
  • Ordinarily resident in Scotland
  • In receipt of a job offer for paid employment in the UK, which averages 16 hours per week or more over a four-week period, and is expected to last at least three months or more
  • Applications can be made 14 days in advance of employment start date and up to 14 days after employment has commenced.  The Job Grant aligns with wider Scottish Government policies including Fair Start Scotland, our employment support service which over three years is looking to provide support to a minimum of 38,000 participants who want and need help to enter and remain in work.  The service will target a wide range of participants including long term unemployed, disabled people as defined by the Equality Act 2010. Further information on who is responsible for delivering Fair Start Scotland in your area is available at www.mygov.scot/fairstart

The Job Grant will supplement the support from Fair Start Scotland for young people as it aims to support a smooth transition into employment.

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MIL-OSI UK: Agri-food tariff threat to Scottish consumers and producers

Source: Scottish Government

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has written to Secretary of State Michael Gove, impressing on the UK Government the need to deal sensibly and sensitively with the setting of applied tariffs for imports to the UK, particularly in relation to agri-food products.

In the absence of a trade agreement between the UK and European Union, the same tariffs would apply to imports to the UK from the EU as from third countries. For agri-food products, these tariffs could be considerable with potentially significant consequences for both consumers and producers.

As a result, Mr Ewing has put forward a proposal for the targeted use of tariff rate quotas to achieve a balance in protecting both consumer and producer interests.

Full text of the letter below.

As the prospects of a no-deal Brexit come ever closer, I write to impress upon you the need for the UK Government to deal sensibly and sensitively with the setting of applied tariffs for imports to the United Kingdom, particularly in relation to agri-food products.

In the absence of a trade agreement between the UK and European Union, it is well understood that imports to the UK from the EU would be liable for tariffs up to the levels set in the Schedule of Commitments which your Government has lodged with the World Trade Organisation. Similarly, UK exports to the EU would be liable for the tariffs set out in the EU’s Schedule of Commitments. For agri-food products, these tariffs can be considerable.

A range of respected commentators, including the Governor of the Bank of England, have highlighted the consequences of this for food prices in the UK, with Mark Carney identifying potential rises of 5-10%. This would have a significant effect, particularly on the more vulnerable sections of our population who spend a larger proportion of their household income on food.

I know that your officials have been looking at options, including the application of lower tariffs using the powers in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018. However, as I am sure you are aware, any such lower tariffs need to be applied to all trading partners, not just the EU. While lowering tariffs in this way could mitigate the effect on consumers, by opening the floodgates it risks considerable harm to our domestic producers. It also gives away much of the negotiating capital for the future trade agreements which you prize.

I understand that your officials have been considering a “wide spectrum” of options to deal with this issue, although there has been little clarity to date on precisely which options are being considered. To assist in this process, my officials have provided to yours a proposal for the targeted use of tariff rate quotas to achieve a balance in the protection of both consumer and producer interests, as well as maintaining negotiating capital. I understand that similar thoughts on the use of TRQs has also come forward from a number of stakeholders.

I would therefore urge you to give urgent and serious consideration to this proposal. Time is now short for the necessary Regulations to be put in place under the 2018 Act and for systems to be established. However, as the issue has been known about for some time by your Government, shortage of time cannot be a reason to excuse inaction.

Yours sincerely,

FERGUS EWING

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MIL-OSI UK: Letter to the Prime Minister

Source: Scottish Government

16 January 2019

Dear Theresa,

Following the rejection yesterday by the House of Commons of the UK Government’s deal on the Withdrawal Agreement and future relationship with the EU, I am writing to urge urgent engagement with the devolved administrations as the next steps are determined.

Yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons sends the same message that the Scottish Parliament did on the 5 December 2018. The draft deal would make people poorer, damage our society and undermine the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain in the European Union.

Since the referendum result in 2016, you have consistently insisted that you would respect the result of the referendum. However rather than recognise the clear vote to remain in Scotland and the 48% across the UK who voted to remain, you have reached out only to those who supported exit and most often to those who advocated a hard Brexit, outside the Single Market and Customs Union.

As a result your Government has now clearly failed to bring the country together in support of your proposed deal. It is time to recognise that reality and change course, starting with a new approach which seeks to find a way forward by genuinely involving the four nations of the UK. Up until now, despite stated intentions, the UK Government has taken little or no account of the views of the people of Scotland or the position of the Scottish Government.

As a first step I am writing to call for a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (Plenary). I understand the First Minister of Wales is making a similar call. It is important, contrary to our experience of the past two and a half years, that such a meeting must be more than window dressing. Urgent and meaningful discussions are needed in the next days to agree a way forward which can command a majority in the House of Commons, and which has the confidence and support of the devolved administrations.

The Scottish Government believes that the best way of resolving the current impasse is to negotiate an extension to the Article 50 period and hold a second EU referendum. Given the rejection of your deal we will now be intensifying work towards the achievement of that aim.

NICOLA STURGEON

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