|Welcome to my latest e-Magazine.
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This edition contains an update on the budget, including the impact on workers and businesses. There is also plenty of local update on Spaces for People, vaccination roll-out and my Community Hero Awards.
There are articles and videos from my appearance on BBC Question Time fot those who prefer more political content.
Please do feel free to get in touch if there is anything I can assist with.
Telephone: 0131 662 4520
Facebook: Ian Murray for Edinburgh South
This month the most popular items in my mail bag were constituents contacting about the vaccine, business support and schools.
For a full account of my voting please see the Public Whip website.
Every month hundreds of constituents get in touch on a whole host of policy issues ranging from bees to the nuclear deterrent. This month the most popular topic was the so-called genocide clause in the Trade Bill.
Spaces for People: Consultation
The City of Edinburgh Council is now consulting on retaining some of the Space for People schemes we have seen across the city over the last 12 months.
Community Hero Awards
Over the course of the pandemic many groups and individuals have gone above and beyond for their local community. Whilst the pandemic has been brutally hard for everyone it has also brought out the best in us and rekindled a community spirit which I think is so important.
After initially receiving dozens of emails and phone calls from concerned constituents who had not received an appointment for their vaccine or had appointments cancelled, I am pleased to see that the vast majority of over 70s and shielding patients have now been vaccinated. Responses from the Scottish government remain slow but we did receive confirmation that those who are housebound were taking slightly longer but this will be organised via a central community team and you should have been contacted by now.
Residents are often getting in touch to highlight the poor state of some of the city’s roads. As part of the Council’s upcoming carriageway treatment works the Council have sent me a schedule of works commencing in March.
Claimant Count – Edinburgh South
The January 2021 figures for the unadjusted claimant count have been published, which show the number of people who were claiming unemployment related benefits in Edinburgh South.
Covid-19 Business support: Budget Update
Following the budget I updated businesses and workers on changes to Furlough, self employed support and business support packages.
Trade Bill: Genocide Amendment
This month many constituents contacted me in relation to the Trade Bill and the so-called ‘Genocide Amendment’.
Care Home Visiting
This has been an incredibly difficult time for care home staff, residents, and families. Thousands of families have been prevented from seeing their loved ones, many for almost a year, which has not only caused anguish but has significantly affected the physical and mental health of residents and sadly many have passed away.
Grants and Funding
Standard Life Foundation Accepting Applications for Winter 2021 Funding
The Standard Life Foundation, an independent charitable foundation, makes between 15 and 20 grants each year, awarding a total of over £2 million to organisations undertaking charitable activities in the UK. This includes voluntary organisations, think tanks, campaigning groups, research bodies and universities. Although the Foundation awards work throughout the UK, it has a special interest in Scotland.
The funding is intended for strategic work, including policy work, campaigning and research, which has the potential to improve ﬁnancial wellbeing at a national scale.
The Foundation is interested in funding projects that examine and promote measures to:
Increase incomes for those on low-to-middle incomes.
Ensure people have an adequate safety net, building savings and assets.
Reduce the cost of living, making sure those on lower incomes are not paying more.
Address issues related to spending and borrowing, particularly where it becomes problematic.
There is no minimum or maximum size of grant. Organisations should apply for the amount they need. Typically grants range between £10,000 and £200,000, with most being between £50,000 and £120,000 in total. The funding may be spread over one, two or three years, and sometimes shorter periods, for example six months.
The deadline for outline applications is 3 June 2021 (13:00).
Applications Invited for UK Local Environmental Initiatives Fund
Applications are being accepted by a national fund that seeks to enable the delivery of green projects and environmental initiatives by local organisations in the United Kingdom.
Grants in the form of a donation of up to £2,000 are available.
To be eligible for a donation from the fund, applications must be made on behalf of a:
Third sector organisation.
Small or medium enterprise with less than 10 employees.
Each application must be accompanied by a quote(s) for the goods or services for which the donation is going to be used.
Applications may be made at any time and will be reviewed on a monthly basis.
Scotland’s Third Sector Have One Month Left to Apply for Adapt & Thrive Funding
Charities, voluntary organisations, community groups, and social enterprises based in Scotland whose work has been significantly disrupted due to the pandemic can apply for specialist advice and funding to help them make the necessary changes to move forward.
The funding includes:
Grants between £5,000-£75,000 to make the changes needed to operate sustainably.
Flexible, 0% interest loans from £25,000 to £250,000. All loans recommendations will be based on an assessment of the organisation’s ability to service debt.
In some cases, a blended approach of both grant and loan may be recommended. When this is the case, the minimum loan ‘portion’ that can be offered is £25,000.
The funding is intended to be flexible and will be awarded on an unrestricted basis.
Examples of the types of costs that can be funded include:
Costs associated with adapting premises for re-opening (eg, PPE, perspex, glass).
Staff salaries (eg, bringing back staff who have been furloughed so they can support the implementation of the recovery plan).
Consultancy or short-term contracted staff.
Contributions towards capital expenditure.
Stock or materials required to support the implementation of the recovery plan.
Changes to services if these changes directly support the recovery plan.
Essential overheads and other fixed costs.
Priority will be given to organisations that fall within one or both of the following categories:
Those operating in areas or with individuals who have suffered disproportionately from the effects of COVID-19, and where ongoing support is needed to ensure they are part of and benefit from the recovery efforts.
Those working with people who have protected characteristics or the most vulnerable.
The deadline for applications is 31 March 2021.
New £7m Fund to Improve Equality and Human Rights in Scotland Accepting Applications
Managed by Inspiring Scotland, the new funding programme aims to support civil society organisations and partners to develop, embed and mainstream equality and human rights within policy and practice in Scotland in line with the ambitions of relevant Scottish Government strategies and the National Performance Framework.
The Fund will provide £7 million annually for three years from October 2021 to September 2024. There is no set maximum or minimum level of funding. Funding for future years will depend upon the Annual Spending Review and Scottish Budget.
The criteria for the Fund are broad and there is not a set list of activities which will realise the vision and aims of the programme. However potential activity that is of particular interest includes:
Community programmes. This includes activity by a range of organisations from grassroots to national bodies that addresses endemic inequality and supports people and communities to address and overcome barriers to participation and access.
Infrastructure support and development. This includes activity by organisations which operate as independent partners to the Scottish Government. As partners they respond to requests for input and provide strategic advice, support, analysis and challenge on equality and human right issues across a range of policy areas.
Single organisations can apply for funding for core, existing, new and development work. Partnership proposals should focus on delivery of a project or programme of work. Core staffing costs to support partnership development can also be included.
Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust Announces 2021/22 Funding Programmes
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has announced a package of new programmes supporting the Armed Forces community over the next year.
Three programmes will open for applications in April 2021:
The £1.5 million Armed Forces Covenant: Force for Change returns this year with grants of up to £10,000 (previously grants were £20,000) for community projects that reduce isolation and promote integration; supporting post COVID recovery. The funding aims to benefit veterans, Armed Forces families and serving personnel affected by isolation in their local communities.
The NAAFI Fund, which gets it funding from the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), returns for a second year with grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 to UK Armed Forces bases, located in the UK or overseas, for projects that improve the quality of life for serving personnel and serving families living on or near a Forces base or station.
The new £6 million Sustaining Support for Armed Forces Communities programme will provide grants of up to £100,000 for up to a year of funding for existing charitable projects that are well used by Armed Forces communities but need short-term support to continue as a result of the impact of COVID pandemic on their charitable income. The first grants will be awarded in August 2021.
Two programmes are expected to launch in Summer 2021:
The £1 million Strengthening Delivery of the Covenant: Sustaining Impact programme will continue to provide grants to local authorities. The funding aims to benefit veterans, Armed Forces families and serving personnel with better access to services and support at the local level and stronger links with local civilian communities.
The £1 million Supporting Veterans in Acute Hospital Settings. The Trust is piloting an innovative new initiative that it says could lead to significant change in how veterans are supported in acute hospital settings throughout the UK. Veterans receiving in-patient care, both now and in the future will benefit. There is the potential for significant benefits to older veterans.
Scotland’s Digital Xtra Fund Reopens to Encourage Young People into Digital Tech Careers
The Digital Xtra Fund aims to increase the number of young people entering highly-skilled digital careers, fostering the next generation of digital makers who will go on to help bridge the skills gap in Scotland’s digital economy. Funding will help to prepare young people for a digital future whilst encouraging them to consider the range of digital tech careers that they could pursue.
Project proposals should demonstrate stimulating ways of engaging young people with digital skills such as computational thinking, coding, digital making and data science. Activities to contextualise the skills learned, promoting various digital tech or computing science career pathways, are of particular interest.
This year, the programme will also include at least two grants focused specifically on cyber security skills funded by the Scottish Government under the cyber resilience strategy.
For 2021, proposed activities must be delivered entirely through remote learning channels or have processes and procedures in place to continue running remotely should in-person or blended learning become untenable.
Each project may apply for funding of between £500 and £5,000 from a total funding pot of £75,000.
The main applicant will be a registered company, school, college or university in Scotland involved in providing computing and digital technologies related activities. Partnerships are encouraged with other organisations such as industry, local or national government bodies, charities, schools and other extra curriculum activity providers.
The deadline for applications is 22 April 2021.
Chancellor Announces Flexible Repayments for Bounce Back Loans
Businesses in the UK that have accepted Bounce Back Loans to help them recover from the coronavirus downturn now have greater flexibility around repayments.
Bounce Back Loans allow small and medium businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Firms can procure these loans through a network of accredited lenders.
The Treasury’s new Pay as You Grow repayment flexibilities will now enable borrowers to tailor their repayment schedule, with the option to:
Extend the length of their loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half).
Make interest-only payments for six months.
Pause repayments for up to six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan.
The Chancellor has extended the flexibility of the third option, which will now be available to all from their first repayment, rather than after six repayments have been made. This will mean that businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out.
These Pay as You Grow options will be available to more than 1.4 million businesses that took out a total of nearly £45 billion through the scheme.
Lenders will now be proactively and directly informing their customers of Pay as You Grow, and borrowers should only expect correspondence three months before their first repayments are due. Under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, no repayments or interest are due from the borrower during the first 12 months of the loan term.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:
‘‘Businesses are continuing to feel the impact of extended disruption from COVID-19, and we’re determined to give them the backing and confidence they need to get through the pandemic.
‘That’s why we’re giving Bounce Back Loan borrowers breathing space to get back on their feet, through greater flexibility and time to repay their loans on their terms.’
The scheme is open to applications until 31 March 2021.
|This month I appeared on BBC Question Time to discuss Covid-19, Brexit, Scottish Independence and the Alex Salmond affair.|
My reaction to this year’s budget.
Covid lockdown: Why is SNP government holding back billions of pounds that could help businesses now?
Ever since the start of the pandemic, anxious businesses across the capital have been in touch with me about the emergency financial support on offer.
The best advice is not being followed
One year ago, Nike employees from across the globe were preparing for a major international conference in Edinburgh.
Alex Salmond inquiry: MSPs’ committee must be impartial in holding Scottish government to account
There is a lot wrong with the way in which Westminster operates but there is something that works exceptionally well.
Scottish independence would damage the health service, social care and education
We were treated last weekend to the launch of another 11-point SNP plan for separation. I would have preferred an 11-point plan for improving vaccination rollout in Scotland.
Polwarth Parish Church
Polwarth Parish Church and People Know How have just announced the purchase of a purpose-built canal boat to be used as a safe space to gather, socialise and improve wellbeing.
Polwarth Living Streets
Polwarth Living Streets have carried out an audit of the area and written a short report which they hope will stimulate discussion on making Polwarth a safer more pleasant place for pedestrians.
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