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The First Minister announced the move during her address to the SNP virtual conference on Monday.
NHS staff and social care workers are to receive a one-off £500 payment from the Scottish Government as a “thank you” for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the move during her address to the SNP virtual conference on Monday.
She said the applause and recognition shown to frontline workers earlier in the pandemic “was never enough”.
Negotiations are currently under way to increase pay for NHS staff, but they “deserve recognition now”, Sturgeon said.
She said: “I can announce today that, on behalf of us all, the Scottish Government will give every full-time NHS and adult social care worker £500 as a one-off thank-you payment for their extraordinary service in this toughest of years.”
Those who work part-time will receive a “proportionate share”.
Sturgeon said: “A payment like this can never ever come close to expressing our full admiration for those who have cared for us so heroically.
“But to our health and care workers, it is a demonstration of what we collectively owe you. And it is a heartfelt thank you for the sacrifices you have made.”
The First Minister added there were “no strings attached” to the payment, which will be paid during this financial year.
However, she highlighted that the Scottish Government did not have the power to make the payment tax-free.
Calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure the “NHS heroes” are not taxed on their payment, she said: “Please allow our health and care heroes to keep every penny of Scotland’s thank you to them.
“Do not take any of it away in tax.”
In response to the £500 payment, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “A one-off payment is no substitute at all for the significant increase in salary that all Scotland’s health and care workers deserve.
“This sum announced by Nicola Sturgeon will not make up for the years of pay restraint and austerity that staff in these sectors have had imposed on them by Tory and SNP ministers.
“Many care home workers are part-time, so the fear is that they will end up with a derisory payment.
“There must also be a commitment to a generous year-on-year increase in pay for all key workers, who are Scotland’s Covid heroes.”
Sturgeon also announced a £100m fund to help people struggling over winter.
Every family with children in receipt of free school meals will receive a cash grant of £100 to spend on what they wish.
Support will also be available to the homeless. In addition, some of the funding will be used for an initiative to teach digital skills to the elderly, as well as to help people pay their fuel bills.
Businesses are also to receive £5000 for each apprentice they employ.
Sturgeon announced the move for those between 16 and 24, and up to the age of 29 for those who are disabled, from minority communities or care leavers.
For apprentices over the age of 25, the First Minister pledged to pay £3500.
The First Minister also announced a £100 per week allowance along with work-based training for school leavers up to the age of 18.
During her statement, Sturgeon told those who say Scottish independence is a distraction that “they could not be more wrong”.
She said: “If we want to make sure the country we rebuild is the one we want it to be, with kindness, compassion, fairness, equality and enterprise at its heart, and not one built in the image of Boris Johnson and his band of Brexiteers, we must work to the right plan, with all the tools we need to do the job.”
She added: “Independence is not a distraction from the task of post-Covid reconstruction. It is essential to getting it right.”
The First Minister also said she doubted how many Scots would have trusted the UK Government to govern Scotland through the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “In the depth of crisis, we have looked to and trusted our own government and Parliament to steer us through.”
In response to her statement, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said the SNP is “relying on Rishi Sunak’s spending to make announcements that should have happened weeks ago”.
The UK Government has delivered nearly £10bn to the Scottish budget to tackle the pandemic.
The Tories claim analysis by the Fraser of Allander Institute shows around £1bn of the funding has not been spent with a lack of “transparency” over where the rest of the funds have gone.
Ross said: “This was a series of SNP promises brought to you by Rishi Sunak’s spending.
“It seems the SNP are finally getting around to using the vast sums of UK Government funding to fight the pandemic, although businesses and workers will be left wondering why they held off until the SNP conference to finally get the money out the door on announcements that should have been made weeks ago.
“The rank hypocrisy from the First Minister on all fronts was galling. She now bends the truth on a daily basis.
“Nicola Sturgeon grandstanded about ‘fundamentally undermining’ the Scottish Parliament – the same Parliament that she has disgracefully ignored twice in the last month.
“She grandstanded about social security when the only people tying the Scottish Government’s hands are the SNP. They’ve handed powers back to the UK Government because they can’t deliver.
“She grandstanded about putting ‘independence on hold’, which would be a lot more believable if she didn’t launch a new Referendum Bill in September as a second wave of Covid was beginning.
“And all weekend she’s been talking up another divisive referendum next year while we’re in the middle of a pandemic. It’s completely out of touch with people across Scotland.
“Over the years a litany of SNP conference promises have flopped – from the Scottish Growth Scheme to the infamous Sturgeon Energy company – so I sincerely hope these new commitments materialise but I don’t have much faith that they actually will.”
Students have been encouraged to take two rapid-result tests three days apart before returning home for Christmas.
The mass testing of university students, so they can return home for Christmas safely, is now under way across Scotland.
Students have been encouraged to take two rapid-result tests – three days apart – and if they are both negative, return home as soon as is practical after the second.
If either of those lateral flow tests are positive, the student will be asked to self-isolate and undertake a confirmatory PCR test, considered more reliable, through the NHS.
The testing of students is part of a programme designed to curb the spread of coronavirus as thousands prepare to return home for the festive period.
Richard Lochhead, higher education minister, told STV News: “This is an amazing operation and to think it’s just been set up in a matter of days.
“I want to thank all of our universities because this is the first time we’ve introduced asymptomatic tests for our students who want to go home for the Christmas holidays.
“Many students of course either commute already to university or college, others will be staying over in campus over the holiday period but those who are going home to a different household for Christmas, they can take advantage of this test and I really urge them to do that.
“It is voluntary but it’s fantastic to see so many students across Scotland have signed up for asymptomatic testing to help them return home safely for Christmas.”
Staggered departures will also take place in a bid to prevent a surge in movement, Lochhead told the Scottish Parliament earlier this month.
Meanwhile, students have been asked to take extra care in the period leading up to their departure, including only going out for essential purposes such as learning, exercise and for food.
The aim is to minimise the number of contacts they have with others and reduce the potential for spread of the virus.
Graeme Findlater, a student at the University of Aberdeen who was tested on Monday, said: “It’s really important. I think it’s not just important because we need to make sure people are safe and students are going home safe but it’s also good for the university to make sure they’re taking care of students. It’s valuable.
“I think that obviously people are able to go home and people can come back as well because I think it’s vital that we’re not taking Covid home with us, if that is the case, then it disrupts next year so it’s critical.
“It’s great to be here and doing it and everyone doing their job.”
Hundreds of fans gathered to call for manager Neil Lennon's sacking.
Police are investigating after three officers were hurt during a protest at Celtic Park.
Hundreds of fans gathered to call for manager Neil Lennon’s sacking on Sunday evening after a 2-0 defeat by Ross County.
The League Cup exit extended a bad run of form, which sees Celtic 11 points behind Rangers in the league as they chase a historic tenth title in a row.
A barrier was breached before supporters clashed with police officers during the protests.
Celtic players and staff had to be escorted from the stadium, with the club later condemning the violent scenes. Lennon could hear the angry chants calling for his head from inside the stadium.
Glasgow is currently in level four of the coronavirus alert system, with large-scale gatherings outlawed.
The scenes were condemned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said: “I don’t care if it’s Celtic fans, Rangers fans, Ayr United fans or if they are not fans of football at all, anyone who attacks a police officer is doing wrong and that is pretty despicable.
“I say that across the board regardless of football or any other sporting affiliation.”
Police Scotland has now launched an investigation to trace those responsible.
Chief superintendent Mark Sutherland said: “I was saddened to see the disgraceful and violent scenes at Celtic Park on Sunday evening, it is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“Three of my officers suffered injuries, albeit minor as a result of the violent behaviour which took place. The chief constable has made it clear that violence towards officers and staff will not be tolerated and I am wholly committed to that within Greater Glasgow.
“We should not forgot that protest of any type is illegal. While we remain in tier four and beyond, the disorder and violence this gathering presented posed a real risk of coronavirus infection to our officers and the wider community with no social distancing in place.
“We have now launched an investigation to identify those who were involved in the disorder and violence towards police officers, players and officials.
“My message is clear, if you are identified as being involved, you will be arrested. Don’t think just because you weren’t arrested last night that you have escaped justice.
“I would appeal to anyone who has any information that will assist this investigation to contact us through 101.”
The high street giant, which includes the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton brands, has hired administrators from Deloitte.
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group has gone bust, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.
The high street giant, which includes the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton brands, has hired administrators from Deloitte after the pandemic “severely impacted” sales across its brands.
The group, which runs 444 stores in the UK and 22 overseas, said 9294 employees are currently on furlough.
No redundancies are being announced yet as a result of the appointment and stores will continue to trade, the administrators said.
Ian Grabiner, chief executive of Arcadia, said: “This is an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders.
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the forced closure of our stores for prolonged periods, has severely impacted on trading across all of our brands.
“Throughout this immensely challenging time our priority has been to protect jobs and preserve the financial stability of the group in the hope that we could ride out the pandemic and come out fighting on the other side.
“Ultimately, however, in the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe.”
Matt Smith, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “We will now work with the existing management team and broader stakeholders to assess all options available for the future of the group’s businesses.
“It is our intention to continue to trade all of the brands, and we look forward to welcoming customers back into stores when many of them are allowed to reopen.
“We will be rapidly seeking expressions of interest and expect to identify one or more buyers to ensure the future success of the businesses.
“As administrators we’d like to thank all of the group’s employees, customers and business partners for their support, at what we appreciate is a difficult time.”
Earlier on Monday, Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group said an offer for a £50m lifeline for Arcadia was rejected.
It came as MPs called on Sir Philip to cover a shortfall in the pension scheme and urged the pension watchdog to fight on behalf of the group’s workers.
Stephen Timms, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, called on the tycoon to stump up funds to fill the pensions black hole, which is estimated to be as large as £350m.
It is the latest retailer to have been hammered by store closures during the coronavirus pandemic. Rivals including Debenhams, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Oasis Warehouse have all slid into insolvency since lockdown measures were first imposed in March.
Earlier this year, the group revealed plans to cut around 500 of its 2500 head office jobs amid a restructure in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Frasers Group, which runs Sports Direct, told the London Stock Exchange earlier on Monday that a £50m loan aimed at keeping Arcadia afloat had been rejected.
The company said: “Frasers Group can confirm that Arcadia Group Limited have declined Frasers Group’s offer of a lifeline loan of up to £50m.
“Frasers Group were not given any reasons for the rejection, nor did Frasers Group have any engagement from Arcadia before the loan was declined.”
The First Minister will be under pressure to deliver a second independence referendum after next year's election.
Today, Nicola Sturgeon addresses the SNP conference. Like so much of life at the moment, even that will be a strange affair. No packed hall, no obligatory standing ovation, no raucous cheering as the backdrop accompanying the bongs on the evening news programmes.
There will be spending announcements, including financial help for poorer families, and an outline of the agenda on which the party will contest next May’s Holyrood election.
With the polls suggesting those elections are a foregone conclusion in terms of who will win, the only real post-pandemic question for the First Minister is what she will do to deliver a second independence referendum if there is a majority for one next year.
Now, of course, that, constitutionally speaking, is not in her gift. Westminster has to consent to such a poll and the Prime Minister has made clear he will say no.
Which means that come April, when a campaign of sorts will be underway, Sturgeon will spend much of it being dogged by the question, what do you do when the UK Government says no?
She has been here before. The question was posed at the UK general elections in 2017 and 2019 when the SNP was clear about their ambition for a second referendum. How many mandates does the SNP leader need before she decides to live dangerously?
The frustration of Yes supporters is increased by the belief that next time victory will be theirs. The post-2014 narrative has not gone well for the advocates of the status quo.
The Conservatives have won three UK general elections whilst being supported by only one in four Scots who voted in last December’s poll. And Scotland has left the EU despite a convincing majority in favour of remaining.
In 2014, the debate around the economics of independence and in particular the currency question acted as a break on the surge for Yes as risk averse voters in middle-class areas opted to say ‘better together’.
As I see it, pro-Union politicians have three new problems post-2014.
First, much of the current debate is on whether the devolved settlement is capable of bridging the ‘democratic deficit’ that devolution was meant to straddle. Brexit suggests not.
If a second poll is fought predominantly on the alleged dysfunctionality of the governance arrangements of the UK, then that is far stronger ground for Yes than having to explain away how they will plug the financial black hole once Scotland accepts her share of the UKs financial liabilities.
Unless the pro Union parties can reframe the debate, they run the risk of fighting on ground more advantageous to the proponents of change.
Second, the pro-Union position has become predominantly identified with the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, who now form the official opposition to the SNP at Holyrood. Alistair Darling’s leadership of the Better Together campaign does seem a lifetime ago.
With Scottish Labour a much diminished force compared to six years ago, there is an added danger that a second poll becomes a surrogate contest in asking voters to choose between independence and the SNP and the status quo and the Conservatives. The lack of a Labour voice in such a dynamic can only benefit the Yes side.
And then there is the question, who leads? A Conservative politician leading the No side would reinforce the view that unionism is best identified with the Conservative cause, a proposition many who voted No in 2014 would find hard to accept.
Then there is a simple question for the No side. What are you offering? The Vow in 2014 was an 11th hour response to a surge for Yes. It was not part of a carefully crafted strategy where leaders decided to play a strong hand to maximum advantage. I see no signs of serious thought about crafting a new pro-Union agenda outwith some references to federalism by some Labour figures.
All of the above is not lost on Yes supporters, hence their desire to get on with it. Those in the wider Yes movement, already impatient with the First Minister, will not settle for fighting talk ultimately defined by inaction.
With every passing month of 2021, Covid will diminish as a vaccine programme is rolled out. By the third quarter of next year it might be in the last throes of affecting our lives in the way it has.
Until it is beaten it will remain the SNP leader’s number one priority. However, at that point she needs a Plan B on IndyRef to implement.
Her instincts are cautious, shying away from organising a Holyrood-inspired plebiscite which may titillate constitutional lawyers and frame the case for change around pursuit of a poll that could be mired in debates about illegality.
Doing nothing in 2021 is not an option and she knows it. Then again the given in this conundrum is that Boris Johnson will continue to say No. Will he?
If his party goes down to a large defeat next May he may be forced to abandon the pre-election rhetoric realising you cannot imprison yet another Holyrood mandate in the safety deposit of Westminster sovereignty.
Argyll and Bute is currently in level two of Scotland's five-tier alert system.
Six people have been fined by police for travelling from a level four area into Oban for a house party.
The town’s local authority, Argyll and Bute, is currently in level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier alert system.
Those living in level three and four areas are currently banned from travelling elsewhere in Scotland unless they have a reasonable excuse.
A further four people, who were the occupants of a vehicle that travelled from a level four area into Oban, were also issued fixed penalty notices.
Inspector Mark Stephen said: “We are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to protect the NHS and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.
“The policing approach we adopted from the outset of the pandemic will not change. Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance.
“We will use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach of the legislation.
“The chief constable has said publicly on numerous occasions that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks, and that will not change as a result of travel restrictions now being in law.
“However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another.
“In areas where travel restrictions apply, officers will continue to use the common sense, discretion and excellent judgement that they have applied since the crisis began.”
The couple decided to tie the knot after Rory's health worsened, seeking help from his nurses to pull off the big day.
A young couple have married in hospital in a ceremony organised by staff in just two days.
Rebecca Macadam, 23, and Rory Wilson, 24, decided on Wednesday they wanted to wed after Rory’s health began to deteriorate.
Rory requires a multivisceral transplant and has been waiting in hospital to travel to Cambridge for assessment before he can be placed on the organ transplant list.
The couple from Falkirk had originally planned to save for a wedding after becoming engaged two and a half years ago, but sought help from Rory’s nurses at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after his condition worsened.
“They’ve known Rory for five years because he had two liver transplants back in 2015. He’s like their ward son,” Rebecca explained.
“The past couple of weeks have been quite touch and go, he’s had involvement from the palliative pain team and there wasn’t much that Edinburgh could do in terms of his condition.
“One thing that he wanted to do was get married and the nurses and the coordinators and everybody decided to help make that happen.”
Rebecca quickly ordered a wedding dress online which arrived on Friday morning and borrowed her late Nana and Grandad’s rings for the ceremony while the couple’s were being delivered.
With just six guests allowed at the wedding, Rory and Rebecca each invited their parents and brothers to witness their union at the hospital.
Meanwhile staff busied themselves decorating a bay for the couple in under 24 hours.
“The coordinators of the liver transplant team organised everything from balloons to the buffet and decorations. One of them even got me a garter,” Rebecca laughed.
“They did so much in such little time, I honestly don’t know how they did it to be honest, they wouldn’t let me see the room they decorated, I was kept in the dark.”
On their wedding day, Rory, dressed in a tartan tie, stood waiting for Rebecca to walk up the aisle as staff looked on.
Rebecca said there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as they became man and wife.
“It wasn’t the wedding we had planned, but it was definitely something really special for us.” she said.
“Our whole relationship, the hospital has kind of third wheeled it, so it was very fitting to have all his nurses who have looked after him for a good five years be there as well.
“It was very emotional, I don’t think there was a dry eye.”
Following their wedding, the couple hope Rory can travel to Cambridge in the coming days before being placed on the organ donor list for the liver and small bowel transplant he desperately needs.
Rebecca is thankful they were able to celebrate their special day together and are hoping for a brighter future as man and wife.
“Two weeks ago we didn’t think he would still be here. You never know what’s around the corner.”
It is hoped the procedure will help to detect the disease earlier, as well as tackle a backlog of patients and reduce waiting times.
A new procedure using tiny cameras inside a pill to help detect bowel cancer has been launched in Tayside.
Used as an alternative to a traditional colonoscopy, the cameras will take pictures of the lining of the bowel to look for any problems or signs of the disease.
NHS Scotland said around 70,000 people across the country undergo colonoscopy treatment each year.
It is hoped the procedure will help Scotland’s Colon Capsule Endoscopy Service (Scotcap) clinics to detect the disease earlier, as well as tackle a backlog of patients and reduce waiting times.
The programme, backed by the Scottish Government, has been accelerated in response to the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to be rolled out across health boards in Scotland in the “coming months”.
NHS Tayside will run the service at clinics in Perth Royal Infirmary and Royal Victoria Hospital.
Dr Craig Mowat, consultant gastroenterologist with NHS Tayside and senior lecturer in gastroenterology at the University of Dundee, said: “The Colon Capsule is a pill-sized camera which has a bright light and two cameras which beam images to a recorder worn by the patient. It films the inside of the lower intestine to determine whether there are any abnormalities.
“The Colon Capsule makes the procedure non-invasive, painless and the patient does not need to be sedated.”
Calls for ministers to review working practices in Scotland, including a possible move to a shorter working week.
SNP members have called on ministers to instigate a review that could bring about a four-day working week in the event of independence.
A motion at the party’s annual conference, this year being held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, passed by 1136 votes to 70.
Contained in the resolution was a call for ministers to review working practices in Scotland, including a possible shift to a shorter working week.
The resolution states: “Conference calls on the Scottish Government to undertake a review into how working practices should be adapted to meet the needs of the future economy, including the possibility of a four-day working week and more support for people to work from home or closer to home, with a view to reform when Scotland gains full control of employment rights.”
Party member Lee Robb made the case for a reduced working week while speaking in favour of the motion on Monday.
He said: “The coronavirus pandemic has upended the way we live our lives but so too has it given us the opportunity to reset and rethink how we work.”
Employees who work a four-day week are “happier, healthier, more productive, less likely to take time off sick and less likely to be burned out by the end of the week”, he said.
In Denmark, Mr Robb claimed productivity did not drop when the reduced week was trialled.
He said: “Danish workers work around four hours per week less than we do in the UK yet their productivity is still around 23% higher than ours.
“Now, that tells us a few things, but it certainly tells us that many UK businesses are asking their employees to throw dead time at their jobs – where they’re not adding to the productivity of the company – and it’s to the detriment of mental health, to the detriment of a work life balance that’s healthy.”
A report released by the Autonomy think tank earlier this year found around 500,000 jobs in the UK would be created as a result of a shift to the shorter working week in the public sector.
With workers remaining on full pay despite reducing their hours, the initiative would cost £9bn Autonomy said, equivalent to 6% of the total wage bill.
However the Scottish Conservatives said the move would cost Scottish public services more than £2.5bn each year.
Scottish Tory economy spokesman Maurice Golden MSP said: “I’m speechless that this dangerous and ludicrous policy with a £2.5bn price tag every year has now been given the seal of approval by the SNP and the party’s grassroots.
“It is just the latest pie in the sky case for independence. The SNP are giving official backing to a policy that risks shutting vital public services unless they find £2.5bn down the back of Kate Forbes’ sofa.
“The SNP has serious questions to answer about this new policy that would cut our hospitals, schools and everyday services to the bone.
“It is time for SNP ministers to wake up and realise that fantasy policies like this simply don’t stack up.”
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