Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to get coronavirus jabs
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But the Scottish Government has insisted “every penny” of the cash is already committed to its pandemic response. Citing figures provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), Labour claimed roughly £1billion in so-called Barnett Consequentials – in other words, the money which Scotland receives from the UK Government – was was to be allocated by Mrs Sturgeon’s administration.
Including within the figure is £700m from UK Government health and social care expenditure.
Scottish Labour is calling for the Scottish Government to use a maximum of £420m of the £700m to be ringfenced to provide a £12 an hour pay rise for social care staff.
Labour wants the remainder to be used to re-mobilise the NHS and restart cancer services.
The party, led by Anas Sarwar, is calling for the remaining £300m to be spent on stimulating the high street, protecting jobs and businesses and driving up economic growth.
Scottish Labour’s finance spokesperson Daniel Johnson said: “The Scottish Government must use every resource at its disposal to deliver a national recovery for everyone – we simply cannot afford to have £1bn sitting unspent.
“We are staring down the barrel at a looming jobs crisis and our NHS is in desperate need of re-mobilisation.
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“The frontline social care staff, for whom we all clapped during the pandemic, are still going without the proper pay that they deserve.
“That’s why every penny of this £1bn must be used to deliver fair pay for care workers, help re-mobilise our NHS and stimulate our high street.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have committed every penny of these consequentials to our pandemic response, notably to support Scotland’s businesses and their recovery, NHS, other public services and the rollout of vaccines.”
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The Scottish Government has provided more than £3 billion in support for business since the start of the pandemic.
Speaking on Friday, Mrs Sturgeon said there was both “cause for concern” and “cause for optimism” in the fight against coronavirus.
She told reporters at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh there still needed to be a “reasonable degree of caution” exercised.
Case numbers, she explained, are on the rise, with Friday’s daily case number the highest since March 25 and the R number in Scotland potentially rising as high as 1.3.
Referring to the strain which emerged in India, she said: “A key factor behind the increases is that the new April-02 variant, which we think is more transmissible than most other types of the virus, probably now accounts for 50 percent or even more of our daily cases.”
She added: “The increase in cases so far does seem to be concentrated in younger age groups and this may indicate that vaccination is having a protective effect for older people which of course we want to see.”
The First Minister went on to say that the Scottish Government is monitoring the extent to which the vaccine programme is breaking the links between rising cases and “significantly rising cases of serious illness and death”.
She also urged Scots to do their “civic public duty” and get vaccinated.
She said: “Getting vaccinated is in all of our best interests, whatever age we are.
“It’s also the most important thing we can all do to help our family, our friends and our neighbours – by getting vaccinated we’re helping reduce the overall harm and making it easier for all of us to get back to normal.
“Rolling up our sleeves – not once but twice – really is part of our civic public duty to each other and to the country right now.”
The First Minister also said Scots should be getting tested regularly, using the lateral flow tests available through the Government, along with following current public health advice.
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