3. To ask the Scottish Government what extra support it is giving to councils in less wealthy areas to assist with their response to the Covid-19 outbreak, in light of figures suggesting that people in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to die from the virus. (S5O-04358)
The Scottish Government took decisive action to commit an additional £350 million of support, some of which goes directly to local authorities, for people and communities, including £45 million from the Scottish welfare fund, £50 million to allow increased access to the council tax reduction scheme, £70 million from the food fund to address food insecurity, £50 million from the wellbeing fund and £40 million from the supporting communities fund. We have put in place that range of measures not only to support local authorities but to support those who have the least, because we recognise that they are most likely to be impacted by the pandemic.
Many of my constituents have contacted me to say that they are struggling to access food deliveries and to express their feelings of loneliness. What is being done to ensure that those who are more isolated and vulnerable have proper access to food and medical supplies and to any emotional support that they might need?
Colin Beattie raises an incredibly important point. We have put in place funding to support local authorities, the third sector and communities, which have undoubtedly stepped up to the mark by continuing to support people who are feeling isolated and lonely, and by helping people to access food.
We have also opened the national phone line—0800 111 4000—which enables people to get in contact with their local authority directly to say what they feel they need, so that that support can be put in place. In addition, www.mygov.scot provides information on staying safe and getting food, as well as on getting mental health and wellbeing support and paying bills. There is a range of services but, given the time pressures, I am happy to get back to the member with details of any of the groups or organisations that we have funded in his constituency.