I draw the First Minister’s attention to research that was published yesterday from the Scotland in Lockdown project, based at the University of Glasgow, which highlighted the plight of forgotten shielders—those on the official shielding list who have had to shield because of long-term health conditions or disabilities. One particular problem for them is access to supermarket deliveries; even when they get access, getting the appropriate food—consistent with their conditions—is a problem.
As we enter phase 2, what discussions can be had with supermarkets to ensure that people who are in that situation get appropriate access to the food that they require in those challenging circumstances?
We will continue to keep that under on-going discussion with supermarkets. Of course, at the outset of the pandemic there were particular pressures on supermarkets, which led to supply issues and that included delivery slots. That eased, although we also took action to set up a specific food delivery service for people in the shielding category and local authorities set up local arrangements to make sure that people in the shielding category got that priority access to food. Thousands of people got the free food deliveries every week through the Scottish Government scheme that we set up.
We also did some work with supermarkets to give priority access to slots for vulnerable people. We hope that we will not see the same pressures going into the next period as we saw at the outset, but we will continue to talk to supermarkets to make sure that pressures are addressed where they arise. We will also take steps, in partnership with local authorities, to ensure that vulnerable people get access to any support that they need including, where necessary, access to food supplies.