Does the First Minister agree that it is important that we break down financial barriers to self-isolation? I welcome the extension of the £500 self-isolation support grant to people who earn less than the living wage. How many people will benefit from extension of the criteria, and how will the Scottish Government ensure that people are aware of the support that they are entitled to receive?
That is an important question. Yesterday, we announced changes to the self-isolation support grant. We will extend eligibility to everyone who earns the real living wage or less, to people who are in receipt of council-tax reduction because of low income, and to those who meet eligibility criteria and have caring responsibilities for someone over 16 who is asked to self-isolate.
We have also lengthened the period during which people can apply for the grant to within 28 days of their being told to self-isolate.
The changes will further help to remove financial barriers to people self-isolating, and they will significantly increase the number of people who are eligible for the grant. We estimate that around an additional 200,000 people will be eligible as a result of the changes that I have announced. We will continue to look for ways in which to go further, in terms of both financial and practical support.
Making sure that people are aware of the changes is important, so the changes will be accompanied by national and local media campaigns to raise public awareness of the support that is available.
On a point of order, Presiding Officer.
The First Minister said earlier that people can contact the helpline if they have questions about their vaccinations. People are emailing me right now to say that they are trying but are not getting answers about appointments. Margaret from Fife, whom I referenced earlier, has just phoned the helpline. She was told that a letter will be sent soon, but nobody knows when. David from Glasgow was told that they could not tell him anything. Arthur from East Renfrewshire, who has cancer, has been given no information about his appointment.
The Government needs a better solution for offering answers to people who are concerned about being missed or overlooked in the vaccination programme.
The Presiding Officer:
That does not qualify as a point of order. It is a point of information; I am sure that it will have been noted by the Government and members.
That concludes First Minister’s question time. I suspend Parliament until 2.30. I advise members to be careful when leaving the chamber: wear your masks, follow the one-way systems and observe social distancing.
13:33 Meeting suspended.
14:30 On resuming—