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Scottish Parliament Weekly Round-Up

Find out what happened this week at Holyrood....

The First Minister provided her weekly coronavirus statement to parliament on Tuesday, where she highlighted that Scotland is through the worst wave of Omicron based on the current data. She therefore confirmed that the government intends to publish its strategy for living with covid without major restrictions on Tuesday 22nd February.

Later in the week, the First Minister also announced that students and school staff will not be required to wear face coverings in classrooms from 28th February.

Following the statement, the parliament debated the Scottish Government’s ‘New Vision for Justice’ strategy which sets out a programme of work to change how the justice system operates. The debate can be found here.

On Wednesday, the Health Secretary faced questions from MSPs at Portfolio Questions on issues ranging from recruitment in social care to the NHS Recovery Plan. Meanwhile, the Housing Minister was scrutinised on the government’s work to tackle homelessness rates.

The Coronavirus (Discretionary Compensation for Self-Isolation) Bill returned to the chamber for its approval at stage three. The legislation will ensure that health boards continue to have a choice, rather than an obligation, to compensate anyone asked to self-isolate because of Covid-19.

MSPs also approved regulations for a new Adult Disability Payment to be introduced in Scotland from March. The support will replace the Personal Independent Payment previously delivered by the UK Government and will be available for working age disabled people, those with a long term health condition and people with a terminal illness.

On Thursday, the Justice Committee considered in private its approach to the scrutiny of the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill at stage one.

Meanwhile, the Social Justice and Social Security Committee heard evidence from organisations on issues facing asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland. They were told that councils and local community groups should be given more support to protect asylum seekers and refugees.

The Scottish Government also published its analysis of the responses to its recent consultation on proposals for a National Care Service. There was broad support for the reforms from individuals and organisations but some significant risks were also highlighted.

Back in the chamber, the First Minister faced questions from opposition leaders and backbench MSPs on issues such as cuts to train services, the cost of living crisis, delayed discharge from hospitals and waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services.

Finally, the main news of the week was MSPs voting on the Scottish Government’s Budget proposals for 2022-23. The Finance Secretary announced an additional £290 million support package to help address the rising cost of living, including a £150 council tax rebate for households.

However, the announcement was criticised by oppositions MSPs and anti-poverty groups as not going far enough to help those who will be heavily hit by rising costs. Nevertheless, the government’s budget passed by 69 votes to 54.