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6 March 2019

(S5O-02945) Brexit (Economic Impact)

7. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the potential impact on the economy of a no-deal Brexit. (S5O-02945)

The Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation (Ivan McKee): On 21 February this year, the Scottish Government’s chief economist published an analysis setting out the immediate economic implications of a no-deal Brexit for the Scottish economy. The analysis indicated that there is potential for the economy to contract by between 2.5 per cent and 7 per cent by the end of 2019 and for it to be pushed into recession, depending on the way in which a no-deal Brexit evolves. Previous analysis published in “Scotland’s place in Europe: people, jobs and investment” outlined the long-term implications of Brexit for Scotland’s economy.

Stewart Stevenson: Is the cabinet secretary aware of the concerns of fish processors in my constituency, who are worried that they will be unable to obtain the necessary export health certificates in a timely fashion to allow them to get their fresh fish products to markets in Europe and elsewhere?

Ivan McKee: The impact of a no-deal Brexit will have catastrophic consequences for the seafood sector in Scotland. Our seafood sector will be severely impacted by disruption at the port of Dover, which will jeopardise the just-in-time nature of the seafood supply chain. The sector will also be required to comply with a range of administrative burdens, including the requirement for export health certificates for all seafood consignments that are exported to the European Union. We anticipate at least a fourfold increase in the requirement for export health certificates, with a potential additional cost to the industry of more than £15 million per year. The Scottish Government continues to press the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on our proposals for controlling imports to and exports from the UK.

20 February 2019

(S5O-02885) Rural Clinics

7. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to ensure that its commitment to develop rural clinics aligns with the needs of NHS boards and clinicians. (S5O-02885)

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport (Jeane Freeman): We are committed to ensuring that healthcare services provide high-quality sustainable care for patients across communities, including those in rural areas. Integration authorities are responsible for planning local services in line with national policies and local priorities, and they have a statutory duty to consult partners, stakeholders and professional groups as part of their strategic commissioning process.

The memorandum of understanding that was published alongside the new general practitioner contract is clear that primary care redesign needs to be safe, effective and accessible to all and agreed with local clinical professionals. That should help to ensure that, across the country but particularly in remote and rural areas, the services that are redesigned as part of our overall primary care reform—for which there is additional resource—meet the particular needs of local communities, and that that is done through consultation, which is a statutory responsibility on health and social care partnerships.

Stewart Stevenson: The cabinet secretary will be aware that, in many rural communities, access to carers is important and access to transport is relatively limited. In light of that, will the cabinet secretary encourage the integration services to take those factors into account when designing the new way in which rural clinics are operated and offered?

Jeane Freeman: I am happy to give Mr Stevenson that commitment. I know from my experience in my constituency that, in a rural area, it is possible to look at a map and think that it is not that far from A to B when actually it takes a great deal longer than it perhaps would take in a central belt location. I am happy to give the member a commitment that I will ensure that our integration authorities take those factors into account wherever they commission and plan services.

6 February 2019

(S5O-02858) University Students from Deprived Areas

10. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Higher Education Statistics Agency recording a record number of students from deprived areas enrolling at university in Scotland. (S5O-02858)

The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science (Richard Lochhead): I welcome the latest statistics, which show a record increase in the number of entrants from our most deprived areas. That demonstrates significant progress on access and the continued strength of our university sector. The figures provide the first official update on progress against the Government’s widening access targets since the publication of the commission on widening access’s final report, in 2016.

Stewart Stevenson: I am particularly interested in the issue because one of the top 10 areas of multiple deprivation in Scotland is in my constituency. I therefore welcome the 8 per cent rise in the number of students from the most deprived 20 per cent of communities. What more can we expect to see, in the years to come, that will build on those early and encouraging numbers?

Richard Lochhead: As Stewart Stevenson says, the progress has been excellent. Indeed, in 2017-18, 15.6 per cent of Scottish domiciled full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities were from the most deprived 20 per cent of areas. That represents an increase of 1.8 percentage points compared to the figure for the previous year, and it is only 0.4 percentage points short of the Government’s interim target of 16 per cent by 2021. I pay tribute to all the institutions that have delivered that progress.

We clearly still have to achieve our interim target, and we have a long-term target of 20 per cent of students coming from the most deprived 20 per cent of wards by 2030. Only this morning, I convened the latest meeting of the widening access delivery group. The commissioner for fair access, Sir Peter Scott, was there as well, and he said that he very much welcomed the progress shown by the latest statistics, which vindicated the fact that we have free higher education in Scotland.

We are making good progress, but there is much more to be done and we must keep our foot on the pedal.

Stewart Stevenson
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