best start - school grant




Fulton MacGregor MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston has encouraged parents of children aged four to five to apply for the SNP Government’s Best Start Grant.


A one-off £250 payment is currently open to eligible families, with a child who was born between 1st March 2015 and 29th February 2016, who will be starting primary school later this year.


The School Age payment can be used for anything from a new pair of school shoes or arts and crafts materials for children.


The payment is part of the SNP Government’s Best Start Grant, a package of three payments for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit and Housing Benefit – to help at key stages in a child’s life.


Commenting, SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor said:


“Covering the costs of a child starting school can be tough on family finances, especially in the current climate.


“The SNP Government’s school age payment offers low income families, or those who receive support like Universal Credit, a £250 payment around the time children start at primary school.


“We’re absolutely determined that every child, regardless of circumstances, gets the best start in life. So in these unprecedented and difficult times, I’d encourage families across Coatbridge & Chryston to check what other financial support they may be eligible for too – such as school clothing grants or free school meals.”


Phase one: what are the changes?


Thursday 28th May

Test and Protect is now in place across Scotland. This is Scotland’s way of putting into practice the ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy. If you start showing any symptoms of coronavirus—that is a high temperature or fever, a new continuous cough, or a loss of, or change in sense of smell or taste— then you should visit the NHS Inform website to book a test immediately.

Friday 29th May

Business and public services

  • Most outdoor work can resume.
  • The construction industry can begin site preparation.
  • Garden centres and plant nurseries can reopen some of their services.
  • Drive through food outlets are no longer being discouraged to remain closed.
  • Non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants & cafes—except for takeaway—must remain closed.
  • Household waste recycling centres can reopen from Monday. Exact arrangements will be confirmed by North Lanarkshire Council https://www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=27397
  • Other business premises should remain closed unless they are providing essential goods and services.
  • All businesses should continue to allow staff to work from home wherever possible.

Sport and recreation

  • Some non-contact outdoor leisure activity will be allowed to restart, for example golf, tennis, bowls, hill walking and fishing – it has to be within your local area.
  • You can sit and sunbathe in parks & open areas.
  • You can travel—preferably active travel such as cycling or walking—to a location near your local community for leisure & recreation. This should be no more than 5 miles from your home. You should stay within or close to local area and not use public transport unless absolutely necessary.

Social interaction

  • You can meet with another household outdoors, for example in a park or a private garden. You should not be meeting multiple households at the same time and this should only be in small groups, the total number of people recommended being no more than eight.
  • You don’t have to pick just only one household to meet with during phase one, but you can only meet with one other household at a time and try to limit this to one other household per day.
  • You should continue to stay at least 2 metres away from others who are not members of your household and avoid touching the same hard surfaces. For example, if meeting for a barbecue, each household should have its own cutlery, plates, etc.
  • If visiting another household it is vital that you don’t go indoors. Think practically—don’t visit another house if you think there’s a risk of you needing to enter their house to use their toilet for instance.
  • Do not hug or touch people who are not part of your household. This is really difficult, but it is really crucial that social distancing remains in place at this time. Full guidance on this distancing is available on the Scottish Government’s website.


Monday 1st June

Education and childcare

  • Teachers and staff will be able to enter schools to prepare for the reopening of schools in August.

Wednesday 3rd June

Education and childcare

  • Childcare will be available for larger numbers of children who most require it, for example vulnerable children and children of essential workers.
  • Childminding services and fully outdoor nursery provision can take place, but there continues to be limits on the number of children which can be cared for.

Other changes during phase one

  • Some key public services such as some respite care, children hearings and some key heath programmes will restart work.




Local MSP Fulton MacGregor has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that pupils will return to schools in August, subject to scientific advice that it is safe to do so.


Schools in Coatbridge & Chryston will return on 11 August, while Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings will open over the summer.


An agreement reached between councils, professional associations and parent representatives means that physical distancing, staggered arrival and departure times, staggered break times, increased hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning regimes and a range of other measures must be implemented.


To maximise the time pupils can have in the classroom and support children in the new model of schooling, including digital home learning, the SNP Government is also investing £9 million for 25,000 laptops or tablets – with internet access provided – for disadvantaged children as part of the first phase of provision to support learning outside school.


SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:


“In reopening schools in Coatbridge & Chryston, we are ensuring the safety of children, young people and staff and giving parents the confidence that schools are safe is the overriding priority.


“To allow appropriate physical distancing, children in North Lanarkshire will return to a blended model of part time in-school and part time at-home learning from 11 August – subject to scientific advice that it is safe to do so.


“Of course, these arrangements will not represent a complete return to normality by August. We don’t know how long schools will have to work this way, just as we don’t know how long Coronavirus will be a threat.


“I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone in Coatbridge & Chryston when I share my gratitude towards parents, carers and teachers who are doing so much to ensure that children continue to learn during this lockdown period, and to those young people who have stayed at home in extremely challenging circumstances.


“By doing the right thing, all of us have helped to slow the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS from being overwhelmed, and to save lives.”

You can get more information on Education Recovery Group Strategic Framework by following this link:



routemap party graphic

Today in Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed the nation to explain the Scottish Government’s routemap that will guide the country out of lockdown.


The routemap gives practical examples of what people, organisations and businesses can expect to see change over time.


If the evidence shows transmission of COVID-19 is under control and the number of infectious cases continue to decline the Scottish Government will consider moving to Phase 1 of the route map following the next end-of-cycle review date on 28 May.


The NHS Scotland test, trace, isolate and support system – known as Test and Protect – will be ready for expansion in all 14 health boards from 28 May.


A plan agreed between councils, professional associations and parent representatives to partially reopen schools from 11 August, subject to scientific advice that it is safe to do so, has also been published today.


Commenting, SNP MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston Fulton MacGregor said:


“We all know that we can’t live this way forever and we all want to get back some sense of normality.


“While we need to move carefully and gradually, the route map laid out today by the First Minister clearly sets out the steps that will take us there.


“Too many people in Coatbridge & Chryston and across Scotland have lost their lives to this disease and we can’t risk another peak – so we must move in line with our own circumstances.


“We will get through this by working together by sticking to the advice to suppress the virus further and get back a way of life that is as close to normal as possible.”


SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has welcomed an initial  £3.191 million funding to help the social care sector in North Lanarkshire deal with the financial implications of coronavirus.


The funding was confirmed by the Scottish Government as part of a £50 million package for the sector across the country. The funding will help address immediate challenges faced in the social care sector and support ongoing provision of social care.

Health and Social Care Partnerships across Scotland have all put in place mobilisation plans to ensure the health and social care system is as well placed as possible to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:

“The social care sector is at the frontline of the current pandemic and will inevitably face additional costs.

“This funding demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to social care – and will ensure that any increasing need for social care as a result of the pandemic is met.

“I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone in North Lanarkshire when I share my gratitude towards those working in social care, and all of our frontline key workers, who are doing vital work in the most difficult of circumstances.”


ve day



An online service of remembrance and a two-minute silence will lead Scotland’s commemorations this year to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May.


MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, has urged his constituents to pay their respects with an online service.


The commemorations led by the Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland, will include a message from children and families currently learning at home including a video message of thanks from the First Minister.


Commenting, Fulton MacGregor MSP said:


“The 75th anniversary of VE Day is a hugely important moment in Scotland’s history.


“Despite the difficult situation we currently all find ourselves in, it is only right that we pay tribute to the determination and sacrifices made by the men and women in the Second World War.


“I hope as many people as possible in Coatbridge & Chryston, will join millions of others on 8th May, to honour those who laid down their lives in a shared moment national commemoration.”




Around 6865 carers in North Lanarkshire are due to benefit from a one-off payment during the coronavirus pandemic.


The Scottish Government has revealed plans to invest £19.2million to provide further support to Scottish carers during the Covid-19 crisis.


If approved by parliament, around 83,000 eligible carers across Scotland will get an extra £230.10 through a special one-off Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement in June – with around 6865 in North Lanarkshire benefiting from this additional financial support. 


The extra payment will be paid automatically to people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance.


SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said: 


“Carers in North Lanarkshire make an absolutely vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported by the Scottish Government.


“This one-off payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher level disability benefits.


“This additional payment will be an acknowledgement to carers that we know they are providing vital support to family, friends and neighbours, and playing an absolutely crucial role in our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.


“I am delighted that carers in North Lanarkshire are being recognised by the SNP Government for the important contribution they make to our communities in these extremely difficult circumstances.”





SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor MSP has urged the public in Coatbridge & Chrystom to have their say as the Scottish Government publishes an update on what life might look like when coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are altered.


COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making says the current lockdown is pushing the number of infectious cases down, but concludes that the virus continues to pose a serious threat to public health in Scotland.


Fulton MacGregor MSP has also encouraged constituents in Coatbridge & Chyston to read the Scottish Government’s “Test, Trace, Isolate, Support” paper, published yesterday, which will be a “key aspect” of the next phase of the battle against Coronavirus.


The testing and tracing strategy will work alongside other virus suppression measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and the use of face coverings. Thousands of contact tracing staff are also to be taken on, and new digital tools including an app are being developed.


SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:


“The decisions on how we come out of lockdown will affect all of us – and so it’s important that these decisions are made as openly and collaboratively as possible, with councils, businesses, unions, public services and community groups in Coatbridge & Chryston all forming part of the discussion.


“The Scottish Government has today launched an online forum that gives people the opportunity to offer their reflections on lockdown restrictions – and I’d urge everyone in Coatbridge & Chryston to share any ideas they have on how we should move forward.


“There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to keep people up-to-date and be clear about the factors that inform decision making, and I’d encourage everyone in Coatbridge & Chryston to continue reading the official guidance and information published.


“For now, the advice for people in Coatbridge & Chryston remains the same – staying at home and only making essential journeys is saving lives. Keeping physical distance in the limited circumstances when you have to be around people and continuing to regularly wash your hands are still the best way to reduce your risk of infection.


“Everyone in Coatbridge & Chryston has a part to play in combating this virus, and while I understand that these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”





A £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people in Coatbridge & Chryston is now open for applications.


The three Scottish Government funds will be administered by local authorities and Scotland’s enterprise agencies and will begin to pay out grants in early May.


They include a £34 million hardship fund for the newly self-employed, a £20 million fund for small and micro enterprises in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors and £45 million for viable SMEs crucial to the Scottish economy.


SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor said:


“Local businesses and industries here in Coatbridge & Chryston will be understandably concerned about the impact that coronavirus will have on the local economy.


“These funds are intended to relieve the hardship of smaller firms in Coatbridge & Chryston that are ineligible for other forms of support – and is just one part of the support the Scottish Government is providing to individuals and businesses in Coatbridge & Chryston to protect jobs and incomes.”


“This package of support is welcome, and will help alleviate the hardship some individuals and companies may be facing.


“Applications are now open, and applicants can access these funds and more via the www.FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot website.”


A £100 million fund have been announced to support the self-employed and SMEs announced last week opened for applications yesterday (30 April).

It comprises three separate funds as follows:

– £34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund to help newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/newly-self-employed-hardship-fund

£20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, for firms in those sectors not in receipt of business rates relief see: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/creative-or-tourism-and-hospitality-enterprises-hardship-fund

–  £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund for vulnerable SMEs who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland see: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/pivotal-enterprise-resilience-fund

From Tuesday May 5th, a second phase of the Business Grants Funding Scheme will commence. This includes measures aimed at ratepayers with more than one property. In addition to a 100% grant on their first eligible property, ratepayers with additional qualifying properties will be eligible to apply for a 75% grant on each additional property. This means that Small Business Grants of £7,500 and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants of £18,750 will be available on any additional qualifying properties that a ratepayer may have, subject to compliance with EU State Aid Rules.


Further changes to the Small Business Support Grant of £10,000 extend eligibility to:


– Ratepayers that hold one or more properties within retail, hospitality or leisure, with individual rateable values not exceeding £18,000, and a cumulative rateable value between £35,001 and £51,000 will now be eligible for the Small Business Grant Scheme on each of their retail, hospitality or leisure properties

– Small sports clubs which are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme but in receipt of discretionary sports relief

– Small properties in Enterprise Areas which are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme but in receipt of Enterprise Areas relief


More information can be accessed via the website: www.findbusinesssupport.gov.scot or North Lanarkshire Council’s website; https://www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=34891



SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor has said that the public must prepare for restrictions on normal life to continue for some time.

The comments come as the Scottish Government published a new document outlining how decisions will be taken to control coronavirus (COVID-19) while restoring a degree of normality to everyday life.


The paper – COVID-19: A Framework for Decision-Making – sets out the position during this ongoing period of lockdown and outlines the factors that must be considered as we move gradually to ease restrictions.


It also recognises that new ways of living – effectively a “new normal” – may have to be in place for some time to come.


MacGregor said:


“It is welcome that the Scottish Government has published an outline of how and when the lockdown may be lifted and I urge everyone to take the time to read the document.


“It is vital that any decision to ease restrictions is based on the best scientific advice possible – but we are in uncharted territory and we must be prepared to adapt. That might mean having to reapply restrictions after they are lifted.


“It is only when we are sure the virus is under control that we can even start to ease any of the restrictions because the virus will not have gone away.


“There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to be clear about the factors that will inform decision making.


“In the coming days and weeks members of the public will be invited to contribute their thoughts and views on the next steps we must make together.


“Unfortunately, returning to what we regard as a normal life will not be possible in the near future so we need to prepare for a new normal until treatments and a vaccine offer different solutions.


“While these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”