COWDENBEATH MSP Annabelle Ewing is delighted that many of the questions she has been getting from constituents were addressed when she took part in a debate at Holyrood on Tuesday.

During the sitting of the Scottish Parliament, Ms Ewing made contributions following statements by Cabinet Secretaries on the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and on education.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Ewing said: “I had the opportunity this week to raise with the appropriate Cabinet Secretaries two issues which are causing my constituents a great deal of concern – the continuation of support for jobs and the way in which the return to school will be handled for our young people.

“The job retention scheme is playing an important part in the response to the coronavirus pandemic by helping to mitigate unemployment and protect people’s livelihoods. With different parts of the UK at different stages of lockdown, it is vital that the scheme remains in place for as long as it is required in each of the devolved nations.

“So I asked the Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, for an update on the Scottish Government’s discussions with the UK Government to ensure that the scheme’s support for Scottish workers is not cut off prematurely?

“Ms Hyslop replied that she and Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that specific issue but that he has yet to reply. Nevertheless, since they had written there has been an announcement that the job retention scheme would be extended from the end of June to October which is welcome".

The Cowdenbeath MSP added: “As the Cabinet Secretary pointed out there will still be sectors that might need support beyond October. In particular, we need to see whether we can persuade the UK Government to have an extension for the tourism, hospitality, heritage and oil and gas sectors.

“Later in the session, we had a statement on education from John Swinney and I highlighted the concerns that have been raised by teaching unions in England about the re-opening of schools there this coming Monday and the risks that they fear that might involve.

“I asked the Cabinet Secretary to reassure people in Fife that he has engaged with our unions, local authorities and—crucially—parents, to ensure that their views have been heard and that health and safety are at the forefront of any decisions that have been taken, and that are to be taken, ahead of the phased re-opening of schools in Scotland?

“I was pleased, though unsurprised, to receive his absolute assurance about the manner in which he has embarked on that exercise and that it is the manner in which things will be taken forward in the period to come.”