South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper, has voiced her concerns of the real issue of an increase in food prices for local communities after January 1st – when the Brexit transition period ends.
Ms Harper is also deeply concerned about the requirement to protect medical supplies from the disruption of Brexit and ensure the free flow of medical supplies throughout the UK including via the Northern Ireland to Cairnryan route.
Ms Harper believes the increase in food prices, which has been admitted by the UK’s Environment Secretary, will hit communities who are already accessing support from Fare Share food support, community projects such as those in Summerhill and Lochside and families already accessing foodbanks and who have already challenged by COVID19. Ms Harper says that many people from Stranraer to Dumfries will be affected the hardest.
Ms Harper commented;
“The UK Government have admitted there will be price increases on food as a direct result of Brexit. This will affect the many communities who are already financially hit hardest and the UK’s Environment Secretary has also admitted that it will be harder to access some items. A “modest” increase was named but I would ask what is a “modest” increase for people living in the South East of England is an entirely different matter for struggling families living in our regions towns like Stranraer, Newton Stewart, Castle Douglas, Lincluden and Lochside.
“The Scottish Government is working extremely hard to protect patients and ensure the supply of critical medicines and put measures in place to protect medical supplies from the disruption of Brexit. A national stockpile of around 60 critical care and supportive care, and end of life medicines is being built and additional freight capacity has been contracted to ensure critical goods can reach the UK mainland without interruption.
“The supply of medical devices and clinical consumables is being managed by National Services Scotland, which has been building up stock at the National Distribution Centre. Pharmaceutical companies have also been building up stocks of medicines to mitigate for potential disruption at ports and we must remember Cairnryan is the third busiest port in the UK”.
“The challenges of dealing with the end of our membership of the European Union, the impacts of COVID-19 and our normal winter preparedness work means that our public services will be stretched in a way that has never been experienced before.
“I welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is putting in place our Brexit response structures based on our existing and well established resilience arrangements but we must remember that Scotland as a nation did not vote for any of this. I believe that Brexit will damage our local communities at a time when people are struggling the most and we must do our best to help our fellow citizens through it”.
A series of extensive contingency plans have already been put in place by the Scottish Government to cope with the damaging impacts of Brexit.
In November the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a £100 million package of measures to support vulnerable people, communities and the Third Sector over winter to help those on low incomes, children and people at risk of homelessness or social isolation cope with economic impact of Brexit, coronavirus and winter weather.
The MACC is led by Police Scotland as part of the National Coordination Structure. It works with national and local partners such as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service, SEPA, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Local Authorities and Health Boards, and through the Local Resilience Partnerships, to assist in mitigating the impacts of the Brexit and the concurrent risks of Covid-19 and winter weather.
EU and UK negotiators are still discussing a potential future relationship agreement to take effect after the Transition Period ends on 31 December.
At present it is not known whether the UK will be operating with or without such an agreement from 1 January 2021.
The clinically-led Scottish Medicine Shortages Response Group will also draw up mitigation recommendations for the NHS when needed.
As well as utilising the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGORR) arrangements, Police Scotland will also begin a phased activation of the National Coordination Centre and a single, Scotland-wide Multi Agency Coordination Centre (MACC).