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26/03/14 13:08

Media Briefing - Wednesday 26 March 2014

Media Briefing by the First Minister’s Official Spokesperson (FMOS) – Wednesday 26 March 2014

The FMOS advised journalists of the day's key events.

The FMOS said the Deputy First Minister (DFM) Nicola Sturgeon is in London this morning attending the JMC chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The DFM is accompanied by Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson. Papers being discussed at JMC are on Trade and Investment and Aging Population.

The FMOS also advised journalists that the First Minister Alex Salmond is a guest of Young Scot this morning and participating in a “Tweet Up” where he will engage directly with young people about what’s important to them via the Young Scot twitter account.

Also today, the FMOS said the Health Secretary Alex Neil had announced an the extension of the confidential phone line for NHS staff who wish to raise any concerns they have about NHS practices for a further two years. The FMOS said that in its’ first 11 months, the phone line has taken 159 calls from staff.

When asked if the phone line was operated by the NHS in Scotland, the FMOS said that it was operated by Public Concern at Work, therefore independent of the NHS.

The FMOS highlighted that Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess had today announced new finance for a Welfare Reform Resilience Fund, designed to help local authorities mitigate against the adverse effects of welfare reform. The funding of £600,000, which local authorities can bid for, will in part help people who have difficulty accessing or using computers – necessary as most benefits are now only available online. The FMOS said that a previously funded pilot project run by Dundee City Council had helped 486 people through a personalised ‘Welfare Reform Action Plan’ which had seen people helped make appropriate housing, employability and debt/money advice choices.

Asked for a Scottish Government response to the Accounts Commission’s report on local government funding and the potential for the continuing council tax freeze the FMOS said the Scottish Government would respond later today.