Friday, 30 April 2010

Ferry questions that need detailed answers

For immediate release
30 April 2010

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has lodged a series of questions at Holyrood on the costs of running Northlink ferries.

Stocks of the new book 'Pentland Hero' by Roy N Pedersen have sold out in the first print run. It raises major questions about many aspects of ferry contracts and competition to serve these islands.

Rob said,

"Since an in-depth ferries review is due from the Scottish Ministers it imperative that we know as much about the costs of ferry services as possible. I have been acutely aware of the superficial claims made in the wake of the Iceland volcano ash crisis about the uses made of the 'Hamnavoe'. Orkney citizens and those in Shetland and the Western Isles need to know that truly lifeline ferries can be delivered at reasonable costs.

"Roy Pedersen's book notes that a Private Finance Initiative arrangement was struck by the LibDem/Labour Executive in 2002. I'm sure that this contract to lease the three Northlink ferries which runs to 2015 is the starting point for some forensic analysis. I'm more attracted to sort out our ferries, than to shout 'hands off'. I'm sure most Orcadians will feel the same."


Written Questions lodged Thursday 30th April:

S3W-33471 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive what the annual costs are of leasing the three ships in the Northlink fleet which commenced in 2002.

S3W-33472 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive what the annual cost of bunker fuel has been in each year from April 2003 for the three ships in the Northlink fleet.

S3W-33473 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the quality of oil burned by the three ships in the Northlink fleet has ever changed since 2003.

S3W-33474 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive what the annual figures are for (a) passengers, (b) cars and (c) commercial vehicles carried on each ship in the Northlink fleet since April 2003.

S3W-33475 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive on how many days have the Scrabster to Stromness and the Stromness to Scrabster services been interrupted by adverse weather conditions in each year since April 2003.

S3W-33476 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive on how many days have the Aberdeen to Lerwick service and the Lerwick to Aberdeen services been interrupted by adverse weather conditions in each year since April 2003.

S3W-33477 Rob Gibson: To ask the Scottish Executive how many times has the scheduled call at Kirkwall in the Aberdeen to Lerwick Northlink service and the Lerwick to Aberdeen service been abandoned since April 2003.

Thursday, 29 April 2010


For immediate use: Thursday 29 April 2010
Attention: Newsdesks/Political correspondents

The SNP has exposed Scottish Labour's hypocrisy on low pay, following a debate on a Green Party motion in the Scottish Parliament today.

Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for Highland and Islands, who spoke in the debate, said:

"In Parliament today, Labour tried their usual smoke and mirrors attempt to distract from their own culpability on the issue of poverty pay.

"As they well know, the Scottish Government has no locus on private sector pay, which is reserved to Westminster - and which the Labour/Tory/Lib Dem Calman Commission would not devolve to Scotland. The SNP government has taken significant steps to improve public sector pay levels within the powers available to it, but without control over both private sector pay and the tax and benefits system, any Scottish administration is powerless to raise the take-home pay of the lowest paid workers, such as the majority of those in the hotel and restaurant sector.

"The SNP has commended the efforts of, for example, Glasgow City Council to set a minimum living wage of £7 an hour for its staff, but the fact that they have had to do so exposes the inadequacy of the minimum wage set by Labour at Westminster. Had Labour index-linked the minimum wage to earnings from the beginning, the rate would not have fallen so far behind the level that can be decently described as a living wage today.

"The SNP is fully committed to tackling poverty and income inequality and to making work pay. If Labour in Scotland are genuinely committed to the same, they should join with the SNP in demanding that the levers of power to address poverty pay are devolved to the Scottish government as soon as possible. Until they do, they will continue to let Scotland's lowest paid workers down."


Fuel shortage explained

News release
Immediate release

Fuel shortages that have plagued parts of Caithness and the North this week are set to end.

After being contacted by concerned constituents regarding the lack of petrol and diesel Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson contacted Energy Minister Jim Mather.

Mr Mather responded that the reason for the shortages were caused due to these reasons.

An unexpected shipping delay led to a stock out of fuel in Inverness early on the 28th of April. In that situation other suppliers (such as Simpson's oils) step in to help shore up the supply. However the supplier was having its own shipping vessel refitted.

The problem was exacerbated by essential maintenance at the Aberdeen terminal.

However the terminal at Inverness was restocked on the evening of the 28th April which allowed fuel companies to stock up and re-supply the North of Scotland.

Mr Mather said his office would monitor the situation until it returned to normal.

Mr Gibson said…

"I was contacted regarding this issue from concerned constituents Caithness. I right away contacted the Minister responsible who responded to me in very quick time. It is good news that the situation is well on it's way to be sorted.

"I understand that many people in Caithness were concerned regarding the fuel drought. My thanks go to Jim Mather who managed to shed light on what had been going on."



Letter from Jim Mather to Rob Gibson read:

29 April 2010

Dear Rob,

Thank you for your email regarding fuel disruption in around Caithness. My officials have been in contact with the Aberdeen and Inverness terminals and the other major suppliers in the area.

An unexpected shipping delay lead to Inverness terminal stocking out of gasoline on early on the 28th April. Given the 'just in time' nature of the fuel industry, this quickly lead to some stock outs at filling stations, including some of those around Caithness.

Shipping delays are relatively common and would not usually result in disruption as other suppliers, such as Simpson Oils, are usually able step in to fill any shortfall from their own surplus fuel stocks. However, Simpson Oil's are currently operating with a reduced surplus as their main shipping vessel, which is used to replenish their own supplies, is undergoing a refit.

The situation was also exacerbated by the fact that Aberdeen terminal was in the middle a planned stockout. Several such stockouts are scheduled every year, at traditionally quiet times, to allow routine tank maintenance to be carried out. Aberdeen terminal was restocked on the afternoon of 28th April and deliveries have resumed.

The Inverness terminal was restocked on the evening of the 28th April, when the delayed supply vessel docked and the various fuel distribution companies are once again able collect fuel from the terminal for distribution across Northern Scotland.

My officials will continue to monitor the situation with the industry and UK Government until the situation is returns to normal.

Yours sincerely,
Jim Mather



For immediate use: Wednesday 28 April 2010


Rob Gibson MSP has welcomed today's unanimous passage of the Census Order by the Scottish Parliament, with its historic inclusion of a question for speakers of the Scots tongue.

Mr Gibson, SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands, said:

"The work of many members of the Cross Party Group for Scots over eight years has led to the trial and inclusion of a question on Scots in the Scottish Census, due in March 2011. Alongside English and Scottish Gaelic, Scots speakers will have a chance to answer tick boxes for Q 16 - which can you do? Understand, Speak, Read, Write, or none of these.

"Scots, the tongue of Robert Burns, has dialects that span Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Moray and all the way through Aberdeenshire and central Scotland to the Borders and far South West. Many Scots don't realise that's what they speak. Between now and the census next year a profile of the local versions of Scots tongue will have to be made very public. We look to the Registrar General to fund this information campaign.

"The SNP welcomes this historic recognition for the Scots tongue by its place in the census. We hope all parties in the Parliament will help to get the question fully answered."



More information about the Scots language can be found at

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Gibson welcomes SFT investment in Tain

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed investment from the Scottish Government for the people of Tain and surrounding area.

MR Gibson was speaking after a debate on the Scottish Economy. He pointed out over 1 million pounds from the Scottish Futures trust will be put towards a new health centre in Tain.

Mr Gibson said that the Scottish Futures Trust was a safe bet with tax payers…

"The SFT is replacing the discredited Public private partnership so Favoured by the previous Liberal Democrat and Labour administration which has left large debts for councils, health boards and others to pay off."

"The announcement means that new jobs will be created when the centre is built as well as establishing a new centre for the area. Along with the news of a new Asda then it is a very good time for employment in Tain.

"I am glad that the Scottish Futures trust has been favoured by the SNP Government which will deliver quality services to the public without leaving a massive debt for the future."

" A new health centre in Tain will make a welcome addition to the town as well as those in and around it. Continued investment for the future which is debt free is something to be celebrated."


Gibson welcomes new community centre for Pulteneytown

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed news that Pulteneytown People's Project hope to start work on a new community centre this summer.

Mr Gibson was speaking after it became it was announced that PPP hope to start work on the £4 million site in July.

A supporter of the centre Mr Gibson said...

"This is great news for Pulteneytown, Wick and Caithness. The establishment of a centre which will cater for groups of all ages and interests and will be a real community assets."

"Great Credit has to go to PPP and the people behind it Katrina McNab and others have helped develop a community organisation which has led to positive difference in the area. This type of community project is one that has proven to be successful and I am sure the new centre will act as a catalyst for further improvement."

"Housing all the services under one roof makes sense. A new public centre is something that will be exciting for the area and county."


Friday, 23 April 2010


For immediate use: Friday 23 April 2010

Attention: Newsdesks

Thirty Scots veterans of the Russian Arctic Convoy were presented with medals in a ceremony today.

The medals, marking 65 years since the end of World War II, were presented by Consul General of the Russian Federation, Sergey Krutikov. The Russian Arctic Convoy sailed from Orkney during the war to take vital supplies and munitions to Russia. 104 Merchant ships, 20 Royal Navy ships, a submarine and two armed whalers were lost during the operation.

Rob Gibson MSP, who represented the Scottish Government and Parliament at the ceremony, praised the Russian Federation's presentation of medals to the Arctic convoy veterans.

SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands Mr Gibson said:

"The presentation of medals by the Russian Federation Consul General to veterans of the Arctic convoys in WW2 was a poignant event. It recalls the few who survive today of the brave men of the navy and merchant service who sailed into the teeth of war in all its fury on the most dangerous convoys of the war.

"These brave men delivered the war materials for Russia to defeat Fascism along with the western allies. Today we are building new friendships and economic relations with Russia on the basis of solidarity in past crises. Russia greatly values its veterans, so do we in Scotland."


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Gibson highlights transmission charges discrimination

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called for a European style transmission charge which doesn't discriminate against energy production in the North of Scotland.

Mr Gibson words came during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on transmission charges which sees producers of energy along the North Coast charged as much as £22 (per kilowatt) to transmit power to the National Grid. Whilst producers in the some parts of the South of England gain a subsidy of around £7 (per kilowatt) to do the same thing.

Mr Gibson said that the in countries like Ireland and France the transmission charge is a flat rate across the country. He said that regime like that was only fair and should be implemented across the UK so that Scotland especially the Highlands and Islands are not discriminated against.

"It is to the great blot on Scotland's energy prospects that the UK Government and OfGem allow these charges to stand. A more blatant discrimination against energy production in the North of Scotland is hard to find."

"It is incumbent on the next Government, whichever party rectifies this anomaly and gives us a fair and flat rate for all parts of the UK. If a country the size of France can afford to charge a flat rate across the vast area then surely the UK should follow suit, anything else is discrimination."

"I would favour a pan-European grid which would have a flat rate for access. That has to be an end worth pursuing. A European grid would increase energy independence for the continent which would in turn help open new markets to Scottish renewable energy suppliers."

"Caithness and Orkney as well as other areas of North and West Scotland have an unbelievable exciting future. However obstacles such as the Crown Estate and transmission charges stand in the way of that future being fully achievable."


'Nigg compulsory purchase must be top priority' - Gibson & Hendry

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson and SNP Aird and Loch Ness Councillor Drew Hendry have made a joint call for Highland Council to begin plans to compulsory purchase the Nigg fabrication yard in Easter Ross.

Mr Gibson has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament whilst Cllr Hendry has lodged a motion in Highland Council calling for positive action to bring the yard back to life.

Their action follows on from a decision KBR to walk away from the site.

Mr Gibson said

"It is good to see that KBR has finally made a decision on where it stands in ending its use of the Nigg yard. I feel that they will regret it in future. However time is of the essence and new owners are needed to allow fresh work to start."

"The work undertaken by Cllr Drew Hendry when he was chair of the Council's Planning, Environment and Development committee, to bring the possibility of a compulsory purchase from Highland Council' needs to be followed up with greater urgency by the new administration. They look to have lost the momentum on the issue. This has helped no one. Therefore the current administration in Highland Council must make purchasing the yard a top priority."

Cllr Hendry said….

"The current situation is completely unsatisfactory and that has not been helped by the delays arising from KBR’s recent actions. Unless Nigg is freed from its current mothballed state then it will see high quality employment seep away to fabrication yards in other countries. The whole of the Highlands could lose out on skilled jobs and a much needed economic boost. That is why it is of the utmost importance that the Council acts quickly to restart its plan for Nigg and the compulsory purchase of the site.

"Nigg is ideally placed to support the Scottish clean renewables energy revolution. Amongst other possibilities, Nigg could be leading the way in producing parts for renewable devices for Europe. There really needs to be swift action on all levels to make sure that Nigg and the jobs it can create does not lose out on this exciting future."



Pictured: Rob in front of the vast potential of Nigg.

Copy of motions submitted:

Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): That the Parliament notes the decision by KBR to end its interest in the fabrication yard at Nigg, in Easter Ross; welcomes the fact that the company has finally made a decision on its future involvement on the site but condemns KBR for its years of delays and what many perceive as prevarication and neglect that has lead to a lack of investment in the site, leaving Nigg at a competitive disadvantage; calls on the Highland Council to restart its plans for compulsory purchase of the site immediately so that it can allow new owners to breathe new life into the yard; considers that Nigg has great potential to support the renewables revolution in Scotland; contends that this is by far the best use of the yard, and calls on the Scottish Government to work toward this end.

Motion submitted to Highland Council: Nigg is ideally placed to support the Scottish clean renewables energy revolution. Amongst other possibilities, Nigg could be leading the way in producing parts for renewable devices for Europe. There really needs to be swift action on all levels to make sure that Nigg and the jobs it can create does not lose out on this exciting future.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


FOR IMMEDIATE USE: Wednesday 21 April 2010


Rob Gibson MSP has welcomed the announcement today by First Minister Alex Salmond of a £50 million investment in the new Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) to develop a loan fund for Scottish growth and export businesses.

The First Minister told STUC Annual Congress in Dundee that the £50m would be added to the existing £150m of support previously earmarked to be brought within the Scottish Investment Bank.

SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Mr Gibson, who is also deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee, said:

“The failure of the banks to restart lending to businesses, and the failure of the UK government to make this a clear condition of the bank bail-out, has acted as a drag on economic recovery and business development.

“This very welcome announcement by the First Minister of the new loan facility is a demonstration of the SNP’s determination to do everything we can within the powers available to us to get Scotland’s economy moving, help businesses to grow and protect and create jobs.

“By putting its money where its mouth is, the SNP government is showing its faith in the ability of Scottish businesses to contribute to Scottish recovery and growth – and setting an example to the banks and financial institutions that they must do the same.”



1. The Scottish Investment Bank loan fund comprises £20 million in ERDF resources matched with £20 million from Scottish Enterprise and a £10 million allocation from Scottish Government spring budget revisions that was announced in February.

2. The loan funding aims to provide, by the end of the year, mezzanine-type loan products, targeted mainly at the needs of growth and exporting businesses that are not being met by banks or other private sector sources. It will complement existing public sector finance sources such as the long-established West of Scotland Loan Fund and £5 million East of Scotland Investment Fund, announced last month, to support local business growth and job creation.

3. Ensuring improved access to finance to support investment for growth is a key element of the Scottish Government's Economic Recovery Plan. Work is underway across the public sector to deliver that plan, accelerate recovery and improve the long term performance of Scotland's economy.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Gibson calls for great Crown Estate accountability

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP has backed up calls from the Scottish Government to see the Crown Estate Commission become more accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Gibson was commenting after Cabinet Sectary Richard Lochead said (in response to a question by Mr Gibson) that since 1999 the CEC had extracted around 100 million pounds from rents in Scotland.

Mr Lochead went on to say that he wanted to see the money raised in Scotland back in Scotland. At present the money goes directly into the UK Treasury.

Mr Gibson said...

"The figures which Richard Lochead talked about are mind boggling, it is a clear that Scotland, especially harbours and rents from the sea beds in the Highlands and Islands are paying out vast sums of money to the CEC. Yet very little of that is coming back for investment in these areas or the country as a whole. That is unjust in the extreme and further accountability from the CEC to the Scottish Parliament is an excellent way to deal with the problem."

"There is going to be a rents bonanza for the Crown Estate once the marine renewable revolution takes off. They will be extracting rents from sea beds to the outer regions of the territories. Therefore the money flowing into their coffers and those of the UK Treasury will be vastly inflated. However this money needs to be invested in places which are going to support this industry."

"That can only be done if there is more local control and accountability of the CEC. There is a will from the Scottish Government that this be the case. I hope that other opposition parties will join with the SNP in calling for this."


Monday, 12 April 2010

Snow clearing gear fails the test.

News Release: Immediate Use
12 April 2010

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has challenged Network Rail to account for a missing snow blower and failing to patrol the highland line with a snow plough.

Following publicity last week in the P&J Rob has been contacted by former railway workers from the Inverness depot who used to service snow clearing gear.

He said,

"Railway workers were employed over many years to service the snow ploughs that sit outside the Inverness railway depot for most of the year. But in the past when snowy weather threatened an engine with plough fitted would patrol the main Highland line as far south as Blair Atholl and back to keep the trains running."

"Also there used to be a snow blower stationed at Inverness in more recent times. Yet this key piece of equipment was removed for use in Kent and never returned. It was used to remove hard-packed snow that can easily block cuttings. When Kent had the 'wrong kind of snow', they got the blower. Network Rail has to account for its whereabouts and why it was not returned to the area of Scotland that most often suffers snow storms."

"My enquiries with rail companies has sparked a number of constituent calls. The issue for future hard winters is to keep the railway open. Some explanations as to how this will be achieved are required from Network Rail. Highland passengers deserved as good a service as anywhere else on the network. Last winter was a hard one that showed lack of preparedness and lack of equipment."

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Ferries - the seadog that has not barked

News Release: Immediate Use
11 April 2010

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands called Northlink 'the sea dog that hasn't barked' over cost savings.

Following talks he held on Orkney with stakeholders late last week he said,

"Amidst the sound and fury of protest, the ferry company at the heart of the efficiency savings turmoil is silent. It is the sea dog that hasn't barked."

"The need for every public service to save cash is generally agreed. Yet amidst political protest by LibDem politicians, they have not suggested one solution to the spiralling costs of running the Northlink operations. Contracts which were set up before the SNP Government were elected must be put under the microscope."

Mr Gibson went on…

"Sort out our ferries would be the best slogan to apply around the Aberdeen to Kirkwall and Lerwick service as it would be for Stromness to Scrabster. As summer timetables are due to kick in, as a new contract for an extended period of years looms, I am seeking clarity from Northlink ahead of the major consultations that are in train."

"they must make public the means to find £1 million savings that could avoid a slower service. Islanders should be told. The political scaremongers must also come clean with the voters. How should Northlink attract more business, how can it install more reclining seats for those not able to access inadequate cabins, how can they attract more travellers in the shoulder season of the tourist year and how can they allay the fears of hotels and B&Bs from tourists arriving any later at night And how can they save fuel."

"These are issues at the heart of the ferry affray. The SNP members are working to find solutions, not dish out blame!"

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Gibson calls for drastic rail improvements for Highland users

News release
Immediate release

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has called for a full review of rail services in the Highlands so that lessons can be learned following the problems caused by the recent severe winter weather.

He has published a checklist for action by Network Rail, First Scotrail and East Coast trains. This includes:-

* The entire train should be warm, not just parts of them. Each service needs to overhaul the heating systems which fail far too often on all services. Scotrail pledges to pick units for the Far North line that have fully functioning heating.

* Scotrail must be able to provide hot drinks along the lines. Too often busy trains run out of hot water and sandwiches. They also need to replenishment at Perth and Aviemore on the Highland line.

* Network Rail needs to install sensors or webcams at sections of track prone to deep snow drifts. The well-known effects of drifting snow from varying points of the compass should be predictable. Also suitable snow blowers and snow ploughs are needed to keep the railways moving. Because harsh weather has reduced in recent years little attention has been given to dealing with deep snowfalls. 21st century systems are needed as more severe weather events can be expected as a result of climate change.

*East Coast trains should be able to turn round at Aviemore if the line to Inverness is blocked. It is unacceptable that services should be stopped at Perth.

*Far more accurate information is needed for passengers as they find onward journeys interrupted by trains in the 'wrong places' and no attempt to give the full picture to the paying customer.

Mr Gibson also stated that the rolling stock which serve the North needs drastic improvement….

"The railways of Scotland need action to learn lessons from this harsh winter. The three car sets which are actually commuter trains are not fully fit for over three hour journeys. The new franchise round must provide more acceptable rolling stock."

"Also Network Rail has to ensure faster running and anticipate severe weather problems with appropriate investment despite straitened budgets."

"The north of Scotland has every right to expect rail companies providers to go the extra mile to provide passengers with comfort, information and certainty as far as possible."


Friday, 2 April 2010


For immediate use
1 April 2010

An amendment lodged by Highlands & Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson today exposes allegations made by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur regarding a 'sudden end' to the Scottish Government's Energy Saving Scotland (ESS) home renewables grant and home loans scheme.

The ESS scheme was designed to encourage individuals and families to install renewables systems in their homes to reduce their carbon footprints as well as export the excess energy they produce to the national grid. Successfully achieving this goal, the scheme has outlasted its equivalents in other parts of the UK and today been replaced by a generous alternative known as the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme.

Commenting today, Rob said:

"It would be helpful if Mr McArthur reached his conclusions using sound logic and reasoning, as opposed to reaching his conclusion first and finding a way to manipulate the facts to get there.

"The Energy Saving Scotland scheme was so successful in increasing demand for these grants that it prompted the design of new feed-in-tariffs through the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme which will not only pay households for the energy they export to the grid but also guarantee a minimum payment for all the electricity generated by their system.

"That is a generous alternative to the ESS scheme, and it is worth noting that the scheme in Scotland has outlasted its equivalents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"This Scottish Government is effectively developing the home and community renewables markets in Scotland in a way that is not just growing the market, but adapting within a difficult financial economy and utilising Scotland's competitive advantages to do so.



Copy of the amendment and original motion follow:

As an amendment to motion S3M-6069 in the name of Liam McArthur (Sudden End to Home Renewables Grant and Home Loans Schemes) leave out from "bring forward" to end and insert:
"target renewables generation funding where it will make the biggest impact is both fiscally responsible and forward-thinking; notes the equivalent grants scheme for electricity generating technologies under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are already closed; welcomes the increased market demand generated by the Energy Saving Scotland home renewables grants and home loans scheme as intended, designed to support households in adopting renewable technologies to power their homes; considers the development and introduction of Feed-In-Tariffs (FITs) in response to this increased demand, also known as the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme, which, from 1 April 2010, to be a generous alternative to grant support that will include a minimum payment for all electricity generated by the system as well as a separate payment for the electricity exported to the grid; and finally praises the Scottish Government's commitment to effectively and efficiently provide incentives in the developing home and community renewables markets in Scotland.

S3M-6069 Liam McArthur: Sudden End to Home Renewables Grant and Home Loans Schemes—That the Parliament believes that the Scottish Government’s decision to bring forward the deadline for applications under the change to the Energy Saving Scotland (ESS) home renewables grant and home loans schemes without consultation or warning will unfairly penalise the very many innovative individuals looking to take forward microrenewables projects; is concerned that the way in which grants were removed and loans reduced under the ESS schemes risks undermining public confidence in schemes of this type in the future, and calls on the Scottish Government to reconsider how applicants and prospective applicants affected by the premature closure of the scheme can be helped.