Sir Chris Whitty, the UK Government's most senior medical adviser in the pandemic, is set to give evidence to the CV19 inquiry this morning. Sir Chris and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's former chief scientific adviser, became household names in 2020, appearing regularly on TV during the pandemic alongside senior politicians. Sir Patrick revealed yesterday during the inquiry that he and Sir Chris regularly disagreed on lockdown measures, claiming he wanted to introduce restrictions more quickly than the medical adviser. Whitty previously told the inquiry in June that the prospect of lockdowns and legally forcing people to stay at home had not been considered before 2020. He added that one of the UK's key weaknesses during the pandemic was its inability to scale up testing as quickly as other places. Sir Chris will give new evidence just a day after Sir Patrick claimed scientists were not made aware of Rishi Sunak's controversial Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Sir Patrick said: "We didn't see it before it was announced and I think others in the Cabinet Office also said they didn't see it before it was formulated as policy. So we weren't involved in the run-up to it." He added: "I think it would have been very obvious to anyone that this inevitably would cause an increase in transmission risk, and I think that would have been known by ministers." Scottish Parliament Today’s business includes: Topical QuestionsMinisterial Statement: Autumn Statement: Scottish Government PrioritiesScottish Government Debate: The Situation in the Middle EastDecision TimeMembers’ Business: S6M-11228 Holodomor Memorial Day 2023 (in the name of Colin Beattie) The following Committees are meeting this morning: Health, Social Care and Sport CommitteeNet Zero, Energy and Transport CommitteeFinance and Public Administration CommitteeLocal Government, Housing and Planning CommitteeEqualities, Human Rights and Civil Justice CommitteeDelegated Powers and Law Reform Committee UK Parliament Today’s business includes: Legislation – Media Bill: Second readingAdjournment: Government’s policy on a further independence referendum for ScotlandWestminster Hall debate: Cost of energy and energy chargesLegislation (Lords): Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill – second readingScience and Technology Committee (Lords) – Oral evidence session on Long-duration energy storageTreasury Committee – Oral evidence session on Bank of England Monetary Policy Reports Industry and Regulators Committee – Oral evidence session on UK RegulatorsEnvironment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee – Oral evidence session on UK trade policy: food and agricultureForeign Affairs Committee – Private meeting on The UK’s engagement with the Middle East and North AfricaEuropean Affairs Committee – Private meeting on Implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for UK-EU relations Aberdeenshire Council Today’s business includes: Kincardine and Mearns Area CommitteeFormartine Area Committee Aberdeen City Council Today’s business includes: Education and Children’s Services Committee News/Funding/Consultations NEW: Consultation: Introducing a Contracts for Difference (CfD) Sustainable Industry Reward. The government is proposing to introduce a Contract for Difference Sustainable Industry Reward (CfD SIR) from CfD Allocation Round 7 onwards. The CfD Sustainable Industry Reward aims to help accelerate the deployment of low carbon electricity generation, specifically offshore / floating offshore wind, by addressing some of the recent challenges identified by the industry. The Reward could provide greater revenue support to projects that take meaningful action to increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability of offshore and floating offshore wind deployment. It could also work with other government policies aimed at increasing the rate of deployment of offshore and floating offshore wind. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 11th January 2024. NEW: Consultation: Hiring agency staff to cover industrial action. The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on whether government should repeal regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (“the Conduct Regulations”) which prevents employment businesses supplying agency workers to cover the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 16th January 2024. NEW: Consultation: Transmission license exemption for array systems connecting to offshore substations. This consultation seeks views on a proposed exemption from the requirement to hold a transmission licence for array systems connecting an offshore windfarm to an offshore substation. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 2nd January 2024. NEW: Consultation: The Seafarers’ Wages Act 2023 part 1 – draft regulations and guidance. The Seafarers’ Wages Act is designed to protect those working on ships operating a regular international service to/from the UK from being paid less than an equivalent to the National Minimum Wage while in UK territorial waters. The act became law on 23 March 2023 and the Department of Transport now needs to introduce secondary legislation to bring the provisions in the act fully into force. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 11th December. Consultation: Education Reform – A Consultation on the provisions of the Education Bill. In March 2022 the Scottish Government announced that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) would be replaced with a new qualifications body. It also announced its intention to establish a new independent inspectorate whilst also needing to understand how best to align education inspection with the wider inspection system. This consultation seeks views on a range of issues related to these proposals and the role inspection plays in providing assistance and support to educational professionals in Scotland. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 18th December. Consultation: Consultation on analogue community radio licensing. This consultation seeks views on the future approach to the licensing of analogue community radio stations, and the current restrictions on the capacity of stations to raise money through advertising and sponsorship. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 31st January 2024. Consultation: Trade with Turkey. The Department for Business and Trade is seeking input on which aspects of our current trading arrangements with Turkey they should look to improve or amend. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 5th January 2024. Consultation:Statutory Levy on Gambling Operators. Following the review of the Gambling Act 2005, the gambling white paper published in April 2023 set out the government’s plans for modernising the regulation of the gambling sector. One of the key proposals in the white paper was the introduction of a statutory levy on gambling operators which represents a generational shift in the funding system for research, prevention and treatment. The government is consulting on proposals on the key aspects of the levy’s design, including its structure, distribution and governance. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 14th December. Consultation: Democracy Matters. Somebody, somewhere is making decisions on your behalf. Democracy Matters conversations have already started to explore whether far more of these decisions could be made by communities themselves. This is a key and connected part of the wider Local Governance Review which is looking across all of Scotland’s vital public services to consider how power and resources should be shared between national and local government. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 28th February 2024. Consultation: Building standards enforcement and sanctions. In Scotland, a Ministerial Working Group was set up following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, to review building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. The Group commissioned two reviews of building standards; one to cover compliance and enforcement and the other fire safety. The Review Panel on Building Standards Compliance and Enforcement identified the need for improving aspects of the building standards system (covering procedural compliance, built compliance and enforcement of both procedural matters and non-compliant work). As part of this review, the Scottish Government is now consulting with a view to strengthening several existing provisions. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 15th January 2024. Consultation: New build developments: delivering gigabit-capable connections. Digital connectivity is changing the way we work, do business and deliver public services. The Scottish Government want to ensure that new build homes are built with future proofed connectivity. To support this ambition the proposals outlined in this consultation will amend building standards with a consistent approach requiring developers to ensure that: all new build homes are installed with the gigabit-ready physical infrastructure necessary for gigabit-capable connections; a gigabit-capable connection is installed in a new build home subject to a £2,000 cost cap per dwelling; or where a gigabit-capable connection is not being installed, the next fastest broadband connection is installed without exceeding the £2,000 cost cap. This consultation seeks views on this approach. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 12th December. Consultation: Healthcare Improvement Scotland: independent healthcare fees solution. Independent hospitals and clinics have been regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS). Following on from a previous consultation about independent health care, this discourse aims to amend the current ruling for 2 main reasons. Firstly, to regulate independent pharmacy-provided services which are not under an NHS contract. Secondly, to regulate independent medical agencies which includes the provision of services by a medical practitioner. This is required to ensure that fees for independent healthcare services are fairly implemented. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, click here. The closing date for responses is 11th December 2023 Consultation: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Agricultural Tenancies, Small Landholdings and Land Use Tenancy Proposals: The Scottish Government’s ‘Vision for Agriculture’ statement outlines the Government’s long-term goal to develop how we support Scottish farming and food production. The end goal being to become global leaders in sustainability and regenerative agriculture. This consultation tests the previous proposals from the Vision of Agriculture statement, and discusses how to diminish the environmental impact of such proposals while reducing and avoiding adverse environmental effects. These assessments are important to ensure the suitability of a policy. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 7th December. LAST CHANCE TO RESPOND: Consultation: Alcohol – Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP): Continuation and Future Pricing. Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) was introduced in 2018 with the policy aim to reduce health harms caused by alcohol consumption by setting a floor price below which alcohol cannot be sold, currently 50p per unit. The legislation is due to expire and consequently the Scottish Government is consulting on whether MUP should be continued as part of the range of policy measures in place to address alcohol related harm, and, in the event of its continuation, the level the minimum unit price should be set going forward. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 22nd November. Support: Develop your workforce with Skills for Growth. Skills for Growth is a diagnostic service that helps you identify skills gaps in your business and find ways to fill them. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will work with you to understand the skills your business needs, help you create a detailed people skills action plan and direct you to the right support. For more information or to apply, please click here. Support: Techscaler. Techscaler is a Scottish Government programme that helps people to start and scale tech businesses. Techscaler membership provides tailored support for founders and leaders of tech start-ups. For more information or to apply, please click here. Support: DigitalBoost Health Check. Take a Digital Health Check to find out how your business could improve its digital performance. Just answer 12 questions about your current approach to discover where you could do more with technology and how to boost your online presence. For more information, or to do your own check, please click here. Support/Training: The Princes Trust Explore Enterprise Course. The Prince’s Trust Explore Enterprise Course consists of up to seven online sessions providing information and support on the basics of self-employment, HMRC and finance, pricing and sales, marketing, networking, cashflows, and business plans. These sessions are open to individuals aged between 18-30, who are resident in Scotland and been trading for less than 2 years. For more information, or to sign up, please click here. Support/Funding: Guidance on how to apply for Innovate UK funding opportunities. Innovate UK provides grant funding, loans and procurements for UK-based businesses to support research, development and innovation. This guidance explains what types of funding opportunities are available and how to apply through their Innovation Funding Service. For more information, or to access the guidance, please click here. Details on the various live funding options are available here. Support/Funding: UK Tradeshow Programme. The UK Tradeshow Programme offers government support to help UK businesses attend or exhibit at overseas trade shows more effectively. For more information, or to apply, please click here. Funding: Low Emission Zone Support Fund for Businesses. Eligible Scottish micro businesses and sole traders can apply for a £2,000 grant when they dispose of a vehicle that is not compliant with the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. For more information or to apply, please click here. The closing date for applications is 31st March 2024. Funding: Scottish Co-Investment Fund. The Scottish Co-investment Fund (SCF) is designed to address a finance gap (up to £1.5million) alongside Scottish Enterprise's accredited co-investment partners. This fund is designed for Scottish start-up, early-stage or growing companies seeking investment to develop products and/or markets. For more information, or to apply, please click here. Funding: Innovation Funding Service. Innovate UK supports UK-based businesses to invest in research, development and innovation through grant funding, loans or procurements. A variety of innovation competitions are currently open, with the full list and details of eligibility available here. Funding: Foresight Scottish Growth Fund. The Scottish Growth Scheme is a package of financial support of up to £500 million for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland. Backed by the Scottish Government, it aims to help businesses grow. This equity funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, capital expenditure and growth funding. For more information or to apply, please click here. Funding: SME Loan Scheme. This loan is for small to medium-sized businesses in Scotland and can be used for the installation of energy-efficient measures such as lighting and heating upgrades, double glazing, insulation and more. For more information or to apply, please click here. Funding: UMi Debt Finance Scotland. This funding is managed by UMi Debt Finance Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and provides loans of £25,000 to £250,000 to eligible small and medium enterprises to help them grow. Loans can be used for a variety of purposes including working capital, capital expenditure and growth funding. For more information or to apply, please click here. Funding: District Heating Loan Fund. The District Heating Loan Fund is managed by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Scottish Government. It provides capital loan funding of more than £1 million to organisations in Scotland that use renewables technologies to build out heat networks. For more information, or to apply, please click here. Funding: Heat Network Fund. This Scottish Government fund encourages commercial interest and investment that will help make the most of Scotland's vast potential in the low carbon sector and contribute to the positive progress already made in reducing Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible projects must be large-scale and based in Scotland. As well as helping reduce emissions, successful projects should also have positive social and economic benefits for Scotland. For more information or to apply, please click here. Funding: Workforce Innovation Voucher. The Workforce Innovation Voucher scheme can be used to support innovation to develop a company’s workforce in partnership with a college or university – for example, a new or enhanced workplace business processes, workplace practice or innovative business expertise. Interface provides support with finding a suitable academic partner who has the right specialist expertise to progress your Research and Development project. For more information, or to apply, please click here. Funding: National Lottery Open Fund of Organisations – Creative Scotland. The National Lottery Open Fund for Organisations is a funding programme for artistic, creative and cultural organisations based in Scotland. Organisations can apply for between £1,000 and £100,000 to support creative activity that lasts up to 18 months. For more information, or to apply, please click here. Funding: Green Heat Innovation Support Programme. The Green Heat Innovation Support Programme provides grant funding, competitive procurement and other forms of support to help Scottish-based companies or companies looking to invest in Scotland develop innovative products, services or business models that address the challenges of green heating. For more information, or to apply, please click here.