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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 March 2019

The UK is likely to be offered to delay Brexit until 12 May, subject to MPs approving the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week.  If not the EU will back a shorter delay until 12 April, giving the UK time to get the deal through or “indicate a way forward”.

In the meantime an online petition calling for Theresa May to revoke Article 50 has attracted over 2 million signatures. Revoke Article 50 has been trending on Twitter as people were urged to sign it. According to the Petitions Committee, the site struggled to cope with the demand, crashing at some points.  Once up and running again signatures were arriving at a rate of up to 2000 per minute.   

In Scottish politics, the government has pledged to roll back changes MSPs made to its reforms of the planning system. Ministers introduced legislation at Holyrood with the aim of streamlining planning and “empowering communities” but the process has not been as seamless as the Scottish Government had anticipated.

MSPs on the local government committee have made more than 230 amendments to the bill adding in extra powers and responsibilities for planning boards. The government has warned these could “create millions of pounds of new costs” and undermine the legislation.Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said he was now working on fresh changes to “rescue” the bill and “remove unnecessary burdens” before MSPs vote on it for the final time,

There was a little good news for the Scottish economy as new figures showed that it grew by 0.3% in the final three months of 2018, according to official figures. The increase in the country’s GDP compared to a figure of 0.2% for the UK. The news comes as Scotland’s unemployment rate hit a record low. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP said it was the eighth consecutive quarter of growth and that the country’s economy “continues to go from strength to strength”.

Mental health is back on the agenda with an independent review of Scotland’s mental health legislation is to be carried out, mental health care in Scotland is currently underpinned by laws which date back to 2003, and MSPs have faced calls for an update.Linked to this and as mentioned last week, a petition had been lodged at Holyrood urging ministers to “conduct a wide review” of legislation, in light of developments both in care and treatment and international human rights law. Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey MSP told MSPs that “the time is right” to review the law, to make sure that rules “fully reflect our ambitions and the needs of those our laws are intended to support”.

In a rather worrying development, a leading MSP has told how she fears for her safety after online threats and abuse. Glasgow Conservative Annie Wells said she has contacted Police Scotland over the social media posts. She told media representatives that in the three years since she was elected she had muted more than 1100 abusive Twitter accounts due to the violent and foul nature of the posts. Ms Wells said the majority ofthe abuse on Twitter was aimed at her simply for a being a woman. Sadly her experience is by no means unique.

And finally… One of Perceptive’s newest clients, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) in Glasgow, welcomes senior Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar this morning.  A former dentist and MP, Mr Sarwar has considerable interest in IBioIC’s role, as a specialist in the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) sector, is to stimulate the growth of the IB sector in Scotland to £900 million by 2025. IBioIC is one of eight Innovation Centres funded by the Scottish Funding Council and supported by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Mousdale on 07734 932578 or julie.mousdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Account Director

Account Director

Do you thrive on leading and working with a team to deliver great communications results that make a big difference? Are you keen to work with amazing clients and an exclusively expert team in a great working environment?

We’re looking for an enthusiastic, motivated and experienced communicator to join our growing and multi-award winning team based in our lovely office in Glasgow city centre.

Our ideal person would be a strong project manager with a proven track record of helping achieve business and organisational goals through effective PR and social media campaigns.  An ability to deliver results in a fast paced environment with a can-do attitude is key.

Key responsibilities

  • Developing, leading and implementing proactive PR and social media strategies for clients to help them achieve their organisational goals
  • Leading and working with a team to deliver key activities and KPIs that have been agreed with client within agreed timescales, demonstrating effective project management where there are often competing priorities in a fast moving environment
  • Lead role in building and maintaining positive relationships with clients and influencers which results in strong client retention levels and referrals
  • Developing positive relationships with key stakeholders and influencers  
  • Writing and editing publications, brochures, news releases, opinion pieces, award submissions, speeches, newsletters, websites and social media within agreed timescales to a high standard
  • Being a strong positive ambassador for Perceptive amongst clients, potential clients, influencers and stakeholders in person and online eg social media eg LinkedIn
  • Identifying appropriate contacts and then developing and maintaining good working relationships with the media, key stakeholders eg community leaders and clients
  • Contributing to the direction of Perceptive Communicators’ strategy and attending six monthly meetings to deliver the vision for the company
  • Identifying potential new business opportunities with existing and new clients
  • Contributing to new business activities eg tenders
  • Developing and managing PR & Social Media managers and other relevant team members

Living Perceptive values

  • Focussed on results
  • Trusted experts, so reassurance for clients
  • Straightforward
  • Great energy and proactive with positive team spirit that extends to client teams
  • We care

Essential skills

  • Proven track record of leading a team in successful PR and social media campaigns to deliver desired results
  • An ability to deliver agreed goals and work to tight deadlines to ensure clients’ targets and expectations are met
  • Good project management and time management skills
  • Strong writing and creative skills, so able to create compelling content from complex information
  • Proactive and proven ability to thrive in a fast paced environment
  • Organised work processes and project management with ability to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Flexible can do attitude and a willingness to learn
  • Ability to work on own and as part of a team
  • Driving licence and access to a car for work

    If you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.

Work experience
Candidates will at have least ten years’ communications work experience in PR and social media.  Experience of working in an agency and delivering successful results on behalf of clients is desired but not essential. 

Why join us?

Perceptive Communicators is a multi-award winning communications consultancy, established in 2006 and on a very strong growth path which benefits all employees. We work on exciting projects in construction, health, biotechnology and technology which help our clients achieve their goals.

We offer flexible working hours and up to two days a week working from home. Our team enjoy excellent holidays and benefits, including private healthcare, discounted flights and hotels, free Amazon Prime, Starbucks coffees and cinema tickets.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 March 2019

Just like buses… you wait for one and three come along at once, Theresa May will make a third attempt, with a third vote put to MPs, to get her EU withdrawal deal through Parliament in the next week. She told MPs that if her deal fails again to get their backing, a lengthy delay to Brexit may be needed.

No date has yet been set for the third so-called “meaningful vote” but the Commons voted by a whisker – just two votes – last night to allow her to maintain control of Brexit.  For now.

European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will appeal to EU leaders “to be open to a long extension” of the Brexit deadline, his intervention came this week as MPs voted on Thursday to try and seek to postpone the 29 March deadline to 30 June. EU leaders will meet in Brussels on 21 March where they will have the final say on the matter.

Nicola Sturgeon commented this week that the Brexit deadline should be put back long enough for a new referendum. The First Minister said the failure of the Commons to agree on a deal meant the issue should now be put back to the public in a fresh referendum.

Back to Holyrood, and MSPs have called for research to be carried out on the impact of social media on young people’s mental health. Holyrood’s public audit committee has been studying a “significant increase” in the number of children and teens experiencing mental health problems. Members wanted to find out if social media use could be a factor in rising demand for services but were told that this was “not yet understood”.

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee’s major inquiry into the Construction industry is continuing and this week we were pleased to support client CSIC (Construction Scotland Innovation Centre).  Chief Executive Stephen Good was questioned for an hour by MSPs on how innovation is transforming this vital industry which contributes £21bn every year to Scotland’s economy. Client Construction Scotland will also give evidence on 2 April.

A must visit for anyone interested in the construction industry is Scotland Build 2019 which starts next week (20 – 21 March at the SEC Glasgow). Now in its fourth year, the conference is Scotland’s leading and largest construction show dedicated entirely to opportunities in building, construction, architecture and design across Scotland. Three members of Perceptive’s team will be leading workshops on political influence, LinkedIn and crisis communications at the Skills Hub on the Wednesday – tickets are free and there’s still time to register to come along: https://oliverkinross.circdata-solutions.co.uk/RFG/publish/SBUILD19/

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Digital & Social Media Manager

Digital & Social Media Manager

Permanent, full time Digital & Social Media Manager

Do you thrive on driving results online? Are you on top of the latest social media trends?

We’re looking for an enthusiastic, motivated and experienced digital and social media manager to join our growing and multi-award winning team.

This role would ideally suit someone with digital and social media expertise, skills and experience. Our ideal person would also have experience of and a desire to be actively involved in driving client results through effective digital and social media campaigns.  An ability to deliver results in a fast paced environment with a can-do attitude is key.

Our shared values are focusing on results, being straightforward, trustworthy, caring for clients and colleagues with a great energy and attention to detail.

The role
As a Digital & Social Media Manager you will be responsible for the delivery of several client campaigns from the development of the digital and social media strategy to implementation for our clients in construction, health, biotechnology and technology.  Your activities will include:

  • Working with the Perceptive team to develop and implement successful communications strategies for our clients that deliver results
  • Developing and implementing organic and paid for multi-channel campaigns that have delivered proven results including across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram
  • Developing and executing a full digital marketing strategy and developing, implementing, tracking and optimizing SEO focused digital marketing campaigns across all digital channels
  • Identifying, generating and delivering compelling content & materials to engage target audiences and drive desired results
  • Tracking current news, trends and memes  to identify content source streams
  • Creating and designing images/graphics and video content for marketing campaigns
  • Planning, scheduling and overseeing social media activity to drive desired results
  • Connecting with social media influencers to build productive relationships
  • Coaching others on the effective use of social media
  • Using website analytics tools (e.g. Google Analytics, Facebook insights, LinkedIn Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Mention) to monitor, report and make recommendations
  • Presenting and explaining detailed social reporting to clients
  • Setting up and optimising Google AdWords’ campaigns
  • Identifying potential new business opportunities
  • Attending networking events on behalf of Perceptive Communicators, including external and internal events e.g. Perceptive Communicators and Perceptive Directors Clubs
  • Contributing to new business activities e.g. tenders

Essential skills

  • At least 3 years’ digital and social media experience
  • Proven track record of implementing successful digital and social media campaigns across main social media channels
  • Expertise in using content management systems to deliver and update websites effectively and efficiently
  • Experience of using tools like InDesign and Canvas
  • Proven track record of developing and delivering high quality effective written, image and video content for online and social media channels that deliver desired results
  • An ability to deliver agreed goals and work to tight deadlines to ensure clients’ targets and expectations are met
  • Good project management and time management skills
  • Strong writing and creative skills, so able to create compelling content from complex information
  • Proactive and proven ability to thrive in a fast paced environment
  • Organised work processes and project management with ability to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Flexible can do attitude and a willingness to learn
  • Ability to work on own and as part of a team
  • Driving licence and access to a car for work

Our values are:

  • Focussed on results
  • Trusted experts
  • Straightforward and reliable
  • Great energy and team spirit which extends to our clients

If you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.

Work experience
Candidates will at have least three years’ work experience in a digital and social media communications role.  Experience of working in an agency and delivering successful results on behalf of clients is desired but not essential. 

Why join us?

Perceptive Communicators is a multi-award winning communications consultancy, established in 2006 and on a very strong growth path which benefits all employees. We work on exciting projects in construction, health, biotechnology and technology which help our clients achieve their goals.

We offer flexible working hours and up to two days a week working from home. Our team enjoy excellent holidays and benefits, including private healthcare, discounted flights and hotels, free Amazon Prime, Starbucks coffees and cinema tickets.

In addition to 33 days’ holiday, we give all of our employees an extra day’s holiday to have their birthday off.  We also encourage our employees to give back through the company donating a day of their time to our jointly agreed charities.  This year we have supported Action for Children and the Simon Community. 

Our core values are focus on results, straightforward, trustworthy, care and being reliable with a great energy and team spirit for colleagues and clients. If you fancy being a key lynchpin and working with this fast-paced team, please get in touch.

Please apply by sharing your CV, current salary, salary expectations and notice period. 

To apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send a CV and covering letter to info@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk detailing why you would be good for this role, with details of your current salary and salary expectations.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 March 2019

Another week goes by and we are still none the wiser on the UK’s Brexit position. EU officials have urged the UK to submit fresh proposals within the next 48 hours to try and break the Brexit impasse. EU officials said they would work non-stop over the weekend if “acceptable” ideas were received today to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop.

The UK has said “reasonable” proposals to satisfy MPs’ concerns about being tied to EU rules had already been made… So, who knows, by Monday we might be closer to getting an outcome… or, and much more likely, we could be even further away from understanding how the UK will leave the European Union.

On Tuesday this week, Scottish and Welsh politicians joined forces in a bid to encourage the Prime Minister to change her position on Brexit. An identical motion was debated simultaneously by the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd, the Welsh Assembly, culminating with co-ordinated votes. Sponsors said that it underlined opposition to Theresa May’s deal, demand a delay to Brexit and call for “no deal” to be ruled out. The UK government maintain that the PM’s deal was a good one for Scotland and Wales. 

Away from Brexit and the person in charge of promoting the UK’s financial industry around the world has said there is great potential for Scottish firms to expand abroad. Peter Estlin, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said he wanted Scots firms looking to expand and to join him on foreign trips to places like China to promote and push their business.

And closer to home, Project Heather – Scotland’s new stock market company – was formally launched in Edinburgh.  Perceptive attended and we maintain closeworking links with the venture’s research partners, former MPs Roger Mullin and Michelle Thomson. Bourse Scot, the company behind it, has revealed a partnership with European stock market operator Euronext. It is led by experienced broker and entrepreneur Tomás Carruthers and is in discussion with Scottish Enterprise to secure Regional Selective Assistance, with a view to creating around 60 jobs.

There was some bad news for Scottish Business this week as the best hope for bringing major contracts to Scotland for the building of multi-billion-pound offshore wind farms failed to win a vital order, according to unions. BiFab is believed to have lost out on an order for offshore platforms to yards in Belgium, Spain and the UAE. Unite and the GMB say the failure to place any of the order in Scotland is a “scandal”.

The first ever affordable housing development in the village of Killearn by Rural Stirling Housing Association was formally opened by Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford this week.  Built by long standing Perceptive client Mactaggart & Mickel, the properties benefit from a modern, efficient and sustainable air source heat pump heating system. In addition, the exacavated rock has been reused to build a dry stone dyke around the site boundary. 

Jamie McLean, head of contracts and timber systems at Mactaggart & Mickel said: “This is the first new development in Killearn delivering much-needed quality affordable housing and is our first partnership with Rural Stirling Housing Association.”

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 March 2019

As 29 March draws closer, another week of bewildering Brexit discussions has ended with Theresa May promising MPs a meaningful vote on her deal by 12 March. Meanwhile Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard MSP is insisting that the option of remaining in the EU must be on the ballot paper for any further Brexit referendum. And adding to the uncertainty, a report on the impact of a no-deal Brexit has just been published – the findings of which should come with a health warning!

As the words of Noel Edmonds – “deal or no-deal” – come to mind, Scotland’s home grown billionaire Sir Tom Hunter accuses politicians of letting down the country, saying voters were lied to by the ‘Leave’ campaign during the 2016 referendum, and he too joins calls for a second referendum to be held.

In other non-Brexit news this week, MSPs will debate legislation which allows for questions about gender identity to be included in the 2021 census, although in usual Government fashion, there has been much disagreement over what people should be asked. You can read the full report from the Culture committee here.  And in another potentially significant move, MSPs also agreed the general principles of the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, which, if passed, will shift Scotland to a soft ‘opt-out’ for organ donation.

In client news, Fulton MacGregor, MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, visited Kier Construction Scotland’s refurbished HQ in Stepps, to hear about the work they are carrying out across Scotland and NE England. Mr MacGregor said: “It was good to hear about the diverse range of projects that Kier is carrying out and their commitment to providing local jobs for local people to help boost the local economy.”

As deputy convener of the Children & Young People’s Cross Party Group in Holyrood, Mr MacGregor said he was equally keen to hear about the initiatives Kier have in place to inform young people about the construction industry, adding: “I was impressed by their ‘Shaping Your World’ initiative where they have pledged 1% of their workforce to engage with schools and colleges to highlight the vast career opportunities that exist within this dynamic industry.”

Yesterday it was announced that client Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) will receive almost £11 million of core funding to support the sector to innovate, modernise and grow. The investment from the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will allow CSIC to build on the foundations of a highly successful first five years and support its Phase 2 mission to mainstream innovation in construction, leading to improved productivity and growth within the sector.  It is expected that over the next five years, the funding will support the construction sector to deliver £998m of additional gross turnover, create 1,847 new jobs and retain 4,721 existing jobs.

And finally it is less than three weeks until Scotland Build an event dedicated  to opportunities in building, construction, architecture and design across Scotland. As the communications partner for the event, Perceptive running a range of free training sessions, including How construction companies can use political influence to achieve their goals, Protecting reputations and handling crises well in the risky business of construction and Top tips on how to use LinkedIn to build profile in construction.  You can find the full list of sessions and times here, but feel free to attend one of the free training events led by the Perceptive team.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 February 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 February 2019

This time last week, they didn’t exist, now you can’t escape the newest (non) party in UK Politics.

The new The Independent Group (“The” is part of their name, lest we confuse with any others) currently made up of three pro-remain Conservative MPs and eight Labour MPs who have all resigned from their respected parties over the handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism within Labour – saying it represented “the centre ground of British politics”. So far, no Scottish MPs have joined them but we hear whispers about one or two MSPs who are unhappy with Comrade Corbyn…

Closer to home and SNP MSPs with Green support have voted to pass the final stage of the Scottish Government’s budget for the coming financial year – securing additional funds for the NHS while offering what the SNP term ‘economic stability in the face of Tory Brexit chaos.’ The budget has committed £729 million extra for health and care services, with spending on NHS frontline boards rising by £430 million.
 
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP also announced an £8 billion investment in Scotland’s education system and, as part of the Scottish Government’s plan to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1,140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, the budget also commits £500 million to support the expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland.

Still at Holyrood and SNP MSP Linda Fabiani has been chosen to chair the Holyrood committee inquiry into the government’s handling of complaints against Alex Salmond. Several inquiries were set up after the government admitted its investigation of internal complaints had been flawed. A special committee of nine MSPs set up to examine the government probe met for the first time on Wednesday. However, they will not begin their full inquiry until the criminal case brought against Mr Salmond has been concluded.

The Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee continues its inquiry into the construction industry but, meantime, has published its report on business support for SMEs and the Business Gateway programme. Members argued the programme suffered from a “lack of accountability” on delivering objectives and “limited transparency” on budgeting. The Committee felt Business Gateway should be set externally monitored targets. Members also said Business Gateway sites needed to improve their engagement with stakeholders. Convener, Tory MSP and advocate Gordon Lindhurst, said: “There is a lack of alignment, transparency and accountability in Business Gateway, and we found it unacceptable that local authorities do not consistently record and publish targets or financial information.”

On Monday, our client, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, welcomed several MSP members of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee to their state of the art innovation factory in Hamilton. Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie tried a virtual reality headset and wondered if a VR Holyrood was coming anytime soon!

And on Wednesday, our client, Henry Boot Developments (HBD), hosted a media tour at the multi-million-pound TECA in Aberdeen. The venue is being delivered by Aberdeen City Council, HBD and Robertson and will open this summer, providing a new world-class facility close to Aberdeen International Airport and the new city bypass.  We were fortunate enough to join the tour and have a sneak peek inside the 12,500-capacity main arena, which will host conferences, exhibitions and music concerts, and is expected to attract major artists and events to the city, resulting in a hugely positive economic impact. 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 February 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 February 2019

Despite Holyrood being on recess for a week, it has been another fascinating seven days in Scottish and UK politics as we move ever closer to the 29March. In one of the more bizarre Brexit sub plots, ITV News reported this week that one of its correspondents overheard the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, saying in a Brussels bar that the EU was likely to allow an extension to the Brexit process.

On the back of this, the Prime Minister played down reports that she could force MPs to choose between backing her deal or accepting a delay to EU withdrawal. Providing a soundbite that perhaps sums up Brexit perfectly, Mrs May told the Commons that people should not rely on “what someone said to someone else, as overheard by someone else, in a bar”.

The Scottish Government has stepped up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit as it again called on Theresa May to rule out the possibility. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she still believes no deal can be avoided. However, she said her government had a duty to plan for the possibility as best it could. Speaking after a meeting of the Scottish cabinet in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that Mrs May was attempting to “run down the clock” to try and “blackmail” MPs into backing her deal “at the very, very last minute”. The Scottish Government statement can be read here: Brexit

The Scottish Government’s Chief Economic Adviser has published a report on the state of the economy. The update focuses on the risks of a no deal Brexit, as well as Scotland’s strengths in terms of international trade. The report suggests that a no deal Brexit would lead to a “major dislocation” in the Scottish economy and “significant structural change” in the longer term.

It was announced this week that a Holyrood committee is to examine hospital safety following the deaths of two patients from an infection linked to pigeon droppings. The health committee inquiry comes in the wake of the deaths at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. The patients died after contracting a fungal infection linked to the droppings.

The new TV channel, BBC Scotland, has revealed the first full line-up of the on-air team behind its flagship news programme. “The Nine” has a 15-strong core team of journalists, including four dedicated to Holyrood and Westminster, who will bring the national and international news to Scotland in the nightly hour-long broadcast. Broadcasting starts in April. Heading the team are presenters Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler and Chief News Correspondent James Cook joins the Nine from his post as BBC News North America Correspondent.

Another sensitive policy area for the coming spring session at Holyrood will be the SNP’s so called parking tax whereby businesses will pay a levy for ‘free’ workplace parking places. Environmental campaigners have written to Scotland’s five political party leaders expressing support for the levy. The letter sets out the key reasons the plans are backed by environmental and transport groups and aims to dispel myths around the Levy. The Conservatives have continued to oppose the measure. They claimed that teaching unions would demand car park tax refunds for their members. 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 February 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 February 2019

Nicola Sturgeon had her say on Brexit this week, saying that contingency plans for Britain’s departure from the EU with no deal were “genuinely astonishing”. The First Minister was addressing an audience at Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security in the US as part of a trade mission. Ms Sturgeon said the UK government was trying to renegotiate the EU Withdrawal agreement “with the clock ticking” despite the EU saying it would not accept such a renegotiation.

Unsurprisingly she called for a second referendum on EU membership and stated her case for a further vote on Scottish independence.

Theresa May was back on the Brussels express on Thursday to press (sic) unimpressed EU leaders for legally binding changes to the Brexit deal. The PM insisted the UK will not be “trapped” in the backstop – saying the plan must change if it is to win the support of MPs who urged her to seek “alternative arrangements” when rejecting the deal last month.

Quite worryingly, as Scotland’s Brexit Secretary Michael Russell confirmed on Wednesday, there are only 19 sitting days of the Scottish Parliament left before the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. The Brexit Secretary pointed out that leaving the EU will hit agriculture, health and social care sectors in Scotland, and that the Scottish Government will not replicate the UK’s myriad of notices by saying “we will do all we can to make sure the public get clear information”.

All this information is available at www.mygov.scot/eu-exit (should make interesting reading!)

During a debate at Holyrood on Wednesday, Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey MSP announced that the Scottish Government has set a target of reducing the country’s suicide rate by 20% by 2022. Suicide prevention charity Samaritans had claimed the Scottish Government was not taking the issue seriously enough. Ms Haughey insisted Scotland has “made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide”, but said there was “far more to do” to tackle the issue.

Also at Holyrood this week, MSPs agreed the remit for an inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond. Several inquiries were set up after the government admitted its investigation of internal complaints had been flawed. A special nine-member committee will consider the actions of officials as well as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

And finally…. Client Shawfair LLP was delighted to arrange a site tour of what will become a new town of 4000 houses just a few minutes south of Edinburgh for local MSP Colin Beattie.  Mr Beattie arrived in jeans and climbing boots. This turned out to be a wiser call than his minder, Perceptive’s political guru Devin Scobie, whose rather smarter business attire wasn’t quite up to a hike in a bracing wind to ‘take in the scale of the site’!

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider & Scottish Budget special – Friday 1 February 2019

Scottish Political Insider & Scottish Budget special – Friday 1 February 2019

As we enter a new month, the Brexit narrative continues to stall. In Westminster on Tuesday, a majority voted in favour of a non-binding amendment that rejected a no-deal Brexit. They also voted in favour of an amendment that called for the backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” in Ireland, but otherwise supported Theresa May’s deal.

However, this good news for the PM was swiftly followed by bad news from Brussels as senior EU politicians said they will not reopen the legal text of the withdrawal agreement that they negotiated with the UK. The saga continues with the outcome still unpredictable.

Scotland’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell also stated this week that 36 “critical” legislative measures will be pushed through the Scottish Parliament ahead of 29 March in a bid to protect the economy from a no-deal Brexit. The Scottish Parliament may need to schedule late sittings to deal with the extra work and Committee and Chamber business may also take place concurrently. 

The Scottish Budget was debated in Holyrood on Thursday. An overview of this is shared below.

Glasgow Airport bosses have called for urgent action to improve transport links with the city centre. Managing director Mark Johnston, is due to meet Scotland’s transport secretary and local council leaders to discuss this.  Mr Johnston told the BBC Scotland: “We’re the only airport in Europe that has road as its only means of access. The recent studies have shown that the congestion is only increasing on the M8. We have the funding available through the City Deal, so I think there’s a genuine acceptance that something needs to happen.”

It might be that you’ve not heard of industrial biotechnology (IB) before but the chances are it has benefitted your life. Whether it is turning food waste into green energy or improving the way we manufacture food, drink, vaccines and antibiotics, IB offers advantages for us all.

In client news, Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) held its annual conference in Glasgow this week and on Thursday welcomed Trade and Innovation Minister Ivan McKee MSP to deliver a plenary session. The Minister highlighted the role of IBioIC to help stimulate the growth and success of IB technology in Scotland to £900 million by 2025. He also encouraged everyone working in the sector to ‘maintain a dialogue’ with all Scottish government departments.

And finally… The Scottish Parliament’s Business Bureau has unanimously agreed to establish a committee to consider the Scottish Government’s procedures and handling of the Alex Salmond case. It will be a nine-member committee with – controversially – an SNP Convener and a Scottish Conservative Deputy Convener. 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Budget January 2019

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has announced a deal to ensure support for the Budget at all parliamentary stages has been reached with the Greens. The deal was reached after the Cabinet Secretary agreed to a series of reforms to local government spending and finance, including an agreement to consult and implement legislation to allow local authorities to introduce a transient visitor levy; devolving Non-Domestic Rates empty property relief to local authorities in time for the next revaluation; and plans to bring forward a three year funding settlement for local government from the 2020-21 Budget onwards. 

It was also announced that the Government will convene cross-party talks on a replacement for council tax with a view to publishing legislation by the end of the current parliament. A letter confirming the Green’s support has also been published.

New measures for local authorities

In his speech to the Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary gave a commitment to increasing the power and funding of local authorities. He said the new measures would be “the most significant empowerment of local authorities since devolution”.

·       Council Funding: The Cabinet Secretary announced £90m of increased funding for local government. This would be delivered through flexibilities in the Budget and additional funding from “unexpected” Barnett consequentials due to UK NHS spending. However, he said this would not reduce NHS funding and the health budget would be £4m higher. Councils would also be given more flexibility on setting council tax rates, which could rise by up to 4.79%. Additionally, he said the costs of the teacher pay offer would be transferred to ease local government finances.

·       Local Tax Reform: Derek Mackay said “the present council tax system must end”. He committed to cross-party talks on abolishing the council tax. However, he indicated this would be for the next Parliament to implement

·       Tourist Tax: Members were told there would be a consultation and legislation which would allow local authorities to implement a tourist tax.

·       Workplace Parking & Empty Properties: The Cabinet Secretary said councils would be given powers to apply a workplace car parking levy, following Green amendments to the Transport (Scotland) Bill. The NHS estate would be exempt from these measures.

·       Empty Properties: The Scottish Government will commit to devolving the Non-Domestic Rates Empty Property Relief to local authorities in time for the next revaluation.

·       Financial Flexibility: The Cabinet Secretary said the Scottish Government would work with COSLA to move towards three-year budgeting.

·       Environmental Measures: Derek Mackay said there would be a move towards a 10p minimum levy for single use carrier bags. He also said there would be a consultation on tackling the use of disposable drinks cups. Members were told that Scottish Ministers would consider whether revenue from these sources should be transferred to local authorities.

·       Other Announcements: The Cabinet Secretary also reiterated the Scottish Government’s previous commitments on the Budget, including in relation to income tax rates, education funding, social security, business rates, affordable housing, childcare, the Scottish National Investment Bank, support for town centres, police and fire service funding, and mental health support.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 25 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 25 January 2019

This week the Court of Session overturned a decision by Scottish Ministers to refuse planning permission for development of 600 homes which would be delivered with a £20 million dairy, a new primary school and public park at Aithrey Kerse in Bridge of Allan. Graham’s The Family Dairy in partnership with client, Mactaggart & Mickel Homes lodged the appeal last year further to refusal by Stirling councillors, a decision which was upheld by the Scottish Government. A key element of the appeal was that Scottish Ministers had failed to give proper consideration to the fact that the Local Development Plan process which has resulted in a Plan which continues the housing shortfall in Stirling.

Brexit continues to dominate UK politics and in Scotland, the talk of Brexit is now being followed quickly by discussions around a second independence referendum. Still the policy closest to her political heart, SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is looking to make this happen as quickly as she can. This week she pledged to set out her plans for a second independence referendum “in the coming weeks” even if the Brexit deadline is extended.

The SNP leader had previously said she would have to wait for the “fog” around Brexit clears before she sets out a timetable. However, on Wednesday, she told MSPs that she would speak soon on the matter, even if talks over Brexit are extended beyond the 29 March exit date.

Predictably, the Tories said “now is not the time” for another independence referendum.

Another Committee debate which caught the eye this week was around supporting entrepreneurship in Scotland. Public Finance and Digital Economy Minister – and SNP rising star – Kate Forbes MSP says the Scottish Government has “ambitions to become a world leader in entrepreneurship and that in Scotland, prioritisation has been to tackle the gender gap and to encourage young people in the sector, and this has led to demonstrable benefits.” The minister praised the work of Entrepreneurial Scotland as being at the heart of what the government wants to achieve.

The minister finished by saying there are headwinds approaching the Scottish economy which will pose difficulties, citing the CBI Scotland analysis which warned a no-deal Brexit could cost Scotland £14bn a year. The analysis can be read in more detail here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-46959076  But not everyone agreed, Veteran Highlands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says there is little to agree with in the Scottish government motion and that “statements of intent alone do not build the environment to thrive.”

In some (rare) good news for the country, unemployment in Scotland has fallen below the 100,000 mark for the first time. Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people seeking work fell to 99,000 between September and November last year. This makes the jobless rate 3.6%, a record low, with more than three quarters of working age Scots now in a job. The UK unemployment rate is 4.0%, its lowest point since 1975.

But less good news for Alex Salmond, who has been charged with attempted rape and sexual assault. He appeared before an Edinburgh sheriff to face 14 charges, including two of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace. The former First Minister made no plea during the hearing and was released on bail, but outside court, Mr Salmond said he was “innocent of any criminality” and added: “I have great faith in the court system in Scotland.”

And finally…  SNP Education committee, Clare Adamson, praised the young people who gave evidence this week after the committee considered a petition calling for all instrument tuition to be made free to schoolchildren. The convener says there will be debate in the chamber soon and asked the committee whether the petition should be closed. Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott suggests it would be polite to keep the petition open whilst the subject is clearly still live and the committee agreed.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 18 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 18 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 18 January 2019

Brexit has been dominating the political agenda this week – and how could it not? In Scotland, it’s not surprising to know how our 59 MPs voted as the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was emphatically rejected by 432 votes to 202. Only 10 Scottish MPs voted for the deal, and all of these for votes were from Scottish Conservative MPs. Every other Scottish MP voted against.

On Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon travelled to London for Brexit talks as Theresa May survived a confidence vote. Scotland’s First Minister wants a new referendum on Brexit so the UK can stay in the EU. But unsurprisingly she also said it was “increasingly clear” that “Scotland’s interests will only be protected with independence”.

In other Scottish political news this week, the Finance and Constitution Committee recommended that the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Amendment Order 2018 be approved. This will impact homebuyers who are purchasing a second home such as buy to let or holiday homes. From the 25 January 2019, these purchases will be subject to additional dwelling supplement tax at the increased rate of 4%, rather than the rate of 3% now.

On Wednesday, the Finance and Constitution Committee took evidence from Finance Secretary Derek Mackay on his budget. Mr Mackay insisted that the Scottish Government has reinstated the “short changing” of £55m to the health budget. There will be a package of funding transferred to local government to help implement Frank’s Law and the cabinet secretary also noted during the Committee that the local government’s request for more cash for social care will be met.

Businesses will be able to access more than £100 million to help them expand and unlock investment through the next phase of the Scottish Growth Scheme, after an announcement by the Scottish Government was made earlier in the week.  SMEs across Scotland will have the chance to apply for financial support, which includes microfinance loans of up to £25,000, debt or loan finance of up to £100,000, and equity investment in deals of up to £2 million. As part of this phase of the initiative, Scottish Enterprise has also introduced a loans scheme in the range from £250,000 to £2 million, or up to £5 million in exceptional circumstances, for growth-focused SMEs with a viable business plan and a clear ability to repay the debt.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Internal communications shouldn’t be the ‘poor relation’ to marketing and PR

Internal communications shouldn’t be the ‘poor relation’ to marketing and PR

There’s a very good reason why young children ask the question ‘why?’ all the time. Wanting to know the purpose behind the things you’re being asked to do is a basic human instinct. At work, we want to know what our goals are and our company’s plans for getting us there.

At this time of year, motivating your employees is particularly important. A recent study by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance showed that workers feel least motivated during the winter months. A quarter of respondents singled out January as the month when they’re least enthusiastic about getting the job done.

Good internal communications can act as a vital employee motivator by answering the ‘why’ questions – and that’s just one of the many reasons it is so important. The days of lifelong loyalty to one employer are gone, with employees becoming increasingly choosy. They don’t want to be dictated to – they expect their views to be listened to and acted upon.

There are many benefits for the employer, like improved morale, higher productivity and greater staff retention, if staff feel engaged. Good internal communications also help ensure that employees share positive experiences of their workplace with others.

After many years of being considered the poor relation to the likes of media relations and marketing, it seems that most companies now recognise how critical it is to communicate well with their employees. A recent Censuswide survey found that 80 per cent of C-level executives believe internal communications has become more important over the past year. Almost all respondents (99 per cent) said employee engagement was important to their business.

Interestingly, the same research found that significantly more respondents prepare for an internal team meeting (87 percent) than for a live media interview (54 per cent), showing that they believe the toughest audience can be their own team.

Of course, it is easy to talk a good internal communications game, but more difficult to put a strategy into practice, especially in large, geographically-dispersed organisations. Simply sending a weekly newsletter or email to the entire workforce about major company announcements no longer cuts the mustard. Because people want to feel listened to and cared for, successful internal communication should instead be an ongoing, two-way conversation, whether that be in person or virtually. It’s not just younger employees, who have grown up with social media, that expect fast feedback. Workers of all ages now want a higher degree of transparency from their employers.

For larger companies or organisations, internal communications require a coherent strategy and dedicated resource. The irony is that frontline employees – the ones interacting with your customers, who should be the ambassadors for your business – are often the ones who have the least access to information about the company. They’re the ones who are most likely to be disgruntled if they feel they’re not being communicated with, and to pass that negativity on.

At the other end of the scale, SMEs shouldn’t assume that because their team is small, and perhaps even all sitting in the same room, that a chat across the office is all that they need. They still need to ensure their employees are given the chance to be formally heard.

So how do employees want to be communicated with? Recent figures from the European Association for Internal Communication suggest that there’s still a big role for the company intranet – 74% of respondents view it as very important. Almost as many (73%) value a face to face chat, with digital media given the thumbs up by 60% of respondents, and traditional print endorsed by 43%.

Internal communications are particularly important when your organisation hits a crisis. As a rule, your employees should never find out news about their company from an external source. In an age when almost everyone has a social media account, this is more difficult than it used to be, so speed is of the essence. Organisations need to consider reliable methods of reaching all employees quickly.

So, when thinking about your overall communications and marketing strategy, don’t treat internal communications as an afterthought. If you feed their inner small child by regularly listening to them and letting them know ‘why’, your employees have the potential to be your most passionate brand ambassadors.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 11 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 11 January 2019

The Scottish Parliament resumed business this week (Tuesday 8 January) and on the same day former First Minister Alex Salmond was again making the headlines. At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the Scottish Government admitted acting unlawfully while investigating the harassment claims being made against him, the Government conceded that it breached its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” in the case. The full extent of Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘prior knowledge’ is yet to come out in the wash …

The first Chamber debate of 2019 focussed on ultra-low emission vehicles. The Scottish Government as expected highlighted what it sees as successes in the sector and its efforts to increase the size of the charge point network. Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said 6% of new cars sold in Scotland in 2018 were ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). But Labour’s Colin Smyth said the take-up of such cars was “below where it has to be if we are to meet our ambition on this issue”. Also, Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur claimed Scotland “falls well short” of what had been achieved in other countries.

Life Sciences was also a big talking point at Holyrood this week. Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister Ivan McKee, one of the new Ministers appointed last summer who has surprised many by his enthusiastic start, says several hundred life science companies employ almost 40,000 people in Scotland and the minister adds that the sector has the capacity to benefit millions of people and save lives.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie agreed that the life sciences sector has been a major success story for Scotland but he is deeply worried about Brexit. He said the sector needs access to the best staff across Europe and the world, and requires the transfer of materials. He highlighted 70% of research assistants at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research are from the EU, with its staff representing 30 different nationalities.

Visitors to the capital will soon need to pay more for the privilege after a City of Edinburgh Council consultation on the introduction of a Transient Visitor Levy showed significant support for the proposals from both residents and businesses. The summary document sets out the responses of more than 2,560 individuals who took part in a survey or attended a discussion forum. Overall, 90% of residents are supportive of a tourist tax, while 51% of Edinburgh accommodation providers, who would have to enforce the proposal, also support it.

As mentioned in last week’s SPI, the team at Perceptive will be keeping a close eye on Holyrood’s Economy, Energy, and Fair Work Committee as it starts to hold a major inquiry on the construction sector in Scotland. 

The Convener of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee Gordon Lindhurst MSP had this to say on the inquiry: “The sector has its challenges and we want to hear views and suggestions on how these can be overcome. We also want to find out how we can encourage young people to work in the industry, and we’ll be holding consultation work with businesses and colleges over the coming months.”

And finally… the twitter handle @holyroodmouse was created this week after a bold mouse was seen climbing the skirting boards whilst the education committee was in full flow, the fury creature went unnoticed until It was flagged up by the Lib Dems who posted a video on Twitter for all to enjoy:https://twitter.com/scotlibdems/status/1082950838593699840

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 4 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 4 January 2019

Happy New Year!  Scottish Parliament business resumes again on Tuesday (8 January) but the Parliament itself will be the focus of attention at various times in the coming year as it marks its 20th anniversary.

There was a bit of a Christmas truce amongst politicians over the holiday period although the ghost of Brexit yet to come wasn’t far away. In time-honoured fashion, Scotland’s party leaders issued new year messages, as Brexit looks set to dominate politics at least for the early part 2019. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon sought to assure European Union migrants that they would always be welcome in Scotland whilst Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservatives interim leader, said there was “cause of optimism” as the UK begins its departure from the EU.

Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard called for renewed “ambition and hope” in politics, and Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green’s co-convenor, said his party was ready to offer a “positive vision of a sustainable future and a fairer, more equal society.” And the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, said he wanted to push for unity in 2019, rather than “bitter division”.

Politics will pick up the pace significantly after this weekend and the team at Perceptive will be keeping a close eye on Holyrood’s Economy, Energy, and Fair Work Committee as it gears up to hold a major inquiry on the construction sector in Scotland. The remit of the inquiry is: To understand the characteristics and challenges of Scotland’s construction sector to ensure the sector realises its full potential in contributing to a productive and inclusive Scottish economy. Specific areas of focus will include: economic impact; access to finance; skills; procurement; infrastructure investment; and innovation.

The committee recognises that construction is a wide-ranging sector, where industry outputs vary from minor improvements to major capital projects across the realms of infrastructure, commercial, and residential. With many construction clients, is also an important sector to Perceptive; we would agree construction is an important driver of the wider economy, due to the impact that construction investment has on other sectors via housing provision, developing transport infrastructure, delivering infrastructure for health services, educational, and community activities across Scotland.

And finally … Just before Christmas, we said goodbye to a true giant of late 20th century British politics as Paddy Ashdown died suddenly after a short battle with cancer.  The former Lib Dem leader inspired a generation of young campaigners and had remained an active commentator on matters Brexit until shortly before his death.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

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