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To ask the Scottish Government when the revised Scottish Wide Area Network project will be completed and delivered in full.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 02/02/2017

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to increase the role of local authorities and communities directly in public service decision-making.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 26/10/2016

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on introducing the recycling of crutches, walking sticks and other support aids to help save the NHS money.

Answered by Shona Robison (27/10/2016):

The Scottish Government issued Guidance on the Provision of Equipment and Adaptations in 2008, which emphasises the importance of recycling community equipment. We have also published a report highlighting the benefits and potential savings to be made through effective recycling.

Decisions around which specific items of equipment are recycled remains a matter for individual health boards and local authorities to determine.

Current Status: Answered by Shona Robison on 27/10/2016

To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to reduce waiting times for initial hospital appointments following GP referrals in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 05/10/2016

To ask the Scottish Government whether addressing the drop-out rate at universities is part of its Programme for Government.

Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville (07/10/2016):

The programme for government set out a number of measures which aim to support retention.

Since 2006-07 the percentage of UK domiciled full-time first degree entrants not continuing after their first year at a Scottish university has fallen from 10.6% to 8.0%. Although the improvement is welcome, the Scottish Government continues to work with universities and the Scottish Funding Council to secure further progress. This includes a commitment in the Programme for Government to conduct a review of Further Education and Higher Education student support, to ensure that the system is equitable and supports all students throughout their learner journey.

In addition, the Programme for Government highlights the Scottish Government will review the learner journey for 16-24 year olds to ensure that young people are supported to make well-informed choices, have equal opportunities to access the right options for them, and can move more easily through the education system, towards employment. The review will explore options for improving the learner’s experience, and this will include consideration of retention rates.

It also announced that the Scottish Government will conclude a review on what additional support nursing and midwifery students might need to enable wider participation and increased retention.

Current Status: Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville on 07/10/2016

To ask the Scottish Government when its new water rescue policy will be implemented.

Answered by Annabelle Ewing (05/10/2016):

The development and implementation of responding organisations’ policies and procedures for water rescue lie with the organisations themselves. Different aspects of water rescue in Scotland may involve the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland, the Maritime Coastguard Agency, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, as well as a number of other local voluntary organisations.

Current Status: Answered by Annabelle Ewing on 05/10/2016

To ask the Scottish Government what action it took over summer 2016 to help reduce the drop-out rate of students (a) at the University of the West of Scotland and (b) in other institutions.

Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville (07/10/2016):

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, published in September 2016, set out measures aimed at improving retention rates across the sector. The Scottish Government has continued to work with universities and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to embed and improve progress made in recent years. This includes the SFC developing refreshed guidance for university Outcome Agreements, which include measures to improve retention.

For academic year 2016-17, the SFC has also strengthened and refocused Regional Coherence funding, renaming it the Widening Access and Retention Fund (WARF). This £15 million fund, is allocated to eight higher education institutions, who are expected to continue to demonstrate and maintain a significant commitment to the support, retention and successful outcomes of students from the most disadvantaged and deprived backgrounds. The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) was allocated £3.6 million from the WARF for 2016-17. UWS has implemented a range of initiatives to improve retention rates with help from this funding. Retention rates at UWS have improved in recent years, increasing from 70.6% in 2010-11 to 84.5% in 2014-15.

In addition, in August 2016, the SFC published its Gender Action Plan, which has as one of its strategic aims to “enhance the retention and completion at a subject level where there is a gap by gender”.

Current Status: Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville on 07/10/2016

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to encourage the recycling of household waste.

Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (14/09/2016):

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 require separate collection of dry recyclable materials and food waste. As well as introducing these regulations, we are taking a range of actions to support and encourage recycling.

For example, between 2011 and 2015, funding of around £25million was made available to councils to support start-up costs of introducing food waste collections. Three quarters of all households in Scotland now have access to a food waste collection service, up from 300,000 in 2010.

In December 2015 we launched the Household Recycling Charter, to achieve more consistent local collections, improving quantity and quality of recycling. We believe this will make it easier for people to recycle the right things, and we've put in place support to help Councils with that work.

In February 2016 published ‘Making Things Last’, our circular economy strategy for Scotland. It sets out our ambitions and priorities to keep products and materials in high value use for as long as possible. This includes measures promoting remanufacture, repair and recycling.

Current Status: Answered by Roseanna Cunningham on 14/09/2016