THE Scottish Government have responded to attacks over the loss of 65 jobs at a Greenock plastics firm by admitting the company made an 'important' contribution during the pandemic.

The Telegraph revealed yesterday that the Berry BPI was hit with a double blow when it first lost out to NHS Scotland contracts going back overseas and then the proposed bottle deposit return scheme fell through.

Local politicians have hit out at the failures to support a company which stepped up to supply PPE to protect the country from the killer coronavirus.

MSP Stuart McMillan has written to the health secretary to demand answers from the NHS Scotland as well as other ministers involved.

But in response Scottish Government said that demand for PPE had now fallen.

A spokesperson said: “We built a PPE manufacturing sector in Scotland using emergency procurement powers and our manufacturing partners’ willingness to repurpose their capacity.

"Berry Global is one of those partners and we appreciate their important contribution to Scotland’s pandemic PPE response.

"Demand for PPE has, however, slowed considerably between peak demand and current demand, meaning that procurement requirements have reduced."

With regard to the bottle deposit scheme the government was adamant that it remains committed to the scheme, which ran into serious trouble when businesses said they were not ready to introduce it.

This has left other firms like Berry BPI, who had secured a contract to support the scheme, in difficulty.

The government spokesperson added: "The UK Government’s eleventh hour intervention left the Scottish Government with no choice but to postpone the launch of Scotland’s deposit return scheme and the overwhelming feedback from businesses was they could not prepare for a March 2024 launch.

"The Scottish Government remains committed to the delivery of a successful deposit return scheme and the investment made to date can be used in the future."

When asked what support the government would now be providing Berry BPI, the spokesperson added: "Reports of potential job losses and their impact on workers and their families are of deep concern.

“In the unfortunate event that any individuals should be facing redundancy, the Scottish Government will provide support through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment, PACE.

“Through providing skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work.”