Elected Members Briefing - 13th April

An archive of all our Bulletins can be found here.

Key Messages

Restrictions on travelling around Scotland are to be lifted from 16 April and people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings.

The Scottish Government has launched the Spring phase of their Clear Your Head Mental Health Campaign.

This phase of the campaign targets 18-44 year olds, who have been shown to be more likely to worry than those aged 45+. This younger population will be supported to look after their mental health as we emerge from lockdown in the next two months.

Key messaging will be around self-care (keeping active, sticking to a routine, doing things you enjoy), managing intense moods, and the importance of keeping in touch with family and friends to combat loneliness. The campaign will also include tips to help individuals with their mental health during the Spring period.

Local Area Suicide Prevention Action Plan Guidance
This week saw the publication of guidance which aims to support local areas in the development of their suicide prevention action plans.  This guidance forms the first step in implementation of Action 1 of Every Life Matters – Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan which aims to support the development and delivery of suicide prevention action plans across all local areas in Scotland.

The guidance was informed by the most up to date knowledge, research and evidence and was developed in collaboration with local suicide prevention leads from across Scotland, COSLA, the Academic Advisory Group, Public Health Scotland, members of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and the Lived Experience Panel.

Work will now begin with a number of local areas to test the effectiveness of the guidance in order to inform future iterations.  Any questions or comments about the documents can be directed to Haylis Smith Suicide Prevention Lead Officer on haylis@cosla.gov.uk

The documents are all available on the COSLA website or can be accessed individually using the following links:
Document 1 – Introduction
Document 2 – Governance and Collaboration
Document 3 – Data, Evidence & Intelligence
Document 4 – Monitoring & Evaluation

COSLA Funding Tracker
Local Authorities have had to manage a huge number of ring-fenced funding “pots” over the past year. COSLA has worked with Directors of Finance to develop a funding tracker which is now shared on a regular basis to assist with monitoring and reporting. The latest version of the COSLA Funding Tracker was shared with Finance Teams on 9 April and should act as a useful tool to assist with end of year reporting, as well as tracking funding for the new financial year.

Podcast: Economic policy response to the crisis: tools, issues and the future
The Fraser of Allander Institute has published their latest podcast which explores the economic policy response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Institute’s Director Mairi Spowage is joined by a panel to discuss the main policy tools used in response to the pandemic and to investigate the future of economic policy based on the current response. The panel discusses policies such as the Job Retention Scheme and the implications once this end, which will have direct and indirect implications for Local Government.

Return to School
As almost all pupils return to school (https://www.gov.scot/news/return-to-full-time-school/) full time following the Easter holidays, a joint statement has been released by COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor and  Children & Young People Spokesperson, Councillor Stephen McCabe:

Return to School quote

“As schools and nurseries return to being open for all children and young people, we know education staff as well as parents and carers will be anxious.

“With our Trade Union colleagues we want to assure everyone that we are doing all that we can to continue to make the return as safe as it can be.  By working closely together we can all ensure that we minimise the risk to ourselves and to others.  

Whether a teacher, a janitor, a cleaner, a caterer, a support assistant, an early years practitioner, an administration worker or one of the other vital roles that make sure education is delivered daily, the key to safe work places is leading by example.  We must remind ourselves and each other what can keep us safe by follow FACTS and by reaching out for support where you are uncertain.

“We thank everyone for playing their part and doing all that you can to keep each other safe whilst delivering everyday essential services.”

A short "A Safer Return" social media campaign will be run this week on our Twitter and Facebook pages – if you don’t already do so please give them a follow.

Civility in Public Life: Social Media Infographics for Councillors
Across the UK, there are growing concerns about the impact that an increase in misinformation and online abuse is having on democratic processes.  In response, COSLA is working with the Local Government Association (LGA), Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) on the long-term Civility in Public Life project.

As part of this work, a set of digital citizenship infographics has been produced for Councillors.  These provide rules of online engagement for elected members to use for their social media platforms, as well as advice on handling online abuse:

Rules of Engagement

Handling Online Abuse

COSLA’s Barriers to Elected Office Special Interest Group has been involved with, and fully supports, this work and encourages Councillors to pin the Rules of Engagement graphic to their social media profiles to ensure that everyone visiting their profile is aware of the expectations of respectful communication.  Councillors are also encouraged to consider including information on their profiles about the hours that they are typically online and available to respond to messages to establish clear boundaries around their digital ‘availability’.

The myjosbcotland team has continued to provide value for all Councils and their customers throughout the pandemic and has created a series of graphics and compiled information about the service over the past 15 months. You can see the full PDF here.

As a leading Scottish Recruitment Job Board, our main customer is the applicant, and to a lesser extent our recruiters. This means we need to be adept at recognising how users interact with the site, and we always focus on providing the best "customer experience" in accordance with how other sites work.

One of the most requested features from candidates we have been able to deliver, is the ability to upload a CV and for this information to be used on the applications forms that Councils use. Here are some of the other things we have introduced in the last year:

How myjobscotland continues to improve

Fact Friday
COSLA has been running a ‘Fact Friday’ social media campaign to highlight the varied range of services provided by Local Government in Scotland.

A series of animated graphics have been produced and will be shared each Friday via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

900 Electric Vehicle Charging Points

Trading Standards Scotland
Trading Standards Scotland has published the second in their series of Scam Share Spotlight PDFs, each of which will shine a spotlight on a particular scam that is frequently reported by Scottish consumers.

PDFs are published fortnightly and can be viewed online or downloaded and printed off for those who are not online.

The latest PDF looks at the huge increase in scam phone calls related to Amazon Prime during the pandemic, as more consumers have signed up to online streaming services

Business Gateway
Business Gateway is hosting a Back to Business panel webinar on Thursday 15^th April from 11.00 – 12.00. Hosted by Chief Officer Hugh Lightbody, the panellists are Susan Love, FSB; Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium and Brian Lawrie, HSE. The webinar will give advice and guidance to Scottish retail businesses as they look ahead to reopening.

More information can be found on their website.

Following on from the successes of the past few months, the next phase of national webinars is being finalised. Many of the current titles including writing a business plan, bookkeeping and marketing on a budget will continue with new topics including rural business, business strategy, mental health and wellbeing also being introduced. Along with the live versions, pre-recorded webinars will be offered.

Details of upcoming webinars can be found on their website.


The Local Government workforce and partners across sectors are working hard to support our communities.

We continue to highlight this across our social media channels using #CouncilsCan - retweets and follows would be greatly appreciated.

Our Twitter and Facebook channels, Khub and website will be regularly updated.

If you or your officers require any clarity from COSLA officers on policy matters, please contact the team in the usual way. If you are not sure who to direct your email to, please contact COSLA member support.

Thank you all for your efforts during this challenging time.

Other Useful Links
* The current number of COVID-19 cases and the risk level can be found on the Scottish Government website
* NHS Inform’s webpage continues to be the source of up-to-date public health information
* All Scottish Government COVID-19 related guidance
* Help and support for those experiencing domestic abuse is available; and the helpline number is 0800 027 1234.