Settlement & Distribution Group
The Settlement and Distribution Group (SDG) met last week to consider a range of funding for Local Government – including £15m for Summer of Play – Activities for Children and Young People. This funding aims to improve the wellbeing of children and young people, providing opportunities for them to socialise and reconnect with peers during the summer through delivery of a range of activities, with food and family support integrated where needed within local communities. Many Councils already use their core funding to deliver support like this so will be able to use this funding to enhance provision this year, to address the impacts of COVID.
This week, Leaders will consider an update in relation to the Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP). LEIP underpins the Learning Estate Strategy ‘Connecting People, Places and Learning’ that was published in September 2019 by Scottish Government & COSLA. The Strategy’s vision is that the ‘learning estate supports excellence and equity for all’ and is to be achieved by taking a more holistic approach across Early Learning and Childcare, Schools, FE/HE and indeed communities. Leaders will be provided with an update on Phases 1 and 2 of LEIP as well as on key aspects of the outcomes-based funding model now used for LEIP.
Leaders will also consider an update on the UK Government Levelling Up Funding and the Community Renewal Fund. Leaders will be updated on the recent engagements between COSLA and the Scotland Office, as well as on the recent webinars held between the UK Government and Scottish Local Authorities.
Designing and funding the devolved nations’ policy responses to COVID-19
The Fraser of Allander Institute has published a recent article exploring the funding of devolved nations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the impact of the pandemic across the UK. Fraser of Allander also explore the new streams of economic development funding for the UK, including the Levelling Up Fund, the Community Renewal Fund and the Shared Prosperity Fund. In concluding the article, the FoA Institute looks to the forthcoming review of the Scottish fiscal framework.
Move to Level 3
Significant easing of COVID-19 restrictions across retail, hospitality and travel came into effect on Monday (April 26).
Hospitality venues, tourist accommodation, non-essential retail outlets and close contact services such as beauty salons can reopen, in addition to indoor attractions and public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries.
All parts of Scotland have moved into Level 3, with travel within the UK now permitted for any purpose.
It is anticipated the whole country will move into Level 2 on Monday, May 17.
Further changes that came into effect on Monday include:
* Adults on the shielding list can return to the workplace, if they cannot work from home, while children who have been shielding can return to school
* Non-essential work inside people’s homes – such as painting, decorating or repairing – will be permitted, subject to mitigations
* Non-essential informal childcare will resume
* Driving lessons and tests can take place, while gyms and swimming pools can reopen for individual exercise
* The attendance limit for funerals and weddings – and related events such as receptions – will increase to 50
* Cafés, pubs and restaurants can resume full outdoor service, subject to local licensing, and serve food indoors without alcohol until 8pm
* Takeaways to resume normal service, with physical distancing and face masks in premises
Return to Sport and Physical Activity Guidance
As Scotland moves into Level 3 of Coronavirus protection levels sportscotland has produced a guide to support Local Authorities and Scottish Governing Bodies of sport to develop guidance for the safe return of sport and physical activity. The guide can be accessed here and a host of other useful information related to sport and physical activity can be found on sportscotland’s website.
Self-Isolation Support Grant
From Monday (April 26), the easing of restrictions on non-essential travel and shops will provide people with greater freedom to travel and meet.
To assist in the monitoring of COVID-19, Universal Testing is being introduced for all households in Scotland. Universal testing will result in increased testing capacity across communities and greater identification of the virus amongst asymptomatic individuals and households.
As a result of increased testing capacity, there may also be an increase in the number of people testing positive and a corresponding increase in the number of applications for the Self-Isolation Support Grant.
The Scottish Government will be monitoring public health data over the coming weeks to better understand the impacts of increased testing capacity upon grant applications. If Council welfare teams see large increases in the number of applications as a result of home testing, or a larger number of linked claims (e.g. concerning close contacts), they are encouraged to flag these issues with Scottish Government and COSLA officers.
Anti-body survey of education staff
Public Health Scotland is running a COVID-19 Antibody Survey of education Staff (CASS), which aims to find out the proportion of people working in education in Scotland who have had COVID-19 by testing for antibodies in their blood.
This type of test looks at whether someone has been infected in the past. By testing people through the school year, PHS will be able to track if this is changing over time.
This information will help inform how PHS manages and introduces health measures in educational settings to minimise the risk of infection.
A fifth of adults experiencing data poverty depend on public libraries
‘Data Poverty in Scotland and Wales’ is a report that has been published by Nesta and Y Lab. It sets out a compelling case over the role libraries play in digital access and support. The report makes specific reference to municipal library services and their support to those experiencing data poverty in Scotland.
On average 1 in 7 people across Scotland experience data poverty. For those earning under £20,000 this rises to 1 in 4. Of those experiencing data poverty over one fifth of them were dependent on library services for access before the pandemic. The report and the link to library access was highlighted across Scottish TV news bulletins.
A virtual event which shines the light on how city councils in the UK have been rolling out innovative programmes – in spite of the huge challenges presented by COVID-19 – and what key lessons can be learnt to prepare for a future crisis and tackling climate change is being held next month.
‘Perspectives on resilience for cities: what next for innovation and collaboration in a time of COVID-19 and towards COP26’ will be held on May 13.
It will provide the opportunity for cities and those working with them to learn from UK cities participating in the URBACT Transfer Networks.
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.
The latest in Business Gateway’s series of Back to Business panel webinars took place on Friday, April 23. This one was focused on the food/drink/hospitality sectors and featured panellists Denise Hill, VisitScotland; David Thomson, The Food & Drink Federation Scotland and Brian Lawrie, Society of Chief Environmental Health Officers of Scotland. The session was very popular with over 160 attendees and was packed full of useful advice and tips.
Our programme of national webinars continues, with the full list available for viewing here. As well as featuring many favourites from the past few months, including writing a business plan, marketing on a budget and bookkeeping; the new national programme also includes sessions on health and wellbeing, customer service, women in business and running and starting a rural business amongst others. These webinars continue to be very popular and we’re trialling pre-recording them so customers can watch them at a later date if they miss one.
Trading Standards Scotland
With international travel restrictions still in place, many Scots will look to book getaways within the UK this summer, following the reopening of tourist accommodation and relaxation of travel restrictions across Scotland on 26th April.
However, Trading Standards Scotland is warning holidaymakers to be wary of scams after a large number of consumer issues with holiday bookings were reported in 2020.
These included fake accommodation listings on social media, cold calls and unsolicited emails offering holiday deals, scam websites and fake reviews on popular travel websites.
Demand for popular destinations is likely to be high, particularly during the summer months, and scammers may look to take advantage of this by creating fake social media accounts and websites to advertise accommodation that does not exist or that has already been booked.