Elected Members Briefing - 11th August

Key Messages

Care home visiting has been expanded, with residents able to have up to three outdoor visitors from no more than two households.

Settings where face coverings must be legally worn in Scotland has been expanded to include certain indoor public places such as cinemas, galleries, museum and banks.

The Parent Club Back to School / ELC Campaign has a range of advice and tips for families as schools and nurseries reopen.

Finance
This week, the Settlement and Distribution Group will consider distribution of funding for the safe re-opening of schools - £30m for additional teachers and support staff; £20m for logistics; £1.5m capital for mitigation measures on school transport - and make recommendations to Leaders.
The joint Education Recovery Resources Group will continue to monitor education recovery costs.

COSLA officers are preparing evidence submissions for the Finance and Constitution, and the Local Government and Communities Committees. Their focus is on the financial impact of COVID-19 and it provides an opportunity to highlight the great work done across councils during the pandemic and how critical adequate investment in Local Government is for the future sustainability of communities.

On Friday, Leaders were sent an update on all COVID consequentials for Scotland. To date, this totals just over £6.5b, with Local Government receiving just over £700m (of which £254m is not ring-fenced). Scottish Government has now confirmed the position in relation to business grant surplus, which is not as large now as Local Government had anticipated, given various sector specific funds that have been established.

Return to Education
COSLA’s Children and Young People Spokesperson, Councillor Stephen McCabe, and Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, have praised the heroic efforts of staff as schools prepare to open.

Social Renewal Advisory Board
COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, attended recent meetings of the Social Renewal Advisory Board where the nine associated Policy Circles reported back on their recommendations for Programme for Government.

The Policy Circles are Age and Disability, Community Led and Place Based Renewal, Communities and Volunteering, Financial Security, Housing System, Access to Food, Third Sector, Addressing Low Income and Cross-Cutting Delivery. COSLA is represented on each of the Circles.

The Social Renewal Advisory Board’s principles state that it will be participative, and informed by a wide range of stakeholders, including people with lived experience.

There will be a range of engagement activity over the coming months with people with lived experience and these will include Community-Based Listening Events, Deep Dives with Communities of Interest and Engagement with Organisations.

Scotland’s 32 local authorities are supporting the Community Based Listening Events in coming months led by SOLACE.

The Board is co-chaired by Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, who were appreciative of the work of the Circles and highlighted that although each recommendation may not be included in Programme for Government, the information gathered will be considered and discussed as the Board and Circles continue to meet with a focus on long term priorities and ambitions.

The final report from the Social Renewal Advisory Board is likely to be published in November.

UK Forum
COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, attended a virtual meeting of the UK Forum, hosted by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, on Friday (August 7).

The Forum regularly brings together the leaders of the four Local Government associations to discuss key issues and opportunities for the local government sector, how they collectively address these across the regions and how they share knowledge, expertise and a partnership approach across the four Local Government associations.

The meeting focused on Local Government’s community response to the COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing financial and resource impact on all councils now and in the future.

The associations discussed the importance of joined up engagement and communication from central and Local Government on Brexit and of the need to ensure that the voice of Local Government on behalf of local communities is heard in discussions and that it is not diminished going forward.

The Civility in Public Life campaign, a joint programme of work to address the growing levels of intimidation directed at councillors and those in public life and the negative impact this is having on democracy for everyone, was also discussed.

A joint statement on Civility in Public Life from the UK Local Government Associations was also released as follows:

“The intimidation and abuse of Councillors, in person or otherwise, undermines democracy; it can prevent elected members from representing the communities they serve, prevent individuals from standing for election and undermine public trust in democratic processes.

“These harmful behaviours, whether occurring towards, between or by elected members are entirely unacceptable.

“Across our four nations COSLA, LGA, NILGA and WLGA commit to promoting Civility in Public Life, positive debate and resultantly supporting the wellbeing of our elected members.”

Cllr Matt Garrett, President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA),
Cllr James Jamieson, Chair of the Local Government Association,
Cllr Alison Evison, President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), and
Cllr Andrew Morgan, Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Leader

A Day in the Life of Scotland's Councils video
The video produced by COSLA to highlight the hard work and dedication of Council staff all over Scotland has been cut into shorter clips and shared via our social media channels over the past week.

On Monday (August 10), we rounded off the campaign with a thank you from COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison.

You can find our Facebook account here and Twitter here.

As ever, shares and retweets would be much appreciated.

PHINS 2020 webinar series
In place of the annual Public Health Information Network for Scotland (PHINS) seminar, three separate, but linked, online webinars are being held.

The webinars will focus on the impact of, the context to, and the emergence from, the COVID-19 pandemic.

They will take place between 10am and 11am on Thursday, September 3, Thursday, September 17, and Thursday, October 1.

Each will comprise two 20-minute presentations, and 15 minutes of questions and discussion.
The full programme for the webinar series can be viewed here.

Registration links are included within the programme. The webinars are free of charge.

Suicide Prevention – Joint Statement
Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey MSP, and COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, Councillor Stuart Currie, said:

“The difficult times brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have negatively impacted the mental health and wellbeing of many of us.

“While we may not yet know what effect the pandemic will have on the incidence of suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and suicide, we welcome the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group’s (NSPLG) COVID-19 Statement. Their recommendations for evidence-based action are designed to ensure that there is a pandemic-specific approach to suicide prevention.

“The Scottish Government and COSLA have carefully considered the contents of the COVID-19 Statement and the recommendations made. The Scottish Government and COSLA welcome the group’s leadership in making these four recommendations which we accept.  We want these recommendations, alongside a focus on certain actions in the Suicide Prevention Action Plan, to drive forward improvements to suicide prevention in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government and COSLA note the NSPLG’s recommendation on a successor to the existing Suicide Prevention Action Plan and we will work together in considering how future strategy could be shaped.

“We are grateful for the commitment of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and we want to make sure our communities are supported. We want to make it clear that if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, there is help available."

Trading Standards
The Trading Standards Scotland team is a key part of COSLA. In the latest edition of their Scam Share bulletin, they outline scams which have been reported by consumers across Scotland, including those related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

There is some very useful information for local communities, covering issues such as energy scams and staycation scams.

The bulletin can be viewed here.

Summary
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 #CouncilsCare and #CouncilsAct and it is heartening to see communities working together to look after each other. Retweets and follows would be greatly appreciated.

Further briefings will be issued, however our social media channels, Khub and website will be continually 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: membersupport@cosla.gov.uk

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.