Elected Members Briefing - 4th August

Key Messages

Schools will reopen full time from 11 August.

New risk assessment guidance has been launched to help employers support staff who have been shielding to return to work.

Scotland will remain in Phase 3, with indicative dates outlined for sectors reopening in August and September.

Education
Parent Club - Back to School Campaign Launch

The Scottish Government’s Parent Club launched a Back to School campaign on 31 July to reassure parents and to provide them with the necessary information in advance of the reopening of schools from 11 August.

The campaign aims to provide advice, reassurance and tips to parents and children who may have anxieties and worries about returning to schools.

A stakeholder toolkit will be available this week and will include videos on topics such as mental health and health and safety and materials from partner organisations.

Finance
COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, spoke with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, on 29 July, following a meeting of the Cabinet earlier that day.

There is a commitment to pass the previously announced £49m consequentials to Local Government in full as well as to work with Local Government to design a Loss of Income scheme appropriate for Scotland, once details and consequentials associated with the English scheme are known.

Leaders met last Friday and agreed that officers should continue to work with civil servants, with proposals coming back to Leaders.

Scottish Government has indicated that there is likely to be very little underspend available from the Business Grants Scheme due to setting aside funding for other commitments.  Officers will continue to engage with the Scottish Government to understand the likely final position for the business grants and will provide further updates to Leaders.

Employers
The Employers' Team has published a document which seeks to identify the most up to date COVID-19 guidance available to Local Government colleagues in all subject areas.

This will be reviewed on a regular basis and any changes will be identified and highlighted.

The document also contains links to recent circulars and conditions of service information which have been issued in light of COVID-19 as well as frequently asked questions.
Education

Education and Early Learning and Childcare
Group Leaders agreed the finalised guidance on the full return to schools in August before parliamentary statement by the First Minister.

COSLA has been in discussion with the Scottish Government on funding required to open schools and after representation, an additional £30 million was agreed to support school reopening to add to the previously announced £20 million. This money will support councils in areas such as cleaning and school transport.

The guidance sets out that all pupils will return to school by 18 August at the latest and councils are now communicating the details of the return to parents and children and young people. A further £30 million was announced by the First Minister for additional teachers. Discussions are taking place with the Scottish Government on the distribution of this funding.

Under Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map, early learning and childcare services have been permitted to re-open from the 15 July. Public health guidance was updated at the same time as school reopening guidance was published.

The pandemic and closure of services has brought additional financial challenges for private and third sector providers. The Scottish Government has announced an £11.2m Transitional Support Fund for these providers and Leaders have agreed that Local Government is best placed to administer the scheme on their behalf.

Health and Social Care
As announced on Monday 3 August, a further allocation of up to £50m funding has been secured to enable Health and Social Care Partnerships to continue to support the social care sector in their pivotal role responding to COVID 19.

COSLA will continue to work closely with Scottish Government to ensure that resources are released to enable Partnerships to meet all reasonable costs identified within Local Mobilisation Plans to address the challenges currently being faced by the sector.

From 29 July, Public Health Scotland will publish an enhanced daily dashboard of COVID-19 data. The new dashboard will present existing data in a more accessible way and will provide information at a Scotland/national level and at NHS Board and Local Authority levels.

An interactive map is also available which shows the public the level of cases over time at a Local Authority level, with a greater level of detail shown to public health teams.

Community
Community Wellbeing Spokesperson Councillor Kelly Parry met with Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing on Tuesday 28 July to discuss the importance of the Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure sector in Local Authorities and Leisure Trusts.

They discussed the value of the sector for the nation’s physical and mental health and wellbeing alongside the benefits and value it brings to the economy and employment, particularly of young people.

Councillor Parry made clear the need for financial support for the sector to which Mr FitzPatrick agreed to continue discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeanne Freeman MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP.

COSLA Officers continue to work with the Scottish Government and national organisations, including Public Health Scotland and sportscotland to support the safe and sustainable re-opening of indoor facilities when allowed.

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 now received over 4,000 views.

Produced in collaboration with Local Authorities throughout the country, the video was released at the end of June to raise awareness of the tremendous effort made by Councils and their workforces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is now being shared via COSLA’s social media channels in seven shorter clips – all shares and retweets would be very welcome. You can find our Facebook account here and Twitter here.

EU Charter
A new Member’s Bill which aims to empower communities has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was brought forward in May by Andy Wightman MSP with the aim of strengthening the status and standing of Local Government in Scotland and thereby increasing the involvement of local people in shaping the communities in which they live.

COSLA believes that incorporating the Charter into law can fundamentally strengthen Scotland’s overall system of democracy and create the foundations for an enduring and progressive partnership between national government, local government and communities.

This is something COSLA and Local Government has striven for, for a number of years and we would encourage responses to the Consultation.

More information can be found here.

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 counterfeit goods online, contact tracing scams and recent phone and email 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.