Elected Members Briefing - 17th November

Key Messages
Travellers arriving in Scotland from Greece (except the islands of Crete, Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Zante) – as well as the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, must quarantine on arrival for 14 days.

A further £278,784 is being made available to six organisations supporting people subject to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) to prevent destitution during COVID-19.

Communities are being encouraged to continue to support each other as the country moves into winter. The Scottish Government’s recently refreshed Ready Scotland website provides a range of information for anyone looking for support during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as advice on preparing for winter weather.


The Scottish Budget will be published on January 28, 2021. As yet, there is no information on timings for the parliamentary process, which will be important as COSLA looks to build support for Local Government as the Budget Bill progresses. Now that dates have been clarified, COSLA officers are preparing this year’s Essential Services campaign and will seek endorsement from Leaders on key messages and launch timings.

Councils have once again stepped forward to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.  From last Friday (November 13) Councils will commence delivering grants under the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework.  These grants will support businesses that are forced to close or are forced to change their operations significantly, as a result of the tiered structure of COVID-19 restrictions which were introduced from November 2.  The grants will be available to businesses on a four weekly basis, depending on the level of restriction (£2k grant below Rateable Value, RV, of £51k; £3k above £51k RV, for closure grant; £1.4k below £51k RV and £2.1k above £51k RV, for restrictions grant).  A Local Authority project group (with COSLA officers, Directors of Finance, economic development and revenues managers) continues to advise Scottish Government on delivery of all of the Covid grant schemes.  This group meets daily to discuss issues including any new developments and provides communication to all Councils.

Funded ELC expansion progress report
Data compiled by the Improvement Service, and published last week, shows that more than 56,000 children (61% of those eligible) were already receiving 1,140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) in August. This is despite the statutory expansion being paused in April in recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on councils’ expansion programmes.

The Children and Young People Board will consider the next steps with the 1140 Hours ELC expansion at their meeting on November 20, with a decision on a new date for implementation set to be agreed by Leaders in December.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Children and Young People’s Spokesperson, said:
“Local Government’s main concern throughout this whole pandemic and indeed always is to put the needs of our children and young people first.  We took the difficult decision jointly with the Scottish Government to pause implementation of the 1140 hours ELC expansion as the pandemic disrupted plans.  We are working closely with the Scottish Government to agree a timeline to reinstate the national duty for 1140.

“Despite the challenges in construction projects and recruitment issues Councils have worked hard to create additional places and a number of Councils are already offering 1140 hours of funded provision, with more coming online in the months ahead."

Read more here.

Independent Review of Adult Social Care
COSLA has made a submission to the Independent Review of Adult Social Care. In it, we state our vision is that of a system which is person-centred, puts communities at its heart and which is built around the human rights of those who use it.
You can view our submission here.

Violence Against Women and Girls
As COVID-19 restrictions continue, victims of domestic abuse continue to face heightened isolation and vulnerability. COSLA and the Scottish Government continue to work together and with a range of expert stakeholders to mitigate the additional risks and harms to women living with VAWG. Raising awareness of the barriers facing women and children experiencing domestic abuse as they seek to access services – and reducing these barriers – is critical.

Whole Lives Scotland is a SafeLives UK  project that aims to understand the barriers survivors of domestic abuse experience in accessing specialist services; support local services to maximise their impact; and establish strong, locally relevant evidence bases of what works in tackling domestic abuse.

A national survivor survey aimed at understanding barriers to accessing services experienced by victims of domestic abuse was recently undertaken and 346 people from all 32 Local Authority areas in Scotland participated. The report, published on November 4, is available here.
While the survey closed in March, SafeLives ran an additional short survey in September 2020 to hear from victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland about their experiences during COVID-19. The findings can be read here.

16 Days of Activism
The UN’s annual international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence begins on November 25 -  the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - and runs until December 10 - Human Rights Day.

Over the last three years COSLA’s 16 Days of Activism has included a range of activity, including events, conferences, exhibitions and pledge making to action for change.
This year the pandemic has further highlighted the continuing prevalence of violence against women and girls, including the associated harms to children, and Public Health measures to control the spread of the virus have intensified and heightened vulnerabilities to harm.

Key events being held include:

Monday, November 30: The National Violence Against Women Network and Scottish Women’s Aid, with COSLA support  are hosting a half-day online conference on improving outcomes for women with learning disabilities affected by VAWG.

Wednesday, December 2: A Commercial Sexual Exploitation Roundtable will be held, at which the outcomes of COSLA’s short-term working group on the provision of support to women engaged in CSE will be considered from a local perspective.

Monday, December 7: A closed event, ‘What About the Men?’, will be held for Elected Members.

Tuesday, December 8: A free interactive learning event, Violence Against Women and Girls and Trauma Informed ‘Deep Dive’, led by the Improvement Service with COSLA support.

Thursday, December 10: Violence Against Women and Girls Collective Leadership online conference.

For further information on this programme of events please contact Katie Brown.

Dementia Transition and Recovery Plan
The Scottish Government is producing a COVID-19 Dementia Transition and Recovery Plan to support people with dementia and their families to continue to get the right care, treatment and support at the right time as we live and come through the COVID pandemic.
A discussion paper to help inform the final plan will be available shortly and includes areas such as:

* Responding to the pandemic – what we have done so far;
* What we know so far about the impact of COVID-19 on people with dementia and their families;
* Supporting people with dementia to live well;
* Support for a timely diagnosis and post-diagnostic community support;
* Living well at home;
* Being part of the community;
* Support for family carers;
* Living safely in a care home;
* Improving the hospital experience;
* End of live and bereavement support;
* Supporting a skilled and knowledgeable workforce and service modernisation.

Scottish Government would welcome your views on the plan and your participation in engagement events coming up later in November and December and via an online questionnaire. If you are interested in participating, please email dementiapolicy@gov.scot

COP26 Glasgow Summit
On Friday, November 13, COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, met with international partners to represent Scotland at the UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) World Council. UCLG is the largest global network of cities, local governments and their associations with central policy-making driven by the World Council, equivalent to COSLA Convention.

Councillor Evison, as Scotland’s representative, joined the first ever virtual World Council, hosted by the city of Guangzhou in China, where global policy generation post-COVID and formal international processes for local governments was for discussion.

Councillor Evison is also participating in statutory business meetings at the World Council to oversee financial management, as well as past and forthcoming advocacy work.

With the link between democratic processes and the ecological transition top on the agenda for local governments across the world, Councillor Evison was invited to a special session to outline expectations for the upcoming COP26 international climate negotiations in Glasgow.

Councillor Evison said: “The work of Glasgow City Council and indeed all Scotland’s municipalities forms the ideal backdrop to forthcoming COP26 climate negotiations. COSLA has been making representation for a dedicated local day at COP26 to focus collective activities of the local government constituency and is hopeful for broad representation from all over the world.

“In November 2021, we hope to meet the vast majority of the local leaders that make up the UCLG World Council in Glasgow.

“Increasing our collective visibility including in the final COP26 agreement and advocating for formal recognition in national climate commitments continues to be important for local delivery of climate ambition.”

New Human Rights Framework
Proposals for a new human rights law for Scotland are in the pipeline. This will include in Scots law, for the first time, rights such as the right to food, to housing, to health and to a healthy environment, as well as rights for specific groups. Watch this short film (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UsynfgXIkQ&t=37s) to find out more, or click here.

COSLA is part of the National Taskforce which has been set up to develop these proposals and it is vital that their work is shaped by people's lived experience of rights. That's why the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, who are members of this Taskforce, are inviting people to discuss 5 key questions about this new law and feedback their views. We will then collate these views to inform the Taskforce and the Government.

This may be something Elected Members would want to share with their constituents, or host conversations on locally.

Find out more here or join in an online conversation.

Refugee resettlement
The UK Government has announced that it will restart arrivals of resettled refugees to the UK early next year. The decision to resume resettlement to the UK was long awaited as communities and Councils were keen to continue to fulfil their commitment to provide protection and offer new lives to those who urgently need it.

Resettlement activity was suspended in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting on hold the arrival of around 70 individuals who had been scheduled to arrive to Scotland, and some 600 individuals across the UK. The humanitarian crisis across the world has been exacerbated by the pandemic, leaving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people at even greater risk.

The announcement on November 10 confirmed the UK Government's commitment to complete the resettlement of 20,000 Syrian Refugees under Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme. However, COSLA continues to seek clarity with respect to their long-term plans for resettlement, including the commencement of the new UK Resettlement Scheme.

Volunteer Scotland’s Annual Report
The efforts of volunteers across Scotland has never been more needed or celebrated than in 2020.  Volunteer Scotland’s 2020 annual report reflects a year like no other.

In addition to the perfunctory operational, financial and governance updates, special attention is given to COVID-19. Volunteer Scotland’s work here has included robust research that identifies the scale and scope of the volunteering response across Scotland.

This story is best told through 8 Volunteer Voices; the annual report is dedicated to these voices and all the volunteers they represent.

Scottish Libraries and Information Council’s 19/20 Annual Review
Scottish Libraries and Information Council (SLIC) have published their 2019/20 Annual Review which highlights key achievements and their performance over the year. The report provides an overview of activity in relation to the organisation’s key priorities: Advocacy, Standards, Partnerships, Innovation and Funding. SLIC continues to advocate for libraries with national and local government, the Scottish Funding Council and senior management within our special interest member institutions.

2019/20 was an outstanding year for SLIC with almost £1million of grant funding distributed to public libraries, school libraries, HE libraries and FE college libraries. SLIC supported the refresh of Scotland’s first National Strategy for Public Libraries – Ambition and Opportunity and continued to lead on the implementation of the National Strategy for School Libraries – Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools.

More information about SLIC and the initiatives highlighted in the Annual Review can be found on their website.

Trading Standards
Trading Standards Scotland is the national team for trading standards in Scotland and is 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 cosmetics  and misleading energy ads.

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 - 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.