Elected Members Briefing - 30th September

Key Messages

The Scottish Government has outlined funding for communities through the COVID-19 pandemic, including £25 million on a new Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme.

Tens of thousands of jobs will be supported by the Scottish Government’s new £24 billion Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP).

Additional guidance has been published for those living in student households after new measures were announced to protect the population from the spread of COVID-19.

Advice on travelling safely and car sharing can be found here.

Finance
COSLA is working on a lobbying strategy to ensure that a strong, positive and complementary campaign can be developed for pre-budget lobbying, building on last year’s ‘Essential Services’ campaign and on the new ‘Essential Everyday’ hashtag that was developed for the Blueprint for Local Government.

The campaign will focus on the need for financial stability, if Local Government’s role in community wellbeing is to be maximised, and will highlight the essential role which Local Government has played in supporting communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders have agreed a series of actions to take forward the lobbying strategy, on the basis that there will be a Scottish Draft Budget introduced in the Scottish Parliament in December. The timescale is however to be confirmed and may be impacted by the UK Government’s recent decision to cancel its Autumn Budget.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has announced £1.1bn for NHS Boards and HSCPs. This includes the £83m already received for local authority delegated services. This means that of the £1.1bn, £245m is allocated to HSCPs. From this, there will be an additional circa £67m for local authority delegated services and circa £95m for health delegated services over and above the £83m already received.

Local Government Blueprint - Children & Young People
COSLA said this week that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the high level of commitment and action shown by Local Government has ensured that our children and young people continue to get the most from their lives in extremely difficult circumstances. COSLA also said that it fully recognised just how difficult a situation this had been for our young people.

The COSLA Blueprint for Local Government ( PDF, 1501.1 KB) commits to working to identify the opportunities to make sure children and young people get the very best education and wider learning and support that can be offered with a clear focus on tackling poverty and inequality.

COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “Our Blueprint has a focus on child well-being and Getting it Right for Every Child, closing the education attainment gap and effective digital connectivity to support learning especially for the most disadvantaged children and young people.

“It also recognises that whilst the pandemic has shown the resilience of both families and communities, there is little doubt that there will be greater levels of demand for the core services that Local Government provides moving forward. Social work, family support, services for looked after children and child protection are just a few examples of the services that need to be supported and resourced to ensure they are able to cope with demand.”

The full release can be read here.

Shielding Programme
The findings of the Public Health Scotland COVID-19 Shielding Programme (Scotland) Impact and Experience Survey have been published.

The online survey, which ran between June 1 and 14, was open to individuals who had received a letter from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer advising them to follow shielding guidance. Individuals caring for someone else who had received a letter were also able to participate.

The publication covers the following topics – shielding behaviour, negative impacts of shielding, shielding support and unmet needs.

Business Gateway
The Business Gateway National Unit joined COSLA’s Local Government Finance Team to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee.  This was picked up by the media, including STV. You can watch the clip via the Scottish Parliament TV website.

With additional resources being provided by the Scottish Government for the DigitalBoost Programme the National Unit are working with Scottish Government and local authority colleagues to begin to develop new ideas and approaches to encourage SMEs to become more digitally active.  Following agreement from Leaders this includes developing a pilot grant fund to support businesses who are developing their digital presence.

PHS - Strategic Plan launch
Public Health Scotland launched its first Strategic Plan: Together We Can this week.

It represents a significant milestone in terms of setting PHS’s direction for the next three years.

Supporting Scotland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the wider social recovery, remains at the forefront of Public Health Scotland’s work.

The Strategic Plan also outlines how PHS will focus on key areas that make the biggest difference to the public’s health, such as mental wellbeing, communities and place, and poverty and children.

COSLA, together with the Scottish Government, is a sponsor of PHS and two Local Government/COSLA representatives are non-executives on the PHS Board – Councillor Jacqueline Cameron and Councillor Julie Bell.

Trading Standards
The latest edition of the Trading Standards Scam Share bulletin outlines 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 Test and Protect scams and more.

Trading Standards Scotland is the national team for trading standards in Scotland and is part of COSLA.

Equally Safe
COSLA’s Leaders identified women engaged in Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Prostitution (CSE) at the outset of the pandemic as being particularly vulnerable to harm. Work is ongoing with Violence Against Women Partnerships and the Encompass Network of organisations supporting women engaged in CSE in different areas across Scotland, to consider how Local Authorities and their strategic partners might mitigate the risks and harms facing this group.
The Scottish Government has also launched a national consultation to gather views on how best to challenge men’s demand for prostitution in Scotland.

The Consultation is brought forward under Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls, jointly owned by the SG and COSLA.

Equally Safe Priority 4 states the Scottish Government’s priority to ensure men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response. This violence includes the violence perpetrated by men in relation to acts of commercial sexual exploitation, of which prostitution is one aspect. It also seeks views around reducing the harms associated with prostitution and supporting women involved to exit.

The consultation will run until 10 December 2020.

Please direct any comments or questions about the consultation process to vawgconsultations@gov.scot

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.