Elected Members Briefing - 8th September

Key Messages

Health and well-being visits to care homes can now resume.

Further quarantine measures have been introduced for travellers, with Portugal and French Polynesia
being removed from the exempt list.

Applications are now open for funding to help childcare providers meet the extra costs of complying with public health guidance.

Launch of new Blueprint for Scottish Local Government
A new Blueprint for Scottish Local Government was launched by COSLA yesterday (Monday).It will allow Local Government to rebuild around an ambitious vision for Scotland’s future – one based on the empowerment of people and communities.

The Blueprint document has been framed around six themes:
* Strengthening Local Democracy
* Funding Services and Communities
* Wellbeing – including Health and Social Care
* Education and Children and Young People
* Economy and the Environment
* Supporting Vulnerable Communities

Speaking as he launched the Blueprint, Councillor Graham Houston, COSLA’s Vice-President, said: “The Blueprint we are launching provides a narrative around the kind of country we want, and about the changes that could make a real difference to communities across the country.

“Local Government, and the communities we serve, have shown the innovation and creative thinking needed to respond to this unprecedented pandemic and to adapt to a new way of life.

“We will continue to deliver and our Blueprint is the menu for change that Local Government now requires.”

The full press release can be read here, while a short slideshow to illustrate the key themes of the Blueprint can be viewed here.

COSLA will be using the hashtag #EssentialEveryday and has released a new logo featuring the names of all 32 of Scotland’s Local Authorities:

A new Twibbon can also be found here.


Finance
To ensure that councils have certainty around the fiscal flexibility options available to them in this and next financial year, an approach will be made to UK Treasury this week asking them to provide an early response. An update will be provided to Leaders as soon as it is available.

On September 7 COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, received a reply from the Chancellor in relation to our asks around interest payment holidays on loans from the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB). He stated that, having considered the arguments for concessions relating to PWLB, he believes that “supporting Local Government through grant funding is the most effective way to ensure that Local Authorities can manage their loan repayments, and a repayment holiday is unnecessary at this time”. An update will be provided to Leaders on September 25, seeking a recommendation on any further action.

COSLA, in association with SOLACE and Directors of Finance, has made a joint submission to the Local Government and Communities Committee’s call for pre-budget scrutiny evidence. This will be made available on the Scottish Parliament website.

COVID-19
We have seen a rise in the overall number of cases of COVID-19, with an average of 152 positive tests recorded each day over the past week (w/c August 31).  Local restrictions are currently in place in a few Local Authority areas and COSLA continues to liaise with Councils, Scottish Government and partners to respond to emerging developments as they arise.  We have also produced a briefing relating to local lockdowns, providing information relating to existing guidance, which has been distributed to all Councils.

The outcome of the latest Scottish Government three-week review of national restrictions will be confirmed on Thursday and it is also expected that Scotland’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, Protect Scotland, will be launched this week.

Lone Working Guidance
COSLA has produced Lone Working Guidance, which was endorsed by Leaders in August for circulation to Scottish Councils for consideration on a voluntary basis. It includes a section on Lone Working and COVID-19.

Business Gateway
Business Gateway has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the support available to small businesses and the self-employed who continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Inclusive of radio, digital, outdoor and video on demand, the campaign reminds those starting up or running a business that Business Gateway is on hand to shed some light during these challenging times, helping SMEs across Scotland survive, discover possibilities and take advantage of the crucial support available.

One-to-one support from specialist local business advisers provides a lifeline to help businesses rebuild and move forward to a brighter future. Comprehensive online support is also available, encompassing the Business Gateway Connections podcast, video tutorials, webinars, checklists and guides on topics including business planning, starting up a business in challenging times, HR and furlough, digital strategy, managing cash flow, restructuring and more.

Domestic Abuse
As part of their Safe at Home in Scotland work SafeLives are asking victims and survivors of domestic abuse what they need to stay or become safe during this time.  They have put together a brief online consultation for victims/survivors.

Anyone aged 16 or over, who lives in Scotland, and has experienced domestic abuse (including physical, sexual, financial or emotional/mentally abusive behaviours) from a partner or ex-partner during COVID-19, whether they have accessed support or not, can respond. It will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and all answers are completely anonymous. The findings will be shared with COSLA members, helping further inform members about what victims and survivors of domestic abuse need over the coming months.

Waste Collection Services and Physical Distancing Checklist
COSLA has been working with Trade Union colleagues and Health Protection Scotland to put together a physical distancing checklist for waste collection services.

This checklist is for use by managers, union representatives, and employees in Scottish Local Government waste collection services during Phase 3 of Scotland’s route map for coming out of coronavirus lockdown. It is intended to provide a checklist of items to consider and highlights existing guidance to refer to when considering measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Guidance can be found here with the checklist featuring on page 10.

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 misleading energy scams, doorstep scams, fake goods in online marketplaces, and more.

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.