Elected Members Briefing - 17th February

Key Messages

The First Minister confirmed on Tuesday (February 16) that there would be no change to the current COVID-19 restrictions, which will remain in place until at least the end of this month, and that the phased return of schools is to start on Monday (February 22).

The new Scottish Child Payment was launched on Monday (February 15).

Two funds will open this week to support grassroots, community and residential organisations to improve drugs services.

Bird keepers in Scotland are reminded to maximise biosecurity and keep their flocks housed after avian influenza (H5N1) was confirmed in a flock of gamebirds in Glenrothes.

Diary Date - March Mini Conference & Convention

Preparations are underway for a COSLA Mini Conference next month.
The Conference will be held on the same day as the Convention, which is on Friday, March 26.

It is hoped there will be contributions at the Convention from the First Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Some speakers for the Conference have been confirmed already, including Professor John Curtice who will touch on some predictions surrounding the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in May, including the possible implications around Brexit. COSLA’s President, Councillor Alison Evison, and Vice President, Councillor Graham Houston, will also speak.

The Conference will then break into six workshops, centred on the Blueprint themes.

More COVID- related Consequentials for Scotland and Scottish Budget developments

On Monday (February 15), UK Treasury announced an additional £1.1m of COVID-related funding, bringing the total for Scotland to £9.7 bn. This funding has been tracked since last March by COSLA’s Local Government Finance Team, liaising with the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe). A summary can be found here.

Following the Treasury announcement, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance updated the Scottish Parliament on developments with the Scottish Budget 2021/22 on Tuesday (February 17). COSLA officers are now working to understand the full implications of these announcements for Local Government and COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, will seek another meeting with Ms Forbes- a full update will be provided to Leaders on February 26.  You can view the Cabinet Secretary for Finance’s Statement to Parliament on the Scottish Government website.

COSLA evidence to the Local Government and Communities Committee
COSLA Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor; Chief Officer - Local Government Finance, Sarah Watters; Chair of CIPFA Director of Finance Section, Eileen Rowand, and Glasgow City Council Executive Director of Finance, Martin Booth, representing SOLACE, gave evidence to the Local Government and Communities Committee of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, February 10.

Expanding on the submission made to the committee in advance of the session, the Local Government representatives clearly articulated the position in relation to Local Government funding over the years, the impact of COVID-19 on council services and why this year’s settlement is not considered fair funding.
You can view the official report on the Scottish Parliament website.

COSLA meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance
COSLA Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, had a call last week with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, where discussions centred around the Local Government Settlement, pay, council tax and loss of income. This call followed Councillor Macgregor’s letter to Ms Forbes after Leaders on January 29.

Health and Social Care Partnerships – Additional funding allocation
On February 5, the Scottish Government set out a further funding allocation for NHS Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs). This was based on the additional costs reported in January for the remainder of 2020-21 and includes support of under-delivery of savings.

For HSCPs this includes:
* £81.9m for additional costs – some of this is to cover costs from health delegated services and COSLA officers are seeking clarity on the split and an update will be provided to Leaders on February 26;
* Final £40m from the Winter Plan published late last year, to continue to support the payments to providers to meet their additional costs and restrict staff movement between settings - this follows the funding issued in December for this purpose;
* In addition, £100m has been allocated to HSCPs in 2020/21 to support other ongoing costs, including embedding new ways of working and additional capacity.

Separately, a further £20m has been allocated for ‘Community Living Change Funding’ to support the discharge from hospital for those with extremely complex needs. Further guidance on this is expected shortly.
Redress for Survivor (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill
This week, the Education and Skills Committee considered and voted on amendments to the Redress for Survivor (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill.

Following agreement from Group Leaders, COSLA made representation to all Committee Members ahead of their meeting to share COSLA’s position on the waiver provision within the Bill (amendments were lodged to remove the waiver).

COSLA highlighted that the inclusion of the waiver within the Redress for Survivors Bill is an important element of the Redress Scheme and allows Local Government to provide a fair and meaningful collective contribution, for the benefit of survivors. Throughout the debate, COSLA’s position was quoted at the Committee meeting and the amendment fell. COSLA will continue to engage with the Redress for Survivors Bill as it progresses to Stage 3, as well as our partners in both Local and Scottish Government. A full report will be provided at Leaders on February 26.

Independent Review of Adult Social Care
A Special Leaders meeting was held on Wednesday, February 10 to discuss the Independent Review of Adult Social Care.

Whilst Leaders agreed with a lot of the content within the Report, they unanimously voiced their concerns at the recommendations around the future governance and accountability arrangements contained within the report which Leaders agreed to be detrimental to the local delivery of social care and its integration with other key community services. Following Leaders, a press release was issued outlining Leaders view. Officers have also prepared a briefing, ahead of a parliamentary debate on the issue on Tuesday, which outlines the key areas of concern for Local Government.
COSLA Leaders will consider a further, more detailed report on the proposals outlined in the Review at the end of February.

Adult Social Care Campaign
The rewards and job satisfaction of a career in adult social care are highlighted in a new Scottish Government campaign to attract more people to the sector which launched on Wednesday, February 10.

‘There’s More to Care Than Caring’ is a four-week campaign drawing on the values needed to work in adult social care and the benefits of working in care. The myjobscotland Team have worked with SSSC and the Scottish Government and the campaign advisory group to help develop the campaign which has a dedicated website caretocare.scot

As part of this campaign, myjobscotland will be offering private and voluntary organisations the opportunity to advertise their jobs for free on the website for a period of 12 weeks, as well as providing some additional marketing support to the campaign.

Climate Change Plan
COSLA will be giving evidence on the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan Update to the Local Government and Communities Committee on Wednesday, February 17, alongside SOLACE and LA representatives. This will be a virtual session and can be viewed on Scottish Parliament TV.

COSLA is a member of the National Walking Strategy’s Delivery Forum. One of the Forum’s members, Paths for All, have launched the Scottish Walking Awards in conjunction with Ramblers Scotland, Living Streets Scotland and National Walking Strategy Delivery Forum. There are ten categories open for nominations until Wednesday 31 March 2021.

Nominations will be judged during April by an expert panel.

The winners will be announced on 11 May 2021 during National Walking Month. Entire councils, or alternatively specific councillors or local authority employees can be nominated for the award. Find out more about the award here.

The Scottish Government launched a campaign highlighting the importance of Self-Isolation on Friday (February 12).

Its main message is that with the new strains of coronavirus being more infectious, it’s more important than ever that people self-isolate immediately to stop the virus spreading.

The campaign will run on TV, VOD, digital, social media and radio until March 14.

The TV advert can be watched above while a fact sheet can be found here.

The Scottish Government is also continuing with its FACTS guidance to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The advice encourages members of the public to wear a face covering; avoid crowded places; clean hands and surfaces regularly; stay 2m away from other people; self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste).

Business Gateway
The National Unit has been working hard to ensure the Business Gateway website is up-to-date and relevant, as businesses have a real need right now to be able to access the support they need instantly. Online tutorials, podcasts, useful guides, templates, market reports are just some of the resources available to help, as well as signposting to the Find Business Support platform to help businesses get to funding information as quickly and easily as possible. And, in addition to the wealth of useful resources available, the team has continued to share the uplifting success stories of those who have benefitted from Business Gateway services.

The ongoing programme of national webinars is also now live until the end of March. Covering a variety of topics from how to start a business in challenging times to how to market on a budget, the full programme is available here.

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 puppy dealers, a range of scams and misleading adverts.

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.