Elected Members Briefing - 21st July

An archive of all our Bulletins can be found here.

Key Messages
Following the announcement that all parts of Scotland have moved to level 0 this week, the Guidance on COVID-19 Protection Levels has been updated. The guidance sets out what you can and cannot do at each level.

Get Jagged in July
People aged 18 or over in Scotland are being urged to ‘get jagged in July’ with either their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or second, if eight weeks have passed.

With university terms starting in mid-September, students are also being urged to have both doses of the vaccine before arriving on campus.

People can register online at nhsinform.scot/vaccineregistration to get an appointment by text or email, or they can attend one of the drop-in clinics in their area without an appointment. Find dates, times and locations at nhsinform.scot/vaccinedropinclinics.
Vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, is our best way out of this pandemic and getting back the things we’ve all missed.

Find more information at nhsinform.scot or call the COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013.

COVID-19 Testing
* Asymptomatic Universal Testing
Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and cases are still high in Scotland. We need people in Scotland to take two tests every week, even if they are fully vaccinated and don’t have symptoms, to help reduce the risks of new Covid strains spreading.

Test kits can be collected from community pharmacies and local test sites, or ordered online at nhsinform.scot/testing.

Recording both positive and negative results allows us to track the presence of the virus in our communities so that we can keep everyone safe and help reduce the risks of new Covid strains spreading.

* Symptomatic Testing & Isolation
Even if we’re vaccinated, we can still get coronavirus and pass it on to others. It’s vital that we self-isolate immediately and book a test even if we have only mild symptoms or are asked to by the NHS.

For financial and practical support, contact the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000. Find more information at nhsinform.scot/test-and-protect.

Let’s make safer choices this summer and reduce the risk of Covid strains spreading.

UK Community Ownership Fund
Details of the UK Government’s new Community Ownership Fund have been published. The Fund will see £150m invested over 4 years to give communities the opportunity to become owners of at-risk local pubs, theatres, post offices, sports grounds and corner shops. £12.3m has been set aside for community projects in Scotland. Voluntary and community groups can bid for match funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community. The fund will run until 2024/25 and will have at least 8 bidding rounds.

Affordable Homes Funding
Council areas across Scotland are to share more than £3.2 billion in grant funding over five years to deliver more affordable homes.
Local authorities will benefit from an increase of more than £541 million on the previous five year allocation – an uplift of more than 20%.

COSLA Resources spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor welcomed the increased funding commitment:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to contributing to the cost of affordable housing in Scotland. The priority for councils, and housing associations, is ensuring rent affordability and warm, safe, comfortable homes for current and future tenants.

“As we look to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, councils are working side by side with their communities.  We maintain a focus on our shared ambitions around tackling child poverty and climate change, alongside building more houses.”

Music Tuition and Core Curriculum Fees Removed
Fees for children learning a musical instrument at school will be removed thanks to more than £7 million funding from the Scottish Government.

Councils will also receive £6 million to waive core curriculum charges which can be levied on families for things including materials for home economics or theatre trips associated with drama qualifications.

The agreement with COSLA covers the 2021-22 academic year and marks the delivery of two further commitments for the first 100 days of this Government.

COSLA Children and Young People spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe, said:

“Councils recognise the importance of instrumental music tuition for the learning and development of our children and young people. Where fees were in place for tuition this is due to a range of local pressures on core council budgets. The one year funding package agreed between COSLA Leaders and Scottish Government will allow for the removal of fees in the coming academic year and the maintenance of existing levels of provision, so that fees and charges are not a barrier to learning an instrument.

“We welcome the commitment from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to work with COSLA and partners in the sector to consider the intent, impact, and broader implications of this Scottish Government policy intervention and to develop a model for the long-term sustainability of  instrumental music tuition services across Scotland which must include sustainable funding arrangements for all councils.”

National Records of Scotland
COSLA Officers are engaged in constructive early discussions with the National Records of Scotland about the role of local authorities in the forthcoming census. Scotland’s Census 2022 will be able to be completed online and it is expected that the majority of the population will complete the census in this way – councils are a key stakeholder in relation to digital inclusion across Scotland. Paper questionnaires will be available and door-to-door surveying will also take place. Officers are currently preparing a report for COSLA Leaders which will discuss Local Government’s potential role in the forthcoming census, as well as any resource requirements.

Nature-based Solutions
COSLA has joined together with the Improvement Service, NatureScot and the Sustainable Scotland Network to develop awareness of the potential of Nature-based Solutions (NbS). Nature-based Solutions are about harnessing nature to help us deliver a range of outcomes simultaneously, including for climate change, communities, public health and a ‘green recovery’ from Covid-19. Working in partnership, we have developed a briefing to inform and support elected members and the wider Local Government community. The briefing sets out Nature-based Solutions’ role in responding to climate change, thanks to their ability to remove carbon, prevent emissions and help us adapt and become resilient to the impacts of climate change that are already occurring.

From Inspiration to Practice: Delivering Net Zero through Local Government
Elected Members are invited to join this free, two-day virtual conference on Thursday 30^th September featuring some of the most innovative, and ambitious local authority-led net-zero projects from all over the UK and Europe. The event will offer practical, nuts-and-bolts advice to guide local authorities and central government on how to deliver successful net zero projects, including in the areas of transport, energy, housing, greener economies and waste, community involvement.

There will be an exciting selection of a keynote speaker, workshops and expo booths, a panel discussion, led by local authorities in collaboration with other key stakeholders.

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

In the latest edition of their ScamShare 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 recently reported doorstep scams and HMRC scams.

Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit
The Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit (SIMLU), part of the Trading Standards Scotland team at COSLA, has launched a new website – www.stopillegallending.co.uk – to provide advice and support to those struggling to deal with loan sharks.

Throughout the pandemic, many illegal money lenders have moved online and it the new website will aim to raise awareness of illegal lending and to signpost those in financial difficulties to organisations who can help them.

Fact Friday
COSLA has been running a ‘Fact Friday’ social media campaign to highlight the varied range of services provided by Local Government in Scotland.

A series of animated graphics have been produced and will be shared each Friday via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.


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 #CouncilsCan - 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.