An archive of all our Bulletins can be found here.
A six-month extension of emergency measures granted under the Scottish Coronavirus Acts will be debated in Parliament this week.
A rise in the prevalence of Delta variant cases has led to travel restrictions being placed on Manchester and Salford.
Pupils living in Scotland’s most deprived communities will be among those to benefit from £215 million of targeted funding in 2021-22 to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.
Many Councils enter recess at the end of this week, offering the chance to take some time off after such a long period of intensive working.
We hope all Elected Members enjoy a deserved summer break.
Councillor remuneration: short survey for elected members
As part of COSLA’s ongoing work to tackle barriers to elected office, we are asking councillors across Scotland to complete a 5-10 minute anonymous survey about their average weekly workload. This will provide us with an evidence base on councillor remuneration and potential financial barriers to becoming an elected member. The findings of the survey will be used to inform the ongoing work of COSLA’s Barriers to Elected Office Special Interest Group.
The survey closes at midday on Monday, July 5.
If you have any questions about the councillor remuneration survey or the wider work of the Barriers to Elected Office Special Interest Group, please do not hesitate to contact Alexis Camble, Policy & Participation Officer.
End of EU Settled Status scheme approaches
It is only eight days to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) deadline.
EU Citizens living in Scotland, who have not yet applied, are being urged to apply now to avoid missing the deadline of 30 June, so they can carry on living, working and studying in Scotland. Irish citizens and people with indefinite leave to remain do not have to apply.
A package of support to help EU citizens stay in Scotland is available, which includes a number of factsheets produced with JustRight Scotland explaining EU citizens’ rights in Scotland. The factsheets provide information on EU citizens’ rights to vote, work and access healthcare, education, housing and benefits.
The campaign is being run until 30^th June on radio, digital, social, and press. Digital and printable assets for stakeholders providing information and signposting to available support are available: Access the Toolkit to Support EU Citizens via gov.scot.
On Monday (June 21), the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) published its independent report on the future of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). The report endorses the CfE as the right approach for Scotland but makes a number of recommendations, including a national agency for curriculum development, reconsidering contact time for teachers and changes to the senior phase and qualifications to better fit CfE’s core principles.
The Scottish Government has subsequently announced that the SQA will be replaced and Education Scotland will be suitably reformed with inspections becoming a separate, independent role. Further detail is expected over the course of the next week.
COSLA’s Spokesperson for Children and Young People, Councillor Stephen McCabe, welcomed the report.
Taxation and child poverty in Scotland
COSLA Officers participated in a roundtable discussion this week focused on Taxation and Child Poverty in Scotland. COSLA joined colleagues across the public and third sector for discussion on how the devolved tax policy impacts on child poverty and the opportunities to achieve Scotland’s Child Poverty Targets.
David Eiser from Fraser of Allander Institute and Russell Gunson from IPPR presented at the roundtable discussion, providing informative insight into Scottish Tax Policy and Local Tax Reform. We have included some of their articles and reports below.
* Scottish tax policy in the 2016 – 2021 session | FAI (fraserofallander.org)
* Better than before: How local tax reform can help pay for recovery | IPPR
* A recent Fraser of Allander Institute article discusses the ambitions of the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty Targets
Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, announced an extension to the Every Life Matters Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP) in Parliament on Friday.
COSLA Health & Social Care Board endorsed this extension, which will allow a continued focus on the 10 specific actions in SPAP and the additional recommendations in the Covid-19 statement from the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG), while work is undertaken by Scottish Government and COSLA to develop a new suicide prevention strategy and action plan to address emerging needs.
The extension will be supported by funding to continue the existing national infrastructure which includes the NSPLG and the Delivery Leads responsible for each action.
The extension was welcomed by COSLA’s Health & Social Care Spokesperson, Councillor Stuart Currie.
Early Learning and Childcare Expansion
More than seven out of 10 children in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) are now receiving the full 1,140 funded hours.
The number of children has risen by 10,510 since February – an increase from 65% to 72%.
The latest data from the Improvement Service shows that at the end of April 2021, 118,068 children were accessing funded ELC. Of these, 102,410 children (87%) were accessing more than the statutory entitlement of 600 hours, and 84,606 children (72%) were accessing 1,140 hours.
More information and the report can be found here.
COSLA’s Children and Young Person Spokesperson, Councillor Stephen McCabe, welcomed the progress.
Dark web data leak
SOLACE and COSLA members may have had their attention drawn to an article in Future Scot about Scottish Public Sector user credentials being discovered on the dark web.
Scottish Local Authorities have good policies and processes in place to mitigate the threat from dark web data dumps of credentials like this one. The main protective measures are: strong passwords, multifactor authentication, unique passwords for each account, and log-on location monitoring.
The article however should be a reminder why the technologies most of us have already implemented are vitally important to our collective security.
This article should be seen through the lens of a positive endorsement of our good security policies and procedures across the sector.
Routes to testing
Testing for COVID-19 is available to everyone in Scotland.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should get a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test as soon as possible. PCR test kits can be ordered online or appointments can be booked at walk-in or drive-through test sites. Find details of testing sites here.
Those with no symptoms who do not have access to a testing programme in their workplace or place of education:
* can collect or order packs of LDF (lateral flow device) tests to do at home. Find collection sites here or order online. Tests can also be ordered by calling 119. Anyone under 18 should ask an adult to collect or order a test kit for them.
* may be able to access local walk-in community testing sites. Find details of community testing sites here.
Trading Standards Scotland
Trading Standards Scotland has published the latest in their series of Scam Share Spotlight PDFs each of which will shine a spotlight on a particular scam that is frequently reported by Scottish consumers.
PDFs are published fortnightly and can be viewed online or downloaded and printed off for those who are not online.
The latest PDF looks at energy scams - Scottish consumers receive more nuisance calls from companies selling energy efficiency products than those in other parts of the UK.
Business Gateway’s new Planning to Start tool - which aims to make starting a business less daunting – is now live. It takes just 10 minutes for anyone thinking of starting up a business to answer some questions about their idea and plans. They will then be provided with a free start-up toolkit packed full of resources and connected to their nearest Business Gateway office, who will work with them towards a tailored action plan specific to their needs.
Last week’s DigitalBoost panel webinar on cyber security included panellists Ian Lowe, Quorum Cyber; Nicola Gandy, and Declan Doyle from SBRC, as well as Sgt Gavin Jardine and Det Sgt Craig Potter from Police Scotland. The event was very well attended and gave all attendees practical tips on how to improve their cyber security.|
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.