Elected Members Briefing - 8th June

Free School Meals
More than 90,000 primary school pupils will be entitled to new free school meal support in term time. The Scottish Government and local authority partners have reached agreement to introduce universal free school lunches for primary 4 and 5 children and targeted support during school holidays for all eligible primary and secondary children and young people.

The £28 million commitment will deliver free school lunches during term time for P4 children by August 2021 and to P5 children by January 2022.

A further £21.75 million will provide targeted free school meal support during school holidays in 2021-22. This will start in July for around 145,000 primary and secondary children and young people from low income households.

Councils will determine what approach in school holidays meets local needs and circumstances, which may include the provision of direct payments, vouchers or food parcels.

COSLA’s Children & Young People Spokesperson, Councillor Stephen McCabe said:

“Councils across Scotland have long been committed to delivering healthy free school meals – to eligible children and young people. We are pleased that, in partnership with Scottish Government, this commitment can be further expanded upon by providing free school meals to all Primary 4s in August 2021 and Primary 5s in the later part of the academic year.

“Local authorities will continue to work hard to ensure that children and young people have access to healthy and nourishing meals so that they are fully able to learn, play, and engage with their peers and communities.”

SPICe Briefing: UK Shared Prosperity Fund
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has published a useful update on the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund. The briefing outlines what the Fund will mean for Scotland as well as how much funding could be  available. The blog post also provides some useful background on the Community Renewal Fund.

Latest Economic Data – Fraser of Allander InstituteThe Fraser of Allander Institute has published their latest data on the Scottish Economy, highlighting a growth of 2.1% in March. The article discusses the recent change of restrictions across different local authorities, the impact on businesses and how the vaccination programme is supporting economic recovery from the Pandemic.

Read more on the Fraser of Allander Institute Blog

The Fraser of Allander Institute also have a Podcast series, providing discussion on the Scottish and UK economies which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

Business support for council areas remaining in Level 2
On Wednesday (2 June), Scottish Government officials met with Finance and Economic Development representatives from the fourteen councils who remain in ‘Level 2’ to discuss the support that had been announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy the same day. COSLA is now seeking details in relation to sectors to be supported, grant levels, application process, administration costs and reporting requirements. Leaders will be updated as soon as more information is available.

Read Kate Forbes’ statement to Parliament.

End of EU Settled Status scheme approaches
With less than 30 days to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) deadline, Scottish Government has relaunched the Stay in Scotland campaign.

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.

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 June 30 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 here

Improving accommodation for Gypsy/Traveller communities

Local authorities can now apply to a new fund which will help to provide more and better accommodation for Gypsy/Traveller communities.

This funding will help to build experience and skills in Gypsy/Traveller site development by focusing on demonstration projects which establish examples of model sites.

Improving accommodation and sites is a key part of Scotland’s first long-term national housing strategy, as well as part of the Scottish Government and COSLA’s joint Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan.

Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, said:

“The creation of a new funding programme over the next five years for Gypsy/Traveller accommodation is a fantastic step forward for our communities. This money will help to build homes that are fit for the future and is going to show what is possible in the design of modern sites.

“Combined with local investment from councils, the fund will make a meaningful difference to the quality of accommodation that is available and the initial projects will blaze the trail for more developments over time.”

More information: Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund

Social care
Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) is taking forward a series of events focussed on the issue of social care following the Feeley Review.  ‘Our World Reimagined – Social Care’  includes events run in partnership with the University of Strathclyde; shorter sessions which explore specific issues linked to the Feeley Review and the reform of social care and blogs/other online content.

Councillor Stuart Currie, COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson, will be speaking at the first of these events on 24 June, which will take place on Zoom.  “A National Care Service – The Right Solution?” is open to anyone with an interest in the future of social care and GCVS has sent out an open invite to elected members.  Details of future events will be available on the GCVS Eventbrite page and via @GlasgowCVS.

You can also contact Lynn Williams, Health and Social Care Coordinator for more information or if you would like to contribute to the series.

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 can be accessed here and 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 (alexis@cosla.gov.uk).

Scheme to bring vulnerable Afghan interpreters to UK
The UK Government is seeking to accelerate plans to relocate up to 5,000 people from Afghanistan to the UK by the Autumn.  This comprises around 1,000 staff who had been supporting the UK in Afghanistan, together with their families, and is due to the impending withdrawal of NATO military forces and the increased risk to the lives of those who had worked for the UK Government.  At their May meeting, Leaders unanimously provided councils in principle support for the scheme. COSLA officers will now be working with individual councils to establish whether they will be able to offer housing and support for any of the families.

Plans to bring vulnerable Afghan interpreters to the UK accelerated - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Let’s Do Net Zero
Scottish Government has launched the first phase of Scotland’s domestic climate change campaign, ‘Let’s Do Net Zero’, which aims to raise awareness of the twin crises of climate change and nature loss and encourage people across Scotland to come together and take action.

This first phase seeks to highlight the sobering message that climate change and nature loss are the greatest threats facing the world’s population and explain why transformation is required across all corners of our economy and society to reach net zero emissions.

A campaign toolkit is available online.

COVID-19 Vaccine Explainer Video
Scottish Government has produced a new COVID-19 Vaccine NHS Scotland Explainer Video, in partnership with Public Health Scotland and Third Sector partners.

The video provides key facts about the COVID-19 vaccines for those who may be hesitant to get the vaccine when offered, or for those more likely to have been exposed to myths or misinformation. It is currently being translated in multiple languages including BSL.

Trading Standards Scotland
Trading Standards Scotland has published the fifth 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 HMRC scams - HMRC have reported a huge rise in scams during the pandemic, having received over one million reports of bogus communications in the last year.


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.