Elected Members Briefing - 16th March

This week marks a year’s worth of Bulletins. An archive can be found on the COSLA website.

Key Messages

Plans to deliver 100,000 affordable homes over the next decade have been announced by the Scottish Government.

Up to 20 ports and harbours that have lost income from landing fees due to the disruption caused by Brexit have received a share of a £1.8 million fund.

A National Day of Reflection – to mark the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown – is being led by Marie Curie on March 23. Various events are being organised while buildings and monuments such as the Scottish Parliament and The Kelpies are being lit up yellow.

Scottish Budget 21-22
The Scottish Budget Bill passed through the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, March 9. Local Government will see no additional core funding, beyond the £94m (or 0.9%) that was announced on January 28. A Special COSLA Leaders meeting was convened Friday, March 12 to discuss the implications, especially in relation to pay, given Scottish Government’s announcements in relation to Public Sector Pay Policy.

COSLA Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, has continued to make COSLA’s position around core funding clear, including on ITV’s ‘Representing Border’ last week, where she had the opportunity to discuss the Budget and the impact on local authorities. You can view the interview on the ITV website.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has published a blog post which discusses the Scottish Budget and the deals that were agreed between the SNP, Scottish Greens and Scottish Liberal Democrats.

COSLA’s Local Government Finance team will now engage with policy teams and Scottish Government around funding announced pertaining to Local Government, including the £49.75m for the phased implementation of free school meals for all primary pupils, £50m for town centres (over 2 years) and £17m to extend concessionary travel to under 22-year-olds. Distribution of this funding will be considered by the Settlement and Distribution Group and then Leaders over the coming weeks.

Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill
On March 11, following a lengthy Stage 3 debate, the Scottish Parliament passed the Redress for Survivors Historical Child Abuse in Care Scotland Bill. You can find the Scottish Parliament Chamber minutes here.

This followed on from substantial and continued consideration by Leaders and then representation from COSLA with the Scottish Government Bill team, the Education and Skills Committee, and individuals MSPs, to help shape this very significant legislation.

An area of the Bill that has attracted considerable interest and debate throughout all stages – and has been the subject of several amendments at Stages 2 and 3 –  has been the waiver, which COSLA has consistently lobbied must remain within the Bill in order to ensure Local Government can remain in a position to financially contribute to the Redress Scheme. This significant work has resulted in the passage of a Bill, including the waiver, that puts survivors at the heart of redress and ensures contributors to the Scheme have some financial certainty.

Officers will continue to work with Scottish Government officials to negotiate and progress Local Government’s financial contribution to the Scheme.

You can read the Scottish Parliament Information Centre Briefing on the Bill on the SPICe Spotlight website.

Tackling Scotland’s Population Challenges
COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, Councillor Kelly Parry, commented on the launch of a new report outlining measures to address the failing birth rate, change working practices and encourage more families to settle in Scotland on Monday (March 15).

A Scotland for the Future examines the significant population challenges the country faces - including an ageing population, falling birth rate and the emerging impacts of Brexit – and makes clear that a national response is required.

Councillor Parry said: “A Scotland for the Future is an ambitious document that recognises the complex and multi-faceted demographic challenges we are facing.  It distinguishes between the issues faced by different local areas across Scotland and that is why local government is crucial in determining local priorities for their own areas based on local need and circumstance.”

Strengthening Collaboration
On Monday (March 15) COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, welcomed a new strategic partnership aimed at strengthening collaboration between Local Government, National Government and the Voluntary Sector.

You can read the full article here.

Human Rights Taskforce
COSLA's President, Councillor Alison Evison, and Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, Councillor Kelly Parry, have welcomed recommendations made by the Human Rights Taskforce.

Councillor Evison said: "These recommendations have the potential to bring about the biggest change in Scotland since devolution and to help give effect to the shared local, national and global ambition for value-based and sustainable recovery and a green and wellbeing economy."

Councillor Parry said: “COVID has starkly shown a light on the urgency of this work and Local Government stands ready to help in that recovery with a firm commitment and recognition of a human rights approach, we have endorsed the ambition of the framework and look forward to taking our shared ambitions forward.”

You can read their full statements here - COSLA welcomes recommendations from Human Rights Taskforce and watch videos featuring Councillor Evison and Councillor Parry on the COSLA Twitter account @COSLA

Digital Strategy
COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, welcomed the launch of the updated Digital Strategy on Thursday, March 11.

Developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA in consultation with business and the third sector, the strategy aims to achieve ”world leading" levels of digital inclusion in Scotland.

It also highlights a shared commitment to deliver digital public services that are accessible to all and simple to use.

You can read more here.

Planning with People
‘Planning with People’ Community Engagement and Participation Guidance for Health and Social Care has now been published and is available here . The document was produced jointly by COSLA and the Scottish Government.

The guidance is designed to support NHS Boards, Integration Joint Boards and Local Authorities to deliver their existing statutory duties for engagement and public involvement. In recognising the good work that is taking place, the guidance is designed to complement and strengthen organisations’ existing engagement strategies.
The guidance sets out:

* The importance of community engagement and participation
* A principles-based approach, which underpins and supports robust evidence based, high quality and meaningful engagement
* An overview of the differing governance arrangements for NHS Boards, Local Authorities and Integration Authorities, including the major service change provision for NHS Boards

During 2021, the Guidance will be subject to wide consultation, to ensure that this guidance supports the Human Rights approach and is aligned to the recommendations in the Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland. Progress of this will be reviewed and reported over 2022.

Councillor Stuart Currie, COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson, said: “Planning with people promotes real collaboration between NHS Boards, Integration Joint Boards and Local Authorities. It sets out the responsibilities each organisation has to community engagement when services are being planned, or changes to services are being planned, and it supports them to involve people meaningfully.

“Fundamentally, good engagement means that services are developed which are effective, safe and value-for-money. And there is no doubt that greater participation brings better outcomes for communities all round.

“So, we encourage people in communities across Scotland to read this guidance and find out what they should expect when it comes to engagement about care planning. Ultimately, it is their experience that will be the real measure of what impact it is making.”

COVID-19 vaccine for unpaid carers
Those who provide regular face-to-face care can now register as an unpaid carer in order to be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccination.

People should register if all of the following statements apply to you:

* You are 16 to 64-years-old;
* You provide face-to-face care and support to one or more family members, friends or neighbours;
* The care you provide is not part of a contract or voluntary work;
* If caring for someone under 18, they are affected by a disability, physical or mental ill-health, developmental condition or substance misuse; and
* You have not already received your first COVID-19 vaccination or vaccination appointment letter.

If anyone does not meet the above criteria (for example, you provide only emotional support by phone/video call), you will be asked to wait until NHS Scotland contacts you to let you know it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It is important not to contact NHS Scotland for a vaccination before then.

To access the self-registration website, visit NHS Inform.

If possible, please use this online option to register. For those who cannot do this online, please call the Covid Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013.

If you have already received your vaccination or a letter of appointment, there is no further action to take, and no need to register. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme, visit www.nhsinform.scot/covid19vaccine.

Big Blethers
To support the phased return of children and young people to Scotland’s schools, Education Scotland, in partnership with COSLA, the Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland and relevant Trade Unions and professional organisations, recently hosted three Public Health 'Big Blether' events for staff working in the sector.

Each of the events aimed to provide a forum for those working in the sector to find out more about public health issues in relation to education settings, offering clarity and reassurance. Different parts of the workforce were the focus of separate Big Blethers, including school support staff, early learning and childcare practitioners, and teachers.

Attendees submitted their questions to panel members including Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, and Dr David Caesar, Interim Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, as well as public health and social policy experts from Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Each of the events provided an opportunity to hear more about the progress of the pandemic and the decision-making processes and balancing of issues considered in reopening education settings.  Around 100 people attended each of the sessions and contributed to stimulating and wide-ranging discussions.

Recordings of the sessions can be found here.

Resources discussed during the sessions were shared after the events and are reproduced below for information and further sharing:

Supporting Young People at Points of Transition
Supporting transition to ELC or Primary
Transitions in the context of COVID-19

Education Scotland Professional Learning Support
COVID-19 – single point of access for information on education recovery
COVID-19 professional learning support

Mental Health and Wellbeing Support
Education Scotland/GTCS: support for education workforce
COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG): Education Workforce Support Workstream
Local Govt/COSLA/Trade Unions: ‘Don’t Stay on Mute’ Campaign/Video
Early Years Scotland: ELC Wellbeing Hub
National Wellbeing hub for health and social care (may be of interest to other groups)

Children’s Wellbeing
Children in Scotland’s Wellbeing Resource for teachers and practitioners, to support children and young people’s understanding of their wellbeing
Tracking wellbeing in schools (Glasgow example – Motivation and Wellbeing Profile)

Blog - The ELC and childcare lead professional
Scottish Government advice on the phased reopening of schools (NB – further advice to follow)

Following the launch of COSLA’s Blueprint in September, a new dedicated section has been created on our website to showcase related examples from Scotland’s 32 Councils.

The section is split into the six key themes from the Blueprint –

·       Strengthening Local Democracy
·       Funding Services and Communities
·       Wellbeing – including Health and Care
·       Education and Children and Young People
·       Economy and the Environment
·       Supporting Vulnerable Communities

You can take a look here - Blueprint | COSLA

Parenting Club
The Scottish Government’s Parenting Club has a range of resources for parents and families, including support for the return to school and childcare settings, coping with COVID-19 restrictions and COVID-19 guidelines for children.

Business Gateway
One of the Scottish Government and COSLA’s recently published Digital Strategy for Scotland‘s aims is to ensure all businesses are digital businesses. Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost is identified as the primary support programme in helping SMEs achieve this, ensuring a commitment to expand and develop the programme.

The full strategy is available to read here.

The tender for a supplier for the new programme of national webinars is now live, and the new supplier will be appointed at the start of April. The national webinars are proving very popular with attendance levels remaining high. The new programme will cover similar topics to the current programme running, including: Starting a business: Everything you need to know; Marketing your business on a budget; Writing a business plan and Sales – how to find them, make them, keep them. The upcoming programme of events is available here.

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 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 call blockers, banking scams and HMRC scams.


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.