Elected Members Briefing - 21st October

Key Messages

The wearing of face coverings is now mandatory in communal workplace areas, such as corridors, canteens and social spaces.

A new £1 million ‘Scotland Loves Local’ fund will provide grants of between £500 and £5,000 to hundreds of projects to promote town centre and online businesses. The funding aims to support small scale improvements that will help motivate people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety.

Travellers arriving in Scotland from Italy, San Marino and the Vatican City State will be required to quarantine at home, or another specified address, for 14 days. This is due to significant increases in the number of cases testing positive for COVID-19 as well as the increased number of cases in these areas.

Local Government Blueprint - Finance
Balancing the books and protecting future services will become increasingly difficult, says COSLA.

Before the pandemic, Local Government was already dealing with significant financial challenges. Councils are now facing considerable additional costs, as well as uncertainty in relation to funding for 2021/22.

Commenting, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “Over the last few weeks, COSLA’s Spokespeople have been highlighting via our Blueprint the leading role that councils play in supporting vulnerable individuals, families, communities and businesses.  This role has proved even more crucial over the last few months.

“Scotland’s Councils have been heroic in their efforts with this pandemic and have underpinned the emergency response within communities, whilst continuing to deliver essential services, but this will cost more than was budgeted for.”

Read the full release here.

Councillor Macgregor also paid tribute to the tremendous work of Scotland’s councils this time in relation to the setting up of a new business grant scheme to support businesses required to close due to the new restrictions.

She said: “Since the announcement of the new restrictions, Local Government has worked with partners in Scottish Government at breakneck speed to set up a new business grant scheme.

“We know that what matters to businesses is ensuring they can get access to funding as quickly as possible at this difficult time and Councils have pulled out all of the stops to achieve this objective on behalf of businesses.

“£20million will be routed through councils to provide grants to businesses that are directly required to close by the restrictions, and to businesses in the wider supply chain whose trade is adversely affected by the restrictions. Using experience from previous COVID grant schemes, Local Government has worked quickly to prepare for the go live date of today.

“Once again the response of Scottish Local Government has been heroic and we have stepped up to the plate in relation to Business support on behalf of the businesses in the Communities we represent.”

Finance
Last week, Local Government partners worked with Scottish Government quickly to set up anew business grant scheme.

In total, £40 million of support is available, including a £20 million grant fund which will be administered by Local Authorities.

The £20m will be routed through Councils to provide grants to businesses that are directly required to close by the restrictions, and to businesses in the wider supply chain whose trade is adversely affected by the restrictions. Using experience from previous COVID grant schemes, Local Government has worked quickly to prepare for the go live date of today (October 20). It is likely that 80% of the funding for the grant scheme will be provided to councils immediately, with 20% held back for final reconciliations across Councils, depending on the level of applications locally.

The Joint Settlement and Distribution Group (SDG) met last week to consider a range of funding for Local Government – including £30m for a Young Persons’ Guarantee, an additional £2.9m for Environmental Health Officers and £3m for Discretionary Housing Payments. Recommendations will be made to Leaders on 30^th October, so that councils can be notified of this vital funding, which will enhance further the response to the current emergency and recovery.

Mobilisation Recovery Group
As part of the Mobilisation Recovery Group, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland are leading on engagement work with people and communities to ensure the perspective of people who access support and services is heard as health and social care systems are remobilised.

There is a commitment to ensure that peoples’ lived experience and what matters most to those who access support and services is heard.

As part of this, The ALLIANCE and Healthcare Improvement Scotland – Community Engagement are partnering with Integration Authorities and Health Boards to deliver engagement work using the ’What Matters to You’ model.

Independent Review of Adult Social Care
Derek Feeley, Independent Chair of the Review of Adult Social Care attended the COSLA Health and Social Care Board on October 16 to outline the remit of the Review and to listen to Members about what they would like to see from the Review.

Following the discussion at the Board, a paper is being drawn up to take to Leaders at the end of the month which will outline COSLAs position on the future of social care, this will consequently be submitted to the Review.

COSLA Convention – Public Health Scotland
Alongside Scottish Government, COSLA jointly leads the reform of Public Health and is joint sponsor of Public Health Scotland. COSLA remains fully committed to the reform of public health as a central tenet of our recovery and renewal ambitions and recognise that a strong and effective relationship between Public Health Scotland and Local Government will be vital to improving and protecting community wellbeing and bring about a recovery that tackles poverty and inequality.

COSLA's nominations to the board of Public Health Scotland, Councillor Julie Bell (Angus) and Councillor Jacqueline Cameron (Renfrewshire) will be joined by Public Health Scotland Chair, Professor Jim McGoldrick and Chief Executive Angela Leitch at the COSLA convention on October 30. Councillors Bell and Cameron will provide an update on progress in establishing the new national Public Health body and set out the future ambition and opportunity to strengthen the relationship and partnership with Local Government to deliver for communities and support collective action to improve health and wellbeing.

Outdoor play commitment
COSLA has signed Scotland's National Position Statement on Outdoor Play, showing a commitment to making play and learning outdoors an everyday activity for all children in Scotland.

The statement marks its second anniversary at a time when understanding and focus on the connection between the outdoors and children’s mental health has never been more needed.

COSLA  joins over 100 national organisations, government bodies, academics and individuals who initially signed up to the initiative when it was unveiled by Inspiring Scotland’s Thrive Outdoors fund and Scottish Government in 2018.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson for Children and Young People, said: “We are delighted to support Scotland’s Outdoor Play and Learning Coalition Position Statement.

“The past seven months have been extremely challenging for all of us but particularly for our children and young people. The health and wellbeing of children and young people is paramount, and we all have a responsibility to them to make sure they are healthy and happy.

“The actions set out in the Statement would play a central role in ensuring that we take that responsibility seriously.”

RAVE Awards
COSLA, through myjobscotland, is a finalist in the Cornerstone annual client RAVE (Remarkable Achievements and Visionary Elites) Awards.

Cornerstone's recruitment software solutions are in use by over 42 million people in 192 countries and in 43 languages.

The awards recognise and honours organisations that have developed and implemented innovative approaches using Cornerstone solutions.

myjobscotland.gov.uk is a finalist in the ‘Advancement in Reinventing Recruiting’ category, with the winners to be announced at the end of October.

Anti-Slavery Day
Sunday was #AntiSlaveryDay which enabled us to do some social media around the fact that Human Trafficking happens in all parts of Scotland, and that our Local Authorities work hard to combat it. We also flagged up our guidance for Local Authorities on how to combat it.

Movement for Health
Sixteen health charities in Scotland have formed a new coalition to promote the benefits of people moving more in daily life – including improving health, preventing the deterioration of conditions, and helping us all to lead happier, healthier lives.

More information is available here and on Twitter @MovementfHealth

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 social media scams, online puppy sales, contact tracing scams, business scams and more.

They have also released the first in a series of Scam Share podcasts, focusing on energy efficiency scams.

Summary
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 #CouncilsCare and #CouncilsAct and it is heartening to see communities working together to look after each other. Retweets and follows would be greatly appreciated.

Further briefings will be issued, however our social media channels, Khub and website will be continually 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: membersupport@cosla.gov.uk

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.