Scotland’s councils do a superb job every day delivering essential services for our communities. We understand that due to COVID-19 we are living in unprecedented and challenging times and that our local government colleagues are under incredible pressure at the moment.
We are here to help if you need it.
We are adapting our products and services to make them more relevant to our stakeholders at this time. Find out more below.
We are also building up a collection of case studies showing how councils have responded to COVID-19. Visit our page on COVID-19: Good Council Practice to read these.
Research and Briefings
Early Learning and Childcare
Local authorities will no longer be legally obliged to deliver 1140 hours of funded childcare from August 2020. Our two Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) Business Analysts are continuing to work alongside key partners to support councils with the delivery of ELC now and in the recovery phase, including analysis to understand the impact of COVID-19 to their plans. Dedicated knowledge management support is also continuing to be provided for the online Knowledge Hub ELC groups established for the programme, as the sector responds.
Tackling Violence Against Women
The Violence Against Women (VAW) programme has adapted its focus to support responses to COVID-19 across the VAW sector and is working with stakeholders to understand how services are able to meet the needs of women and children during this crisis.
The VAW team has been sharing resources with the VAW and Cedar Networks on Knowledge Hub, working with COSLA to ensure local challenges are highlighted to Scottish Government colleagues and providing support to stakeholders in the sector when requested.
The Violence Against Women team worked with COSLA, Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government to develop guidance to ensure a sustainable, joined-up approach to safeguarding the needs of women and children experiencing violence during COVID-19 is embedded at a local strategic level.
We are providing ongoing support to the Scottish Elected Members COVID-19 Network which was set up in partnership with COSLA. The programme is also working closely with COSLA to identify other ways in which we can support elected members.
Our coaching offer for senior elected members remains active and our coaches are equipped to offer virtual coaching sessions. If you would like to find out more, please contact David Barr: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more elected member resources visit our dedicated page.
We are reviewing with stakeholders how we reset the Local Government Benchmarking Framework in light of COVID-19 to support councils in their response, recovery and renewal efforts.
Spatial Information Service
The spatial information team has been liaising with the Scottish Government and local government about how data and technology can be used to assist with the COVID-19 response. We have offered our resources and capability to anyone dealing with the response and are an integral part of the COVID-19 Data Task Force that is being created to assist with the numerous data challenges that the crisis has brought to the fore.
As a result of the Place Programme contribution to public health reform, Irene Beautyman (Planning for Place Programme Manager) was invited to sit on the Public Health Scotland Social and System Recovery Groups on Environments and Space and Transport. These PHS led these groups are cross sector stakeholder groups pulling evidence on how Covid19 lockdown will impact each topic area to inform national and local responses within partner organisations.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the establishment of several new groups in Scotland on the Knowledge Hub to collaborate, share information and ideas. See Covid-19 groups in Scotland.
Other groups are also using the Knowledge Hub to keep their group members up to date with what has been a rapidly evolving situation.
For further information there are examples of current groups on the Scottish Public Services Network page of the Knowledge Hub or feel free to contact us to discuss how we might be able to help at email@example.com
Digital Public Services
myaccount services continue to operate and be available as normal and are helping the expansion of digital services which are playing a critical role during the current pandemic.
We continue to ensure organisations can still achieve future go-live dates as planned, including by liaising directly with suppliers to maintain progress of technical integrations.
We have improved the online help pages for myaccount to enable more self-directed support. We have also streamlined processes for queries to be raised with the helpdesk to make sure support requests are answered quickly and by the right people.
We are exploring how our products can support a consistent online approach for COVID-19 business grants applications.
We have improved the online help pages for parentsportal.scot to enable more self-directed support. We have also streamlined processes for queries to be raised with the helpdesk to make sure support requests are answered quickly and by the right people.
We are supporting some councils which are preparing to launch parentsportal.scot earlier than planned, helping them increase their state of readiness for when schools are able to return to some degree of normality.
We have supported one council to launch parentsportal.scot early to enable it to push school report cards through the platform, reducing administration and cost to print and post all school reports.
We are accelerating some developments of the portal, including Android and iOS apps.
National Entitlement Card
Production of the National Entitlement Card (NEC) has been suspended temporarily as a direct response to Scottish Government and UK Government guidance.
Given the vital role played by NEC in facilitating access to public transport, our partner, Transport Scotland is working with the bus industry to ensure that eligible passengers, including key workers, are not denied access to essential travel.
Data Hub is one of a number of tools available now to councils and other public bodies as they look to address the data-related challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.
We have experienced a spike in use of the Data Hub to support councils match data held in multiple back office systems to identity persons at risk.
We have also responded to interest from other councils looking to use Data Hub for the first time.
We have begun taking forward plans to develop the Data Hub for non-residential addressing, opening up the opportunity to expand the capability of other products in the portfolio, especially the OneScotland Gazetteer.
We are actively exploring the role bisaccount, a simple and secure sign-in service designed to help businesses prove who they are when transacting with public services online, can play in the COVID-19 business grant application process
Young Scot Membership Platform
At Young Scot’s request, we fast tracked changes to the membership platform to give young people new and additional communication in relation to COVID-19 support.
Advice, Support and Consultancy
- The team has been working with the Scottish Government and councils to produce improved guidance and a standard application form for COVID-19 Business Support Grants (Phase 2), enabling both to be digitised by all councils and used for all COVID-19 Business Support Grant applications, not simply Phase 2.
- The team is also working on a similar approach for COVID-19 Business Support Grants (Phase 3).
- In light of the challenges experienced by councils and businesses through the COVID-19 Business Support Grant process, we are deepening our work with local authority economic development colleagues to look at opportunities to further develop and expedite bisaccount’s use in transitioning to the new norm.
The Scottish Community Councils website has been providing useful links for community councils that offer advice, information, funding and resources to help during COVID-19. Included are links to latest government and health updates, responses from all of Scotland’s local authorities as well as advice from a host of other national agencies and organisations. A new section has been added to the website which brings together examples of how community councils are responding to COVID-19 and helping their communities. The page will be regularly updated to provide a showcase for the great resilience work of Scotland’s community councils.
On Twitter the project has also been signposting community councils to useful information and advice.
The project is also responsible for the Community Council Liaison Officers (CCLO) Development Network and has been on hand to offer advice and support to CCLOs where possible during COVID-19. The project also runs Knowledge Hub Groups for CCLOs and Community Councillors where they are encouraged to share ideas and best practice examples. Several CCLOs have been in touch to let us know how they are coping as well as asking for advice on how best to support community councils in their areas.
The Change Team are continuing to provide support to councils and their partners to deliver transformational and operational level change during these challenging times. We’ve moved our network meetings to a virtual setting and will be hosting these more regularly to ensure there is the opportunity to share practice and learning across the network. We have moved to an online mode of delivery for our project management and business analysis qualifications. We recognise support needs for change and transformation may have a different focus at this time therefore would be happy to discuss what this may look like and help where we can.
A significant level of work is taking place in supporting SLAED across a range of issues relating to the economic fallout of COVID-19. We are inputting to weekly SLAED Executive Group and SOLACE economic development leads meetings. We are liaising with councils on behalf of SLAED to gather local intelligence to help shape policy and responses for both mitigation and medium and longer-term economic recovery. With support from the IS, SLAED provides a mechanism for local government economic development specialists to link into Scottish Government/SOLACE/COSLA discussions – and receive feedback from them. Those discussions provide an opportunity for local government to lobby, influence and shape policy relating to the economy, including COVID-19 mitigation and recovery responses.
IS (through the Partnership Agreement with Scottish Government) is contributing to the Senior Leader and Operational Employability COVID-19 response groups. There is a focus on supporting individuals through:
- aligning local support to a new national helpline
- re-purposing existing support measures
- designing new interventions to ensure the responses to labour market impacts are managed collaboratively.
Regular meetings with local authority leads are taking place to ensure effective alignment and integration of policy and resources.
Local Child Poverty Action Reports
The Local Child Poverty Action Reports (LCPAR) national co-ordinator is liaising with local leads on issues and responses, as well as inputting to Public Health Scotland work on COVID-19. Discussions are ongoing with Scottish Government on the focus and timetable for LCPARs. In addition, discussions are ongoing to repurpose and increase flexibilities in the Parental Employment Support Fund to help parents increase their income through employment.
We have also developed a short paper - 'Coronavirus - Considering the Implications for Child Poverty' - which consides the impact of COVID-19 on child poverty and how local authorities and health boards can use their Local Child Poverty Action Reports to address the challenges that lie ahead.
The IS research team responded to a recent request from a council to support scenario planning work on COVID-19, with the intention to share the outputs across all councils. The report produced - The Impacts of COVID-19: An Overview of the Research to Date - provides an overview of research published exploring the potential and forecast impact of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and public health response, including the lockdown that was brought into force in March. In particular, the research focuses on the economic impact of the pandemic and restrictions, the implications for poverty, and summarises the situation in a range of international settings with focus on any lessons for Scotland. The report is regularly updated as new research is published.
We are working with Heads of Planning Scotland (HOPS) to support local authority planning staff. Research and support work is being carried out by HOPS in conjunction with COSLA and the Scottish Government. All HOPS meetings have moved to online platforms at this time. Planning Authority staff are encouraged to use the HOPS Knowledge Hub Group for regular updates and to share working practice.
A series of webinars is currently being run by the Planning Skills Programme. Please check the link for further details.
The Roads Collaboration team is facilitating a national COVID-19 roads group, responding to government guidance to lead the Scottish roads construction and maintenance sector out of lockdown. It is gathering weekly roads service activity information from all 32 councils and Transport Scotland, providing an opportunity for questions and ideas to be shared. It is facilitating the national coordination of councils' temporary reallocation of road space, in conjunction with Sustrans. It is also providing input into the government's public sector young workforce planning forum, representing the roads construction sector.
Given the significant demands on frontline advice workers, the decision was made to relax guidance on deadlines for annual performance management returns. Advice services staff in councils have been encouraged to utilise the Knowledge Hub for highlighting issues, responses and good practice.