Impact of COVID-19

Study examines the pandemic’s far-reaching effects.

A wide-ranging analysis of the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Scotland’s health, economy and society has been published.

The report, published jointly by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), confirms that people already suffering disadvantage are being hardest hit.

The negative effects are far reaching but uncertainty remains over the long-term impact as the pandemic, and responses to it, continue to evolve.

More positively, the report notes that the pandemic is speeding up the adoption of digital technologies, with the potential to improve business profitability and access to services such as healthcare, while the rise in home working could spread well-paid jobs more evenly across the country.

The main findings include:

  • the pandemic is impacting disproportionately on people in poverty, low-paid workers, children and young people, older people, disabled people, minority ethnic groups and women
  • lower earners have seen steeper falls in income as a result of the pandemic and a range of evidence suggests income inequalities are widening
  • isolation and loneliness have increased but there is also evidence of positive impacts on community cohesion and empowerment
  • the pandemic has prompted rapid action from public services and partners to tackle seemingly intractable social problems such as homelessness and food insecurity

In a joint foreword, Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, and COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, state:

“This report provides data and analysis to inform all those across Scotland who are faced with having to make decisions in response to COVID-19 where there are no easy answers.

“It summarises the significant ways in which the pandemic has affected Scotland and our communities, and points to what this might mean for the future.

“It will be a surprise to no-one that much of the evidence in this report describes how COVID-19 has harmed progress towards Scotland’s National Outcomes in terms of health and wellbeing, the economy and our society more broadly. But there are also important grounds for hope and optimism. We have seen innovation in response to the crisis, for example in the swift expansion of digital services and solutions to aid control of the pandemic and to help mitigate its impact.

“We believe there is learning to be taken from this report now, and also in the coming months and years when the time comes to look back on the COVID-19 pandemic to learn and reflect.”


Scotland’s Wellbeing: the impact of COVID-19 is available online.

The report examines the pandemic’s impact on Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF). The 11 National Outcomes identified in the NPF provide the public sector, businesses, the third sector and citizens with a clear vision of the kind of country we are working towards.


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