The Scottish Government provided funding to local authorities to support those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of that, local authorities also supported those who were asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect, either as a close contact or as a positive case, to help them comply with the isolation guidance.
This summary of management information provides information on:
- Contacts made to and from local authorities as part of the Isolate and Support Service, including:
- Outbound contacts from local authorities to COVID-19 cases or close contacts who were asked to isolate by Test and Protect
- Inbound contacts made to local authorities by people looking for advice or support. (Via direct local authority lines or the National Assistance Helpline)
- Support referrals made by local authorities for those in need during the pandemic. (Due to having to isolate as a case or contact, or more generally)
Weekly information on the Local Self-Isolation Assistance Service was collected from local authorities covering the period from 2 November 2020 until the service ended on 30 April 2022. These data returns were quality-assured each week, liaising with local authority contacts where appropriate.
Weekly data returns were compiled and presented to local authority and Government stakeholders to provide regular, timely insights into the service. Information was also compiled to create monthly summaries, which were published regularly by the Scottish Government.
The data reported are management information based on a range of operational systems. While checks are completed before publication to ensure data robustness, these data are not currently subject to the full range of processes and quality assurance that would be required for Official Statistics.
Throughout the data collection, changes were made to ensure the information remained accurate and useful.
- support referrals figures for vaccination transport and isolation accommodation were collected from February 2021
- text messages figures were collected from August 2021 as they started to be used more often by local authorities
Not every local authority provided every component of this data every week. The majority of the information is based on submissions from between 30 and all 32 local authorities. However, text message information was available from between 23 and 31 local authorities.
People who were asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect could consent for their contact details to be shared with their local authority. This allowed local authorities to proactively contact these people and offer both practical and financial support.
Between 2 November 2020 and 30 April 2022, local authorities made a total of 381,802 successful initial calls to ask people whether they needed support.
Between 1 August 2021 and 30 April 2022 they also sent 147,141 initial text messages to assess support needs.
Further, local authorities recorded 30,437 follow-up calls and 492 follow-up text messages. These were to people during their isolation period to check their needs were being met, and if any further support was required.
Initial calls were made to unique individuals each time. Follow up calls were made to the same people to ensure they were receiving the support they needed. Text messages may have been sent in place of, or in addition to, attempts to call individuals.
The public could also contact their local authority themselves. This could be via telephone, email or contact form to ask for help and support.
Local authorities were contacted 145,771 times with requests for information or support.
Also, there were 58,209 contacts after an individual had been asked to isolate by Test and Protect, either as a case or a contact.
These contacts may not have been from unique individuals each time.
Trends in total contacts
Local isolate and support contacts broadly followed the trend of positive COVID-19 cases, particularly later in the pandemic when the Omicron strain was the dominant variant of COVID-19. Figure 1 shows the trend of total Isolate and Support contacts compared to the number of COVID-19 cases identified by Public Health Scotland.
Figure 1: Contacts to and from local authorities and COVID-19 cases, November 2020 to April 2022. Text message data included from August 2021.
COVID-19 cases and contacts decreased from February to May 2021, following the start of the second national lockdown. Total contacts started to increase in December 2021 as Omicron became the dominant variant, with the highest number recorded in February 2022 (73,319).
Coinciding with the increase in cases at the end of 2021 was an increase in the use of text messages. By January 2022, text messages had become the most common contact method, accounting for 30,720 (43%) of 71,786 contacts.
As well as providing information, local authorities provided support in the form of referrals to relevant services. Referral to the Self-Isolation Support Grant (SISG) was the most common type of referral.
Figure 2: Support referrals made by local authorities, November 2020 to April 2022. Referral figures for vaccination transport and accommodation were collected from February 2021.
Referrals may have been made to local authority teams or to partner organisations. Of the 164,236 support referrals made by local authorities, 25,803 (16%) were made to third sector organisations.
Trends in support referrals
Over the course of the service, support referrals provided by local authorities followed a similar trend as total contacts, as shown in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3: Trend in support referrals and total contacts, November 2020 to April 2022.
The lowest number of support referrals was recorded in May 2021 (3,409), coinciding with the lowest number of contacts recorded (16,159). Support referrals were high in January 2021, July to September 2021, and December 2021 to March 2022. The highest number of support referrals was recorded in January 2022 (17,087).
SISG referrals comprised the majority of referrals. The trend in grant referrals followed the trend in COVID-19 cases, increasing over the course of the pandemic from 2,468 in November 2020 to a high of 12,865 in January 2022. The peak in January 2022 coincides with high numbers of COVID-19 cases when Omicron was the dominant variant in Scotland.
SISG referrals did not always result in payments being made, and people were able to apply for the grant by other means. For the number of grants paid in each month, see the monthly management information published by the Scottish Government.
Support given from outbound calls
The number of outbound calls resulting in support given was recorded by local authorities. From a total of 412,239 successful outbound calls, local authorities provided support, or referred individuals for support in 77,870 instances (19%). Throughout the service this proportion fluctuated between 12% and 26%.
Since 1 May 2022, Test and Protect has transitioned to a steady state in line with clinical advice to support the effective management of COVID-19 as it becomes endemic. As a result, the Local Self-Isolation Assistance Service is now closed. This is the final update summarising the practical support provided throughout the pandemic, covering the period from 2 November 2020 to 30 April 2022. A spreadsheet of the data can be found below.
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