Providing care and support
This pandemic remains a public health emergency. NHS Scotland continues to balance its response to COVID-19 with the need to keep people alive and well through remobilisation of other essential urgent and routine health and social care services to the greatest extent possible. But the pandemic is having significant impacts on our society and communities. Protecting and supporting people during these unparalleled times has been the focus of the Scottish Government, and that will continue. The pandemic also has global economic consequences unlike any we have seen before. Businesses and individuals have made extraordinary sacrifices as we tackled the pandemic together.
Recognising the harms of COVID-19 go beyond its impacts on health, we monitor and publish evidence on the direct heath, indirect health, economic, and social impacts - the Four Harms. Our response to COVID-19 is guided by considering these Four Harms, as well as our National Performance Framework.
In December 2020, a joint report from Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) analysed the impact of COVID on Scotland’s health, economy and society.
The report shows that the pandemic has had a significant impact across our National Outcomes, particularly in terms of health, economy, fair work and business, and culture. This report also highlighted that the impacts of the pandemic heightened the inequalities already in place pre-COVID-19.
Disproportionate impacts across a range of outcomes for a number of groups are being felt, including:
- households on low incomes or in poverty
- low paid workers
- children and young people
- older people
- disabled people
- minority ethnic groups
In addition, as we continue to learn and respond to the pandemic, there is emerging evidence that a significant number of people who have suffered from COVID-19 are experiencing long‑term physical and mental health issues.
We have, however, seen some positive developments that offer opportunities to be built on. These include acceleration of the digital delivery of healthcare and examples of Scotland’s public sector, businesses, third sector and communities working together at pace and across boundaries, resulting in swift, flexible responses to support people at risk.
In confronting the threat posed by COVID-19, we are determined that no member of Scottish society will be forgotten or left behind.
We highlight some of our actions in response to the Four Harms, since publication of the Strategic Framework in October 2020, below.
The sections below the Four Harms set out how we are supporting particular groups and sectors.
Harm 1: suppress the virus, protecting against the direct and tragic harm to your health
the 2021-22 Scottish Budget delivers record funding to support NHS Scotland through the most challenging period in its history. The Health and Sport portfolio will receive more than £16 billion, with a further £869 million for tackling Coronavirus. In the immediate term, this will ensure that there is appropriate funding for our public health infrastructure, including to our testing and vaccinations programmes, support for our local public health teams and enhanced data and intelligence infrastructure.
- we worked with the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network in developing the clinical guideline on the persistent effects of COVID-19. It will be updated as the evidence on Long COVID continues to emerge. Work is also underway to deliver the Framework for supporting people through Recovery and Rehabilitation during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- as our understanding of people’s treatment and support needs develop, further investment will be provided and the final Respiratory Care Action Plan will play a key role in responding to the implications and consequences of COVID‑19 for many aspects of respiratory care.
- our Chief Scientist Office is funding 9 research projects led by Scottish Universities on long-COVID (total of around £2.5 million) to contribute to the emerging evidence base on this new condition
Harm 2: support broader health, protecting our health and social care services, and your health and wellbeing
- in 2021‑2022, our direct investment in mental health will increase to £139 million and will support overall spending on mental health in excess of £1.1 billion. This funding will underpin our continued approach to improving mental health services and support for children, young people and adults
- additional £250 million over the lifetime of the next parliament and an additional £50 million made available immediately to support our national mission to reduce drug deaths. This will support further investment in a range of community-based treatment interventions, including primary prevention, and an expansion of residential rehabilitation.
- the creation of a £1 million Digital Inclusion - Connecting Residents in Scotland’s Care Homes initiative to enable all care homes in Scotland to access iPads to help care home residents stay connected with friends and relatives, and support the clinical management of health conditions remotely.
- publication in December of the dementia and COVID-19 recovery plan. The plan aims to build on action since March 2020 and strengthen the resilience of people with dementia and their carers across Scotland to recover through the complementary action of the NHS, Local Authorities and the third sector. This includes implementation of the national dementia Allied Health Professionals programme to support rehabilitation across all care sectors including in care homes.
- an additional £750,000 for local carer centres to increase support for unpaid carers, helping them to take a break from caring and access other much-needed help. This was added to the £3 million per year Short Breaks Fund, bringing this year’s extra investment in the fund to £1.1m plus an extra £300,000 for our Young Scot young carer package.
Harm 3: mitigate social harms, protecting against broader harms to your way of life
- through our £100 million Winter Plan for Social Protection the Scottish Government has invested nearly £6 million in promoting equality and tackling social isolation and loneliness, including £4.3 million additional funding for our Connecting Scotland Programme, specifically targeted to help socially isolated older and disabled people get online.
- in late 2020, the Winter Plan for Social Protection, awarded £187,000 of funding to support those most acutely impacted minority ethnic communities in this uniquely challenging winter season. In early 2021 we have awarded a further £150,000 of funding to complement existing ongoing winter support initiatives
- we recognise that women and children may be at an increased risk of violence and abuse during this period and have responded quickly to ensure that frontline services could adapt and continue to help people during this public health crisis by providing more than £5.75 million in additional funding and creating a COVID specific fund of £90,000 crisis for women involved in prostitution.
- the Winter Support Plan also made £15 million of flexible funding available to Local Authorities which entered protection Level 4 to strengthen their local response to meet emerging need and support people in their communities struggling with the restrictions or guidance, particularly those most at risk through health or social inequalities. This includes people at highest and higher clinical risk, older people or disabled people who encounter barriers that emerge and can be used to pay for food and essentials.
- a Communities Recovery Fund, part of our Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme, aims to support either the re-starting or continued delivery of community services that were suspended or reduced because of COVID, or the creation of new services that tackle new challenges presented by COVID.
- to date, we have committed more than £375 million to support schools and families, particularly with required safety mitigations, the challenges of remote learning (including recruitment of additional staff, additional digital devices, and additional family support), and through the continued provision of free school meals
- a temporary ban on the enforcement of eviction orders across the private and social rented sectors was extended until the end of March at least. The extended ban –applies to all evictions in areas subject to Level 3 or 4 restrictions, except cases of serious anti-social behaviour, including domestic abuse.
- providing certainty and stability on Income Tax, which will see Scottish taxpayers pay no more Income Tax in 2021-22 than they did in 2020-21, based on their current income
- £98.2 million to improve Scotland’s digital infrastructure and deliver access to high quality broadband and mobile coverage
- £0.5 million digital support for community based adult learners to continue with their learning journey
- providing £3 million for projects offering additional support through Youth Work Education Recovery helping young people to reengage with education
Harm 4: support the economy, protecting against the devastating impact for business
- during 2020-21 we committed more than £1.2 billion to support our economic recovery, including a £230 million package for capital projects to stimulate the economy
- we have published our five year infrastructure investment plan and capital spending review – together offering over £33 billion of public investment to boost market, business and supply chain confidence in sectors across Scotland’s economy, and to encourage necessary private sector investment.
- in the coming year, there will be an additional £125 million focused on protecting jobs and supporting people made redundant or whose jobs are at risk, and continuing the delivery of the Young Person’s Guarantee. This builds on the additional £100m invested into the Guarantee, Employability and Skills in (financial year) 2020/21.
- £5 million investment to deliver year two of the Food & Drink Sector recovery plan supporting recovery from Covid and mitigation of Brexit consequences.
- we have commissioned work in response to the recommendations to develop a five-year recovery and investment plan to set the tourism sector back on track to deliver the 2030 tourism strategy. This has already been supported in 2020‑21 by a package of £104.3 million. In 2021‑22, we will provide £55.1 million for tourism.
- our Non‑domestic rates regime will continue to be the most competitive regime anywhere in the UK, with the Basic Property Rate (‘poundage’) being reduced to 49 pence. The retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors will pay no rates during 2021-22.
- £90 million to compensate local authorities which choose to freeze council tax and a further £259 million will be added in one-off funding to support ongoing COVID-19 pressures
Children and young people
Helping to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up, and maintaining our focus on Getting It Right for Every Child continue to be key aims of Scottish Government. We will continue to take a rights based approach to our response to the pandemic, assessing protective measures (where relevant) for their impact on children’s rights.
Our priority is to ensure our children can return to normal schooling and early learning and childcare (ELC) and by extension back to much greater normality in their lives, as quickly as it is safe to do so. Protecting and prioritising opportunities for children to play, take part in sport and meet up with friends are critical to preventing harm and developing wellbeing. We recognise there will be significant longer-term impact from the pandemic affecting children and young people, and that we need to work collectively to minimise this as far as possible. This includes greater investment in appropriate mental health services and support, responding proportionately where inequalities already exist or have newly arisen, to ‘level the playing field’, and finding ways to create social environments that meet the specific needs of children, based on their age and developmental stage. Recognition of the potential life-long effects of early trauma and adversity, including that which has been experienced as a result of the pandemic, should be embedded into a societal, child-centred response delivered through communities, universal and specialist services working in partnership with children and families. Some of the steps we are taking to support children and young people include:
- making the return to in-person learning our first priority as we ease lockdown restrictions
- working with our delivery partners including members of the COVID-19 Collective Leadership Group and Children’s Services Planning Partnerships to monitor the impacts of the pandemic on children, young people and families and enable joined up responses across services, including holistic support to families.
- providing an additional £23.5 million as part of the £100m Winter Plan for Social Protection to increase support for children and young people in vulnerable situations, including those who need social work and residential support and care.
- investing £375 million to support our schools to mitigate the impacts of COVID on the learning experiences of our children and young people. This includes: £90m to implement mitigations such as cleaning, enhanced hygiene practices and improved ventilation in accordance with published guidance; £25 million specifically to support digital inclusion amongst school‑aged children, expected to support up to 70,000 children from lower income households; £80 million to recruit an additional 1400 teachers and 200 support staff; a further £105 million to accelerate learning recovery; and over £50 million to ensure ongoing provision of free school meals.
- extending the Scottish Attainment Challenge for a further year to help accelerate recovery and recognising that COVID has had a negative impact on the attainment gap. This includes £127 million directly to schools to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of the Pupil Equity Fund
- given the impact of school and early learning setting closures on children and young people’s mental wellbeing and their learning we are prioritising education recovery. A range of steps are set out in our National Improvement Framework and Plan for 2021. We will continue to engage with professional associations, parental organisations and young person organisations to support learners to re-engage with learning and to support their wellbeing. This will include engagement with learners themselves via the Youth Education Recovery Panel
- supporting councils to reach full implementation of the provision of 1,140 hours to eligible children, in 2021‑2022 we will provide £567 million revenue grant funding for early learning and childcare to local authorities. The new date for the statutory duty to be delivered (August 2021) has been agreed and legislation for this has been laid in parliament
- we have created a Temporary Restrictions Fund to support childcare providers while they are permitted to open only to vulnerable children or those of key workers. £11.4 million is being made available between January and March, to help mitigate the reduction in income resulting from operating below capacity and ensure these settings can remain open.
- in view of the reopening of the ELC sector from the 22 February we are considering how best to utilise the one third of the Temporary Restrictions Fund identified for March to best support those in the sector in greatest need, in particular recognising that school age childcare settings are facing restrictions for longer
- we are providing £3.2 million of business support for childminding services to offer a grant of £750 to every registered childminder. The Childminding Sustainability Fund will build on the support already provided to over 1,000 childminders through the Childminding Workforce Support Fund, and to which we have provided £420,000 to support delivery
- we are rolling out the Scottish Child Payment through the provision of £68 million. Once fully rolled out this will help lift an estimated 30,000 children out of poverty
We will continue to work locally and nationally with local government and ELC providers to ensure that schools, early learning and childcare are safe, effective and focused on the needs of children and their families. We will also continue to work closely with child contact centres.
Recognising the need to encourage greater adherence to school-based mitigations and FACTS when leaving school grounds, we have worked with Young Scot to develop a communication and engagement strategy for young people of secondary school age.
Work is also ongoing through the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) to consider appropriate and transparent messaging to communicate the risks and protection measures to different groups including staff, pupils and families.
Further and higher education
We are committed to mitigating the negative impacts of the pandemic on students studying in Scotland. These are unprecedented and challenging times for everyone, however we want to ensure that students remain supported. Some of the measures we have taken to support students facing hardship include:
- in order to avoid students incurring unnecessary hardship and to allow those that require extra support to be able to access it, we announced an additional £30 million in January. This includes: £20 million to help alleviate the financial burden and stress facing our students and £10 million of support to institutions for the revenue lost by providing rent refunds or rebates to students.
- universities and colleges have been asked to prioritise accommodation issues when distributing the additional funds to students
- we also announced the repurposing of £5 million for student hardship in December 2020
- students facing additional hardship as a result of COVID should continue to apply for financial support from the Further/Higher Education Discretionary Funds
- the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020 introduced notice to leave periods for students residing in halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)
We have worked to develop solutions to tackle digital exclusion for further and higher education students:
- £15 million to support 23,000 low income families as part of phase 2 of the Connecting Scotland programme.
- £5 million Digital Inclusion Fund to support over 13,500 post-school learners, including:
- £4.75 million to support approximately 13,000 college and university learners to access digital equipment.
- £250,000 to support approximately 500 community based young adult learners’ access digital equipment and wi-fi, including accessibility software.
- £50,000 to Jisc, the UK’s FE and HE digital network support organisation, to pursue zero-rated online provision on behalf of Scottish learners.
We have recently established two separate taskforces with the aim to provide solutions to maximise completion of student learner journeys in further and higher education:
- The Learner Journey taskforce is focused on students being able to complete their courses as a priority. We are working at pace to quantify the additional demand, and we expect to set out our forward approach in the coming weeks.
- The Student Hardship taskforce will aim to assess the impact of the pandemic on student hardship and to determine if the mechanisms and measures currently in place are sufficient to mitigate against student hardship in Further and Higher Education
To mitigate the impact of mental health on students, we have:
- announced £1.32 million of additional funding in this financial year to help students deal with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
- worked closely with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to support institutions to continue to offer mental health support to students, and committed to introducing more than 80 additional counsellors in colleges and universities, with the SFC announcing guidance and allocations of £3.645 million for the academic year 2020-21.
- provided additional funding of £750,000 in this financial year to support NUS Scotland and student associations for vital welfare support for students in colleges and universities
- agreed additional financial support to extend the work of Think Positive, NUS Scotland’s student mental health project, to March 2021. Think Positive is refocusing its work and associated small grants scheme to address COVID-19 issues
- shared a range of guidance and advice on our Student Information Scotland website for students who may require help with mental or physical wellbeing issues
- invested significantly in a comprehensive package of support for mental wellbeing during the pandemic, including services available to students such as the expansion of the NHS24 Mental Health Hub, and the Breathing Space telephone helpline and web support service
We have provided financial support for universities and colleges who have been hit hard by this crisis. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance recently announced a further £60 million boost for Further and Higher Education in financial year 2020/21:
- £40m resource funding to help colleges and universities maintain research activity, protect jobs and help students
- £20m additional capital to boost research and knowledge exchange
Our Further and Higher institutions will receive over £120 million in additional financial support directly related to COVID-19 from the Scottish Government across the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years.
Tackling Inequalities exacerbated by the crisis
A key finding of Scotland’s Wellbeing- The Impact of Covid-19 is that, ‘the impacts of the pandemic have been, and are likely to continue to be, borne unequally.’
Some groups and parts of the country are experiencing multiple harms simultaneously, as the impacts of the virus and the restrictions affect them disproportionately. Many of these impacts will be long-lasting, through for example predicted increases in poverty and unemployment; fracturing of family and social support structures, and greater levels of childhood adversity. As a result, unequal outcomes for different groups could increase across a number of our National Indicators in the future – in particular inequalities relating to income or socio-economic status, gender, age, ethnicity and disability. There is also the potential for inequalities to be re-shaped or for new inequalities to emerge.
Therefore equality and inclusion are key to our recovery, in ensuring that we emerge from the pandemic as a fairer society.
Through our £100 million Winter Plan for Social Protection, we have invested nearly £6 million in promoting equality and tackling social isolation and loneliness. This enhances support offered through key helplines, including for older people, disabled people and victims of domestic abuse, ensuring that people are able to access the support they need. Also included is £4.3 million additional funding for our Connecting Scotland Programme, specifically to get an additional 5000 older and disabled people online as well as funding for befriending helplines.
Health and social care
The Winter Preparedness Plan for NHS Scotland sets out, at a high level, the broad context and priorities for the NHS in Scotland until April 2021. Underpinning this work is a range of detailed planning documents, including the mobilisation Plans from the 14 territorial and seven national health boards, as well as specific critical activities undertaken at a national level, such as the Vaccination programmes or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan. Together with the Adult Social Care Plan, these set out the measures deployed across the whole health and care system to ensure that it has been as prepared as possible to meet the challenges and to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.
Informed by this work, we have been working closely with NHS Boards, Integration Authorities and COSLA to understand the additional pressures arising as a result of the response to the pandemic in this financial year and next in order to ensure that they receive the required support.
Following detailed review of the financial position, £1.7 billion of additional funding will be provided in 2021-22 to support the Health and Social Care Sector in the response to the pandemic.
Currently a total of £559 million has been allocated to Integration Authorities, including funding for sustainability payments to meet forecast costs for 2020-21. This includes £112 million allocated to Integration Authorities as additional funding committed through the Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan.
A Health and Social Care Task Force was established in November 2020 to help coordinate a whole system response to COVID-19 safety and adherence across Health and Social Care. The task force brings together a range of health and social care professionals who are working together to ensure a collaborative, consistent and holistic approach is adopted across Health and Social Care to support and sustain high levels of adherence to all appropriate COVID-19 guidance and regulations. Reducing transmission of infection and sustaining optimal levels of compliance within all health and social care settings continues to be of paramount importance.
In further protecting care homes, we have broadened staff testing to include twice weekly testing using lateral flow devices in addition to PCR testing, and expanded care home testing to visiting professionals and family and friend visitors. We have also prioritised vaccinations in care homes with over 99% of residents in older adult care homes now having received their first vaccination. We are acutely aware of the importance of visits for the wellbeing of residents and their friends and family. In consultation with relatives and care home providers we have completed plans to resume safe indoor visiting. We will work with all partners to ensure that we maximise meaningful contact between residents and their loved ones as the pandemic continues.
Although Scotland enjoyed full person-centred visiting prior to the pandemic, since March 2020 there have been varying levels of restrictions on visiting depending on local rates and prevalence.
In November 2020 we published revised national hospital visiting guidance to align with the Strategic Framework, which continued the principle of supporting essential visiting at all levels and gave boards guidance on expanding hospital visiting further wherever that was safe.
As the vaccination programme continues and with, in time, falling rates and prevalence, we are keen to move towards a gradual and phased resumption of full person-centred visiting. This is likely to mean a slow and careful approach beginning with expanding visiting in areas where prevalence is consistently reduced and increasing visiting opportunities for patients who are likely to be in hospital for medium- or long-term stays, or in circumstances where support is particularly critical for well-being.
Support for those clinically at risk
There are currently approximately 180,000 people who have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer advising them that they are on the shielding list in Scotland, based on clinical evidence which is regularly updated and reviewed. Individuals are identified through a mixture of health data and individual clinical judgment.
Since shielding in its original and highly restrictive form ended on 1 August 2020, a significant body of evidence has pointed to the detrimental impacts on the mental health, physical wellbeing, families and lives of those asked to shield. An evaluation published by Public Health Scotland on 27 January 2021 brings that evidence base together, and emphasises that, whilst shielding did help change behaviours and the support provided addressed real need, shielding in its original format is not recommended.
Since August, the Scottish Government’s approach has been to empower and enable people at highest risk to consider the extra advice at each protection level, and use the information, support and guidance available to help them make informed decisions that are right for them and their personal situation.
We will continue to adopt a person-centred approach and publish extra advice for those on the shielding list which is aligned with the protection level restrictions and guidance set out in this framework. This advice will also reflect the impact of the vaccination programme as this is rolled out.
The experience of the pandemic has shown us what is possible when we work collectively, and has increased our determination to end homelessness. Drawing on what we have learned from the crisis, we and our partners in Local Authorities and the third sector will build on this momentum.
In 2021‑22, we will provide over £12 million to support this, with an emphasis on the prevention of homelessness and specific actions to scale up Housing First more rapidly; end the use of communal night shelters; advance legislative protections for people experiencing domestic abuse; and explore alternative routes to reduce migrant homelessness.
Support for business
Businesses have responded at rapid pace to the pandemic and many have spent significant funds adapting their businesses to make them safer in response to the virus. However when the virus is highly prevalent those measures in isolation are insufficient. Our collective response has required us to close and curtail entire sectors to deal with the public health risk which we recognise has been extremely difficult for businesses and the economy as a whole. As we move slowly and carefully towards reopening parts of the economy we will continue to work with sector bodies and business organisations to ensure that guidance is developed collaboratively, clear and effective in minimising the spread of the virus.
As we have introduced the restrictions necessary to control the virus, we have also significantly increased financial support to protect businesses, jobs and the economy, fully deploying the consequential funding from the UK Government.
Since the start of the pandemic we have allocated more than £3 billion to support businesses across Scotland. 383,000 business support awards were allocated between March and October 2020, totalling £2.3 billion. Since October we have allocated £776 million to business support, Businesses received more than £240 million in January alone through the Strategic Framework Business Fund and related top-up payments for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors. We have also taken specific steps to support sectors such as tourism and culture and events which have been acutely impacted by the restrictions as well as groups such as taxi drivers, Mobile and Home Based Close Contact Service Providers and the Newly Self Employed. And we have also allocated £120 million to the Local Authority Discretionary Fund, which empowers councils to target support specifically to the needs of their area and those businesses which do not meet the eligibility criteria of other COVID Business Support funding.
This is in addition to providing full rates relief for all retail, leisure and hospitality premises in 2020-21. We will continue to look at how best we can support businesses, informed by their feedback. On 16 February, we confirmed that retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 provided the Scottish Government receives the funding already assumed from the UK Budget on 3 March, and that requisite funds are available to maintain existing support into 2021-22 . This builds on the three-month extension announced in the Scottish Budget and follows confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus (COVID-19) spending.
We know that businesses need clarity and certainty, and the Strategic Framework Business Fund will therefore continue to support eligible companies beyond 31st March in the event we receive requisite consequentials on 3 March from the UK Government.
In addition, recognising that there are costs and challenges associated with re-opening, when a local authority area transitions from Level 4, eligible businesses will continue to get the Strategic Framework Business Fund closure payment of up to £3,000 for the first four week period after they are able to re-open.
In 2021-22 we will also provide further Local Authority Discretionary funding to enable grant payments to some supply chain and other businesses impacted less directly by COVID restrictions.
The above proposals are also contingent on receipt of additional consequentials from the UK Government.
By the end of March, when we know what additional funding will be available from the UK Government, following further discussions with business organisations, we will set out more detail on future business and sector support.
We will also provide £103.3 million funding for Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise – an increase of £17 million – whose work to retain existing jobs and deliver our national mission to create new, good and green jobs is critical to economic recovery. They will continue to provide front line support to businesses and communities in areas disproportionately impacted because of their rurality and their reliance on jobs in the hardest‑hit sectors.
We have taken significant action to tackle fuel poverty head on – and by the end of 2021 expect to have allocated over £1 billion since 2009 to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency. We have taken action to ensure that appropriate support is available for those struggling with increased household energy bills as a result of the pandemic. Most recently £7 million has been provided as part of the Winter Support Programme to help households who are struggling with their fuel costs to ensure everyone can afford to keep their homes warm, particularly those most vulnerable to the health impacts of a cold home.
The draft Budget allocates £258.4 million capital to heat, energy efficiency and tackling poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty. This includes Warm Homes Scotland, our national service to deliver energy efficiency improvements to individual properties, and Area Based Schemes, funding local councils to deliver energy efficiency improvement projects to whole streets, flats, and estates.
Across the wider justice system, we recognise the pandemic has had considerable impacts – not least within the courts system, with a backlog in cases waiting to come to court, impacting those accused of crime, victims and witnesses. In response we have provided additional funding for investment in greater digital solutions and the introduction of remote jury centres across Scotland. We have also ensured additional support through the Third Sector Resilience Fund for front line victim support organisations and increased direct financial assistance for victims of crime. Civil cases have generally continued online.
We established a Recover, Renew, Transform Programme, to consider proposals for the reform of the justice system, including greater use of digital tools, support for victims and witnesses, and ways to prevent repeat offending and manage the prison population, through more effective community-based interventions. This year we will make an additional £50 million available to this programme and to begin to address the backlogs that have built up.