Covid Recovery Strategy: for a fairer future

Sets out our vision for recovery and the actions we will take to address systemic inequalities made worse by Covid, make progress towards a wellbeing economy, and accelerate inclusive person-centred public services.

6. Rebuilding Public Services – how we will deliver

During the pandemic public services have been suspended, reduced or delivered through different approaches often using technology. Barriers between organisations were dismantled and, in the face of urgent need, there was an increased willingness and ability to work together because it really mattered. National and local resilience partnerships have been incredibly effective involving local authorities, NHS Scotland, Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue alongside other partners. Communities and national and local governments worked together to slash the numbers of people sleeping rough to a record low. We need to bring that urgency, creativity and flexibility to recovery, and to addressing the systematic inequalities made worse by Covid.

Reducing delays in accessing public services is critical for Scotland’s recovery. Individual recovery plans, including the NHS Recovery Plan; Education Recovery: Key Actions and Next Steps; and forthcoming justice strategy, all seek to address backlogs and increase capacity. Local Government also continues to play a crucial role in recovery, with councils leading production of recovery plans to address the priorities of their local areas. These plans cannot be viewed in isolation and all have a part to play in making Scotland a fairer place: for example education can help lift children and young people out of poverty, and progress on child poverty can support improvements in attainment.

A recent report from National Records of Scotland (NRS) emphasises the stark reality of health inequalities in Scotland evidenced by differences in outcomes for people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland compared to the least deprived areas. With those in the most deprived areas 18 times more likely to suffer a drugs related death; four times more likely to die from alcohol; three times more likely to die by suicide; twice as likely to die from Covid; and can expect 20 years less healthy life.[38]

Covid undoubtedly has made the need to focus the collective endeavour of our public services more urgent. This strategy takes the learning from the innovation and creativity which characterised the way which public services, businesses, communities and the third sector responded to the pandemic and set out a process to systematise and scale successful approaches. We must make community involvement and empowerment both in service design and delivery the norm, not the exception.

In recovery, all partners must help the people of Scotland – especially those hardest hit by the pandemic – to live better, healthier, happier, more prosperous lives. Our commitment to reform and redesign is clear. We will build on the approach which the Christie Commission set out in 2011 and one that the Scottish Government and Local Government adopted as its Public Service Reform agenda the same year.[39], [40] A renewed focus on prevention, greater partnership working, workforce development, and a more transparent focus on performance will be critical for success. This approach has already informed major reform programmes and local service design across Scotland[41] and it commands confidence among community groups and the third sector, as the Social Renewal Advisory Board report confirmed.[42]

Therefore the actions set out in this section provide the foundations for our continued and sustained commitment to tackle pre-existing inequalities and secure positive economic, environmental and social wellbeing for all.

Case study: working together to help homeless people in the pandemic

Covid put the lives and health of around 300 people who were sleeping rough or in shared dormitory style accommodation at immediately higher risk. They have poorer health and higher rates of complex problems than the general population. We made over £1.5 million rapidly accessible for Local Authorities and third sector partners to acquire emergency accommodation urgently, provide daily hot meals and emergency food, give enhanced independent living support to young women who are homeless and have experienced sexual assault, and support the basic needs of people with No Recourse to Public Funds. Rough sleeping was almost eradicated as many ‘entrenched’ rough sleepers accepted the offer of temporary housing, showing what a more personalised approach with a clear message of care and dignity can achieve. Having accommodation has enabled access to primary care, mental health services, advocacy, employment support and addiction services, helping to stabilise chaotic lives.

The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group’s latest set of recommendations were published on 14 July and focus on how we can keep people safe now and in a future where no-one in Scotland sleeps rough. These have been publicly accepted in principle by Ministers and include:

  • an immediate flexible supply of affordable housing for all;
  • maximising housing options for all those facing homelessness;
  • preventing homelessness from happening in the first place; and
  • preventing migrant homelessness and destitution.

Collective National Endeavour for Recovery

We know that individuals and organisations experience of public services varied significantly during the pandemic. We want every person to access and benefit from public services in a way that works for them and meets their needs. The Scottish Government cannot do this alone. We are committed to working with our partners in Local Government, the business community, health services, the third sector and our communities as part of an energetic national recovery endeavour. Our commitment in March 2021 to a long-term partnership to strengthen collaboration between the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and COSLA, following successful partnership work in response to the pandemic is an example of this approach. Only by working together can we address the inequalities made worse by Covid and make the changes necessary for Scotland to thrive. To lead this collective national endeavour, we will work differently with our partners in the following ways:

a) Scottish Government’s approach to Recovery

The agreement with the Scottish Green Party commits us to working together to redesign and rebuild public services, including reform of the education system and the establishment of a National Care Service, and to building a more equal Scotland.

We are renewing our commitment to taking a person centred and whole system approach to Covid recovery. In recovery we must also change to enable government, public, private, third and voluntary sectors to work together more effectively.

As we act as an enabler for transformation, we increase the transformational potential across the wider public sector.

We want to design services taking into account lived experience. We will make it easier to work with us by making sure that the people who help us design and deliver policies and services get practical support to do that. Covid recovery will need all Scotland’s people, and all of our organisations to be willing to build new kinds of relationships with each other.

This strategy sets out how we will work differently, and how we will work differently with Local Government and business organisations.

b) Partnership with Local Government

We have worked closely with Local Government to agree the shared vision and outcomes of Covid Recovery and underpinned this with principles about how we will work together. Our joint approach recognises the critical roles of the Scottish Government and Local Government in leading our national and shared endeavour of Covid Recovery. Our urgent initial focus will be to address the areas of greatest harm resulting from the pandemic and its impacts on people, society, public services and the economy. This approach will seek to deliver discernible improvement in people’s lives, demonstrating the ability to build back fairly.

Building on the partnership which underpinned our Covid response we will work with Local Government to shape the recovery activity which will support – rebuilding public services; good, green jobs and fair work; financial security for low income households; and wellbeing of Children and Young People. We will also support delivery of joint programmes of work with a Recovery Oversight board, allowing a strong focus on monitoring and performance towards outcomes.

c) Partnership with the Third Sector

Key to the resilience of our communities has been the work of Scotland’s third sector and volunteers. Third sector organisations have led the way in adopting innovative, person centred, holistic services which wrap around families and individuals. Third sector organisations are also often working with those most marginalised including those most impacted by the pandemic. It is therefore essential that we strengthen our partnership with the third sector in our approach to recovery. Our shared commitment with SCVO and COSLA to strengthen collaboration demonstrates our determination to maintain this approach. Central to this will be continuing to support strategic infrastructure nationally and locally. The value of local Third Sector Interfaces in facilitating collaboration across a diverse third sector and public sector has been proven during the pandemic. Commitments to supporting infrastructure and key policies, including the Social Enterprise Action Plan and the Volunteering Action Plan, will ensure that we strengthen the sector’s role in supporting recovery.

d) Partnership with Business

We welcome the way businesses and their representatives have worked collaboratively with government through the pandemic. We want to build on that. Recognising the opportunity to work differently to maximise and accelerate progress on recovery and learn from our experience during Covid response, we are finalising a new set of principles with representative business organisations which will establish an overarching framework to guide our future relationship.

When formalized, these principles will be used to support a change in how Scottish Government policies impacting on business are developed and delivered. They will encourage a more collaborative approach to economic policy development. They will also influence wider public sector activity by consistently articulating expectations around the role for, and value of, business involvement. And they will frame specific actions in our National Economic Transformation Strategy to help businesses to thrive, create jobs and address inequality. A fair, equal society and a strong, sustainable economy are not competing aims. They are interdependent.

e) Partnership with Communities

The local response to Covid has shone a light on the power of our communities and how they can come together and make change happen to shape their own futures. Where people live really matters to them. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our parks and libraries particularly for those on low incomes. The fundamental purpose of Scotland’s person centric, place based approach is to ensure that everything we do in our villages, towns, neighbourhoods and cities – involving all spheres of government – is relevant to that place and for the benefit of all the people in that place.

This means helping partners and stakeholders in every community to tackle the inequalities now made worse by Covid – in a way that listens to the distinct voices of that community and responds to the very specific needs of the people who live there. That includes shaping more inclusive and person-centred public services focused on those in greatest need, and creating local infrastructures that enable people to live well locally. It also involves Scottish Government taking the lead in orchestrating a more joined up approach to place across portfolios.

Key to the resilience of communities has been the action taken by communities themselves. We will build on this to ensure that resilience can be sustained as part of our recovery and renewal through our Empowering Communities Programme. The programme provides support to the hundreds of community anchor organisations across the country, enabling communities to take more control and make a difference in tackling inequalities on their own terms, shaping their own futures.

Over the next 18 months, to rebuild our public services, address inequalities which Covid made worse, and change how we deliver we will:

  • Support public sector bodies and Community Planning Partnerships in every local area to develop and implement a local plan for Covid Recovery which focuses on the areas and approaches with the most significant scope for impact in their localities.
  • Take a more holistic and joined-up approach to regeneration through the Place Based Investment Programme – to achieve outcomes that not only improve the physical, economic, cultural and social outcomes for communities but also tackle inclusivity, wellbeing, health and the climate. This is now an active 5 year programme to accelerate our recovery ambitions through 20 minute neighbourhoods, community-led regeneration and town centre revitalisation. The programme builds on the successful impact of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) and Town Centre Action Plan which have been delivered through a strong partnership with COSLA and local government. RCGF for example, has invested in over 200 projects which have created and supported thousands of jobs, provided new space for local enterprises and supported the resilience and wellbeing of disadvantaged and fragile remote communities across Scotland.
  • Provide a one-off fund of up to £1.25 million through the Scottish Libraries and Information Council to help libraries re open and stay open, particularly in areas of deprivation.
  • Support the joint development of leadership capacity in Scotland as well as the workforce development in local and national contexts that will enable more effective and person centred services to be delivered
  • Support the V&A Dundee to become a National Centre for Design, and to lead and inspire the contribution of design to our economic and public services recovery.
  • Conclude, as a matter of urgency, work currently under way to bring forward proposals for the establishment of a recognised, authoritative and collaborative function to combat the accelerating threat of cyber attack to Scotland, its businesses and people. The intention is to leverage better coordination and collaboration for the common benefit and so prevent and respond to escalating cyber risk in a more rapid and resilient way. As well as incident response coordination capacity, the ambition is to also develop a capacity to better share threat intelligence, alerts, best practice, and advice and guidance across all sectors and so mitigate the impact of all attacks and cyber crime more generally.
  • Work to establish a new National Care Service (NCS) – with the aim of treating people with dignity and respect at its heart. We will ensure care is focused on the individual and is human rights based by taking a user led approach, properly recognising the value and insight of lived experience.
  • Establish a Centre of Expertise for Transformation this year to develop collaboration and learning across a range of specialist analytical, digital, design, improvement and participation methods; applying this expertise to accelerate public service transformation.
  • Deepen our engagement on work to embed equality, inclusion and human rights across the public sector, through collaboration with local government on the development of a strategy to improve how we embed equality, inclusion and human rights. The NACWG recommended that we incorporate the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into Scots Law. In this parliamentary session, we will introduce a Human Rights Bill, incorporating four international human rights treaties into Scots Law, as far as possible within devolved competence, including CEDAW. Later this year, we will also consult on the operation of the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland.
  • Support local, regional and national resilience partnerships to embed the learning from the pandemic in order to prepare nationally for future risks
  • Establish joint oversight of the Covid Recovery policy programme, chaired jointly by Scottish Government and COSLA. Working with Research Data Scotland and the Improvement Service we will agree outcomes, indicators, monitoring and evaluation which allows us to accelerate progress.
  • Support our Collective National Endeavour for Recovery through the establishment of a Collaboration for Recovery which could draw on knowledge, experience, design, improvement science, innovation and local successes which can lead to scaling up and systemic improvement. We will publish an agreed programme plan in December followed by quarterly reporting of progress. See Figure 5.
  • Deliver a framework that supports and enables local partnership working to deliver coherent place-based approaches to tackling health inequalities within communities. This will include developing more effective ways to support community-led third sector programmes that can help to improve the health and support those most in need. We will support our health and social care providers to be anchor institutions and to do what they can to reduce socioeconomic inequalities within their local community through their employment, procurement and use of assets.
  • Renew and refocus or efforts to build equity into our health and social care services for minority ethnic groups by implementing the recommendations from the Expert Reference Group on COVID 19 and Ethnicity as set out in the Race Equality: Immediate Priorities Plan, including work to improve collection and use of ethnicity data within Health & Social Care

Figure 5: How will we measure progress?

Partnership with business organisations and third sector

  • Quarterly reporting of progress
  • Collective National Endeavour for Recovery
  • Covid Programme Board with Local Government
  • Collaboration for Recovery – leadership innovation, learning, engaging

6. Summary of actions and delivery timescales

Figure 6 sets out how some of the actions set out in this strategy will impact more than one of our outcomes. Figures 7 to 10 set out indicative timescales for when many of our actions will be delivered over the next 18 months.

Figure 6: Table of cross-cutting actions

Outcomes Good, green jobs and fair work Financial security for low income households Wellbeing of Children and Young People
Drivers Job creation Reducing costs of living Early and preventative support for children and families
Employability and skills support Maximising income from social security / benefits in kind Conditions for wellbeing to flourish
Creating the conditions for fair work and a just transition Increasing income from employment
Outcomes Good, green jobs and fair work Financial security for low income households Wellbeing of Children and Young People
Actions Regional Economic Partnerships Community level systems of school age childcare Whole Family Wellbeing Fund
Green Jobs Fund and Green Jobs Workforce Academy Parental Employability Support Fund Sport and active living, and childhood obesity and adult weight management
Manufacturing Recovery Plan, Construction Recovery Plan and Construction Accord Benefit Take-up Strategy Locally-based mental health and wellbeing support
Zero emissions strategy for new affordable homes Fuel Poverty Strategy Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund
Affordable Housing Supply Programme Fair Fares Review Student mental health action plan
Retail Strategy Community Bus Fund Scaling Social Innovation Partnership (SIP) in partnership with The Hunter Foundation
Women’s Business Centre Welfare rights advisors in GP surgeries
10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation Roll out and doubling of Scottish Child Payment
Adult upskilling and retraining Free school breakfasts and lunches, School Clothing Grant, and free bikes pilot
Digital Skills Pipeline Holistic whole family support
Energy Transition Scotland Fund and North East Recovery and Skills Fund Children’s Hearings Scotland
Sistema Scotland and Youth Music Initiative
Gender, ethnicity and disability employment action plans and ethnicity pay gap strategy Summer 2022 and Summer 2023 offers
Community wealth building Scottish Teachers Advancing Computing Science (STACS)
Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray National Trauma Training Programme
110,000 affordable homes
No One Left Behind
Fair Work Nation: real Living Wage and other Fair Work standards
Wraparound childcare and expansion of Early Learning and Childcare for children aged one and two
Young Persons Guarantee

Figure 7: Strategy Delivery Plan for Financial security for low income household actions

Actions to Winter 2021

  • Publish Fuel Poverty Strategy

Actions to Spring 2022

  • Welfare rights advisors in 150 GP surgeries
  • Expand free school lunches to all children in primary 5
  • £8.65m for Parental Employment Support Fund

Actions to Summer 2022

  • Engagement period for model of funded ELC for children aged 1 and 2
  • Engagement period for wraparound childcare delivery plan

Actions to Autumn 2022

  • Provide free school lunches to every child in state-funded special schools
  • No One Left Behind approach with Local Government
  • Free school breakfast pilots
  • Expand free school lunches to all children in primary 6 and 7 (following provision to primary 5)

Actions to Winter 2022

  • Rollout of Scottish Child Payment to children under 16

Actions to Spring 2023 and beyond

  • Double Scottish Child Payment this Parliament
  • Early phasing-in of community level systems of school age childcare (from Spring 2022)
  • £15m for Parental Support Fund across 2022-24
  • Annual increase of School Clothing Grant
  • 110,000 affordable homes by 2032
  • Implement our second Benefit Take-up Strategy
  • Commission Fair Fares Review and introduce Community Bus Fund

Figure 8: Strategy Delivery Plan for Wellbeing of Children and Young People actions

Actions to Winter 2021

  • Establish Scottish Teachers Advancing Computing Science (STACS)
  • Trial tailored trauma training

Actions to Spring 2022

  • £10m for childhood obesity and adult weight management
  • £15m for mental health and wellbeing support for 5 to 24 year olds
  • £4.2m for Student Mental Health Action Plan
  • Up to £70 million to deliver our Young Person’s Guarantee
  • Recovery and renewal of Children’s Hearings

Actions to Summer 2022

  • £40m additional investment in CAMHS from £120m Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund

Actions to Autumn 2022

  • Free bike pilots for children who cannot afford one

Actions to Winter 2022

  • Rollout of Scottish Child Payment to children under 16

Actions to Spring 2023 and beyond

  • Develop and deliver tailored trauma training resources through National Trauma Training Fund (from Spring 2022, following trials)
  • Some virtual and hybrid Children’s Hearings likely to continue
  • Commitment for 1% of annual NHS Operating Budget to be directed to CAMHS (from Summer 2022)
  • Scale Social Innovation Partnership in this Parliament
  • £500m for Whole Family Wellbeing Fund in this Parliament
  • Sport and active living investment up to £100 a year in this Parliament

Figure 9: Strategy Delivery Plan for Good, green jobs and fair work actions

Actions to Winter 2021

  • Fair Work statement on race
  • Zero emissions affordable homes strategy
  • Retail Strategy
  • Manufacturing Recovery Plan (then incorporated into Making Scotland’s Future from Spring 2022)

Actions to Spring 2022

  • Review of Regional Policy in Scotland
  • Up to £20m investment in National Training Transition Fund
  • £64.5m for adult social care to ensure staff are paid the real Living Wage
  • North East Recovery and Skills Fund
  • A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Employment Action Plan
  • £800,000 for Workplace Equality Fund
  • £2m for Women Returners’ Fund
  • Ethnicity Pay Gap Strategy

Actions to Summer 2022

  • Report on progress of Green Jobs Fund and Green Jobs Workforce Academy
  • Construction Accord
  • Gender Pay Gap Action Plan
  • Real Living Wage condition of public sector grants
  • Real Living Wage for all providers of funded ELC
  • Digital Skills Pipeline

Actions to Spring 2023 and beyond

  • MA programme within Affordable Housing Supply Programme (from Spring 2022)
  • Fair Work standards condition of heat and energy efficiency contracts in this Parliament
  • Fair Work First applied to zero emissions new build affordable homes strategy in this Parliament
  • Fair Work standards across health and education sectors in this Parliament
  • Disability leadership and development programme
  • Local authority Community Wealth Building plans by August 2023
  • £50m for Women’s Business Centre in this Parliament
  • Energy Transition Scotland programme, including Energy Transition Fund
  • Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray
  • Publish and implement 10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation

Figure 10: Strategy Delivery Plan for Rebuilding public services actions

Actions to Spring 2022

  • Publish Covid Recovery Programme plan
  • Centre of Expertise for Transformation
  • Launch of central cyber coordination function for Scotland

Actions to Winter 2022

  • Consult on a new Human Rights Bill and the Public Sector Equality duty

Actions to Spring 2023 and beyond

  • Joint development of leadership capacity
  • Establish National Centre of Design at the V&A
  • Place Based investment Programme over five years
  • Place-based approaches to health inequalities
  • Implement recommendations in the Race Equality: Immediate Priorities Plan



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