A number of key learning points from funding in 2021-22:
- Flexible funding enabled local partners to build on and adapt existing services to meet emerging needs, drawing on learning from their earlier interventions and good practice examples in other areas. With this in mind, support for further shared practice exchange would likely be welcomed.
- While cash-first interventions continued to be the preference, some local authorities noted challenges – including the administrative resource required to collect bank details and process payments, and the difficulty of managing expectations when future funding is uncertain.
- As in 2020-21, local authorities reported that data agreements with the UK Government and Scottish Government at times limited their ability to target additional supports, and some noted that wider data gaps made it challenging to identify those who may newly be experiencing hardship.
- The limited lead in time available made it challenging for local partners to assess options and direct resource – this meant that many felt unable to explore new interventions. A longer term approach to investment could help to deliver change programmes with longer term outcomes.
- Longer term investment in administrative capacity was identified as key to scaling up hardship supports, especially in light of the likely increasing demand on these services linked to the rising cost of living.
- While only light touch monitoring was agreed between the Scottish Government and COSLA, some local authorities reflected that a standard methodology would help to better understand outcomes and impacts
The learning from the Winter Support Fund will help to inform future action, including the forthcoming plan on ending the need for food banks which will be published in Winter 2022-23.
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