Covid Update February 21

LG Funding 

The Local Government finance circular, containing the provisional funding allocations to each local authority arising from the draft budget, has now been published and is attached for your information. UNISON Scotland will need to step up our Plug The Gap campaign in the next few weeks if we are to maximize the opportunity to influence the inter-party discussions that will be taking place before the second and third readings of the budget in parliament. 

COSLA Update 

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer gave an update on current issues.  Whilst he said they are pleased that the number of new cases is now reducing, and the ‘R’ number is now below 1, there remains significant pressure on the NHS.   

The Deputy DMO referred to the announcement of the new measures to tackle the virus and the advisory group guidance on the phased return of in-person learning in schools.  He said that they are continuing to learn about the virus and are trying to balance a number of issues at the moment – in relation to schools the balance is between ensuring the health and well-being of children, which is being impacted by being out of school, and the risks associated with bringing people back to schools. 

He said that the transmission rates in and between different age groups was being closely examined but they are confident that the rate of transmission from young people to adults is lower than adult to adult transmission.  We raised concern that whilst that may be the case the very fact that people will be brought back to schools will lead to more people travelling to them on public transport, more people congregating around school gates etc which could increase transmission and is a significant concern of our members.  He understood that concern and said that’s why they are not moving to bring all pupils back at the same time.  He stated that transmission rates will be ‘reviewed forensically’ to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken. 

UNISON raised concerns about communication and messaging and cited the results of the survey that our EIG colleagues recently completed which clearly show how worried our education members are for their safety.  He took this on board and COSLA are also looking at how this can improved. 

We also raised with COSLA an issue that has arisen in a couple of areas regarding the calculation of average pay for casual workers under the SJC Circular and the different method of calculation under the furlough scheme.  They will come back to us on this and I’ll report back when I have any further information. 

Relevant info: 

  • New measures to tackle the virus
  • On school testing – they have put together a brief fact sheet on the schools/ELC testing programme which I have attached for your information.  Also attached are the instructions for use that participants will be provided with when collecting test kits from schools. 
  • On vaccinations – I attach a copy of the letter outlining the vaccination provision for staff working with children with additional support needs. 
  • APSE State of the Market Survey – Local Authority Sports & Leisure Services 
  • I have attached APSE’s state of the market survey which focuses on Local Authority Sports and Leisure services which I thought might be of interest. 
  • Today is Time To Talk day! 
  • This is a day that mental health charities encourage people to pick up the phone and talk to others.  As the pandemic continues and more of our members are experiencing pressure, stress and loneliness please encourage them to reach out and talk.  You can find tips and resources to help on the Time for Change website here. 
  • Every Life Matters – Review and Action Plan 
  • The report of the first two years of Every Life Matters – the national suicide prevention strategy – has been published.  The action plan in it contains a number of actions for local authorities and COSLA so thought it worth sharing
    • See below for all attachments

How we are responding to the Corona virus

We are already receiving applications from members who are in financial difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus. In some cases, this has sadly meant providing support to those who have lost loved ones – including help with funeral costs.  

CoVid19 Response Fund

For many of our members, work and household income has suddenly changed overnight.  Whether as a result of ill-health, loss of income or increased work-related costs, many will be feeling anxious about how they will make ends meet, pay household bills and put food on the table.  

We want members to know that we are here to help in whatever way we can and is why we’ve established a special CoVid19 Response Fund.  This new hardship fund will help ease the immediate financial pressures faced by members including those who have become more vulnerable by providing an immediate grant of £250 to help with essentials.  

Eligibility

To be eligible for a COVID-19 grant the following must apply either to the member and/or their partner:

  • Suffered a reduction in earnings as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis which has put them in financial difficulty (this could be linked to work or health related reasons) and/or
  • Member and/or partner is a key worker with increased work-related costs as a result of the crisis, e.g. transport, care, or laundry costs.
Also
  • Be a UNISON member with at least 4 weeks membership and have paid their subscriptions;
  • Have savings of less than £800
  • Be applying for or in receipt of any statutory help that they may be entitled to.  

How members apply

Members in financial difficulty can apply direct by completing a simple online application form and attaching some supporting documents which will help us reach a quick decision.  

For all the details and, the application form itself go to: CoVid19ResponseFund

How you can help

Through your communication channels, please share information about this important initiative as widely as possible as this will ensure members who are struggling receive the help they need.  

Other important information

By way of a reminder, please also note that we have introduced a streamlined version of our main financial assistance application form which members can now complete electronically.  We are actively encouraging members to use the electronic form where possible as this will result in us receiving the application sooner.  Members can apply without going through the branch – something that may be helpful if you are a key worker or other reasons make it difficult to have contact with members.  

For further information go to: https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/services-support/there-for-you/financial-assistance/ and then scroll down to the section on ‘Financial Assistance’

Thank you to everyone. We really do appreciate all that you’re doing during these difficult times.  

Stay healthy, stay safe, stay tuned for more information.