PLACE, NEIGHBOURHOOD & CORPORATE ASSETS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 October 2020
Assets and Facilities
Additional day cleaning staff continue to operate during the hours of 9am and 3pm across all school sites and 8am and 6pm in all Early Years Facilities. Recruitment of additional cleaning staff for schools now complete with recruitment ongoing to fill Early Years positions. Catering service expanded to offer hot meals on a trial basis for 2 weeks in 4 locations (Kirkintilloch High School, Oxgang PS, Hillhead PS and Hillhead Early Years Centre) with effect from the 19th October in addition to operating a grab and go service across all other schools and early years facilities.
Service offering expanded as of the 5th October. The service continuing to undertake gas safety inspections, reactive repairs (emergencies and non emergencies) and works to void housing premises (mainstream and homeless temporary voids). The Care & Repair service has also recommenced. The Housing elemental replacement programme (kitchens, bathrooms, heating systems) remains on hold whilst the backlog of voids is cleared. The refresh of Asbestos management survey data across the non-housing estate ongoing. The smoke and heat detector installation programme throughout the housing estate is progressing. The service continues to support the completion of works to the Education estate following recent site surveys.
Assets & Estates
Work continues to deliver major projects at Southbank House, KHCC and all Early Years sites. Revised programmes for delivery of major projects continue to be verified however work progressing well on all sites. Extension to school and nursery at Killermont PS is complete. Works to the existing pitches at Torrance, Hillhead and construction of a new synthetic pitch at Lenzie Academy due to commence on site shortly.
Following Council approval, enabling works to support the construction of a new Boclair Academy have commenced. Construction of the Kirkintilloch Community Sports Complex and Allander Leisure Centre will commence at each site shortly.
Officers in Estates Management continue to assess all maintenance contracts and instruct works to ensure all service inspections are up to date. Estates Management continue to lead on the instruction of urgent and non-urgent works across the school estate. Asset Management leading on programme of elemental replacement works across the school estate.
MR Render programme is now well established in Waterside. Close windows remain the focus for the Windows and Doors programme and electrical work is now to be undertaken on all void properties. Kitchens and Bathrooms are subject to new tender, with some external work also completing. Mixed Tenure Roofing and EWI contracts awaiting tender award.
Housing New Build
Construction has commenced on 3 externally delivered turnkey housing sites. Phase one is now completed and Kilmardinny is handing over next week. Groundworks are being undertaken on former TJ site and Phase 3 (Lairdsland) contract is nearing tender award. SHIP 2021-2026 will go to consultation shortly and the Council's new Affordable Housing Investment programme is being devised for the period of the SHIP. Open Market purchases are yet to recommence at the pre-lockdown rate, but risk assessments and processes are being established for surveys to allow this to continue.
Housing - Estates
The team is continuing to work with the voids team to ensure voids backlog is delivered as quickly as possible with new properties coming on stream each week. In addition a further 22 new builds signed up in Bearsden over the past 2 weeks. The team is also working with the legal team to deal with anti-social behaviour cases by carrying out SSST conversions.
The Rents Team continue to issue arrears balance letters to tenants to alert them to the fact they have rent arrears and how much they are, as well as continuing to telephone or email tenants. These letters are seeing responses from some tenants who have not responded previously to discuss affordable and realistic agreements. There continue however to be tenants not paying and/or engaging and the service has recently reintroduced issuing 1st and 2nd reminder letters to these tenants. There are no current court actions for rent arrears taking place as we cannot carry out any evictions until at least March 2021. The rents team continue to support and assist as many tenants as they can with UC claims/verifications, DHP claims, putting affordable agreements in place and also ensure that income is maximised where possible.
Current rent arrears are £1,391,472 (week 28). A recent change implemented by the DWP now means that UC housing costs are paid directly to EDC on the same day as the tenant will received their UC. However there is also an additional backlog of payments still to be received as UC is paid in arrears. These payments will come through in the next few 4 weekly schedules along with arrears payments and also rent payments for those tenants not on the landlord portal.
Work is ongoing along with assistance from Corporate Communications for the next Taking Part newsletter due to be issued in early December.
The next TPWG meeting will be held online on 29 October 2020. Agenda items will include the start of the rent setting survey, and rent arrears and estate management updates.
There are currently 315 homeless applicants waiting for permanent accommodation with 13 having made offers at present. There are 11 homeless temporary voids with 6 about to be signed up and 5 awaiting repairs with Property Maintenance. Key issue with permanent lets is the lack of 1 bedroom properties where demand far outstrips demand. Both the RRTP update and SHIP will highlight this. Homelessness team have secured 23 private lets for homeless applicants during the lockdown period which has minimised the use of B&B as well. Currently there are no homeless applicants in B&B. Homeless presentations are down during the new financial year while out of hours contact on our stand by system is considerably up.
Land, Planning and Development
Planning Applications and Building Standards
The Planning Service is currently operating as close to normal services as possible. In accordance with the relevant risk assessment planning and enforcement site visits are continuing to take place under the current local and national restrictions. Building Standards is also currently operating as close to normal services as possible. Similar to Planning, site visits are continuing to take place in accordance with the relevant risk assessment for those properties and sites where suitable alternative evidence is not appropriate.
The team has been receiving a substantial amount of revised information in respect of applications where the service has been awaiting responses to first reports and follow up reports that have been issued. Officers are processing these responses with a view to progressing outstanding applications.
Weekly updates continue to be provided to the Scottish Government Building Standards Division to help monitor performance of Building Standards at a national level.
Both the Planning Applications and Building Standards teams continues to receive the number of applications expected by this point in the financial year despite the pandemic and are working to maintain performance as far as practical.
Land Planning and Sustainability Policy and GIS
The Council’s Local Development Plan 2 was approved at August Council. Consultation has now commenced on the Proposed LDP2 and will last until 15 January 2021. A technical note was issued to all Members with full details. Given the changing restrictions relating to COVID-19, adjustments may need to be made during the representation period.
The East Dunbartonshire Economic Recovery Plan was reported to Council on 1 October 2020. The Plan draws together actions across the Council and those being progressed by economic partners as part of delivery of Local Outcome 1. It is a live document, reflecting the ongoing nature of the public health and economic crisis and data will continue to be analysed alongside undertaking consultation. As a result of Council approval a survey will be undertaken in the coming weeks, this is currently being organised.
Work is progressing well on the Scottish Government funded Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Pilot Project with virtual work to assess the potential for improvements on properties in the Milngavie and Bearsden areas to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions now under way. The recommendations from the project will inform the development of the Council’s approach to tackling climate change which will be reported to PNCA Committee in due course. Work to assess progress in meeting the carbon reduction targets set out in the Council’s Carbon Management Plan is currently under way.
Work on the Council’s other key Land Planning and Sustainability Strategies and Plans is ongoing. This includes ongoing policy development, continuation with consultation using electronic methods and plans and strategies being presented to Council for approval.
The GIS Team continue to develop a comprehensive training package with the aim of upskilling officers and enhancing the accuracy of data being produced. The team continue to support the planning and building standards departments.
City Deal resources are being put in place to undertake the project. Officers continue to engage with partners across the City Region on the Council’s developing City Deal project, including landowners, SPT and GCC. Work on the outline business case has been delayed due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but progress is being made in relation to recruitment of core project management resources, programming and work on early economic impacts forecasting (as required under the funding approval).
Regeneration & Town Centres
The team are working towards delivering a range of projects despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including those recently approved at the Council meeting on the 1st October. Project activity and progress is being maintained via virtual meetings and electronic communication. The team are pleased to report that the Antonine Wall Play Park in Peel Park Kirkintilloch is programmed to start on site in November. Work to identify and apply for external funding is ongoing to support both Council and community led projects as required and an update will be presented to an upcoming PNCA Committee.
The new grants application for the Coronavirus Restrictions Fund went live on Tuesday 20th October with over 40 applications received to date. Further guidance is being sought from the Scottish Government on eligibility and criteria however there is a potential this will be extended to include some funding for businesses who have had to re-furlough staff.
A number of queries/appeals remain in respects of Business Grants for Phases 1, 2 and 3 and these are currently being worked through. To date almost £13 million has been paid out. Scottish Government has not yet confirmed a final date for reporting but have asked local authorities to complete property level data for all grants awarded in a pre-designed format. This is a substantial piece of work and will require collaboration between business support and rates due to the type of data being requested.
Business Gateway continues with its normal service provision however it is experiencing increased demand for support across all sectors. Redundancies and business closures are on the increase with trade not returning to the same levels for many businesses. Information from Business Gateway National shows that East Dunbartonshire BG has the 4th highest rate of attendance for it’s workshops across Scotland. The top three areas were Aberdeen, Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire.
The Business Support Team is working in conjunction with Employability and Public Sector Partners such as CAB, SDS, JobCentre etc to develop information to support companies and individuals facing redundancies. It is proposed the information is developed into a leaflet giving a holistic source of all support available to make it easy for everyone to gain access to the wide range of services that are available. Each of the partners will use the same leaflet to promote services to ensure a smooth journey for those facing job loss.
Traffic and Transport
Business as usual activity continues with the team working remotely on 2020/21 projects in preparation for return to normal operations. Site visits have recommenced with a number of access and core path issues being resolved.
The team has been successful in a funding bid to the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund (BPRDF). The fund supports the Transport Scotland led Transport Transition Plan, which is looking at measures across the City Region to support sustainable travel in the next stage of lock down easing. The funding will be used to progress proposals for the A803 corridor including bus stop improvements and signal optimisation.
Promotion of active travel in schools continue now that the Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders have been finalised. All signing and lining is now complete and enforcement underway.
Waste Services - Household Collection
Current activity is in line with previous updates, waste collections are operating normally for residents whilst social distancing restrictions continue to apply in vehicles. The last weekly reported tonnage data shows our waste remains higher than that of pre-Covid levels.
Dry Recycling Collection and Food Waste Collection
Collections are operating normally for residents.
Green Waste Collection
As advised to members in a separate technical note, garden waste collections have been suspended for a period of two weeks due to ongoing resourcing challenges across the service with the priority being to focus on the main domestic residual waste collections. A final round of fortnightly green waste collections will take place at the beginning of November before the service is terminated for the winter period.
Bulky Collections / Bin Deliveries
The service has been working in the past fortnight to catch up on all bin deliveries, residual bins were prioritised and now complete and focus is now on recycling bins and food containers. Bulky uplifts continue to be suspended at this time.
Mavis Valley Recycling Centre
The site continues to operate on reduced opening hours, throughput continues to be high, with traffic management support from the Roads team during the busy weekend periods.
In line with the continued need for social distancing and other government guidance, the workshop is still operating on shorter shifts for the foreseeable future. As per the last update the focus of activity in the workshop continues to see concentration on HGV servicing, preparing Roads Department gritters for the beginning of the winter gritting period.
Place and Community Planning
The Test and Protect - Isolation Support programme commenced 12 October 2020, whereby the cross service project team, receive data lists of individuals who reside within East Dunbartonshire who have been asked by Test and Protect contact tracing to self -isolate as an index case or close contact. There is an established process for support through proactive outbound calls and also inbound calls through the National Assistance Line.
The Community Planning Team respond to escalated requests on a range of complex needs signposting to a range of services including health, social work and housing and referrals to the ED Foodbank. The successful partnership approach with EDVA/OPAL continues to use the strong volunteer community response network facilitated through local coordinators to support those with little or no support, mainly on matters of shopping assistance and prescriptions delivery. Self isolation financial grants of £500 are available to those who meet the criteria and are not able to work or be paid due to the need to self isolate. Families with children in receipt of school meals are also funded.
Numbers of those supported were initially low but are expected to rise in the coming weeks and months due to the rising incidence of COVID and successful contact tracing mandating self isolation to protect public health.
Round 1 of the 2020/21 Community Grant Scheme is open with a closing date set for 30th October. Applicants from the previous round have been contacted and asked to re-apply, with the opportunity to amend and update their application to ensure full compliance with COVID restrictions. Applications from community groups who demonstrate innovative and COVID compliant programmes and ideas are particularly welcomed. The maximum award for an individual application is £3,000. The 2020/21 Community Grant Scheme is an entirely online application process this year. A high volume of applications are anticipated this year.
Our Year 2 Local Child Poverty Action Report (LCPAR) is in the final stages of preparation. Once approved work will then begin on preparing the report for next year. LCPAR’s are required to be published by June each year however SG relaxed the reporting requirements this year to allow LA’s to concentrate on the COVID response.
Community Development Workers are working remotely with key officers across the community planning partnership to support groups in our Place areas with a focus on community recovery, funding and wellbeing.
Community Protection - Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Community Safety Teams
Environmental Health is central to the Test and Protect programme where an officer is currently working full time with GG&C NHS Board in a key lead role in contact tracing. Other officers are involved in incident and outbreak management alongside case investigations, and others are undertaking visits to premises as described below.
Since the lifting of lockdown numbers of Covid 19 cases are rising considerably with restrictions in the East Dunbartonshire Council area. This has generated significant extra demand on the service with implicated businesses identified by test and protect being visited to assess and ensure businesses are compliant. Staff have had a key role in several Problem Assessment Groups / Incident Management Team meetings in response to identified cases and also attend Covid 19 focussed Health Board meetings twice each week to facilitate effective partnership working.
EHO’s and TSO's continue to enforce the Regulations as well as providing individually tailored advice and guidance to business community on both the legislation and Scottish Government guidance. This includes EHOs undertaking significant work involving proactive visits to the East Dunbartonshire hospitality sector, in order to assess compliance, offer additional guidance and where necessary take enforcement action.
On the 9 October a number of central belt restrictions were introduced - now extended until the 2 November. These are detailed below and have generated a lot of local enquiries from the hospitality sector seeking clarification on what this means for their business however officers continue to objectively enforce the Regulation using the Scottish Government guidance.
- All licensed premises will be required to close, with the exception of cafes that serve food provided alcohol is not sold will be able to open between 6am and 6pm
- Cafés (unlicensed premises) which don’t have an alcohol licence will be able to open between 6am and 6pm
- Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
- Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
- Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)
- No group exercise classes for indoor gyms and sports courts, pools with an exemption for under 18s
- No adult (18+) contact sports or training, except professional sports, indoor or outdoor
- No outdoor live events
- Snooker/pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls are to close
- Public transport use should be minimised as much as possible, such as for education and work, where it cannot be done from home
- Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply
As of the 2 November then a Strategic Framework will commence with 5 Tiers of restrictions, and this was published 23 October 2020. In the coming days and week then ED will understand within which tier they will be positioned, however this is likely to evolve and will be reviewed each week in line with the best evidence and incidence of COVID in the area.
EHO’s are resuming priority visits to environmental protection and public health referrals. During the period of emergency response a considerable backlog of referrals have built up and officers are now making inroads to this dealing with the most urgent cases first. Officers working in the field of Air Quality have produced our Annual Progress Report which was submitted to the Scottish Government. The report has been approved with very positive feedback on its contents.
The Council’s Lead Food Officer is currently working in a specialist sub group of SFELC with the aim of providing specialist Service Planning Guidance for use by Environmental Health services when all Official Controls restart. Discussions are ongoing nationally on the impact of the UK’s EU withdrawal in the near future and will be impacted on the timing and nature of any deal or no deal. EHO’s are also regularly attending virtual Liaison group meetings in the fields of Food Safety, Health and Safety, Public Health and Housing, Pollution Control as well as Contaminated Land.
Trading Standards also continue to receive a number of complaints and requests for advice from beauticians, hairdressers and barbers providing close contact services in the high risk zone This has proved both contentious and challenging in terms of supporting the sector to understand their obligations and not to provide services which entail the removal of a customer's face mask. The team has therefore written to all retailers within this sector and used social media, thus helping retailers and customers to understand the requirements that are presently in place.
The Trading Standards team continue to raise awareness of email scams through social media e.g. DVLA, test and protect, and .Gov scams. Work with Police Scotland on Operation Skipjack is ongoing with enforcement action being undertaken in a number of cases and leaflet drops in neighbourhoods which have been targeted by cold callers/bogus workmen.
The Team's Fair Trading Officers have continued to provide advice to consumers and traders over contractual disputes. Many of these instances have arisen as a consequence of the coronavirus restrictions impacting on performance of contracts. Our officers liaise between both parties to de-escalate and resolve disputes.
Both Community Safety and Trading Standards are pro-actively working on fireworks control together with other teams of council and key partners including Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland. These Community Safety partners are urging local residents to be safe as the fear is that in the absence of organised events, due to COVID, there is greater risk through an increase in informal firework events taking place in gardens and open spaces locally. Working with Waste and Streetscene colleagues then Community Wardens will identify unauthorised bonfires for removal, being built in dangerous locations. They will also raise awareness of fireworks safety and discourage their misuse through antisocial behaviour. Trading Standards licence premises that sell fireworks and will be using intelligence to make local safety checks and visits.
The Community Safety team continues to deliver a range of emergency and re-commencing work. Investigation of instances of fly-tipping continues to feature heavily and officers have been working closely with colleagues in Police Scotland to take robust enforcement action in relation to a number of offences. The team has also deployed mobile CCTV in known fly-tipping hotspots to try and help us tackle this increasing issue.
Control of Dog offences continue to be investigated and an emergency pest control service has been delivered for residents since the start of the lockdown in March. Permanent Bait services for pest control are now also recommencing in order to support customers where certain buildings or facilities within their remit are re-opening.
For Community Wardens on-street enforcement for parking offences recommenced in the middle of August. Charging and enforcement in off-street car parks then recommenced with effect from Monday 14 September 2020. Some urgent work in relation to environmental breaches as well as antisocial behaviour and youth disorder patrols in and around identified issue areas has also recommenced.
The team is also still providing a remote service in terms of neighbour complaints/disputes, providing advice by phone and email and liaising regularly with colleagues in other services including Housing, Social Work and Police Scotland. As part of this the team are re-commencing priority ASB visits in order to try and tackle the significant increase in the number of complaints that have been received in recent months.
In addition, a number of mobile CCTV cameras have been deployed across the Council area to try and help tackle ongoing issues in terms of antisocial behaviour as well as more serious criminal offences. These cameras have been deployed in conjunction and agreement with colleagues in Police Scotland.
Roads and Environment
Roads Network Operations
The Carriageway Winter Maintenance period commenced on 15th October with the appropriate stand-by arrangements now operations to respond to weather and road conditions as required. The Footway Winter Maintenance period will commence on 5th November, but here is hoping for a mild Winter period.
The roads Network Operations team continues to work on a rota basis to carry out repairs to all road safety defects reported on the road Network where social distancing can be maintained. In addition the annual Gully maintenance programme has commenced with all primary routes now completed. The team is continuing with our gully maintenance Secondary Routes focusing on high priority locations in the first instance.
The team is continuing to support colleagues in Waste with the operation of Mavis Valley Transfer Station, providing traffic management to assist with the control of vehicles accessing the site.
The team also responded to request for assistance from Police Scotland following an incident/investigation on Balmore Road. Regrettably this led to an extended period of closure, but the road was reopened as soon as possible.
Roads Inspectors are now carrying out all statutory safety inspection routes as well as investigating issues reported across the road network. As operations by utility companies have now increased the inspectors along with the Utility technician have commenced inspections of their operations as required. Inspectors and technician are now continuing to review and process and permit applications submitted to the Roads authority.
The Roads lighting operational team now have amended working procedures and risk assessments which has allowed the team to return to standard operations, albeit with reduced resources. Some routine repairs to footpath light units are still on hold due to social distancing requirements. The team is now progressing with all reported lighting issues on the Network as well as assisting the Community protection team with the erection of temporary CCTV cameras.
The lighting technical team continues to work on ongoing tasks suited to home based working such as processing inventory records, updating and data cleansing. Officers have returned to site inspection duties and are liaising with developers to carry out site inspection and testing of new developments and progressing any new adoptions. Christmas Light installation works have commenced with installation progressing. The team is also responded to any planning applications which have been received.
The Roads Network Team is continuing to review Risk Assessment and Safe Working Practises in response to the Government guidance and are actively working towards increasing activities to allow a return to the Capital Resurfacing programme. Initially it is expected that the footpath resurfacing will commence first with the carriageway projects following on when transport and welfare facilities are addressed.
Roads Technical & Engineering
The Drainage Team is continuing to carry out drainage repairs as required at various locations. They have also been attending sites across the authority area where there have been reports of flooding/drainage issues. To help with this, interviews for a new Drainage Officer have taken place and it is expected that a candidate will be appointed shortly. Online planning consultation for the River Glazert restoration project is expected to begin at the end of October.
The Structures Team continues with the work previously reported and to assist the work of other Teams that has a structural element.
The Traffic Team is beginning to review the entries for the road safety calendar competition in schools which closed today. Preparations for various capital works are underway, including a gateway project in Milton of Campsie and a redesign of the mini roundabout at Auchinloch Road/Lenzie Road following an incident with a bus. Design works for future A803 traffic corridor improvements continue. The September round of traffic surveys has been carried out. Officers will analyse these to see the impact of the pandemic at our authority boundary.
The Development Team have been on site working with developers on remedial issues at sites before roads adoption can be undertaken and working with Major Assets on coordinating road works necessary for the early years projects.
The teams are now coming to the end of the Summer Seasonal Maintenance and are looking to leave all areas neat and tidy following a very difficult period. Restricted street litter bin uplift and street sweeping also continue, and the herbicide contract has been completed for street verges. Pitch lining and inspection has restarted and the pitch feeding programme has been arranged.
Streetscene Technical Support
Kilmardinny House extension and the installation of the new wedding gazebo has been completed and the team will press on with the remaining elements of the project to add a beautiful outdoor space to compliment the building. The team is awaiting soil analysis results for Etive Park which will determine which elements of the project that will be taken forward. A reminder that the team have recently created orders for the following projects - Matta Mat Play Park repair, School Bulb competition, path repair at Lenzie Moss, Glen, Twechar and Lennoxtown, refurbishment of wood carvings, mono-blocking of Meadowburn steps side, Major redesign of Afton View Play Parks and play park at Lennox Park, wetpour repairs in a number of EDC sites, and bulb planting order for amenity open spaces.
Mugdock Country Park
As expected footfall was high during the October school week with visitor making the most of the periods of seasonally warm weather. Regrettably the normal events did not take place, but visitors seemed to be making the most of the Park and what was on offer. Signage and the one way system has been refreshed with 2-metre distancing re-introduced to the Visitor Centre. Recent restrictions apply to tearoom, cafe and restaurant and indoor space is still not able to be hired out. On a positive note that recent ASB and unauthorised access to the quarry in the park has all but stopped, but this is the seasonal norm, but a welcome respite which will allow the team to carry out repairs to fencing etc. The team is awaiting a Letter of Engagement to be finalised in order for contractors to prepare a specification for procurement to replace the Septic Tank. Costs are being sought for the repair of the walled garden/bandstand area, and stone BBQ area redesign.
EDUCATION, PEOPLE & BUSINESS: SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 October 2020
The extension at Killermont Primary and Early Years Centre opened after the October break. It is a wonderful learning environment for children and provides increased capacity for early years places within the Bearsden area. Places have now been offered to parents who had applied for a place for their child at Killermont. The Early Years team are continuing to recruit staff particularly promoted posts for the three new centres that are due to open early in 2021.
There has been an increase in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 within schools and early years centres. In all cases there has been no evidence of transmission within the school or centre. When there is a positive case in a school, clear procedures have been implemented in a number of schools and early years’ centres. The Head Teacher carries out a risk assessment, supported by the Chief Education Officer, and the Executive Officer, with responsibility for Environmental Health. This is then sent to the Public Health Protection Unit who verify the information and letters are issued to parents. It is clear that the increase in the infection rate within the community is impacting on the number of cases being reported in schools. . If a child or class group requires to self-isolate then home learning is provided.
All schools and early years’ centres continue to provide high quality learning experiences for children and young people. There is a clear focus on health and well-being and all schools have a programme in place to address learning loss due to the closure of schools.
The Scottish Government and the SQA have confirmed the arrangements for the National Qualifications next year. This has significant implications for young people in S4 to 6. There will be no external assessment of National 5 courses this year. National 5 courses will be assessed using an alternative certification approach. This will be based on teacher judgement supported by assessment and quality assurance. After the October school break, subject specific guidance will be published by SQA on a rolling basis, detailing the work that pupils will need to complete. Where possible, SQA will specify between two and four pieces of work per subject that will form the basis of arriving at a final award.
SQA will work with schools through the year on the quality assurance process, including sampling work and providing feeding back to teachers to ensure standards are shared and maintained. They will also work with Education Scotland, local authorities and regional improvement collaboratives to support a national approach to moderation and quality assurance. Higher and Advanced Higher courses will continue to be assessed through examinations and as before this will also include the completion of coursework. Higher and Advanced Higher exams are planned to start on Thursday 13 May 2021 and finish on Friday 4 June 2021, with results day on Tuesday 10 August 2021. SQA will publish the full exam timetable at the end of October. A clear contingency plan will continue to be developed, including key checkpoints up to the February break to assess public health advice and any potential impact on plans for these exams.
Detailed guidance has been provided to schools on Reporting and Digital Learning. Digital learning continues to be developed in all schools with professional learning for staff as a priority. The use of IT platforms to support pupils to engage on on-line learning both at home and in school are being implemented in all primary and secondary schools. A presentation was provided to Parent Council Chairs at a Q&A session with officers from the Central team. All schools are working with parents to implement arrangements for reporting to parents as it is not possible for parents’ meetings to be held this session.
Education Scotland have provided guidance on the delivery of practical subjects taking account of the risk of infection from COVID-19. There are particular issues in relation to music, in particular brass and woodwind instruments and singing. This has significant issues for the Instrumental Music Service and the Music School at Douglas Academy. A detailed and comprehensive risk assessment has been developed with the Health and Safety Manager. This will allow the delivery of music instruction with appropriate mitigation measures in place.
The Procurement Team continues to support tender and contract requirements across all services with significant workstreams around major assets, various Property Maintenance contracts and other needs across services such as Education and Roads. Renewal and award of various contracts continue with various ICT requirements being progressed at this time.
The team continues to monitor supply chain for PPE stocks and other critical supplies at this time. The centralisation of PPE Procurement to Broomhill Stores is currently facilitated by the Procurement Team, co-ordinating logistical requirements for PPE to HSCP, Education, Operational Services, etc. This is carried out through close working with the Senior Health & Safety Adviser, ensuring updated guidance is reflected in PPE items required for our workforce.
Business Grants, School Clothing Grants, Education Trip repayments, Early Years grants, Care providers additional funding requests, etc continue to be processed via the Procurement Support team supporting achievement of Government payment commitments.
Health & Safety & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The Senior Health & Safety Adviser continues to support, develop and progress guidance and procedures for a number of services such as HSCP Adult Social Care Building Based Day Services. This work is now finalised and has been presented to Multi-Disciplinary Senior Management, which includes Public Health and Care Inspectorate. The commencement of building-based services at Kelvinbank Resource Centre and Milan Service based at Union Street will be pending approval of the procedures put forward to keep everyone Covid-safe.
Other areas where specific guidance is still in process are Education’s Design and Technology department and Douglas Academy Music School.
The Health & Safety Team delivered COVID-19 training to around 30 Roads operatives in advance of starting their Winter Maintenance Program and is working closely with the Roads’ Team to update all risk assessments for the service. These sessions were delivered over 3 days which allowed for Question & Answer sessions with operatives full participation. The update of all task related risk assessments is also ongoing with the Property Maintenance Team. The Team has also been tasked with undertaking all H&S training for specific services and developing a series of Toolbox talks.
The Health and Safety Team has been reviewing processes for the application council-wide of Scottish Government’s face coverings and facemasks guidance and where mandatory use have an implication on the way services are delivered. Risk assessments are being developed for further areas to support the efforts of services returning to nearly full capacity as much as restrictions allow.
The team has supported a number of priority areas including EDLCT Swimming and Gymnastics program and Legal Services Registration Services.
The Senior Health & Safety Adviser continues to support services in the preparation of Risk Assessments and selecting suitable associated PPE, aligned to Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance. Services across Council, HSCP and EDLCT are continuing to comply fully with the latest Public Health guidance based on the activities performed.
The Fire Safety Team has now finished updating all Fire Safety Risk Assessment for educational establishments under PAS 79 form. Future priority areas are determined on the basis of the visit schedule for other assets.
Social Work Commissioning Team
The P&D team continues to support the HSCP and commissioned services including Care Homes, Care at Home and Third Sector organisations – essentially to ensure services are safe, remain open and are sustainable in the longer term.
P&D has an integral role in the HSCP’s daily Care Home Oversight Group – which involves compliance, monitoring, compiling daily reports to help inform local and national requirements. The team liaises regularly with the Care Inspectorate regarding inspections, feedback sessions and joint action plans to help monitor service improvement.
P&D is currently supporting providers to re-open building based day care services, where it is safe to do so and in line with national guidance. The process involves supporting providers to reshape and financially re-structure service delivery models to accommodate and balance individual needs, risks, public health and legal obligations
The P&D team continue to support and progress Social Care Sustainability Payments. Timescales for Additional Payment claims that relate to infection control, PPE and staffing costs have been extended indefinitely, whilst Care Home occupancy payments will be tapered out from September to November. A Governance Panel was held on 6 October to consider the latest claims – all approved claims are reflected within the HSCP’s Mobilisation Plan.
In accordance with national requirements, P&D and the HSCP is developing an agreed approach to support the transition of Planned to Actual provider payments.
Engagement continues with providers and other Local Authorities to understand the challenges and strategies deployed in other areas.
Human Resources & Organisational Development
The team continues to support the return to work for employees and monitor the measures in place in partnership with Managers and Head Teachers.
Absence analysis and support continues with priority focus within HSCP. Wellbeing information extended on the Employee Zone to reflect current campaigns for healthy working lives.
Monitoring impact of COVID on workforce continues through regular reporting. Support through Managers guidance at the point of referral ensures that appropriate measures are taken at the earliest stage pending Test and Protect response. Advice and guidance to employees and managers on COVID related issues and absences continue to be supported by the HR & OD teams.
A number of recruitment campaigns have been launched with officer support for key areas such as FM, Homecare and other recruitment requirements.
Cases are progressing where deemed appropriate for Discipline, Grievances and Absence with an assessment on whether these require to be virtual or in an office environment with all relevant safety measures being considered.
Delivery to support all employees including those who are home working continues through Learning & Development and enhancement of the Employee Zone for Wellbeing.
Business & Digital Change Team
The Transitional Support Fund closed to applications on 9th October. The team administered a total of 51 applications for payment with a cumulative total of £311k to childcare providers across East Dunbartonshire.
Working in partnership with Democratic Services, a project has now commenced to deliver a new Committee Management software solution.
The team are supporting the Council’s response to self isolation support and grant allocations.
Cashless Catering for schools continues to progress well. The team is working closely with schools to arrange the preliminary work required for set up as well as liaising with Facilities Management to develop menus for school meals. Orders have been placed for the electrical work requirements in advance of deployment.
The team has secured a 6-month contract extension for “Helping Hands”. This system helps to manage the provision of local support to vulnerable people in the community as part of the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Legal and Democratic Services
The team continues to support the Council’s COVID-19 civil contingencies response, supporting command structures at Council, local, regional and national level. Work remains focused on the recovery phase, lessons learned and in support of Test and Protect, however the changing circumstances are such that some response activity is recommencing. In addition, Members of the Team continue to attend meetings of LARGS in support of these matters and are working across the network to look at concurrency issues through a series of thematic sessions. These sessions seek to share development work and good practice in relation to issues that all Councils are having to revisit with a “COVID-lens” e.g. the impact of COVID on existing civil contingency arrangements for bad weather and other business as usual civil contingency events. As part of this, the Team is reviewing the Council’s current civil contingency arrangements to identify necessary changes or supplementary requirements in light of COVID-19. This is challenging in light of the changing environment in terms of the trajectory of infection rates and has to be flexible enough to adapt to developing circumstances e.g. the recent local lockdown and increasing national restrictions.
In addition to the above, work is continuing on detailed planning for a recurrence of COVID in the winter months. Regular meetings are taking place both locally and at a Greater Glasgow & Clyde LRP level to look at subject specific issues e.g. dealing with additional deaths so that there robust plans in place which can be activated if necessary. In addition the Team is supporting colleagues in dealing with assistance for those isolating due to Test and Protect and more generally in response to current restrictions and other impacts of the increasing infection rates. In addition, officers are working up alternative rest centre plans which are COVID compliant eg which accommodate physical distancing and dedicated rooms for those isolating and/or shielding.
The Team continues to be involved in the strategic management of Registration Services at a local and regional level to inform the national picture regarding the management of additional deaths during this pandemic and working with partners to support a Greater Glasgow & Clyde-wide response. The registration of births and marriages/civil partnerships has been supported by colleagues in Legal Services and has bedded in well, and progress is being made in addressing the significant backlog of birth registrations. In addition, the Team is feeding into discussions at a regional and national level, which seek to embed some aspects of the move to remote/online registration where possible and practical to do so. The Team continues to monitor the national position and infection rates so that additional resources can be deployed if necessary.
Wedding and Civil Partnership ceremonies continue to take place at 21 Southbank Road for now. Work to reintroduce ceremonies within private venues e.g. hotels etc remains ongoing. The Team is developing processes to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to protect the Registrar or Assistant Registrar in attending private premises for the purposes of conducting a ceremony. Notwithstanding, the Team is closely monitoring this situation given the reintroduction of additional restrictions which mean that it is no longer permissible for ceremonies to take place in the garden of a domestic dwelling, and in the event of any restriction on numbers attending. This is continuously under review in light of changing restrictions and will be reassessed following publication of the anticipated “Tiered” approach to managing local infection rates.
During September 94 Births and 143 deaths were registered, 18 marriages were registered 6 of which were civil marriages performed by Registration Services. As at 20th October, 117 Births, 86 deaths and 11 civil marriages have been registered /conducted.
Notwithstanding the pause in some of the workstreams around Care for People and Shielding, the Team continues to work to support governance matters and civil contingencies input in relation to Outbreak Management & concurrency issues as more services are “switched back on”, and is supporting colleagues in Place and Community Planning in these efforts locally and nationally. This area of work will increase in the next few weeks given the recent measures introduced and the need to have support arrangements in place for those required to self isolate. In addition, the Team continues to participate in work to capture the events of the last few months from a civil contingencies perspective, as part of a local, regional and national “lessons learned” exercise.
Correspondence around EU Exit Planning continues to increase and this is now emerging as yet another of many corporate risks, requiring the attention of the Council as regional, and national agencies (WoSRRP & CoSLA) begin to activate existing regional planning groups. Work to prepare for a no deal EU Exit will start to take up more officer time over the coming months and it is anticipated that regular multi service meetings will commence shortly.
Members will be aware that work has commenced on preparations for the Scottish Parliament Election scheduled for May 2021. This planning also requires additional attention as a “COVID-lens” is applied to conventional election workstreams on a local and national basis. The work plan for this includes a review of the lay out of all polling places and the arrangements for counting votes. A small multi service team is being pulled together so that detailed planning can commence. Contingency plans will be prepared which anticipate a resurgence in the virus and measures put in place to secure the availability of the core election team. All aspects of the process and arrangements will be subject to robust risk assessments in order to protect employees, voters and candidates. Further Technical Notes will be issued and reports submitted to Council as this work develops.
The Team continues to work on the further development of remote video meetings to support the Council’s governance arrangements and decision-making. The team is preparing for the impending cycle of virtual Committee meetings taking place up to the Christmas holidays.
Whilst the bulk of the Council’s Placing Request Appeals hearings have taken place, the Team continues to deal with the after effects and is responding to a number of queries and requests for information. In addition, a meeting of the Placing Request Appeals Committee to consider mid term-appeals will be arranged for late October / early November.
Throughout the pandemic, the Team has continued to support the Children’s Panel Hearings process and continues to work with the Area Support Team (AST), Learning & Development Committee, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland via remote video meetings. Following the retiral of Allan Geekie after 7 years service, East Dunbartonshire has a new Chair of the AST – Ying Zhang, who was appointed by Children’s Hearings Scotland on 3 September 2020. The annual Panel Member recruitment process that, normally takes place between August to October, has been continued to January to February 2021. The Team will administer/support this process as with previous years.
The team continues to support to services in relation to information management, data protection and data sharing, which are critical in these circumstances and has supported various services in the ongoing development and amendment of Privacy Notices and Privacy Impact Assessments for new workstreams and the establishment of information sharing agreements and protocols which assist the Council in its work to protect some of the most vulnerable residents. In addition to supporting the Council’s postal mail services, the Team has been busy with print activity in support of schools and the recently approved Committee cycle.
SMT Support & Members Support Teams
The SMT Support team is working with the CMT and SMT to assist in the re-introduction of services across portfolios and continue to support other areas of the wider service and beyond as required. The Team continues to support the CMT, SMT and Departmental Management Teams with processes for remote meetings, production of Committee Reports and Elected Member Technical Notes. The Members Support Team also continues to support Elected Members. The forthcoming Committee cycle will place additional demands on the team given its role in the administration of the report writing process.
Many of the Legal Services team’s resources continue to be dedicated to assisting Major Assets in the negotiation and conclusion of the Council’s capital projects and attentions are now focused on the negotiation of contracts for the new Allander, Boclair Academy and Kirkintilloch Community Sports Hub projects. Due to the nature of these contracts (in terms of complexity, scale and value), these are particularly time and resource intensive. In tandem with this, the team is also collaborating with the Housing Service in respect of delivery of its many capital projects and in the recommencement of open market purchases and shared equity buy-backs to increase the provision of affordable housing within East Dunbartonshire. One of the main issues with existing and planned contracts is how they deal with the allocation of the responsibility for risks to the projects presented by not only Covid-19 but also the UK’s exit from the EU. This requires sophisticated contract drafting and intense negotiations with contractors in order to ensure that the Council is protected but also that the best commercial terms are reached and the projects remain affordable. Given the uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s EU exit, this has proven particularly difficult in recent weeks.
Further resource continues to be dedicated to interpreting, assessing and, where necessary, optimising or protecting the Council from the impact of the pandemic on its legal interests, the ripples of which continue to emerge. One particularly busy area of work continues to be in relation to the various grant offers, which the Council is receiving. Each grant comes with terms and conditions which the Team assesses and then advises the relevant service in relation to any potential risks or performance/reporting requirements. This work can often be challenging - whilst the terms and conditions are not overly complex, the volume and increasingly short turnaround times within which the grant has to be accepted in order for the Council to access funds can at times impact on other work.
The team also works closely with the procurement team in ensuring procurement processes are complying with the changing law in this area and that the flexibilities offered by Government guidance are used. This also involves the drafting and documentation of contracts with suppliers of goods, works and services to the Council and the contractual clauses on the risk to the delivery of contracts caused by Covid-19 and the EU exit have to be tailored to fit the individual nature and circumstances of each contract.
The team is also playing a key role in the project team appointed to deliver a new Integrated Housing Management System for the Housing Service. The market for such systems is such that procurement of this project is complex and requires a high degree of legal project management and support. Coupled with this is the drafting and negotiation of bespoke IT terms and conditions to ensure that the system delivers as promised.
On top of this, the Commercial team is endeavouring to carrying out its “business as usual” activities where required in support of a Council priority. These include land transactions and commercial agreements, which seek to improve the Council’s position.
In respect of litigation, court work has restarted with some “in person” hearings having now taken place, including in relation to education and social work matters. In addition, video hearings are continuing for matters, which make this possible including in relation to housing and employment actions. The Team continues to support the Council’s services in the management of various complex matters, which are currently at the pre-litigation stage, in an effort to mitigate effects on the Council. In addition, the team is currently preparing for a public inquiry in relation to a compulsory purchase order.
A significant amount of work has been dedicated to the resumption of quasi-judicial boards. In conjunction with colleagues in Democratic Services, virtual meetings of the Planning Local Review Body, the Licensing Boards and the Civic Government Appeals Board are now taking place regularly again with further dates now scheduled to the end of the calendar year. Applicants and their representatives will continue to join virtually, where appropriate, and the meetings, where appropriate, will be streamed live on YouTube.
The team continues to provide close support to colleagues in social work in respect of sensitive matters involving children, families and vulnerable adults some of which are particularly pressing at the current time. The number of referrals and matters requiring legal support has significantly increased over the last 7 months and is requiring increased support from the Litigation & Licensing Team. In addition, the Service has supported social work colleagues in s collating and assessing information in respect of a major Inquiry. As always, the team provides strategic advice and support to its colleagues in other services on the full range of legal issues currently and normally facing the Council. At the moment, that is particularly complex and resource intensive.
The team is also preparing for a Sheriff Court proof in respect of a particularly important and sensitive housing matter and is gearing up for the return of heritable court business in terms of actions suspended at the point of lockdown in March and other matters which have arisen since. The team is also representing the Council’s interests in respect of various employment issues, including disputes that have made their way to tribunal.
Customer and Business Support Services
The support teams continue to provide hardware and software support to both corporate and educations users. ICT are providing ongoing patching and software updates to keep devices safe and secure while also supporting the major asset team in the delivery of new projects. ICT have been working with suppliers to deliver secure devices to digitally excluded pupils. 400 new desktops have been delivered to the secondary schools with the roll out starting during the October week. The team have been providing support to the Cashless Catering project ensuring that the infrastructure is in place for new installations in various schools.
Revenues and Benefits
The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to cope with unprecedented demand on the services we deliver, particularly Crisis Grants. The Scottish Self Isolation Grant went live on 12th October. The Revenues and Benefits team are an integral part of this process contacting those who have been asked to self-isolate to establish eligibility for the £500 grant and process payments for successful claimants. The team are also ready to support the process for delivering the Business Grants fro the Scottish Government. The team are continuing with the Small Business Bonus Review processing the applications which have been returned, while still working with an increased workload.
The Shared Services team has been providing support to local residents with the launch of the Scottish Self Isolation Grant on 12th October. The team receive a daily update on residents required to self isolate from Public Health Scotland. PHS have notified us of 229 individuals who are required to self isolate. The team have adapted our shielding processes to ensure that the needs of the residents are being addressed in a timely fashion and support the residents through their isolation. The Shared Services Education team are providing support to children in receipt of free school meals who are required to self isolate. The team are contacting parents to confirm our records are accurate before payments are made direct to bank accounts.
Corporate Performance & Research
The Corporate Performance & Research Team continues to support data collation and analysis across all Council services and the HSCP social care services to meet continuing national Covid-19 reporting requirements and inform the national position. The national reporting frequency has remained constant in recent months. Data continues to be recorded for local performance indicators and performance reporting. Quality assurance work and data cleansing also continues across the data systems used for reporting returns to ensure accurate data is recorded ensure confidence in data returns. Significant work continues this month to prepare and submit the social care SOURCE return across service areas, meeting nationally agreed timescales. Work also continues in relation to insurance in line with annual insurance timescales, including responding to insurance enquiries and liaising with our insurers and claims handlers in relation to claims and claim outcomes.
Communications support continues to be provided to all Council services and to the HSCP and EDLC Trust, over 7 days where required, including out of hours and emergency/contingency communications.
The Communications Team continues to respond to the key messaging required in relation to Covid-19, sharing key communications from Scottish Government, NHS and stakeholders in relation to the latest Covid-19 messages and guidance with East Dunbartonshire audiences. Regular internal communications are also being delivered including signage for buildings and facilities that are open, guidance published to the Employee Zone of the website and Employee News for the workforce on the latest guidance and reminders.
Regular Covid-19 updates continue to be provided to the Council website and the website content and structure is being adapted to ensure residents can clearly navigate to the latest updates and guidance in relation to Council services and the national key messages and initiatives. In the last fortnight web pages have been published for the newly introduced self-isolation grant and the Business Support Fund brought in to support individuals and businesses following the implementation of the latest restrictions:
The communications team continues to support the live streaming of public meetings, working closely with Democratic Services and ICT Services to stream meetings through the Council’s you tube channel. The Planning Appeals Board on 21 October had 25 views, a peak of 13 concurrent viewers and the average duration/view was 25 minutes.
Social media messaging continues to be an important tool for informing residents of key Council communications and sharing partner communications. The Council currently has just over 17,120 Facebook followers and the three posts with the highest reach were Green Waste announcement which had a reach of 50k and 436 interactions, the Balmore Road reopening communications which had a reach of 22k and the cleaners recruitment campaign which had a reach of 17k and 87 interactions. Twitter has 18,435 followers and the three most significant posts this fortnight have been the announcement of the Business Support Fund with a reach of 31k, the Balmore Road announcements with a reach of 30k and our posts on both Self Directed Support and the reopening of the Lillie Art Gallery and Auld Kirk Museum coming in joint third with a reach of 23.6k.
The team continue to provide information to and respond to enquiries from national and local broadcast and print media. And to proactively issue media releases on latest developments/initiatives. From 9 October to 22 October a total of 19 media enquiries have been handled and 9 media releases issued.
The Emergency Response Centre continues to provide customer support 24/7 for the hour care alarm service, CCTV monitoring and emergency communication across services out of hours as required.
The wider Customer Services team is responding to changing numbers of daily enquiries, which correlate to service changes and reintroductions and local measures in place in response to Covid-19. Call volumes vary dependent on service changes and reintroductions and enquiries include seeking information on services not yet able to be resumed. Calls are also received seeking clarification on new national measures announced. Clear signposting continues to be provided to NHS and Scottish Government sources in relation to current health guidance and the national position in relation to restrictions in place to control the continuing spread of Covid-19.
Customer Service delivery continues primarily through digital and phone channels in line with current guidance. The appointment only based approach that has been introduced for licensing at Bearsden Community Hub continues to work effectively for the checking of original documents and issuing of plates/licences.
Registration services (delivered by Assistant Registrars in Customer Services) continue to provide 5-day service delivery during the Covid-19 Recovery phase, in line with current guidance on how registrations can be conducted. Death registrations continue to be delivered remotely by the Assistant Registrars based in Kirkintilloch Community Hub with access to registration stationery for the provision and issue of official certificates and documentation. The Assistant Registrars are also conducting birth registrations, now being undertaken in real time with the backlog having been addressed. An appointment based system is also in place for the registration of marriage paperwork and ceremonies are being delivered at the former Registration Office on Southbank Road which has been risk assessed and appropriately signed for this service. All other registration appointments take place in Kirkintilloch Community Hub and are conducted in line with current guidance.
The successful recruitment campaign for Customer Service Agents will see successful candidates begin induction and training next month following the conclusion of the appointment process.
Finance and Audit
Similar to previous Service updates work within the Finance teams continues to support the Council, HSCP and the Trust in their Covid response as well as the routine cycle of business. The Council’s Chief Finance Officer continues to work through COSLA and alongside other Directors of Finance to represent the best interests for local government as the year progresses and consideration moves to the establishment of the Council’s budget for 2021/22 and beyond. This includes membership and support of the CIPFA Directors of Finance Executive, Local Government Benchmarking, the Settlement and Distribution Group and supporting the development of papers for COSLA Leaders.
Similar to other finance updates the teams are back to a level of normality, working remotely to support the Council’s ongoing Covid response as well as business as usual activities. Finance Teams continue to provide support in a number of areas such as recent announcements on grants for people required to self isolate, business grants, supplier payments within social work and other emerging initiatives. In addition, the team has delivered a number of statutory notifications, CoSLA returns, consulted on distribution methodologies, worked on supplier sustainability in a number of key areas, provided analysis within funding streams and consulted on VAT changes. The teams have also supported the development of new and revised processes for early years financial reporting, developed enhanced monitoring for lost income, supported financial governance within procurement, revised audit requirements, reviewed the financial implications of new proposed legislation, refreshed COVID cost capture & reporting, consistency checking, treasury management and cash flow. These work streams continue alongside existing planned arrangements.
The Team continue to work with Audit Scotland to complete the audit of the Council's accounts; this is nearing a close with Council agreement that this will be presented for consideration on the 19 November. The team are also finalising completion of the Whole of Government Accounts for HM Treasury and Grant Aided Expenditure returns for the Scottish Government which will determine future funding. The team continues to work on maintaining and improving the Council's financial systems and controls. Working with Business Change the team supported the Council to go live with the Paye.net income system to improve the collection of income online and over the phone and actioned the price increases for fees and charges.
The team continue to support the development of expenditure expectations in relation to Covid and tracking the various income streams to establish whether this funding is additional to support the anticipated financial gap or in the form of a grant to offset new, additional and required expenditure. Having reported on Period 3 at the start of October next steps are to concentrate on Period 5 and the now approved Policy and Resources Committee on the 26 November. Work is ongoing to develop previous reports to provide clarity of the Council’s overall financial position despite the challenging circumstances. In addition the team is starting to compile initial expectations and documentation in relation to the 2021/22 budget with benchmarking information being collated between all 32 Councils as well as through external economic advice. This is being applied within the Council’s financial model to provide initial expectations of future financial gaps albeit this remains at a very high level.
Treasury, Capital & Housing
The capital & housing team are currently replying to a high number of audit queries as part of the finalisation of the Annual Accounts with these requests now being largely complete. The treasury team continue to monitor cash flow closely due to the increased financial transactions due to Covid ensuring that there is liquidity for all Council activities. The capital & housing team are currently working on period 5 and 6 capital / housing capital reports for committee in November 2020. Formal meetings with the Council’s Treasury Management advisors, Link, have been initiated and this will inform future strategy linked to the Capital Planning.
Internal Audit and Fraud
Internal Audit, whilst continuing to provide some support over new processes such as the Transitional Support Fund, are moving to a recovery phase and starting on audits that have been planned pre-covid. The team has also started to follow up on outstanding audit actions from previous years where this is possible and recognising the pressures across Council services. Audits that have recently commenced include Health and Safety and the Highways Code and the team is also seeking to finalise audits that were commenced pre covid such as Road Works Consultancy, ICT Contract Management and HSCP Financial Planning. The Corporate Fraud Team continue to investigate various reports of fraud and undertake vetting on all applications received for licences, housing, and school places. Corporate Fraud is also liaising with the relevant services and undertaking preparatory work in respect of submission of data for the forthcoming National Fraud Initiative data matching exercise.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP (COUNCIL DELEGATED SERVICES): SERVICE UPDATES: Friday 23 October 2020
HSCP Business Continuity & Recovery / Transition Planning
The Health and Social Care Partnership continues to operate to its Business Continuity Plan and Covid-19 specific annex, which includes additional detail in areas including service prioritisation, team consolidation and merging, public protection, commissioned services, capacity and communication, albeit levels of direct intervention and support to vulnerable and at risk people have been increased, where possible and safe, in line with national guidance. Services have updated their departmental Business Continuity Plans, as part of surge planning, with the overarching HSCP Business Continuity Plan and Covid-19 annex also being refreshed. This is to ensure that lessons learned during the first active phase during March to July 2020 can enhance service response to local/national resurgence. The Covid-19 annex provides more detailed information that sets out the HSCP’s essential service prioritisation approach, team consolidation plans, public protection arrangements during the pandemic, and contingency approaches for commissioning, human resources and communications The HSCP’s risk register has also been updated to take account of current business continuity aspects. This refreshed contingency and transition planning work will be of particular importance with the challenges of winter and the projected continuation of Covid-19 community transmission over this period. Local resilience planning and reporting continues to be undertaken through the HSCP’s fortnightly Local Resilience Management Team. Virtual management team meetings are also well established and the HSCP Board resumed business from its June 25 meeting, albeit by virtual means, with the most recent meeting being 17 September.
In line with the Council’s COVID-19 Strategic & Operational Planning, a HSCP Recovery and Transition Plan has been developed and was approved by the HSCP Board on 17 September, supported by tools to assist services and teams. This work takes account of the likely continuation of business continuity and contingency over an extended period of time, but aims to ensure that these interim arrangements work as well as they can and that services can remobilise wherever possible and safe to do so. The plan is also designed to ensure that services prepare well for the potential scenarios that lie ahead over winter, with resurgence of the virus expected to persist over this period. This process provides additional qualitative detail to that which is set out in the business continuity framework. Service level recovery and transition plans are also now in place for all operational HSCP services. These will be updated iteratively in line with the phased national Route-map and the development of more detailed guidance.
In addition to service-specific Service Recovery and Transition Plans, there are also a number of cross-cutting issues, such as: congregate services, workplace, governance, public protection and PPE. These are being taken forward by SMT leads, in conjunction with Council Executive Officers in line with the latest Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance.
A key additional challenge now is planning for the roll out of the annual Flu Vaccination programme, which this year will be available to approximately double the number of people in the community than usual due to a lowering of the age range (c.22000 people). The delivery of this programme is now well underway, in conjunction with the Health Board and general practice.
Arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be in place for all services that require it and we have now relocated the PPE Hub from the Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre to space at the Woodlands Centre in Kirkintilloch, in order to allow scope for leisure services to resume in line with agreed plans.
Annual (2019-20) and Quarter 1 (March to June 2020) HSCP performance reports were considered by the HSCP Board at its September meeting, which provides indications of service activity and outcome impacts as a result of Covid-19, across HSCP functions and services.
Public protection work, which includes child and adult protection, drug and alcohol services, and a range of justice services, continues to be delivered. The Public Protection Chief Officers Group (COG) has been temporarily revised to introduce more frequent meetings, but with an agenda narrowed to focus on key areas of risk.
The Public Protection Leadership Group established at the outset of our Covid-19 response has continued to meet fortnightly and reports directly to COG. The groups ensures there is management oversight of all operational matters and statistics relating to Public Protection. As there is a requirement to report statistics to the Scottish Government, our data is reported and analysed at this forum prior to submission. This group has included work to support early release of prisoners in collaboration with Housing services.
Practices and processes for protection functions are updated in line with revised national guidance and the contents of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. The Covid-19 Annex of the HSCP’s Business Continuity Plan sets out the Business Continuity arrangements that have been put in place for public protection functions. A specific public protection covid-19 risk register has also been developed to support ongoing work. Items of concern are noted and escalated to COG. It that been observed that protection referrals have returned to pre Covid rates and in some cases are now in excess of this.
Service Delivery Impacts
Most social care services continue to be delivered on a business as usual basis e.g. statutory assessment and supervision services, care at home and residential care, although the way that these services are delivered has been impacted by social distancing constraints. During the first wave, a number of services were suspended or reduced in line with social distancing requirements such as day services, group work, overnight residential respite and Unpaid Work. Many of these fall into the category of congregate services, which has been the subject of separate Elected Member Technical Notes and direct correspondence with service users and families, most recently week ending 2 October.
Where services were stopped or closed during lockdown, they are now preparing to recommence in line with national guidance and appropriate risk assessments on an individual needs-led basis. These circumstances will continue to remain subject to change in response to changing levels of infection risk in our communities or requirement to comply with any future local or national lockdown measures. Guidance in relation to day services was issued 31 August 2020 (with further clarification more recently) and guidance in relation to respite care on 7 September 2020. Both place significant responsibility with local risk-based decision-making. Alternative services have been provided where possible, with families and informal carers also stepping in to provide increased levels of support. Voluntary support has also been arranged to provide ongoing contact and monitoring of need.
The HSCP is working with EDC colleagues to consider the necessary risk assessment, trades union negotiation and practical amendments to enable more direct work with customers to resume as the waiting lists for service continue to rise. The restarting of congregate services will be particularly carefully managed in the context of Covid-19 community transmission levels.
Assessment and Care Management
Social Work assessment and care management referrals reduced sharply during the early stages of lockdown, similar to the reduction in referrals to NHS services. Referrals are now back to pre-Covid levels and assessment activity is increasing again accordingly. The main Social Work Assessment and Care Management Teams continue to deliver their statutory services, mostly working from home, with physically distant customer contact wherever possible. Adult physical disability and older people social work services are scheduled to move to a locality-based delivery approach from November, which should further improve links with primary health care and general practice.
Contact and Monitoring is being maintained through digital mechanisms and phone calls wherever possible, whilst fulfilling the requirements of statutory orders and public protection requirements, although in line with Scottish Government guidance face to face contacts for the most vulnerable and at risk has been increased.
The Persons at Risk Database (PARD) that was been established to identify HSCP service users requiring ongoing contact during the Covid-19 response time period continues to be actively used. Numbers on the PARD remain static at around 5700 people. Those who do not receive a direct and ongoing care package e.g. home care, are contacted on a frequency that is defined by the assessed level of risk to their welfare and levels of need.
All of the Council’s in-house social care services continue to operate, with the exception of day services - Kelvinbank Day Service and Milan remain closed with staff providing cover into the care at home service albeit plans are underway to resume scaled back service delivery following conclusion of risk assessment and negotiation processes. The Outlook and Outreach services operate an emergency response to families and individuals in crisis. The appropriate reconfiguration of day care services for the future to comply with social distancing requirements will be a challenge, but now supported by Scottish Government guidance issued on 31 August. The East Dunbartonshire HSCP Chief Officer has assumed the lead for a pan-GG&C Day Services Working Group to support sharing of information, good practice and practical considerations with neighbouring areas.
Testing for Social Care Staff
There is access to testing for all social care staff who are symptomatic or who are isolating due to sharing a household with a symptomatic family member. This testing is available regardless of who the staff member is employed by and includes the third and independent sector registered services. The referral link has been shared with all registered service providers and in house service managers.
In addition to the testing that has been rolled out to all care home residents and staff (services for older people and others such as mental health and learning disability services) where an outbreak is confirmed or suspected, as well as on a weekly rolling programme. The national testing strategy continues to develop and we continue to respond to any new requirements this brings. Re-opening of schools has increased demand on covid testing, which has had a knock on effect on turn around of provision of results, which is proving challenging for timescales for required assurance processes within care services.
Support to Care Homes
A high level of support continues to be provided to care homes. Enhanced clinical support from the HSCP has been scaled back to a 5 day a week service in line with recovery planning, but can be scaled up as required. In line with Scottish Government requirements the HSCP has in place a daily safety ‘huddle’ to oversee the position of each local care home and is supporting care homes to move to the new national Digital Daily Huddle. Testing of care home residents and staff is closely monitored through the daily safety huddle.
A Large Scale Investigation under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 continues into care at one facility in the area and will conclude shortly. This facility has been subject to a Care Inspectorate inspection which has reported improved performance resulting in improved grades. Another care facility in our area, from which EDC commissions nursing care places has been inspected in the last month by the Care Inspectorate and is subject to Enforcement Action by way of an Improvement Notice. The home has until end October to deliver on requirements relating to key features of care and support, infection prevention and control, staffing and management and leadership. The HSCP is actively providing support to this home to improve and is focussed on ensuring oversight of the wellbeing and safety of residents via our enhanced care homes assurance and oversight responsibilities.
A national report on temporary transfers of older people to care homes that was expected previously is still to be published. This report was commissioned in response to nationally reported concerns about the use of care home places to support freeing up of hospital beds. The report will include data for the local area.
Support to Home Care
A shared ‘Commitment to Care at Home’ has been developed and signed off through the pan-GG&C Care at Home Group. The commitment clarifies the shared approaches to maintaining service delivery, support to frontline staff, guidance around the use of PPE, and access to enhanced clinical support and/ or training. The pan-GG&C Care at Home has determined how to have a shared approach to the reintroduction of care to people who had declined service during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, centred on reablement and the application of eligibility criteria. The intention being that all 6 areas are broadly in step, recognising their own specific local policies and Council position around recovery.
The Care Inspectorate have reported on their desk top inspection of care at home and housing support services with positive outcomes and reminders only for services to adhere to the health and care standards and person centred support planning.