National Performance Framework

What impact has COVID-19 had on Scotland’s wellbeing?

January 19, 2021 by No Comments | Category analysis, wellbeing

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In December, along with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), we published a report about the impact the pandemic is having on Scotland.

Scotland’s Wellbeing: The impact of COVID-19 brings together evidence on how the pandemic has affected Scotland’s progress towards our National Outcomes. It also tells us how individuals have experienced the pandemic.

The impact is significant

It won’t come as a surprise that COVID-19 is having significant, wide-ranging impacts, right across our National Outcomes. Or that most of those impacts are negative.

The evidence we have suggests that health, economy, fair work and business and culture outcomes have been deeply negatively affected. And, as the impact on the labour market fully emerges, there’s likely to be a negative impact on the poverty outcome.

Education and children outcomes are also likely to be negatively affected, but these impacts will take longer to fully emerge.

The picture is more mixed for communities, human rights, environment and international outcomes. Each has been impacted in both positive and negative ways, with longer term impacts as yet unclear.

The impact is unequal

A key finding is that the effects of the pandemic have worsened inequalities. A number of groups have been particularly impacted. These include households on low incomes or in poverty, low-paid workers, children and young people, older people, disabled people, minority ethnic groups and women. And overlap between these groups means that for some people the effects will be magnified.

The evidence suggests that the pandemic may continue to widen inequalities in income and wealth over the medium term. It’s also likely to make unequal outcomes more severe in a range of other areas.

“It’s a terrifying time for a lot of people. What’s the new normal going to be? The crisis has highlighted how many people live anyway. My hope is that some of the people now having a tough time will think to themselves: is this how much people have to live on normally? When this is over, we need to say: a large proportion of the city’s people won’t be getting back on their feet because we live in a really unequal city and now it’s time to fix it.”

But there is room for optimism

There are grounds for hope. We’ve seen innovation in response to the crisis, for example in the swift expansion of digital services and solutions to control the virus, to keep the economy running, and to keep us connected with each other.

The rapid response by local authorities and charities working together to support people sleeping rough or staying in shelters to move into self-contained accommodation is a powerful example of the values of the National Performance Framework (NPF) in action.

There is evidence of communities taking action to reach out and help each other. Listening events in communities in 31 local authority areas – part of the work of the Social Renewal Advisory Board – tell a compelling story of empowerment in the face of adversity. The overwhelming sense in reading the records of those conversations is of communities doing what was needed to help each other, without waiting for permission. And of swift, flexible responses from third sector organisations and local authorities, focusing on what was needed.

“Before now, we worked to the council’s structures around our communities and actually we learned during COVID that people want to help and want to be engaged, all of the structures around actually stopped that happening. We don’t need meetings and plans and lists.”

“No one person or group is in charge. I now say to my neighbours, that’s a great idea, just go do it, don’t worry if it’s allowed or not. It’s allowed. If others want to be part of it, they’ll join you. If they don’t, they’ll do something else. It’s OK.”

If the shifts in the actions of individuals, communities and public services are sustained beyond the crisis, the positive impact on the communities outcome could be significant.

And future impacts are not inevitable

It is clear that progress across the NPF has been hindered and in some cases deeply set back.

But the depth and longevity of these impacts varies across the National Outcomes. And how these impacts play out in the future is not set in stone. Factors influencing future impact include the pandemic’s progress and measures put in place to control its spread; the response of businesses, public services, communities and individuals; other changes in the external environment, such as EU exit; and the policy choices that are made by governments and others.

What can I do?

We have brought together the evidence on COVID’s impact to inform those who are thinking about how we can get back on track towards Scotland’s National Outcomes.

These prompts might help you think about what the messages in the report mean for you or your organisation:

  • How can you/your organisation work with others to mitigate the impact on the most negatively affected National Outcomes?
  • In planning for recovery from COVID, what can you/your organisation do to support groups in society who have been most seriously affected (who were in many cases also the most disadvantaged pre-pandemic)?
  • How might you/your organisation bring the NPF values of kindness, dignity, compassion, respect for the rule of law, and openness and transparency into your recovery planning? And in a way that builds on the positives we have seen in Scotland’s COVID response?

Where can I find out more?

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