Important message for social care staff employed by East Lothian Council

Please read the information below carefully, including the hyperlink to Scottish Government information. Send any queries by email to no later than 31 March 2021.

The Council is administering the payment on behalf of the Scottish Government and will aim to make the payment at the end of April, however, this will depend on a number of factors which may delay the payment until the end of May for some or all.

The payment will be made as a lump sum payment, however, individuals on Universal Credits or other benefits may opt to receive this in 3 equal instalments (more detail on this is below).

If you wish to receive the payment in instalments you must contact the above email box no later than 31 March 2021 requesting payment in this manner. If you worked in a qualifying area during the qualifying period and have since left the Council, you should also contact the email address above.

Please read the information from the Scottish Government carefully and send any queries to clearly marked £500 Payment.

 Please note that health staff have been contacted by the Scottish Government separately about their £500 bonus

Pre-election guidance

The pre-election period is likely to start on 15th March, ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections taking place on 6 May 2021. This has implications for all staff in public authorities like ELHSCP. The following guidance is from East Lothian Council but it also applies to staff working for the partnership.

Key points

While there are some specific areas that require detailed advice, the essence of this guidance is:

•   ELHSPC staff must by law act in a politically neutral way at all times.

•   There is particular sensitivity around this political neutrality in the run-up to an election.

•   Particular care needs to be taken to ensure that any events, publicity or other communications are politically neutral during a pre-election period.

•   Council/ELHSCP facilities and resources must not be used in support of a political party or election candidate.

•   Unless otherwise stated, it should be assumed that normal ELHSCP business will continue.

•   This guidance should be followed at all times as appropriate.

If you are unsure about applying this guidance, you must seek further advice immediately.

Read the full guidance here.

Shamin Akhtar chooses to challenge on International Women’s Day

Monday 8th was International Women’s Day. Here’s a message from our IJB Vice-Chair, in case you missed it.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. 

Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, and lobby for accelerated gender parity.

Health and Social Care spokesperson Councillor Shamin Akhtar said:

‘The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge

‘Although there has been progress over the last 100 years, in terms of voting and equality legislation, there is still a long way to go until we see true gender parity. According to the World Economic Forum, at this rate we will not achieve true gender parity for almost a century to come. 

‘That’s why International Women’s Day is so important. Only by constantly challenging disparity will things ever change.

‘I endorse that message and will be doing my bit on International Women’s Day and every other day to challenge inequality wherever I see it.’

COSLA Budget response

The essential, everyday services provided by Scotland’s Councils – upon which we all rely – have once again been undervalued and underappreciated by today’s (Tuesday) passing of the Budget, says COSLA.

Speaking this evening, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “Our ask of Scottish Government throughout the Budget process was to give Scotland’s 32 Councils the fair funding and flexibility they deserve to be able to deliver the essential services that they provide to communities and have continued to provide throughout the Covid pandemic.  We are pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has listened to Local Government and agreed to baseline the £90m that was made available to councils who chose to freeze Council Tax during 21-22.

“However, our key ask around fair funding and local flexibility has not been met with the passing of the Budget today – instead we are left with a Budget deal which does very little to address a decade of cuts to Local Government’s core funding, and once again ring fenced pots of money for specific Scottish Government policies. Without flexible additional funding to our core Budget, our ability to help recover from Covid is severely eroded.

“The essential services that Local Government deliver are the foundations for strong communities across Scotland – today’s announcement means that these foundations will come under even more pressure.

“This is not the deal we wanted – it is not a good deal for communities and serious financial challenges lie ahead for councils. Not least in relation to our ability to recognise the amazing effort of our workforce – where Scottish Government has not recognised the pressures such as pay being faced by Councils.   

“Scottish Government has raised expectations yet further through their public sector pay policy – without any increase to Local Government’s core funding, a pay increase for our workforce will have to be funded from elsewhere. This will only lead to a reduction in everyday essential services that communities rely on.“

David J Kennedy

Head of Media and Communication
T: 0131 474 9205 M: 07788452710
Twitter:  @COSLA

Celebrating Communities

Sue Northrop writes…

Celebrating Communities is a Dementia Friendly East Lothian project inspired by how communities across East Lothian (& beyond) have come together over the pandemic to make life better. Friendships, opportunities and ideas have developed over this time and we want to help communities build on existing projects, and nurture new ideas.

There has been great engagement and enthusiasm so far – thank you and we look forward to what comes next! Catch up with all our latest news here.

Councillor Shamin Akhtar takes on Health and Social Care role

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell has stepped down from her role as Cabinet Representative for Health and Adult Social Care, and has retired as Chair of East Lothian Integration Joint Board (IJB) (although she will remain a member). This will allow her to focus on her commitments as a local councillor for Preston, Seton and Gosford and her new role as Deputy General Secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland. Councillor Shamin Akhtar, Haddington and Lammermuir Ward, has taken on the Health and Adult Social Care role and is now Vice-Chair of the East Lothian Integration Joint Board. Peter Murray is Chair

Councillor Akhtar said:

‘I am really looking forward to taking up my new role.

‘I have been Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Children Services for around 10 years now and a member of the IJB from the beginning, so understand what I am taking on. This is both one of the most challenging times for health and social care and also one of the most exciting.

‘I can see the impact that the work that East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership is already having in bringing more clinical services back to East Lothian, reducing waiting lists, increasing same-day access in primary care, and helping people to return home from hospital earlier, safely and with good support in place.

‘We have a lot of work ahead of us in returning safely to a post-Covid world, which may not look exactly like the one we had before the pandemic. Changes are being discussed at a national level and we also have to contend with the impact of the pandemic on public finances. There are interesting times ahead and my role will be to see that people in East Lothian continue to receive good quality and effective integrated health and social care.

‘I have worked closely with Alison Macdonald and her team throughout Covid and I want to say how impressed I am with the way that she, her team and health and social care staff across East Lothian have responded in this crisis. I am very much looking forward to working more closely with her.

‘Finally, I would just like to thank Fiona. Her work as responsible Cabinet Member, Vice-Chair and Chair of the IJB has been exemplary, focusing on ensuring person-centred, accessible services for everyone in East Lothian. I wish her well in her new post, which could not be in safer hands.’

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell added:

‘It is with a lot of sadness that I am stepping down from the IJB. I am a huge believer in health and social care integration and I can already see that our work at the IJB is bringing significant benefits to people in East Lothian.

‘I will miss my colleagues on the IJB and in the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP) team. I think ELHSCP has done a really great job during the pandemic, not just keeping things going but being proactive in supporting staff – our own and those in the independent sector. Crucially, they have been able to reconfigure services quickly so that patients and service-users continuedto have safe access to the support and services they need.

‘In Shamin we are very lucky to have someone who is so very well-grounded in the issues in play and committed to supporting staff, patients and service-users. I wish her every success in her new role.’

Public Health Scotland looking for new chairperson

Public Health Scotland

Would you like to make a difference to the public’s health and wellbeing in Scotland? 

Scottish Minsters want to appoint a Chair to Public Health Scotland. Public Health Scotland is Scotland’s lead national agency for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of all Scotland’s people, using the best data, intelligence and research.

Expertise in health and/or social care are not an essential criteria and applications are invited from a wide range of people who have an interest in public service. Full information can be found here and the closing date for applications is Wednesday 7th April 2021.

If you experience any difficulties accessing our website, please contact the Public Appointments Team on 0300 244 1898, by email at, or by writing to the Public Appointments Team, Scottish Government, Area 3F North, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.

Thank you for taking the time to consider the position of Chair for Public Health Scotland.

Crisis Handling Awareness Course

Changes is running a Crisis Handling Awareness Course, suitable for staff and volunteers. Each course can take up to 20 places.

The Crisis Handling Awareness Training course is delivered over zoom (see link below for details). It is delivered over two sessions:

  • Session 1 – how to help someone in any kind of crisis in session 1 (1.5 hours)
  • Session 2 – how to help someone in the specific crisis of suicide (1.5 hours)

Crisis Handling Awareness Course (Word Doc)

Want to know more about Changes?


Changes Community Health Project supports adults in East Lothian to achieve and maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. Want to know more about Changes; support available and how to access it? There are a few simple ways you can find out more:

  1. Sign up to receive a monthly update email by clicking this link (it will take less than 30 seconds to sign up!):
  1. Come along to a Changes Visitor Session to hear more about support available at Changes and how people can get help. Sessions are held via Zoom on the first Wednesday of each month from 4:00 – 4:45pm. Next session is Wednesday 7th April. Email to book a place (also attached)
  1. Invite us to join your team meeting – one of our team can virtually ‘pop in’ and give a brief overview of what we do – from our experience of having other services visit our team, we find it so helpful to ‘meet’ the staff involved and hear about the services first hand. Email to arrange for someone to pop in. We also welcome you to join one of our team meetings and talk to our staff about your own services.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions,

Best wishes


Caitlin Rodgers
CHANGES Community Health Project
108 Market Street
EH21 6QA
0131 653 3977

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