Update from Scottish Government about framework to support Gypsy Travellers during COVID-19

We are pleased to inform you that our framework to support Gypsy/Travellers in relation to COVID-19 has been published online. I have attached the link to the published framework below and would be grateful if you would pass it on to your stakeholder lists.

Kind regards,


Robbie Lambie
Policy Officer – Private Housing Services
Scottish Government/ Housing and Social Justice Directorate 
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw,
G2 8LU
Email: robbie.lambie@gov.scot


Update for Scottish public authorities from the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

6 APRIL 2020

Changes to FOI duties for Scottish Public Authorities:

Last week the Scottish Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. It makes a number of temporary amendments to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA).

The new Act comes into effect on Tuesday 7 April 2020.The key changes it makes are summarised on our website, and we will be publishing detailed guidance shortly.

Please note that:

  • While the maximum timescales within which public authorities must respond to requests for information and review will be extended from 20 to 60 working days, authorities will still be required to respond promptly to requests they receive.
  • The changes apply only to FOISA – they do not apply to requests for environmental information which fall under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
  • The changes the Act implements are not retrospective.  

During the time that the temporary amendments apply, it will continue to be important for authorities to keep records of their request handling, and reasons for their FOI decisions. This will be both for the purposes of both statistics collection and in case of reviews and appeals to the Commissioner.

Premises closure extended

The premises of the office of the Scottish Information Commissioner will be closed for a further 4 weeks as a result of the impact of coronavirus Covid-19 – until at least 1 May. We will review the premises closure at the end of April in light of government guidance at that time. 

We currently have a small team working from home responding to urgent enquiries and undertaking essential activities. These staff are working remotely, however, so capacity and access to our usual systems is significantly limited. For detail on changes to our services or to contact us with urgent queries, please see: www.itspublicknowledge.info/contact

Regarding live investigations

The Commissioner’s office currently has around 200 live investigations, though access to our case management system is significantly restricted at present. If your authority has been asked to provide us with information or submissions, but is unable to do so because of the impact of Covid-19, let us know by contacting us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info.

Similarly, if the Commissioner has issued a decision requiring your authority to take action, but you are unable to comply because of the impact of Covid-19, please contact us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info

We will send a further update once detailed guidance on the changes brought about by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 is available on our website. If you have any urgent queries in the meantime, please contact us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info.

Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road
St Andrews, KY16 9DS
Email: enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info
Web: www.itspublicknowledge.info
Twitter: @FOIScotland

Update on devolved benefits from the Scottish Government

Priority will be to deliver Scottish Child Payment

Social Security Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville has updated Parliament on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on social security services in Scotland.

The majority of Social Security Scotland staff are now working from home to support efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19. The delivery of existing benefits continues with applications being received, processed and payments being made.

On benefits due to be introduced from this year, the Cabinet Secretary advised that, although they were on track to deliver these benefits, plans have had to change as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

The Scottish Government, DWP, local authorities and health and social care practitioners – who are all required to develop and deliver these benefits – are currently focused on the response and recovery from COVID-19. As a result, the introduction of Child Disability Payment and the Scottish Government’s replacement for Personal Independence Payments will be delayed. UK Ministers have agreed that they will continue to deliver disability benefits to Scottish clients over a longer transition period.

Scottish Child Payment, which was due to be introduced from this autumn, will also be delayed. The Scottish Government will focus its resources to deliver this as soon as practicably possible. The aim is to start taking applications by the end of 2020 with payments being made from 2021, subject to sufficient staff being in place.

In her statement, Ms Somerville also outlined the markedly different approach that the Scottish Government plans to take in its delivery of disability benefits. The new decision-making process for this in Scotland will mean no face-to-face assessments and decisions will be informed by the professional judgement of health and social care practitioners – not assessors. The new process will involve the following steps:

  • Social Security Scotland will make decisions using the information provided by applicants and checking this against existing guidance in the first instance
  • where it is not possible to make a decision, applicants will be able to tell Social Security Scotland about the health and social care professionals who already support them. Social Security Scotland will then be able to contact those professionals to collect supporting information
  • when it is the only practical way of collecting the information, a minority of working age clients will be invited to a discussion with a health and social care practitioner. If such a client consultation takes place, it would be arranged to suit the client, and the majority of these consultations are expected to be conducted by phone.

For further detail, please see:

Please share this content with those who you work with who may be impacted by this announcement.

We would encourage everyone to continue claiming all the support that they are entitled to through both Department for Work and Pensions, Social Security Scotland and Local Authorities.

Update from the Standards Commission

Dear Colleagues

Please find attached the latest edition of our Standards Update for your information. We would be grateful if you could arrange for the Update and/or the link provided below to be circulated to your members and any colleagues who might find it of interest. Please also encourage them to follow us on Twitter: @StandardsScot and on Facebook: facebook.com/StandardsCommission/. If you require the Update in an alternative format, please let us know.

Standards Commission Update – March 2020

As you will be aware, the Standards Commission’s workshop for Standards Officers, due to be held on 23 March 2020, was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. We had intended to seek suggestions from you on potential changes to the Model Code of Conduct, in light of the Scottish Government’s ongoing review and forthcoming formal consultation. As we were unable to proceed with the workshop at present, I am attaching a draft revised version of the Model Code, with explanations about the proposed changes included (in blue). If you have any comments or suggestions on this, please send them to us by 30 April 2020 and we will forward them to the Scottish Government to consider before it issues a version of the draft revised Code for formal consultation.

Also attached is a copy of Police Scotland’s Guidance on Serious Organised Crime and Business Exploitation, as mentioned in the Update.

If you have any questions, or if you wish to advise of a change of contact details, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This email has been sent to the Standards Officers and other nominated contacts within:

  • Further Education Colleges
  • National Health Service Boards
  • Individual Public Bodies
  • Regional Transport Partnerships
  • Health and Social Care Integration Joint Boards

Kind regards

Julie Scott

Administrative Assistant

Related documents

New circulars, legislation etc. affecting the NHS in Scotland


DL(2020)05 Coronavirus (COVID-19): national arrangements for NHS Scotland staff 13/03/2020
DL(2020)04 NHSScotland consultants – distinction awards and discretionary points schemes 19/03/2020
DL(2020)02 Everyone matters: our workforce strategy 04/02/2020
PCS(DD)2020/01 Terms and conditions of service: consultants (Scotland) (2004); specialty doctor (Scotland) (2008); associate specialist (Scotland) (2008); NHS hospital medical and dental staff and doctors and dentists in public health medicine and the community health service (Scotland); leave and pay for new parents; child bereavement leave 12/03/2020
PCS(SDIA)2020/01 Scottish Distant Islands Allowance 04/03/2020
PCS(AFC)2020/01 Pay and conditions for NHS staff covered by the Agenda for Change agreement 04/03/2020


Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/83)


These Regulations are made under the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002, which, together with the Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Regulations 2002, provides that local authorities are not to charge for certain types of social care provided or secured by them. Reg.2 of the 2002 Regulations modifies, for the purpose of charging, the meaning of accommodation provided under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 or the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 s.25. These Regulations amend reg.2 of the 2002 Regulations to increase the thresholds below which certain care is not to be charged for (reg.2). In respect of personal care, personal support and care of a kind mentioned in Sch.1 of the 2002 Act, the first £180 is not to be charged for (up from £177). For these purposes, “personal care” and “personal support” have the same meaning as in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 Sch.12 para.20. In respect of nursing care, the first £81 is not to be charged for (up from £80).

In Force

1 April 2020

Full text

Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020  


Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Specified Type A Procedures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/80)


These Regulations specify medical procedures which may be carried out on a person for the purpose of increasing the likelihood of successful transplantation of a part of the person’s body after the person’s death and which are not for the primary purpose of safeguarding or promoting the physical or mental health of the person, known under the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 as “pre-death procedures “ (see s.16A, inserted by the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 s.23). These Regulations specify the “Type A procedures”. Type A procedures are those pre-death procedures which Ministers consider are appropriate to be carried out in accordance with s.16E of the Act without the need for further conditions or restrictions on their performance, such as only in specified circumstances or following further authorisation. A pre-death procedure may only be carried out on a person if it has been specified as either a Type A procedure or Type B procedure (see s.16D of the Act). 

In Force

In accordance with reg.1 

Full text

Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Specified Type A Procedures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020  


DL(2020)03 Notifications to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland: review of arrangements for investigating deaths where persons were subject to orders for mental health care and treatment (deaths in detention reviews); homicide reviews 21/02/2020


DL(2020)05 Coronavirus (COVID-19): national arrangements for NHS Scotland staff 13/03/2020
PCS(SDIA)2020/01 Scottish Distant Islands Allowance 04/03/2020
DL(2020)01 Healthcare associated infection (HAI): guidance for staff screening during healthcare associated infection incidents and outbreaks 31/01/2020
PCA(D)(2020)06 COVID-19 guidance: NHS general dental services 17/03/2020
PCA(M)(2020)04 Suspension of online booking systems 13/03/2020
PCA(M)(2020)03 Near Me Guidance for GP contractors 12/03/2020
PCA(M)(2020)02 Covid-19: guidance on planning and responding to primary care GP practice capacity Challenges 05/03/2020
PCA(O)(2020)02 General Ophthalmic Services (GOS): information and resources regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for all community optometry practices and practice staff in Scotland 05/03/2020

Email from Lorraine Wakefield, Communications Manager at the Scottish Social Services Council:

18 March 2020
We recognise that the social service sector is on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and we want to support you to continue to deliver your vital work during this challenging time. As you need to change your services to meet demand, we’ve agreed regulatory changes with Scottish Government to enable an effective response by services. These are effective from today (18 March 2020).

Current flexibility regarding registration and redeployment between services

People working in social service roles in nurseries, care homes, care at home and housing support services, residential childcare services and school care accommodation service can currently work for six months without being registered.

We understand that for people working in these services applying for registration will not be a priority. We will update this information if there is any change to this time period.

Workers registered to work in one kind of service can be immediately redeployed to work in another kind of service without any need to change their registration status with the SSSC. They would currently have six months in which to register to work in a different service.

  • For example, a care home worker could be immediately deployed to work in a care at home service, as long as the provider is satisfied they have the appropriate skills and experience for the work.
  • Similarly, a healthcare worker can be redeployed immediately into a registered care service and would currently have six months before there was a requirement to register with the SSSC.

We are working with COSLA and care providers to develop a learning and development pack to support those moving and working across care services.

Changes in regulatory practice we are implementing immediately

Prioritising registration of social workers
Social workers have to be registered with us before they can practise. We have prioritised processing social work applications.

Keeping as many people on the Register as possible

People on our Register have to pay an annual fee and have to submit a renewal application at the end of their registration period. If they don’t, we normally remove them from the Register. We will continue accepting fees and renewals, but if people don’t pay, or don’t send in their renewal they will stay on the Register. We will contact people in due course when appropriate to do so.

Focusing on high risk fitness to practise matters

The safety and wellbeing of people who use services remains our priority. We will be changing our referral guidance for the sector, and only requiring them to refer the highest risk situations, such as abusive behaviour. We will delay investigating lower risk cases so the workforce can concentrate on responding to the pandemic.

We will only hold fitness to practise hearings for temporary suspension orders, when we feel somebody should be temporarily suspended from the Register to protect people who use services. We will hold these hearings remotely using video conferencing and support the worker to take part.

Registration qualifications

We understand that some of our workforce may be worried about completing their qualification. We can extend the amount of time people need to complete their qualification and will not remove people from the Register at the end of their period of registration during the pandemic. They can carry on working as normal. We will be in touch at a later time and will discuss with them what time period they need to complete their qualification.

Social work students

We are working with universities to decide if students should continue to go on practice placements and will have a statement on this later this week.

People who have been removed from the Register for not completing their qualification

Anyone who has been removed from the Register for not completing their qualification can apply and we can look at putting them back on.

If someone previously left work (and the Register) because they were approaching the end of the period required to gain qualifications, you can re-employ these workers. They will have the normal period in which to apply for registration, which is currently six months.

People who have left the workforce

We are planning to contact people who have recently left the Register to make sure they are aware that they can still work in the sector (other than as a social worker) even if they are no longer on the Register.
We will issue more detailed guidance shortly.

Contact Information:
Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council


If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will keep you up to date throughout the week as further information is issued.

Data Protection and Corona Virus

We all share the same concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The need for public bodies and health practitioners to be able to communicate directly with people when dealing with this type of health emergency has never been greater.

Data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop Government, the NHS or any other health professionals from sending public health messages to people, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing. Nor does it stop them using the latest technology to facilitate safe and speedy consultations and diagnoses. Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.

The ICO is a reasonable and pragmatic regulator, one that does not operate in isolation from matters of serious public concern. Regarding compliance with data protection, we will take into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency.

The safety and security of the public remains our primary concern. The ICO and our colleagues in the public sector have this at the forefront of our minds at this time. We are here to help our colleagues on the frontline. We can offer advice to make sure the law around data protection and direct marketing is clear. Information is available on our website or you can call our helpline on 0303 123 1113.