NORTH AYRSHIRE COUNCIL
1 June 2021
Audit and Scrutiny Committee
Title: Supporting North Ayrshire Together — Update on our
response to the Coronavirus pandemic
Purpose: To provide an update on our response to the Coronavirus
Recommendation: That the Audit and Scrutiny Committee notes our response to the
Coronavirus pandemic so far.
The "Supporting North Ayrshire Together — Update on our response to the Coronavirus
pandemic’ report attached at Appendix 1 provides an update to the original "Supporting
North Ayrshire Together" report presented to the Audit and Scrutiny Committee on 9"
March 2021. It provides an overview of how our Council has worked alongside partners
and communities to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic as at 23 March 2021 (one year
since the initial lockdown period).
At Quarter Two our half yearly performance progress reporting was enhanced to include
a comprehensive update on our response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Quarter
Two report was approved by Cabinet before being presented to Audit and Scrutiny on
9th March 2021.
The Audit and Scrutiny Committee requested an update to the report for their meeting
on 1st June 2021. The Corporate Policy, Performance and Elections Team have
created the attached report to include information up to 23rd March 2021, marking a full
year since the initial lockdown period.
Due to lead in times the report has not been viewed by Cabinet. Therefore, to ensure
Cabinet have full visibility of the updated report it will be included in our end of year
Council Plan Progress Report as an appendix. In addition, we have been mindful to
only include updates relating to our Covid-19 response in this report rather than Council
3.1 Thatthe Audit and Scrutiny Committee notes our response to the Coronavirus pandemic
4. Implications/Socio-economic Duty
4.1 There are no financial implications.
4.2 There are no human resource implications.
4.3 There are no legal implications.
4.4 There are no equality/socio-economic implications.
Environmental and Sustainability
4.5 There are no environmental and sustainability implications.
4.6 This report helps to demonstrate delivery of our Council's strategic priorities.
Community Wealth Building
4./ There are no community wealth building implications.
5.1 Feedback from the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) informed the content of this
Head of Democratic Services
For further information please contact Isla Hardy, Corporate Performance Services Lead
(Corporate Policy, Performance & Elections), on IslaHardy@north-ayrshire.gov.uk.
Our Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic and Progress Report September 2020
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Supporting North Ayrshire Together
Update on Our Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic \
North Ayrshire Council
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Our Response at a Glance
Supporting Our Communities
Our Young People
Covid-19 Testing and Vaccination
Supporting Our Businesses
Keep It Local
Our Council Operations
Scottish Parliamentary Elections
The Corporate Policy, Performance and Elections Team welcome any feedback you may have. We strive to make
our Council and reports as accessible as possible and appreciate opportunities to discuss how this can be achieved.
For further information please contact:
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Tel: 01294 324648 p =
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Our Response at a Glance
Holiday Hunger provided food
During their first year, our We provided for eligible children during
Community Hubs school holidays plus
: £100 Christmas &
Received 33,152 calls 60,000 s Opping Spring Hardship
(65% for food access) vouchers worth Payments
VELE 96,465 £1.7million
food deliveries We visited 1,247
to children eligible ,
Collected 13,713 For free School children a total of
(September to December)
To ensure our pupils \\ iN em. ae Childcare Hubs cared for
could access online | Wy B a
learning we provided
ame S E | 1002 children
3,194 iPads, -> ETI Pw :
an average of
Chrome Books S3 an Me b^ 3 ji 5 bus : in January & February
Wi-Fi routers & EX
SIMs Over £14 million
Since April we’ve provided over distributed to local
4 million items businesses since
of PPE September
including over Average of
1 million masks 240
560 visits per week Health &
to our Trading Standards
Health & Wellbeing interventions per
for Care Home & Care At month
Home employees to protect our residents
This report marks a full year since we entered lockdown in March 2020. Throughout the past 12 months we
have witnessed the dedication of our teams, communities and private, public and third sector partners in
supporting the people of North Ayrshire in the most difficult of circumstances. We continue to be incredibly
grateful to everyone for continuing to support our communities and businesses during this exceptional time.
In September we provided a summary of our joint response during the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic
in our report "Supporting North Ayrshire Together". Now, in March 2021, most of our teams are working
remotely, while some frontline services continue and others find innovative new ways of providing services.
This report provides an update on our response to the pandemic. Progress on the delivery of our Council Plan
priorities will be provided separately through our end of year performance reporting.
Supporting Our Communities
Trust, we contributed to the Trust's Covid-19 and
Communities Listening Project: A Shared Response
report. The report explores the experience and
knowledge gained from the response to the Covid-19
pandemic as well as potential new ways of working.
Our Community Hubs continue to support our
residents by providing access to food, prescriptions
and other assistance. During their initial year they
have received 33,152 calls, made 96,465 food
deliveries, collected 13,713 prescriptions and directed
3,746 enquiries to other services. Each team has
worked tirelessly to support their communities
including some of our most vulnerable residents.
Access to food has by far been the most common "To All of you,
reason for our residents to contact our Community
...We can't thank you all enough. There are
Hubs, amounting to 6596 of all calls received. This is y g
followed by isolation support (13%) and health advice
(6%). The Community Hubs also offer support with
financial advice, period poverty and signposting to
simply no words to describe how devastating
this has been for everyone and for a team of
hard working people to keep my family fed
and make sure everyone in North Ayrshire has
help is more than I could have ever imagined.
Due to the impact our Community Hubs have had and
our long standing partnership with the Carnegie UK
The staff put themselves at risk to support my
family and many many others in a time of
uncertainty in their own lives... ...| wish there
was another way of thanking you all??
Please take care, stay safe and know that my
family will never forget what the Council and
its hard-working hands of staff have done!"
In addition to Community Hubs, our Food Hubs led by
our Physical Environment Service and supported by
our Contact Centre, have provided 60,000 shopping
vouchers for children eligible for school meals since
July 2020, worth £1.7 million.
Page 2 of 9
Prior to the move to a voucher scheme, our Food
Hubs delivered the equivalent of 1.26 million meals to
families across North Ayrshire.
For children and young people returning to school in
August 2020, we ensured a good selection of hot
meals were available from the first day to encourage
pupils back into the dining halls. We recognise the
importance of social activity within dining halls in
supporting our school children's wellbeing. To aid
this, we introduced staggered lunch breaks to manage
bubbles safely and ensure children felt safe in their
Our Holiday Hunger initiative continued to help feed
families during the October and Christmas school
holidays by providing vouchers worth £20 per week
for each child. We also provided £100 payments for
each child in receipt of free school meals in December
to help support them over the Christmas holidays.
This was followed in March by £100 Spring Hardship
Fund payments for eligible families including those
with pre-school children.
During the phased return of secondary school pupils
in early 2021, we provided a full menu selection in
schools as well as £20 shopping vouchers to all pupils
eligible for free school meals.
The pandemic further highlighted that many of our
residents need better access to good quality
Woodwynd's Wee Shoap
affordable food. Our North Ayrshire Food System
network has been launched as "North Ayrshire Fairer
Food" to meet this ongoing need. The Whitlees
Quaint Larder, Ardrossan South Larder, Woodwynd's
Wee Shoap and Cranberry's Community Larder
introduced their pantry initiatives, with more planned
These use a membership system to provide a mini
supermarket-like environment where our residents
have the opportunity to choose their own food and
top up their weekly food shop. This dignified
approach to addressing food insecurity helps make
our residents' money go further by giving them access
to good food at lower cost.
Our schools and Arran Community Hub became
Childcare Hubs for children of key workers as well as
our children and young people who required more
support. They enabled our key workers to continue
with their crucial frontline services knowing their
children were being looked after, while supporting our
vulnerable children and young people.
The average number of pupils attending the Childcare
Hubs during the first lockdown period was 523. This
rose to 1,002 across our primary, secondary and
additional support needs schools in January and
Children who attended our Childcare
Hubs were given the same
schoolwork as those learning from
home, with class teachers providing
Our schools moved to remote
| learning in January, with a mix of
online and paper-based resources
provided. Pupils in need of digital
devices were provided with them
alongside internet access. Phased
“% reopening of our schools commenced
| on 22nd February.
All our schools have access to
4 asymptomatic Covid-19 testing kits.
; The voluntary home testing
programme aims to reduce related
risks in schools and help keep our
teams, children and young people as
= safe as possible.
Page 3 of 9
We continue to work towards our vision of being a
nurturing authority through our "Nurturing North
Ayrshire's Recovery" approach by building emotional
resilience in children and developing stronger
relationships. Following lockdown, it was found
children who had experienced nurture approaches
coped well with the return to school.
To ensure our pupils could access
online learning we provided:
1217 Wi-Fi iPads
189 cellular iPads
306 Wi-Fi units
900 Chrome Books
582 anywhere SIMs
In 2021 our senior pupils’ final grades for Scottish
Qualification Authority (SQA) qualifications will be
estimated grades based on pupil class work and
tests. Each grade will be quality checked in school
and through SQA sampling. Estimated grades will
be submitted to the SQA in June and pupils will
receive their awards in August 2021.
The Professional Learning and Leadership
Development initiative within the Communities and
Education Directorate launched a new podcast
“Let’s Chat Leadership”. In each episode, they
discuss current issues influencing educational
leadership including the power of facilitation and
Our pupils were offered a subscription service for two
to three months’ supply of free period products. This
allowed primary and secondary school pupils to
register for products, including sustainable options,
for delivery to their home address.
Our Young People
Our first fully online Joint Cabinet took place in
November and involved 110 young people from
across our secondary schools. They were joined by
our Council Cabinet, senior officers, Members of the
Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) and the Youth
Council Executive. Our young people shared their
views on the issues that really matter to them
including their community, digital connectivity,
employability and health and wellbeing. These will
inform our post Covid-19 recovery and renewal.
The Joint Cabinet session announced two successful
funding bids totalling £120,000 from the Youth Work
Education Recovery Fund for youth projects in North
Ayrshire. A joint funding submission with the National
Portrait Gallery, North Ayrshire Alcohol and Drugs
Partnership, our Health and Social Care Partnership
and our Youth Services team was successful in
securing £60,000 from the Youth Recovery Fund. This
will explore artist interventions that could be used in
local communities to improve mental health and
wellbeing. The remaining £60,000 will be targeted
towards a range of smaller initiatives benefitting our
young people, including family learning, mental health
support, food provision and outdoor experiences.
With libraries and community centres closed, Library
Services worked alongside the Health and Social Care
Partnership to coordinate the Christmas Gift Appeal
and allocate gifts to families across North Ayrshire.
Page 4 of 9
Covid-19 Testing and Vaccination
Our Health and Social Care services continue to adapt
and change their normal working practices to ensure
compliance to the national restrictions whilst
continuing to deliver essential services to our most
We saw increased levels of Covid-19 testing across
Health and Community Care services, including the
introduction of lateral flow testing in care homes for
employees and essential visitors.
We established rapid Covid-19 testing centres for
those who are not experiencing symptoms to identify
positive cases more quickly.
Our Covid-19 employee vaccination programme
began with the first priority groups such as Care Home
employees. This will be extended further to other
Partnership working across teams has remained
essential, with Connected Communities venues and
employees working within vaccination centres to
support the successful delivery of the vaccination
programme. Approximately 900 vaccinations are
given each day at one site.
Many of our employees were seconded to the NHS for
the delivery of the Test and Protect service for a
period of six months.
Since April 2020 we have distributed
over 4 million items of PPE
to care providers, care homes, unpaid
carers and personal assistants. This
Between September and December our Children and
Families Team visited 1,247 children a total of 7,333
times. Of these visits, 3,965 related to particularly
vulnerable children. We also made 4,219 telephone
calls and 222 online contacts.
The Child Protection Committee offered a range of e-
learning modules for employees and partners to
ensure all our teams are confident in recognising the
signs of a child or young person at risk of harm and
how to report this. In addition, we launched a social
media campaign to raise awareness of child
protection. This resulted in an increase in the number
of calls relating to child welfare from members of our
In February our Fostering Service publicised the need
for additional foster parents for children as a result of
In March a £100,000 Community Renewal and
Recovery Fund was launched to support the third
sector due to the challenges faced during the
pandemic. The short-term fund from the North
Ayrshire Ventures Trust will help organisations over a
six-month period while more sustainable funding
solutions are explored.
We supported the White Ribbon 16 Days of Action
campaign online with our partners by showcasing a
series of films, books, television programmes and
podcasts, addressing issues of violence against
We launched our 'Let's Do This’ campaign in
November asking everyone to support North Ayrshire
in suppressing the virus.
KA Leisure provided access to online classes and
limited use of gym facilities, swimming pools and
some indoor sports between October and December.
The pandemic continues to have a significant impact
on KA Leisure’s operations.
On Tuesday 23" March we marked the National Day
of Reflection on the one-year anniversary of lockdown
by collectively pausing for a minute’s silence. The
flags at our headquarters in Cunninghame House were
flown at half-mast. We illuminated Saltcoats Town
Hall and the Portal in a symbol of respect and
solidarity to all those who have been affected by the
Page 5 of 9
| > Á
Employability services have moved their services to
mostly digital forms of engagement since the
pandemic began. The team have provided vital
wellbeing support to vulnerable residents and has also
managed to secure employment for over 285
residents by the year end despite a significant
reduction in opportunities locally.
We have continued to deliver our Modern
Apprenticeship programme to ensure opportunities
for young people to work within our Council are
sustained during the pandemic. Priority has been
given to opportunities in the outdoor environment
with the aim of fulfilling the annual 50 apprenticeships
We are a Gateway provider of the Kickstart
programme, a national programme established in
response to increasing levels of unemployment. By
the end of March this year, local businesses had come
forward seeking Kickstart support for over 400
jobs. These are currently in the system with
significantly more to follow.
New funding streams have been secured to assist
employability services to respond to the expected rise
in unemployment in the next year and plans are in
development to build capacity across the
service including additional redundancy
support, key worker capacity, significant
new incentives for employers to recruit
and provision of laptops for young people
to address digital exclusion.
Supporting Our Businesses
Due to Covid-19 restrictions and the need
to assist in the management and
distribution of additional financial support
to businesses, the Business Team has
diverted normal activity to assist with the
distribution of Business Support schemes
on behalf of the Scottish Government. The
Business Team and Revenues Team have
managed and administered the following
Business Support Schemes since
Large Self-Catering Grant
This £2,000 per property grant was
available for businesses with a property
that accommodates seven or more people
for which they pay Non-Domestic Rates. We have
been allocated £182,000 for this fund and estimate
that this will be fully allocated. Applications are still
being processed and the final figure will be confirmed
in early April.
Exclusive Use Properties Grant
This £10,000 grant is for businesses evaluated by the
Scottish Assessors Association as an “Exclusive Use
Venue” providing overnight accommodation and who
pay Non-Domestic Rates. The Scottish Government
identified eligible properties, of which one is within
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Restrictions Fund
The purpose of this fund was to support
hospitality and other businesses (excepting
takeaways) required to close by extended Covid-19
restrictions up to 2"? November 2020. The Business
Development Team and Revenues Team assessed,
approved and administered 194 grants to eligible
applicants via this Fund totalling £598,880.
Strategic Framework Business Fund
The Strategic Framework Business Fund (SFBF)
provides grants to businesses that were required to
close by law, or significantly change their operations
due to Covid-19 restrictions from 2 November 2020.
Page 6 of 9
The Business Team and Revenues Team assessed,
approved and administered support to over 1,100
businesses via this fund totalling £12,873,700
(including Top Up Payments for Retail, Hospitality and
Furlough Top Up Fund
This fund relates to the 2096 contribution that
businesses were initially expected to make towards
October employee furlough payments. The decision
was reversed and companies were compensated. The
Business Team and Revenues Team assessed,
approved and administered 99 grants to eligible
applicants via this fund totalling £163,350.
North Ayrshire Council Discretionary Fund
This fund was established to support businesses that
were ineligible for support under the SFBF Fund. This
fund provided a payment of £2,000 to eligible
applicants. To the end of March this year, 126 Grant
awards had been processed, totalling £252,000.
Bed and Breakfast Support
This support was offered in three stages. The first two
stages consisted of a £2,000 per four-week period
grant for eligible Bed and Breakfast businesses that do
not pay Non-Domestic Rates but pay Council Tax. This
support ran from early January to 31* March 2021
and is in addition to earlier Covid-19 support for the
eight eligible businesses in North Ayrshire.
The third stage is to benefit eligible businesses not
benefitting from stages one and two. So far, we have
administered £60,000 of grants under this stage of the
Keep It Local
We encouraged our residents to spend locally at
Christmas and use local supply chains to support our
local economy. The 'Keep it Local' campaign is part of
the Council's wider Community Wealth Building
approach to encourage local spend and investment to
The Trading Standards and Environmental Health
teams, in addition to ensuring the general safety of
our residents and businesses as usual, have been on
the front line of our Covid-19 response. In
conjunction with our partners, the teams have been
providing both proactive and reactive Covid-19 advice,
carrying out compliance visits and taking enforcement
action where required. This equates to an average of
approximately 240 interventions per month.
Our Council Operations
The fast-moving nature of the pandemic and its
impact means high quality immediate communication
with our residents, businesses and employees
continues to be essential. Our website is constantly
updated with the most recent information. As well as
utilising local media, our social media channels saw
substantial growth during this period in terms of
followers and engagements, reaching our residents as
quickly as possible.
Between April 2020 and the end of February 2021, our
social media following grew by 7,750 and our posts
have been seen over 13.4 million times an increase of
4696 on the previous year. We have issued 1,177
posts relating to Covid-19. These have been seen over
6.8 million times and achieved 686,000 engagements.
Page 7 of 9
Our 2020/21 Budget engagement was carried out
online to ensure our communities could contribute to
the discussions. Our Council Leader Joe Cullinane and
Chief Executive Craig Hatton hosted a
. This enabled
residents to hear directly about our budget plans for
2021-22, our response to the Covid-19 pandemic and
the measures we are putting in place to ensure that
we build back better as well as providing the
opportunity to ask any questions. The session has
been viewed over 13,000 times.
Our Sensory Impairment Team launched a new
Facebook group to share important updates and
information. This includes links to information from
the Scottish Government and NHS in British Sign
Language (BSL) as well as providing online
opportunities for socialising and sharing advice.
Our Locality Teams established Virtual Community
Centres for each Locality area in order to support local
groups and organisations with delivery of events,
activities and sharing of information.
We are proud to be one of the few local authorities to
provide a full waste collection and recycling service
throughout the pandemic, despite resourcing
challenges and significantly higher amounts of
household waste being generated as people adhered
to the lockdown restrictions and spent considerably
more time at home. Our environmental enforcement
teams continued to work tirelessly to tackle fly-
tipping and have issued 438 Fixed Penalty Notices to
fly-tipping offenders during 2020/21 to deter this.
"| want to thank the staff at Bartonholm. Like
everyone, | wasn't feeling particularly jolly
today. | was met with pleasant smiles and
one man made me laugh out loud with his
joke about onion layers. The area is well kept,
the staff are helpful and efficient.
So thank you."
The introduction of extensive traffic management and
safety measures at our Household Waste Recycling
Centres following the national re-opening in June
2021 continues to protect our visitors and employees.
During the winter weather our Roads Service was able
to provide our normal gritting service, including
throughout a prolonged spell of cold weather in early
January when our gritting fleet was out around the
Housing emergency and urgent repairs are being
carried out within the approved timescales and our
capital programme has continued to be delivered,
with some reprofiling of projects to focus on external
work where internal work has not been possible. Our
Homeless and Community Safety Service continues to
ensure our homeless residents and those requiring
temporary accommodation are housed safely and are
While grounds maintenance focused on essential
areas during the lockdown period last year, our open
spaces were all quickly recovered back to their normal
standard in May 2020 and will be maintained as
normal during the spring/summer growing season this
Our Transport Hub has provided support to NHS
colleagues in transporting patients requiring critical
care to and from hospital, and also transported a
number of vulnerable residents to their vaccination
Page 8 of 9
Our Licensing Service extended licences in relation to
taxi and other civic government licences which were
about the expire. We agreed to extend these in line
with the national extension of MOTs. We also agreed
that all holders of premises liquor licences could delay
payments due in October 2020, to the end of March
Scottish Parliamentary Elections
Preparations for a Covid-19 Safe Scottish Parliamentary
Election are in progress. The restrictions mean a
considerable amount of additional preparation is taking
place to ensure a safe environment for voters,
candidates and those working at the election.
We have published information on our website and
social media channels to assure residents of the steps
being taken so they can cast their votes safely on
Thursday 6 May 2021. This includes our standard
guidance on registering to vote and obtaining a postal or
Most of our employees have now worked remotely for a
full year. Our ICT Team have ensured our employees
can continue to collaborate, such as through video
calling, throughout the pandemic. The swift transition
to home working built on the extensive work already
undertaken through our Digital Strategy. This included
promoting agile working, the rollout of Microsoft Office
365, creation of "Digi Guru" technical support within
teams and the provision of appropriate devices from
The ability of all our teams to adapt their operations
during the past year has been exceptional. This includes
our supporting services who have adapted to provide
critical services to ensure the core functions of our
Council continue. On many occasions employees have
been temporarily moved to other roles to ensure we
meet the needs of our residents.
Ensuring our employees are supported has been key to
delivering services through such a challenging time. We
promoted our Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
every week to all employees. This included a summary
of advice regarding Covid-19 as well as other
information such as how we would work with our
employees to provide flexible working arrangements to
support home schooling. This comprehensive document
has become the key source of information for our
Our Council Leader Joe Cullinane and Chief Executive
Craig Hatton held online ‘Fair Say’ engagement sessions
to update teams on Council business and enable
colleagues to ask any questions.
We launched our new Staff News website, making it
easier for our teams to receive information including
regular video updates from our Chief Executive.
We issued over 50 shout-outs on social media for
individual colleagues and teams to recognise their
exceptional work throughout the pandemic.
The wellbeing of all our employees continues to be a key
priority for our Council. We introduced our Wellbeing
Warriors - volunteers from teams who are then trained
in Mental Health First Aid to support colleagues through
listening or signposting them to services.
All our employees are regularly updated with
information on how to support their health and
wellbeing. Occupational Health provides information,
support services and advice on a range of topics, while
our Live Well programme provides opportunities to
maintain a healthy lifestyle including mental and
Our new more efficient online Occupational Health
portal was launched for occupational health referrals
and reports. This service provides online access to
information and guides for employees and managers
and supports our digital agenda.
Our DrEAM (Drop Everything and Move) initiative was
launched to remind us to take time to be active and
ensure that we take appropriate breaks.
Our Health and Social Care Partnership Staff Wellbeing
Hub at the Training Centre, Ayrshire Central, remained
open to all our partnership employees. The Hub
operated a drop-in service with teams experienced in
offering confidential peer support.
Five of our libraries hosted our Health and Wellbeing
Hubs for care home and care at home employees. There
were up to 560 visits per week. This has been
highlighted in the Carnegie UK Trust report Making a
Difference: Libraries, Lockdown and Looking Ahead.
We have signed up to the Scottish Government’s
Coronavirus Fair Work statement, which ensures our
employees will get time to attend their vaccination
All of this support puts our teams in the best position to
continue to deliver excellent services alongside our
partners during this exceptional time.
Page 9 of 9
For further information please contact:
The Corporate Policy, Performance and Elections Team
Tel: 01294 324648