Analysis by the Scottish Government shows the negative effects of the pandemic have been borne unequally and will have long lasting impact.
The report by the Scottish Government evaluates the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the National Outcomes, a set of measures intended to deliver a fairer and healthier society. It has found an unsurprisingly negative impact across a range of those outcomes.
Most obviously, the pandemic has had a serious negative impact on health, resulting in a substantial increase in excess deaths and worsening mental health, as many in our communities have faced isolation. Employment and businesses have also been deeply impacted, with some sectors of the economy remaining almost entirely shut down, whilst others have faced surging demand that has heaped pressure particularly on women and people in low-paid work.
In education, pupils and students have often lost out not just on learning but on vital social connections, which is feared could lead to a widening of the attainment gap. Communities and human rights measures did see some positives, with increased volunteering and rapid third sector response, though these didn’t fully make up for the disruption to social connections and support services that many disabled people rely on.
These, and many other pandemic-related pressures, are considered likely to have significant impact on the National Outcomes for some time. The report notes that these negative effects have been borne unequally and have both worsened and been worsened by pre-existing inequalities. Rebuilding following the pandemic will require finding appropriate responses to all of these challenges, but it can be done.