Social care and COVID-19 emergency powers

Section: Policy into PracticeType: News Item Date Published: 1st July 2020

The ALLIANCE has published a briefing paper on social care and the use of emergency powers during COVID-19.

Following the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act in March 2020, and the “switching on” of powers by the Scottish Parliament on 5 April 2020, the Scottish Government has published the first of its progress reports (this link will take you away from our website) to the Scottish Parliament on the use of emergency powers. The ALLIANCE has developed a briefing reflecting on the content of the first Progress Report (9 June 2020), local authority complaints procedures and experiences reported by our members during COVID-19.

The ALLIANCE welcomes details provided in the first Progress Report about the number of local authorities that have made use of the emergency powers. We also outline the need for more information and transparency of process, echoing concerns raised by British Institute of Human Rights’ response to the Progress Report (this link will take you away from our website).  The ALLIANCE recommends greater clarity and publicly available information on the following counts:

  • The specific criteria that individual local authorities/HSCPs have in place to make decisions on whether to use or not use the emergency powers.
  • Who is involved in and consulted about decision making.
  • What monitoring and oversight is in place to help authorities assess whether using the powers has resulted in these outcomes, or in other (potentially unintended) outcomes.
  • The ways in which individual authorities are using the powers is required, for example in relation to “some are using the powers across the whole authority area and all services, while others are using the powers in a more targeted way, for example, on particular services only”.
  • Which local authorities did not report by the Scottish Government survey deadline for the first Progress Report, and whether they require – and have they received – further support to ensure efficient data tracking.

We also outline concerns and recommendations regarding the processing of complaints during COVID-19, and changes to social care eligibility criteria. Throughout the briefing we highlight the need to embed equalities and human rights in practice as well as principle, and to ensure disabled people, people living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers are involved in decision making at all levels. We encourage the Scottish Government, local authorities and HSCPs to ensure that human rights principles are embedded in how the emergency powers are used during the pandemic, and in how information is shared and tracked.

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