1. Introduction
  2. Health
  3. Economy, Fair Work and Business, Culture
  4. Communities, Poverty, Human Rights
  5. Children, Education
  6. Environment, International
  7. Unequal impacts across the National Outcomes


What COVID-19 may mean for Scotland’s Wellbeing in the Future



Picture of Kate Forbes MSP and Councillor Alison Evison

Together, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government relaunched the National Performance Framework (NPF) in June 2018, following public consultation and cross-party agreement on the new National Outcomes in the Scottish Parliament.

Scotland has had a set of National Outcomes reflected in a National Performance Framework since 2007. Perhaps the most important aspect of this approach is that it gives all of the public sector, businesses, the third sector, and the citizens of Scotland a clear vision on what we are all working towards. It emphasises a shared responsibility to help deliver the whole, instead of concern only over the parts under any single organisation’s control.

The NPF is about setting agreed outcomes, reporting performance against these outcomes openly and transparently, and bringing people together in a way that helps everybody understand the contribution they can make. A focus on the outcomes we are able to achieve together are at the core of our approach in normal times.

The times in which we live are far from normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and continuing impact on our way of life: on our health and wellbeing; our businesses and economy; and how we relate to and connect with each other as members of society.

But this crisis has reemphasised the value of understanding as a nation the outcomes we want to deliver, and of having a framework that promotes our individual and collective wellbeing.  Scotland’s National Performance Framework and an outcomes-based way of working have never been more important.

This report has been prepared by analysts within the Scottish Government, with input from COSLA and the Improvement Service. It brings together evidence on the ways that the pandemic has affected Scotland’s progress towards our National Outcomes, including what people have told us about their experience, and the ways in which it might continue to have an impact in the future. It provides data and analysis to inform all those across Scotland who are faced with having to make decisions in response to COVID-19 where there are no easy answers. It summarises the significant ways in which the pandemic has affected Scotland and our communities and points to what this might mean for the future. We hope it will be of interest to many.

It will be a surprise to no-one that much of the evidence in this report describes how COVID-19 has harmed progress towards Scotland’s National Outcomes in terms of health and wellbeing, the economy and our society more broadly. But there are also important grounds for hope and optimism. We have seen innovation in response to the crisis, for example in the swift expansion of digital services and solutions to aid control of the pandemic and to help mitigate its impact.

While the National Outcomes in the NPF set out what we want Scotland to become, the NPF Values – we are a society which treats all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion, respects the rule of law, and acts in an open and transparent way – describe the way we want society to get there. The rapid response in the early days of the pandemic by local authorities and charities working together to support virtually all people sleeping rough or staying in shelters to move into self-contained accommodation is a powerful example of these values in action.

There are more examples in this report of the ways in which the response to the pandemic has helped empower individuals and communities to collectively improve outcomes in line with the values of the NPF. We want to thank the hard work and efforts of communities, businesses and the public sector as we continue to chart Scotland’s course through this crisis.

This report sets out evidence of the significant challenges resulting from the pandemic. But it also gives us optimism that action aligned with the values and vision of the NPF can have a significant role in shaping Scotland’s wellbeing. We believe there is learning to be taken from this report now, and also in the coming months and years when the time comes to look back on the COVID-19 pandemic to learn and reflect.


Kate Forbes MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Finance


Councillor Alison Evison

President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

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