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Social housing fast track - application guidance

Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government programme set up to tackle digital exclusion during the coronavirus crisis. It is delivered with the support of local councils, SCVO and a wide range of organisations from across Scotland and the UK.   

Previous application rounds have targeted those at high clinical risk from coronavirus, families with children, young care leavers, older people and disabled people, and unemployed people.

We are now inviting new ‘fast track’ applications from social housing providers working with low income and digitally excluded people.

Social housing providers can apply for support for up to 100 people per local authority area they are currently working with. This support can include:

  • Digital devices – iPads and/or Chromebooks
  • Internet connectivity – a mobile WiFi hotspot with 24 months unlimited data  
  • Training and support – for staff and volunteers to become ‘digital champions’ to support people to use the internet confidently and safely

Social housing fast track applications are intended for providers who can identify specific people they are currently working with that meet the eligibility criteria and have capacity to deliver devices to them quickly this autumn/winter.

A separate general fast track application process with a smaller device limit that’s open to all public and voluntary sector organisations.

What people are eligible?

Organisations can apply for support for people that they work with that meet both the following criteria:

  • They are digitally excluded – they currently do not have access to an appropriate device and/or internet connection at home; and
  • They are from a low income household – they cannot afford to buy a device or pay for internet access from their household income.

The priority target groups are:

  • Older people (aged 60+)
  • Disabled people
  • Single parents
  • Families on low incomes
  • Care leavers

Applications will also be accepted for other groups where there is strong evidence of the impact of digital exclusion.

Getting online will help them access public services, take part in learning, connect with family and friends and contribute towards reducing social isolation and loneliness.  

Who can apply?   

The social housing fast track application is open to social housing providers only. Social housing in Scotland is housing owned and managed by public authorities (mainly councils) and housing associations (registered social landlords or RSLs). The housing provider must have staff who have a direct relationship with their tenants who will receive the devices.

Individuals cannot apply.  

You can apply for a maximum of 100 devices per local authority area in each application.

All organisations must be able to:

  • Demonstrate they have identified specific people they are currently working with that meet the criteria for support
  • Understand what type of device is best for those people (a Chromebook or iPad) and whether they also require an internet connection (MiFi) to be provided
  • Provide support for at least six months to end-users to help them develop their digital skills and confidence through the Digital Champions model, including taking part in a 2.5 hour remote Digital Champion training session, if appropriate

A full list of roles and responsibilities can be found in the template grant agreement.

SCVO will provide support for successful teams and organisations.  

Previous applicants to Connecting Scotland must have successfully completed the distribution of their previous devices and submitted the required monitoring information for their application to be considered in this round.

How to apply 

Each local council  has an allocation of devices available to them to distribute to people living in their area through projects that are successful in their application.  This is to ensure as wide geographic coverage as possible.

Complete the application for the Council area where all (or the majority) of the people you intend to support live.

You can apply using the online application.  A template application in Microsoft Word is available to help you prepare your answers.

The application will ask you to:

  • Tell us about the people you want to support: what are their needs and what difference will it make to have access to a device an internet connection? Names or specific personal data is not required at this stage, but must be provided within 14 days of you receiving the devices.
  • Tell us how you currently work with these people and how you will support them to get the most from their devices and connectivity as part of this work?
  • Tell us about your organisation’s experience helping to get people online and how you will approach providing Digital Champion support to these people.
  • Identify the number of devices (Chromebooks or iPads) and internet connections (mobile WiFi) you would like to apply for.

Applications will be assessed on a fortnightly basis. We aim to notify applicants of the outcome within 21 days of submission at the latest.

A maximum of 10,000 devices will be distributed through the fast track application process. There is no specific closing date, as the application form will close once all devices are awarded. Organisations are therefore advised to submit their application as soon as possible to avoid the risk of losing out.

Digital Champions  

A Digital Champion is a member of staff, or a volunteer, who’s already supporting someone, and has been trained by SCVO to help them get up and running with their iPad or Chromebook.  

This approach builds on the relationships and trust that your staff have already built up with people.   

Digital Champions do not need to be technical people. They just need to be confident in their own digital skills. And, more importantly, they should have good interpersonal skills.   

As part of their work with users, we expect Digital Champions to be able to give people regular, informal support for at least 6 months.

SCVO’s training for Digital Champions lasts 2 and a half hours and is delivered remotely. Digital champions will also get resources and ongoing support to help them fulfil their role.  

How applications are assessed   

Applications are assessed by SCVO, the Scottish Government and representatives from Scottish local authorities. Their aim is to allocate devices to where they’re likely to have the biggest impact.  

Connecting Scotland has developed scoring guidance to support the assessment process, but local councils and SCVO have the power to make the final decision. 

The guidance recommends making awards to organisations based on evidence that shows they meet the following criteria:  

  • they have identified specific people they are working with who are eligible for support      
  • how closely the needs of the people they support fit the programme’s priorities  
  • how much capacity they have to support people through the Digital Champion scheme  
  • how they can demonstrate their organisation’s ability to deliver at speed to your proposed numbers  
  • their commitment to capture data and learning    

Applications will also be assessed on the extent to which they contribute to broader social inclusion or poverty reduction strategies.  This includes:

What you’ll need to do if your application is successful  

If your application is successful, your organisation will have to sign a grant agreement with SCVO.   

The agreement covers:  

  • the devices you’ve applied for  
  • your expected commitment to the programme  
  • SCVO’s responsibilities  

It also covers general grant conditions. This covers things like: 

  • an agreement to comply with data protection regulations 
  • health and safety considerations 
  • protection of vulnerable groups 
  • other legislation that’s relevant to your organisation 
  • sharing monitoring and evaluation data with SCVO 

Monitoring and evaluation data will be shared with local councils, and the Scottish Government, over the following 24 months.  

After you have signed the grant agreement, the next steps are:

  1. Accept your grant agreement – we’ll order your devices for distribution to the agreed address once received.  
  1. Sign up and undertake Digital Champion Training – start the training now so you’re ready to go. Don’t wait for your devices! 
  1. Receive your devices – Make a note of the device serial numbers and SIM card phone numbers so you can keep track of who receives what. 
  1. Issue devices – Make sure you provide those you’re supporting with a User Agreement so they understand what’s involved. Keep the signed copies safe.  
  1. Input user data – You can enter this monitoring information via our portal. This is essential to enable us to provide support, demonstrate impact and report to auditors. You must provide this information within 14 days of receiving devices
  1. Provide Digital Champion support – Help those receiving devices to get connected and benefit from being online.  
  1. Undertake the welcome survey with the User – This helps us measure impact. It’s optional for the user to take part but everyone should be asked.  

Devices and connectivity  

You can apply for iPads, Chromebooks or a combination of both. You need to decide which type of device is most suitable for your service users.   

iPads come with a case for protection, but do not come with a keyboard.   

iPads are likely to be more suitable for:   

  • older people  
  • people who have little or no digital skills   
  • people with accessibility needs    
  • families with children in education

Chromebooks are likely to be more suitable for working age people, or families with children in education.

For those without access to an internet connection at home, you can also apply for a Vodafone mobile WiFi (MiFi) device with unlimited data for 24 months.


Contact if you’ve any questions about the Connecting Scotland programme.