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Starved of funds

Cuts straining Scotland’s public services
Alex Flynn, Thursday, March 10th, 2016


Unite Scotland has responded with scorn and concern to the latest finance figures which show there’s been close to £1.5 bn worth of cuts to local government since 2011.

 

According to official figures the scale of the cut-backs has resulted in over 40,000 jobs being lost since 2007.

 

Local government headcount (excluding joint boards employment) stood at 284,500 in the third quarter of 2007 – and dropped substantially to 243,700 jobs in the same quarter of 2015.

 

Councils are also setting their budgets within a new funding package for 2016-17 against a backdrop of thousands of redundancies.

 

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) is warning that the new package could result in the loss of a further 15,000 local government jobs.

 

Unite has also warned that plans by the Scottish government to reform local government funding by asking the average council tax band E household to pay about £2 per week more, and the average household in the highest band (H) about £10 a week more, will not address the fundamental funding issues facing the provision of local services.

 

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move would raise £100m year for education. The council tax freeze is due to end in 2017 with councils then able to increase the tax by up to 3 per cent a year.

 

Holyrood ministers say this will potentially allow local authorities to raise up to £70m to fund local services across Scotland.

 

Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, said, “The Scottish government is starving local authorities of the funds necessary to maintain vital service provision.

 

Strain on services

 

“Workers are being asked to do far more with minimal resources in the context of major demographic challenges, putting an enormous strain on services.

 

“The facts are more than 40,000 jobs have been lost with potentially tens of thousands more to come as allocations to local authorities have been consistently cut in real terms.

 

“This is not a ‘minimal impact’ it is an industrial scale impact similar to the 1980s,” he said.

 

Botched

 

“The Scottish government’s botched and ill-conceived attempts to reform the council tax, rather than replace it with a sustainable fairer funding model will ultimately backfire,” Rafferty added.

 

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