Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Cost Savings or Budget Cuts?

The Third Annual Report Scottish Local Government Benchmarking Framework report has been published. This is produced via COSLA and SOLACE based on standard reports from all 32 authorities. It is an useful source of reliable information for campaigns to protect local government services. The report uses the term “cost reductions” we believe the term budget cuts is more accurate.

Key points from this year’s report:
The total number of pre-school places provided by councils increased by 11.8% between 2010 and 2014: an additional 10,821 places. Expenditure has fallen by 5.4% so spending per place has therefore fallen by 15.3%
Both primary and secondary education have seen a reduction in real spending since 2010/11: 7.4% and 3.3% respectively
While satisfaction with schools is 81% this is 2.1% lower than 2010/11.
Corporate services
There has been a 9.1% real terms cut in spending on what they call “the democratic core per 1000 population”
The cost per dwelling of council tax collection has reduced by 16.7%. Collection rates have increased to 95.2% from the already high 94.7%.
Women now make up 51% of the top 5% of earners in local government up from 46%. So while the glass ceiling has cracked there's not much good news for women lower down the pay-scale.
Social Care
Home care costs per adult aged over 65 have fallen by 4.6% in the past four years. There has been an increase in gross expenditure as while the actual number of people receiving care has fallen the total number of hours delivered has risen.
There has been an 8% shift from local authority to private/voluntary provision: this “has contributed to reduced costs through lower salary and pensions costs”. There is no reliable data regarding outcomes for service users.
The percentage of adults satisfied with social care/work services has decreased year on year and is now at 55%. This is the lowest level of satisfaction in services measured in the report.
Culture and Leisure Services
There is a significant increase in use of cultural and leisure services: Sports 17.3%, libraries 26.2% and museums 25.8%
Environmental Services
Gross costs of waste management per premise are down by 3.2%: key routes to cost cutting are changes in shift patterns, weekend working and changes to how often refuse is collected street cleaning costs also reduced in real terms by 25% through changed shift patterns and reduced staff numbers

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