The latest Audit Scotland report on local government: An overview of local government in Scotland 2016, does not make for cheery reading. Revenue funding is now 11% lower than 2010/11 at a time of increasing demand. The report points out that, so far, councils have focused on “incremental savings to existing service” but with more cuts in the pipeline “councils should be evaluating options more significant changes to delivering services”
This confirms, albeit in management speak, what UNISON has been saying: that salami slicing is no longer an option and that without increased funding local government will no longer be able to deliver its current level of services.
The report calls on authorities to ensure that they have
“people with the knowledge, skills and time to design develop and deliver effective services in the future”
Public satisfaction with services is already dropping as the cuts begin to bite.
Key financial pressure on local government
Increasing pensions costs
Reduced financial flexibility
Equal pay and the living wage
Key service pressures
Increased demand through demographic change
Health and social care integration
Local government delivers essential services across Scotland and requires adequate funding. The Scottish Government needs to ensure that local government is funded properly to meet the priorities the Scottish Government sets for it (e.g. expanding childcare hours, teacher numbers) and has access to raise money locally through fair taxation to meet their own local priorities
The report contains lots of useful information for UNISON campaigns against cuts and a self assessment tool for councillors to support them in their work. This is a useful tool for branches in analysing management plans and will be added to the UNISON anti-cuts toolkit.