Briefing 126 – Local Government Overview Report 2023

thumbnail of LG Overview Report Policy Briefing 126 2023This briefing is on the May 2023 Audit Scotland Local Government Overview report for the Accounts Commission.

The report looks at how well placed councils are to deal with current and future challenges.

It warns “councils have never faced such a challenging situation, with demand and workforce pressures deepening after the Covid-19 pandemic and funding forecast to reduce in real terms.”

The report notes that funding of local government has not kept pace with other parts of the Scottish budget for many years. (As UNISON has regularly highlighted.) It says radical change through greater collaboration is urgently needed and the promised Scottish Government ‘New Deal’ agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) is essential for more certainty of funding, greater transparency and more flexibilities for councils.

Some communities face crisis, with shocking child poverty and homelessness, including record numbers of children living in temporary accommodation.  Pressures on councils are deepening after the pandemic, not easing:  “Councils need to radically rethink how they can work together, and with local partners, to provide services and meet wider ambitions to tackle climate change, child poverty and inequalities.”

The report says increasing cost pressures jeopardise the sustainability of local services, with some chief executives “concerned about the sustainability of councils” given this and forecasts of future funding reductions. UNISON has also warned of this about NCS plans.