Council Connections 13 – Jan 2016

CouncilConnections_13_Jan2016-thumbnailDraft Budget 2016/17

The big loser in the draft budget is local government. The budget is cut by 3.5% or £500m in cash terms. On top of that there are additional commitments like the NI increases that could double that cut. CoSLA calculates this will cost 15,000 jobs or ‘the equivalent of 50 Tata Steelworks’ – but don’t expect a taskforce!

There is the prospect of some additional funding for social care routed through the NHS budget, but it remains to be seen how much reaches these services when the NHS is under pressure and political scrutiny. This emphasises the importance of local government speaking up for council services that are just as important to our communities.

We need to expand the budget envelope not just shunt austerity to councils. The Council Tax freeze is simply unsustainable and there are indications that the public agrees. The Commission on Local Tax Reform has again run through the options, but a local income tax would be a whole new headache.

Trade Union Bill – thanks for your support

Many thanks to those councils who have passed motions of support for the campaign against the ‘Anti-Union Bill’ and for the very helpful CoSLA statement.

The UK government is desperate to ignore the devolved consequences of the Bill that will allow the English local government minister to dictate how industrial relations operate in Scottish councils. The Bill also conflicts with devolved and council duties under human rights and equality legislation.

In Brief…..

We need to have a grown up conversation about local taxation. Dismissing the Bed Tax out of hand isn’t it.

Public services must meet complex needs and technology has a central role to play in that. But as the UNISON Scotland survey of ICT staff shows, staff are not listened to and shortcuts simply lead to failure.

School libraries need professional Librarians to support young people in the information age as our evidenceto the Scottish Parliament shows. Our survey of public library staff indicate similar concerns.

The Commission for the Provision of Quality Care in Scotland supports UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter and a real living wage for all care workers in Scotland. New Statutory Guidance means this can be delivered by all councils.

For more information please contact UNISON’s Bargaining and Campaigns team on 0141 342 2811, or email Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser.