The Scottish Government’s budget allocations are, yet again, placing the burden of austerity onto local community services. A cut of £350m (£500m in real terms) reduces local government’s share of the Scottish budget by 1.7% from 32.3% to 30.6% in 2016-17, as we explain in our MSP briefing, and in more detail here.
Differing claims have been made about the job consequences. Our analysis makes the point that as staffing makes up 60% of the typical council budget – jobs must be at risk. Thanks to those councils that supported No Compulsory Redundancies Day.
We welcome the Council Tax freeze ending in 2017, but are less impressed with the limited proposals to reform local taxation. We have proposed more radical reforms that would strengthen local democracy.
While we campaign against the damage austerity is inflicting on our communities, we also need to ensure that we take every practical measure to mitigate against these cuts.
Last year, UNISON Scotland published a report that signposts some of the actions councils and others could take. We are pleased that the Scottish Government took on board at least one proposal on loan funds.
We have followed up the report with a toolkit, that sets out the ideas in more detail and offers questions and checklists. While aimed at UNISON branches, councillors might also find this resource useful.