All Things Scotland: A look into what February holds for local government

Welcome to All Things Scotland!

Our weekly publication, this roundup is LGIU Scotland’s chance to bring you all the latest local government reports and policy updates in Scotland, as well as a recap from LGIU Scotland.

With Languages Week Scotland is a celebration of language learning and multilingualism in Scotland from 30 January – 3 February.

LGIU Scotland updates

Briefing- Scotland February policy bulletin

Briefing- Health and social services reform in Finland – Centralising local government services

Briefing- Health, public health and social care round-up: January 2023

Publication- In Conversation with… Pippa Milne, Chief Executive of award-winning Council, Argyll and Bute

Blog- What will the National Care Service mean for local government in Scotland?

You can all this and more on the LGIU Scotland page!


Restrictive, demoralising and unclear.

To understand the ramifications of what the much-debated Scottish Government budget means for local government, this new in-depth LGIU Briefing explores how the budget has influenced funding for Councils through the Provisional Scottish Local Government Financial Settlement for 2023-24. You can read the full briefing here.

Last weeks motion in North Ayrshire Council which tasks the Chief Executive, Craig Hatton, to make a “robust” response to the 2023-23 budget, sets the tone for February, where once again the 2023-24 budget settlement is sparking debates over local government financing.

At COSLA, the Save our Service’s campaign continued this week, with COSLA spokesperson Cllr Katie Hagmann appearing on the BBC Sunday Show and STV’s Scotland Tonight to discuss the state of local government finance this year.

From the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, a new in-depth briefing on what the 2023-24 budget means for local government allocations clearly sets out the impact across Scotland.

Also from the SPICE, a new spotlight blog uncovers Scotland’s view of the levelling up fund. For more on the levelling up fund, check out the LGIU response to the last funding round here!

This was the message repeated by Council finance directors from Glasgow, Dundee and Argyll in Holyrood, with the BBC reporting how the ring-fencing of local government funding is likely to lead to significant rises in rates.

 The Scottish Government is consulting the public on plans for new Community Wealth Building legislation – the first of its kind in the world – as part of its wider strategy to transform Scotland’s economy. Proposing a new legal duty on Councils to align their economic levers towards CWB, you can out more about the first Scottish Council’s experience with CWB here!

Finally, Scotland’s onshore GDP fell by 0.1% in November, after growing by 0.7% in October, according to statistics announced this week by the Chief Statistician.

Housing & Planning

Local authorities play an important role in developing healthy, sustainable neighbourhoods and ensuring that there are enough high-quality homes. We have picked out a few items from our huge library of local government content to help start your 2023 well informed.

This week the Guardian asked why the hyper-local ‘15-minute city’ is gaining ground in urban planning circles?

To understand the impact of a 20 minute neighbourhood in Scotland, Improvement Service, Scottish Rural Action and Geoxphere are hosting a free evening webinar for community councillors to learn more about Community Map Scotland. Taking place on Wednesday 15th February at 6pm, you can book your place here!

Complexity and staffing issues are behind planning delays in Dumfries and Galloway, with 8 applications currently sitting undecided. Check out the BBC for a Council breakdown of wind farm applications.

With homelessness from a private rented tenancy rising, an update on Homelessness Statistics covering 1 April to 30 September 2022 has been released by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

Passengers will be boarding the world’s first fully sized, self-driving bus service in Edinburgh from the Spring, after it was awarded a share of £81 million in joint UK government and industry support for self-driving transport technology.

Updates in the local government sector

For more on attitudes to local democracy, read this LGIU briefing that summarises the key arguments in a report commissioned from Onward and outlines its potential relevance for local government.

Carol Beattie is to remain as Chief Executive of Stirling Council following a meeting with senior Stirling Councillors who accepted the request to cancel the resignation process.

Coming up soon, the Improvement Service, Scottish Rural Action and Geoxphere are hosting a free evening webinar for community councillors to learn more about Community Map Scotland. Taking place on Wednesday 15th February at 6pm, you can book your place here!

Find out how May’s local government elections impact on Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa festival and committee here!

Climate action

To find out how local governments across the world are leading on climate action, check out this agenda-setting update from the LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre, who has partnered with Browne Jacobson to investigate local government’s leadership on climate action.

Leading the policy agenda into February is a new report from the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee. Announcing that Scotland will not meet its ambitious target of being net zero by 2045 without a more empowered local government sector, the report outlined the importance of local democracy by highlight local governments democratic credentials, local knowledge, a capacity to lead by example and well-placed partnerships.

Termed a “watershed moment for tackling climate action”, Cllr Gail Macgregor, COSLA Environment and Economy Spokesperson used the report to drive home local governments need for closer collaboration with Scottish Government, a clear costed roadmap for local governments role and more funding and budget flexibility.

In other climate updates, £21 million has been awarded to Glasgow City Council through the Scottish Government’s Recycling Improvement Fund to support the introduction of a new twin-stream service for the separate collection of recyclable materials.

A four-year analysis by Trees for Life shows that most of Scotland’s globally-unique Caledonian pinewoods are on a ‘knife-edge’ and could become the last generation in a line stretching back to the last ice age, says the first major study into their health for over 60 years.

With new research on the impact of urban air quality on citizens, check out this LGIU Global Local on how local governments around the world are helping to improve air quality and reduce exposure to harmful pollutants.

Health, social care and education

What will the National Care Service mean for local government in Scotland?

LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre is working with experts at the University of Birmingham to investigate the potential impact of a new National Care Service in Scotland and you can find our latest update here!

This week, Public Health Scotland released two key reports with implications for local government

  • The first report examines the public health framework for prevention and the key contribution NHSScotland makes to preventing poor health outcomes.
  • A second report marks the end of a series being undertaken by researchers at Frontier Economics which looks at the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing on the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland.

Local government insights from Ireland

At LGIU we know that places are unique; but so many of the challenges faced by local governments are shared with their colleagues across countries and across continents. To promote the sharing of local government best practice and innovation, this week we have picked two key policy briefings from Ireland that are relevant to Scottish local governments.

Local government response to an international crisis: Ukrainian refugees. Read this briefing from Clare County Council’s Director for Ukrainian Affairs, Jason Murphy, on how the Council is responding the 70,000 Ukrainian refugees who have entered Ireland since March 2022.

Cork County Council: A month in the life. Find out what one of our member local authorities in Ireland gets up to in a month, and how Cork County is leading the way on climate action, housing, community and roads & transportation.

Stay tuned...

Next week, LGIU Scotland will bring you a new briefing on centralisation in the UK, the condition of social housing and a consultation and legislation round-up.

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