All Things Scotland – A New Deal for local government?

Question of the week: Does Scotland have a new super hero?

Answer: No, just a First Minister with a Government of 3 missions.

But what do these 3 missions mean for local government? Keep reading LGIU Scotland’s weekly recap of key developments to find out what has been happening this week…

Check out the latest updates from LGIU Scotland that you may have missed:

Scottish Bulletin: Issue 1, 2023

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

These Scottish bulletins provide an update on the progress of legislation currently in Holyrood that is of relevance to local authorities in Scotland.

This round-up briefing will also highlight key devolved matters, open consultations and third party reports relevant to local authorities.


Sharing lessons from Ireland and Spain on actions to tackle child poverty

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

This briefing explains the fundamentals of the EU Child Guarantee, compares the national plans from Ireland and Spain, and suggests some areas of action for local authorities to address child poverty. This will be of interest to everyone working in children and family services as well as those responsible for forward planning services.

How North Ayrshire Council supports staff battling compulsive gambling

Open to everyone 🟢 

As part of the LGIU’s Global Local focus on how local government is tackling gambling addiction, this article looks at how North Ayrshire Council became the first Council in Scotland to create its own in-house guide to help staff manage harms caused by gambling.

Key local government takeaways from the First Ministers Statement

Breaking down the 17 local government mentions in the new “Fresh Start” document outlining Scottish Governments priorities, we took a look at each of the 3 “Missions” to breakdown possible implications for local government.

Mission 1 – Tackle poverty

  • Expand free school meals
  • Action plan for rural and island communities with £25 million to allow properties be purchased or leased for key workers.
  • An anti-poverty summit.
  • To do this, the First Minister alluded to the need for “targeted spending” which local government will already be well-versed in.

Mission 2- Support economic growth

  • Supporting a just transition included a mention of working regionally and locally with partners in the North East to ensure no one is “left behind”.
  • New tech scaler hubs to support innovation.
  • A broader resetting of the government’s relationship with the business. On this, the First Minister announced the pausing of the controversial Deposit Return Scheme till May 2024.

Mission 3- Delivery of key public services

  • NHS investment,
  • Timetable for £12 an hour for adult social care workers. Additional or direct funding for local government?
  • “Improving consistency of care” through the National Care Service in a way that commands consensus amongst our key partners. Is command and consensus an oxymoron?
  • Public transport, the 6-month pilot to remove peak-time fares from Scotrail services will start in October of this year. Questions remain about provision of ferries Rural and non-rail communities?
  • Increased investment for active travel? How much, and where? 
  • Double the charge point network for electric vehicles to at least 6,000, and increase the number of zero-emission buses on Scotland’s roads.
  • More discretionary funding for local government! The First Ministers termed local government as a “vital partner in delivering the services that all of us rely on” and subject to Parliamentary approval, Councils will give Councils the power to apply a local visitor levy on overnight stays. For more, check out our local government insights on this proposed tourism tax!
  • New consultation with COSLA on additional powers to increase the rate of Council Tax on second and empty homes and on altering the thresholds for a self-catering accommodation to qualify for non-domestic rates.
  • Public Service Reform – a ten-year programme of public bodies and public service reform that seeks to achieve effective and person-centred, fiscally sustainable public services.
  • Digitisation – modern digital services that are easy to access, reliable and effective
  • The desire for “effective joint working between Scottish Government and local government.”

The New Deal for local government?

One of the 3 new deals promised in “New leadership – A Fresh Start“, the long-awaited new deal for local government, is about “resetting our relationship with Local Government”. By 2026, First Minister’s new deal with local government entails;

  • fiscal framework,
  • enabling better collaboration to jointly deliver our shared priorities,
  • tackle the collective challenge

And in case you missed it, First Minister Humza Yousaf made a point of meeting COSLA to reaffirm “the Scottish Government’s commitment to resetting the relationship with local authorities” and below are the key takeaways from that meeting:

  • Timing – Coming two days after the appointment to First Minister, local government and the relationship with COSLA hopefully indicates the First Ministers’ recognition of local government’s importance.
  • New title – Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Joe FitzPatrick, with empowerment as the operative word which will embody the new deal with local government.
  • New deal – The New Deal will be jointly agreed with COSLA and will provide greater flexibility over local funding and clear accountability for delivering shared priorities.

Key reports and updates

Digital infrastructure is key to meeting future housing and care needs

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 


This briefing highlights the growing importance of digital technology in helping a wide range of people to remain independent in their own homes and to be served or supported in achieving independent living. It also demonstrates why new housing should embrace digital infrastructure and how this will help address the inaccessibility of most housing for disabled people.

  • A new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation outlines the worsening situation for those in deep poverty in Scotland. While the overall number of those in poverty has fallen, the proportion and number of people in very deep poverty have risen dramatically, with the report acting as a call-to-action for the Scottish and UK government.
  • Shetler Scotland’s new Homelessness report –  The Homeless Rights Advocacy Project’s Practitioner Forum – launched this week, with 8 recommendations to improve the experience of people in temporary homeless accommodation.
  • Also new this week is the labour market update from the Scottish Parliament confirming the record lows in unemployment since records began in 1992 in Scotland, indicating the pressures on the current labour market.
  • Dualling the A77/A75. This new report commissioned by Councils in both Northern Ireland and Scotland outlined the potential for a £5 billion benefit by expanding roads connecting Stranraer with 3 Councils now asking for Scottish and UK government support for the project.
  • Finally, do you also find yourself asking what the best holiday of the COSLA Chief Executive was?  Well, today is your lucky day as Holyrood’s recent Getting to Know You speak with Jane O’Donnell to find out more about the incoming Chief Executive.

Advance your knowledge of Scottish local government!

All Things Scotland is only one of the many ways LGIU keeps the local government community in Scotland up-to-date on all the key policy developments. To never miss a beat, you need access to our exclusive resources and our full Daily News service – one email, every morning with everything you need:

  • breaking news;
  • briefings;
  • reports; training;
  • events;
  • and, so much more.

Only available to members – find out more about LGIU membership here.

Stay tuned....

This is your LGIU.

Next up, we hear about indoor air quality and implications for public services. On the horizon we also cover how councils in Scotland are developing accessible housing for those with disability related needs. Finally, how Chief Executives are navigating the challenges and opportunities of local government in 2023.