All Things Scotland – Find out who ranks top as the best performing council

Welcome to All Things Scotland – LGIU's weekly collation of everything local government in Scotland

All Things Scotland is one of the many ways LGIU keeps the local government community in Scotland up-to-date on all the key policy developments from councils, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. To never miss a thing, 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). 

Fresh analysis from LGIU Scotland

As always, your weekly All Things Scotland round-up highlights all the key updates and reports along with everything you may have missed…

New briefing – What do we know about in-work poverty and can local government help?

Local authorities, whilst often stretched and insecure in terms of their own funding, need to find new and innovative ways to maintain service delivery despite inflation, the rising cost of living and increased demand for services. This briefing explores the situation and provides some case study examples from across Scotland.

New briefing – Living standards outlook and poverty in 2023

Considering the policy implications, this briefing will be of interest to councillors and officers involved in economic development, employment support, skills, children’s services, welfare rights and tackling poverty, as well as those administering cost of living support.

New interview – In Conversation with Councillor Steven Heddle, Vice President of COSLA

As part of LGIU’s series on local government leadership, Vice President of COSLA, Cllr Steven Heddle, tell us about his local government experience and how COSLA and the sector are navigating the challenges and opportunities of local government in 2023.

New annual local government benchmarking framework report!

Scotland’s public finances – unprecedented challenges for 2023-24

This briefing uses Audit Scotland’s recent report, Scotland’s Public Finances – challenges and risks, to explore the difficult choices acting Finance Minister, John Swinney, faces in preparing the 2023-24 Scottish Budget.

Front and centre for Scottish local government this week was the 11th annual Local Government Benchmarking Framework (LGBF) National Benchmarking Overview Report from the Improvement Service. Delivering a key evidence base for Councils to evaluate models of service delivery, this report is key reading for understanding innovations and delivery models in Scottish local government

Covering the period of 2021-2022, the draws on the agility of Councils in pivoting from the pandemic to the cost of living crisis, the report highlights the importance of strengthened partnerships with communities and the third sector and highlights the “extraordinary effort and impressive achievements which have been delivered across local government”.

Explore how your Council ranks on Local Government Benchmarking dashboard here.

Housing, planning and infrastructure

Why the new National Planning Framework can deliver Scotland’s environmental ambitions

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of the Green Action Trust writes about the importance of the NPF4 for embedding climate and nature emergencies across planning policy and placing a stronger emphasis than ever before on the tangible actions that can address these twin crises.

Harbour regeneration in North Ayrshire Council – Plans for the ‘Great Harbour’ project are set to be released as part of the Council’s long-term plans to transform the area into a “colourful, exciting and cultural hotspot”.

Milestone in Uist harbour regeneration – Following extensive works by Highland Council, stage 1 of Uist Harbour’s regeneration is now complete and ferry services are set to resume on March 23rd!

North Ayrshire’s new draft Vacant and Derelict Land Strategy – With one of the highest proportions of vacant properties of any Scottish Local Authority, the new plan is now open to feedback from the public and communities and you can find the draft plan here!

Public toilets closing in Scottish Borders Council – 14 of the 41 public toilet assets operated by the Council pre-2021 will not re-open as part of plans to sustainably secure the long-term operation of 27 public toilets. Check out our Global Local newsletter on the topic of vanishing public toilets here.


The state of local government finance 2023: survey results

To better understand the true picture of council finances in England, LGIU Local Democracy Research Centre surveyed chief executives, directors of finance, and council leaders and cabinet members on topics related to local government finance. LGIU plan to perform a similar survey in Scotland later in 2023.

Greenport tax relief details released – Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) rules would offer full or partial relief from the tax on non-residential buildings and land in certain areas within the green freeports and the Scottish Government will also fund local authorities choosing to offer non-domestic rates relief for certain properties or property improvements within the tax sites for up to five years.

Public Audit Committee report on ferry’s – Revealing significant failings, read here to find out how “Scotland’s taxpayers and island communities have been badly let down by many of those involved in the project.”

Regeneration momentum in Aberdeen – Former FTSE 100 chief executive Bob Keiller will lead Aberdeen’s Union Street regeneration which seeks “to bring new businesses and people to the Granite Mile.”

Scottish Town Partnership Chief Officer steps back – After eight and a half years, Phil Prentice is to stand back and Kimberley Guthrie, currently STP’s director of operations, will become interim chief officer of STP.

Health, social care and education

Leave no one behind: State of health and health inequalities in Scotland today

This briefing highlights how the Scottish Government’s approach to public health needs to be more focused and supported with resources locally, covers the ‘implementation gap’ and advocates for more achievable short-term goals to complement the national performance framework.

Minimum Unit Pricing effect on deaths – A new report from Public Heath Scotland shows there has been a 13% reduction in deaths resulting from alcohol consumption in the most socio-economically deprived areas of Scotland when compared to an estimate of the deaths that would have occurred had the policy not been introduced – equivalent to 150 deaths a year. Check out our Global Local on the topic of addiction here.

Increased Social Security Scotland benefits – Twelve Scottish Government benefits including Carer’s Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grants will be increased by 10.1% on 1 April and 13 Scottish Government benefits are now being delivered through Social Security Scotland, 7 of which are only available in Scotland.

Local government learnings from Ireland

Places are unique, however, so many of the challenges faced by local government are shared with their colleagues across countries and across continents. To promote the sharing of local government best practices and innovation, check out these two policy innovations from Ireland:

Dublin Citizens’ Assembly on mayoral government

Our new LGIU Ireland policy briefing recaps how over seven months, Assembly members voted in favour of a powerful new Mayor with wide-ranging powers and responsibilities similar to other major international cities.

What would your local government colleagues do with an innovation fund from the Chief Executive?

Find out how a Fingal County Council Executive Engineer spearheaded a new award-winning project on weather stations in schools here.

How did Clare County Council win the local authority of the year award?

This new briefing showcases how Clare County Council – Ireland’s recently awarded Local Authority of the Year – delivers for its communities and enables its stakeholders and communities to ensure the county continues to develop as a place to live, work and visit.

You can find all this and more in our new All Things Ireland edition here.

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