All Things Scotland – National Care Service bill on hold, but what is next?

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

In a week where we jumped from announcements on the National Care Service to a new pay offer for teachers, our latest edition of All Things Scotland brings you all the key reports and updates to keep you informed and connected on Scottish Local Government.

Fresh updates analysis from LGIU Scotland

Briefing – Cost of living pressures – Councils step up to the plate

Briefing – National Care Service: has this idea become a white elephant that nobody wants to own?

Article – International school meals day – How Scottish local government is doing their part

Next week’s briefing provides a comprehensive review of social housing policy and legislation, including new bills that will affect councils.

Finance - budgets, cuts and Council tax rises.

The state of local government finance 2023: survey results

To better understand the true picture of council finances in England, the 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.




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.

New Chief Statistician figures on local government finance in 2021-22 give a comprehensive overview of the financial activity of local government, including revenue expenditure and income; capital expenditure and financing; reserves; debt; and pensions, local authorities net revenue expenditure in 2021-22 was £11,780m. Education and social work were the services with the highest net revenue expenditure, accounting for £5,867m and £3,817m respectively.

Community projects tackling poverty and disadvantage will receive £27m funding over the next three years in South East Glasgow, Inverness, West Lothian, South West Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, South West Edinburgh and the Borders.

CIPFA’s annual library survey reveals total expenditure on libraries in Great Britain fell 17% to £9,982 per 1,000 people in 2021/22, from £11,970 in 2020/21.

A newly published independent review of Scotland’s journey for sustainable procurement outcomes between 2002-2022 concludes that local businesses, communities and the environment are benefiting from Scottish Government’s procurement policies. Containing case studies from North Ayrshire CouncilFalkirk CouncilRenfrewshire Council and Dundee City Council , you can find the full report here.

Updates for local authorities

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.

Following a late-night count, the results are in for Edinburgh Council’s by-elections, with Fiona Bennett, Scottish Liberal Democrats elected to serve in the City of Edinburgh Council as a member for the Corstorphine/Murrayfield Ward.

Following the collapse of the SNP-Lab-Liberal Dem and Ind. administration in early February, Conservative Councillor and COSLA Economic and Environment spokesperson Gail MacGregor is now leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council.

£1.5 million Scottish Government funding secures the Big Noise project for children Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. With the projects at risk of closure in Council’s budgets, many will ask where the money is for Councils who did not already have Big Noise projects.

Shetland Islands Council Chief executive Maggie Sandison told the Shetland News that the Council may explore whether the idea of ‘fair funding’ for its ferries could also apply for its internal air service.

“clearly running an islander [air] service for our remote communities is a cost that other councils don’t bear as well.” (Shetland News)

Argyll and Bute Council outlines concerns at Transport Scotland’s  Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) as only 2 out of 45 of the reports recommendations “are expected to deliver any specific benefit for communities in Argyll and Bute.” (Argyll and Bute)

Orkney Islands Council (OIC) leader James Stockan issued a renewed plea for Scottish Government to step in and help close the funding cap with OIC’s two island local authority counterparts. (The Orcadian)

Falkirk Council is to examine whether its committee structure is “fit for purpose”. Reported by Kirsty Paterson in the Daily Record, you can find out more about the review of Falkirk’s decision-making here.

Glasgow City Council is set for a city-wide 20mph speed limit over the next 18 months as part of a £4.5m programme, part-funded by Sustrans.

In a big week for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar,

  • a new website launched to bring together information about Museum nan Eilean, Tasglann nan Eilean and the Western Isles Archaeology services and venues in a single online platform.
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Training Officer Pat Macaskill has been nominated as a finalist for the Apprentice Instructor of the Year Award at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

A new “Supporting New Scots Fund” focuses on two of the highest priority areas for refugee integration: English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Employability. Currently tenders are sought for Local Authorities, Third Sector Organisations and private bodies.

Research commissioned by Transport Scotland shows women and girls are being forced to adapt their own behaviour and change their travel habits in order to feel safe on public transport and outlines 10 new recommendations.


Local Government in Scotland – financial challenges, but councils are responding well

Amidst the gloom of a disappointing local government finance settlement and the financial constraints facing us in 2023-24, it is important to remember how well Scottish councils have responded to Covid-19, Brexit and increasing demand pressures over the past couple of years. This LGIU briefing looks at the main findings of the bulletin (focusing mainly on 2021-22) but also looks briefly at how councils are dealing with budget pressures in 2022-23 and the challenges for 2023-24 and beyond.

A new blog from Scotland’s Parliament Information Centre examines the scale of empty homes in Scotland and looks at the measures in place to tackle the 43,000 homes which have been empty for 6 months or more.

New reports from the Chartered Institute of Housing warn that “local authority progress on homelessness prevention and the scaling up of Housing First is at risk if Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) work ends abruptly.

Supported by Fife Council, the report finds that 80% of local authorities taking part in the research faced workforce difficulties with recruiting and retaining and no local authorities who took part in the research reported that they would have achieved all aims of their RRTP within the five-year timescale.

Glasgow City Council considers a new action plan to expedite the “essential repurposing” of properties in Glasgow. Lobbying for changes on taxation and additional powers, Glasgow aims for an affordable housing pilot project and a repurposing pilot in the former commercial business district.

From 1 April 2023 till 30 September 2023, private rent increases will be capped at 3% and restrictions will remain on enforcement of evictions under measures approved by MSPs.

LGIU’s 2023 Council budgets tracker: This week budgets were passed in nine new Council.

Council name Council tax rise
Aberdeen Council tax will rise by 5%
Aberdeenshire Council tax will rise by 4%
Angus Council tax will rise by 6%
Argyll and Bute Council tax will rise by 5%
Borders Council tax will rise by 5%
Clackmannanshire Proposed 5%
Dumfries and Galloway Council tax will rise by 6%
Dundee Council tax will rise by 4.75%
East Ayrshire Council tax will rise by 5%
East Dunbartonshire Council tax will rise by 5%
East Lothian Council tax will rise by 7%
East Renfrewshire Council tax will rise by 6%
Edinburgh Council tax will rise by 5%
Falkirk Council tax will rise by 7%
Fife Council tax will rise by 5%
Glasgow Council tax will rise by 5%
Highland Council tax will rise by 4%
Inverclyde Council tax will rise by 5.3%
Midlothian Council tax will rise by 5%
Moray Council tax will rise by 5%
North Ayrshire Council tax will rise by 5%
North Lanarkshire Council tax will rise by 5%
Orkney Council tax will rise by 10%
Perth and Kinross Council tax will rise by 3.9%
Renfrewshire Council tax will rise by 6%
Shetland Council tax will rise by 4.5%
South Ayrshire Council tax will rise by 5%
South Lanarkshire Council tax will rise by 5.5%
Stirling Council tax will rise by 7%
West Dunbartonshire Proposed 5% Council Tax increase
West Lothian Council tax will rise 5.8%
Western Isles Council tax to rise by 5%


Health, social care and education

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

Health inequalities remain a major challenge for Scotland. This briefing highlights how the Scottish Government’s approach to public health needs to be more focused and supported with resources locally. It also covers the ‘implementation gap’ and advocates for more achievable short-term goals to complement the national performance framework.

National Care Service Bill paused until June

MSPs have voted to postpone the Bill till the end of June 2023 to give more time for “complex and extensive” scrutiny of the proposals. COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Councillor Paul Kelly, commented,

“We welcome the opportunity to use this time for a meaningful and detailed discussion with Local Government and other partners to make sure that we get the much needed reform of social care right.” (COSLA)

Meanwhile, hailed as the “biggest pay offer in 20-years”, a new pay deal for teachers agreed by the Scottish Government and COSLA will amount to a cumulative rise of 33% for most teachers since January 2018. With the 90% of Educational Institute of Scotland balloted members backing the deal, the series of long-running strikes is set to end and you can find out more on the new pay offers here.

New statistics highlight how 184,000 children and young people received £25 per week in Scottish Child Payment by the end of 2022. Ahead of extending Scottish Child Payment to under-16s, local authorities also made more than 1.1 million Bridging Payments across 2021 and 2022 to the families of school-age children worth a total of £169.3m.

Three organisations – Phoenix Futures, CrossReach, Maxie Richards Foundation – supporting people with problem drug use will receive more than £14m to increase the number of residential rehabilitation placements.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician published new statistics on the initial destinations and attainment of 2021-22 school leavers from Scotland’s publicly funded schools. The statistics show that 95.7% of 2021-22 school leavers were in a positive destination three months after the end of the school year. This was higher than in 2020-21 (95.5%) and the highest since the current time series began in 2009-10.

Audit Scotland’s recent publication calls on the Scottish Government to be clearer about how long it will take the NHS to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and to reform services (you can find the full report here).

Finally, this week BBC Scotland offers a thought-provoking article on what, if any, lessons Scotland can learn from Ireland’s health service

Climate and the environment

How are Australian Councils leading the way on Deposit Return Schemes?

Driving a circular economy approach to soft plastic recycling. This new article uncovers how the City of Greater Bendigo’s new partnership with Close the Loop implements a circular economy for recyclable materials.

East Lothian Council received its third annual update on the Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025  noting achievements such as new certified training in Carbon Literacy available to all Council staff and a reduction of 15.2% in the Council’s emissions since 2019/2020.

As the much-debated Deposit Return Scheme picks up pace, key updates include;

  • All three SNP leadership contenders have proposed pausing or changing the deposit return scheme
  • The registration deadline for producers. Claimed as a “milestone” from Circulatory Scotland, the 664 companies that have registered are responsible for 95% of drinks sold in single-use containers in Scotland.However, the BBC reports that critics say they cover only about 16% of all producers that sell their drinks across the country.
  • March 1st opened the registration for Return Point Operators (RPOs). Most retailers and hospitality businesses that sell drinks to take away are legally required to operate a return point, with exemptions managed by Zero Waste Scotland.
  • Biffa, Circularity Scotland’s official DRS logistics service partner, released details of the £80 million infrastructure investments being made in anticipation of the scheme.

Consultations have opened on a new Scottish Government plan to end the sale of peat as part of wider plans to protect peatlands and reduce carbon emissions. Responses to the consultation will inform plans and timescales for moving away from using peat products in order to protect peatlands from further damage.

Highland’s Rewilding is the new owner of a 3,500-acre estate in Argyll. Following a £10m crowdfunding appeal, the new owner said it planned to restore the estate’s natural environment.

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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