All Things Scotland – Nicola Sturgeon leaving, what might that mean for public services and local government in Scotland?

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

This week national political uncertainty in Scotland is matched by uncertainty of devolved governance in Northern Ireland. Many in Scotland are now asking what is next for politics, public services and local government in Scotland.

Serving in Holyrood since 1999 and as First Minister of Scotland since 2014, Nicola Sturgeon’s political commitment will leave an indelible mark on Scotland’s political landscape.

LGIU Scotland updates – Find all this and more on the LGIU Scotland page!

Briefing: Failing families: Sharing learning on maternal and child healthcare

Briefing: The face of democracy: photo ID arrives at UK elections

Briefing: Parliamentary summary February 2023: all you need to know from Holyrood and Westminster

Article: In conversation with Jim Savege, Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council

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

Who is next in Bute House?

Restrictive, demoralising and cloaked in uncertainty

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

Nicola Sturgeon will only resign as First Minister once a successor has been elected.

The constitution of the Scottish National Party sets out the party’s leadership election rules. Candidates for leader must have at least 100 nominations from party members from at least 20 of the party’s local branches. If there is more than one candidate, there will be an election in which all party members are eligible to vote. The vote is run on a one-person-one-vote postal voting system.

Find out the full process from the House of Common’s David Torrance.

Housing & Planning

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.

Hospitality businesses will be able to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises without submitting a planning application under measures expected to come into force at the end of next month. Councils will still retain powers to deal with obstructions that make it difficult for people to access pavements safely and effectively (you can find out more here).

Under the new National Planning Framework (NPF4), projects returning former industrial or derelict sites to community use will be more likely to be approved following the introduction of long term planning reforms. Moreover, under the NPF4, Councils are encouraged to support proposals for development that will help restore green spaces as part of local development plans. (Find out more about the NPF4 changes here).

£105m has been agreed to boost the number of affordable homes in Scotland. The Charitable Bond programme provides loans to social landlords, with the interest then reinvested as grants into the social rented sector, further increasing housing supply.

Scotland’s Big Walking Seminar is back and in person! Join Living Streets Scotland in Stirling on the 7 March 2023 for a day of big ideas in economics, planning and behaviour change that can create change on the ground and make walking and wheeling everyday journeys a reality for everyone in Scotland.

Nine local authorities in Scotland are set to receive a share of £10m in funding from the Scottish Government to transform vacant and derelict lands, with the funding shared between 15 projects (You can find the full breakdown of successful applicants here).


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 2023-24, itis 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.

Last week, the BBC showed the difficult measures facing Scottish Council budgets this year. Containing feedback from 30 Scottish Councils, measures include:

  • Falkirk Council is offloading 133 properties.
  • East Renfrewshire Council has decided to sell its distinctive civic number plate HS 0.
  • Moray Council is proposing a 10% increase in the cost of burying the dead.

Lending a long-term lens to Council’s struggles, new IFS research outlines that even if Scottish councils increased council tax by 5% a year for two years, they may still face real-terms cuts to their funding. (You can find the IFS research here).

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 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.

While Tuesday saw a new pay offer for Scotland’s teachers being shared with trade unions following a meeting of council leaders on 14th February, the EIS Salaries Committee rejected the revised pay offer from the Scottish Government and COSLA, with COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Katie Hagmann commenting,

“This is very disappointing. The decision by the unions to turn down the offer of good faith, without even asking their members, means that teachers will not see a penny of this pay increase in 22/23. “

Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) & a number of civil society organisations published an open letter requesting the National Care Service Bill be paused. In response, COSLA’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Councillor Paul Kelly, commented:

“The National Care Service Bill has clearly caused great concern across Scottish civil society, reflected by today’s letter from a breadth of organisations.”

Over 54,000 children and young people were receiving Child Disability Payments in December last year. Just over 13,000 of these are from new applications. More than 41,000 children and young people have had their award transferred from Disability Living Allowance for children from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to Child Disability Payment.

Tourism and infrastructure

How does the way the media reports on crime affect communities?

It’s Criminal is a new storytelling project taking place in Glasgow this year which aims to find out. The initiative is a collaboration between Contemporary Narratives Lab, The Ferret and Greater Govanhill magazine, supported by City University of London’s Higher Education Innovation Funding Knowledge Exchange.

Scotland has achieved its highest ever reported score in an international survey which asks 60,000 adults from 20 countries what their perceptions are of 60 nations. Scotland’s overall score has jumped to 65.3 out of 100, compared to 62.6 out of 100 in 2020. (You can find more here).

Visit Scotland has been working alongside London & Partners in partnership with Expedia Group Media Solutions and Caledonian Sleeper to deliver a brand new campaign. Running from February to May, this new London and Scotland dual destination campaign is part of VisitBritain’s Gateway Innovation Fund.

Climate and environment

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

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

The Scottish Government Needs A Rethink To Meet Net Zero Ambitions- Fraser of Allander. Asked to explore how the Scottish Government can better assess the impact of its spending choices on emissions and improve its carbon assessment of the Budget to support parliamentary scrutiny, research found that there is a significant gap between the intentions of processes and how these processes are being applied.

Last week, Part 2 of a report from Dr. Colin Church identifies key actions in the decarbonisation of residual waste infrastructure. You can the full report here!

Local government learnings from Ireland

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, check out this two policy innovations from Ireland

What would your Council 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.

Where could Scotland go with EV infrastructure?

While Scotland debates the rates of charging points and Transport Scotland’s vision remains “drafted”, Ireland’s new Electric Vehicles Charging Infrastructure Strategy 2022 – 2025 and new €15 million scheme, will support the roll-out of publicly accessible, fast-charging for sports clubs and communities across the island of Ireland, in line with the recently launched National EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy.

A meaningful use of citizens assembly?

In January, Ireland saw the release the Dublin Citizen’s Assembly report on a directly elected Mayor for Dublin. With international insights provided by LGIU Ireland’s Content Commissioner, Dr. Sean O’Riordáin, you can read how 67 randomly-selected members recommend a powerful directly elected Mayor model for Dublin. 

Finally, keep your eyes peeled for new Irish transport infrastructure projects this year. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has allocated funds to Ireland’s local authorities with a view to spending €290 million on walking and cycling infrastructure in 2023, and you can find the full local authority and project breakdown here!

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

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