Local Government in Scotland - Performance and Challenges 2018
5th April 2018
Finding savings is now "increasingly critical" for councils dealing with ongoing reductions in funding, says the Accounts Commission.
Councils are balancing a real terms funding cut of 9.6 per cent over the last eight years with increasing demand, particularly from a growing older population.
And the local authority watchdog says that councils need to clearly set out the impact budget reductions are having so they can plan for the future.
The annual report looking at the challenges facing councils and how they are performing found that:
Some councils have maintained or improved their performance in a number of areas despite budget reductions. For example, councils are spending less on secondary schools but pupils from all backgrounds are performing better;
Other evidence suggests that budget cuts are having a negative impact, with public satisfaction falling in areas such as refuse collection, street cleaning and libraries;
Adult social care services are not keeping up with demand, with older people facing long waits for an assessment of their needs and a further wait to receive their care package;
Some services have borne the brunt of funding reductions. For example, planning department staff numbers have been cut by over 20 per cent in the last decade, and environmental staff by eight per cent between 2016 and 2017.
Under the current funding formula, some councils face receiving less cash from government as their total population falls but the number of old people - and associated demand for services - increases.
Without service redesign or policy changes councils could be spending nearly 80 per cent of their budgets on education and social work alone by 2025/26.
Graham Sharp, chair of the Accounts Commission, said:"Councils are facing the major challenge of reducing costs, maintaining services for an ageing population and putting significant policy and legislative change into practice - all at a time of increasing uncertainty.
"They have done a lot to manage the impact of budget reductions, but with forecast funding gaps higher than current levels of reserves for some councils the delivery of savings is now increasingly critical.
"Decisive leadership, innovative thinking around service delivery, and robust planning based on community engagement is now more important than ever to ensure council services stay sustainable."
Read the full report at
The Highland Council has appointed a new Chief Executive. The successful candidate is Donna Manson, currently Service Director for Children and Young People in the Scottish Borders.
Local services throughout Scotland could be plunged into crisis after - UNISON, Unite and the GMB - wrote to COSLA to say they will recommend their members reject their revised pay offer when they consult them in the coming weeks. The revised pay offer, made by COSLA on 6th September 2018, was a 3% increase for all local government workers earning up to £80,000, but the trade unions are angry that this is below inflation and does not improve low pay.
Members have discussed the consultation and proposed response to a review of the structure of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme. The Highland Council Pension Fund is one of eleven constituent funds of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme.
The Highland Council has agreed to plan for a potential budget gap of £66.7 million over the next three years. It was agreed by Members in June to develop plans for a multi-year budget for the next 3 financial years (2019-22) to meet the challenge of a potential funding gap dependent on a wide range of variables.
The Highland Council is looking for experienced staff or existing managers to drive the Early Learning and Childcare initiative forward, to ensure our youngest children get the best start in life and are ready to succeed. The Council will be almost doubling the provision of early learning and childcare over the next two years.
High Life Highland today announced that it has been successful in an application to the Year of Young People National Lottery Fund, to support its HLH Leadership Programme. "Choose to Lead" will be a Leadership Award that will be recognised by the SCQF Framework and accreditation of the award will be carried out by the University of The Highlands and Islands.
The Highland Council is encouraging local community groups to participate in the Scottish Government's Local Governance Review. Members have today considered the work to date preparing for The Highland Council's contribution to the Local Governance Review.
Progress on the Highland Council's review of its public conveniences has been welcomed by the Council's Administration. Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of the Council's Environment Development and Infrastructure Committee said: "It's important that we put the review into context and acknowledge that Highland Council is the largest provider of public conveniences in the UK.
Caithness Councillors have welcomed information that shows progress being made in respect of destinations of pupils on leaving Wick High School in recent years. The information was presented at the Caithness Area Committee meeting held in Wick on Tuesday 28 August.
The Corporate Revenue Monitoring Statement for Quarter 1 (Apr - June 18), has been considered by the Council's Corporate Resources Committee. The paper sets out actions to address the projected 1% overspend of £5.1m.
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