Cuts, Priorities, and Blame

Cosla yesterday warned that due to budget cuts 7000 local authority jobs had gone in the previous financial year in Scotland and that should the cuts continue then a similar amount of jobs will go in 2016/17.

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Cosla President David O’Neill said: “The Scottish government needs to realise that if as a result of their political choices the local government settlement is cut again next week – this will have severe consequences for jobs across Scotland.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said: “Audit Scotland last week published their independent report into council finances and found that local government had experienced the same reduction in funding as was imposed on the Scottish government by Westminster. “It is therefore clear that local government has been treated very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK government. “Local government finance settlements were maintained in Scotland on a like for like basis over the period 2012-16 with extra money for new responsibilities resulting in total settlements of £10.8bn in 2014-15 and of over £10.85bn in 2015-16.” BBC Scotland.

The simple reality is that the Scottish Government will face, and pass on, year on year cuts to the financial settlement from Westminster or they will have to use the new tax responsibility trap. According to Unison, while the Scottish budget has faced a 5% cut local authorities have faced cuts of up to 11%. Who do you believe! But either way Scotland faces a £500 million black hole over the next few years so things are going to get worse, much worse.

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Council workers, in the main, work very very hard. They have seen virtually no pay increase since 2008 while experiencing increasing workloads and increasing demands with increasingly unmanageable targets so something will have to give. The Scottish Government cannot keep asking for more and more from less and less without recognising the demands being placed on an ever decreasing workforce, and while most people will recognise the cause of this goes back to 2008 and the financial crisis, as well as, Labours decision to ensure that the bankers got bailed out at the expense of the rest of us, something is going to have to give. Hopefully not jobs, esp at the coal face.

No doubt Labour, the Liberals and the Tories will blame the SNP, the yoon media will blame the SNP but we need to be asking ourselves about priorities. We have money to re-build Buckingham Palace at a cost of £369 million pounds. It might cost £5.7 billion pounds to fix Westminster and the total cost of replacing Trident according to CND is £205 Billion Pounds.

Where are our priorities? When the inevitable cuts come over the next two years, when services are slashed, when people lose their jobs, maybe myself included, who are you going to blame and what are you going to do about it? Sitting on our hands is no longer an option and not accepting that the UK and our membership of it is a huge part of the problem won’t solve the problem. There are council elections next year, don’t fall into the red, blue and yellow Tory trap of blaming the current Government at Holyrood, they are far from perfect, and have made mistakes, but let’s be clear, Westminster is still the problem.

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4 comments

  1. Helena Brown

    I one of those council workers so I am aware how hard they work. Tea breaks were forbidden even before I left 16 years ago. Whilst I feel very bad for them, oK have zero sympathy for those who voted NO in the referendum, who still cleve to Labour/Tory/and the other irrellevent party, who complain constantly but never come up with an alternative solution.
    With Independence we can sort things properly. Yes anything devolved to Scotland from Westminster is a trap, but imagine the howls if the SNP do nothing. We have the Greens refusing to endorse the budget unless taxes are not raised on the rich, are the stupid or have I missed something?

    • Anonymous

      Helena

      I must admit I get a tea break lol. I do find though that, certainly in my area, that workloads, demands and targets are increased every year with little regard to the impact this has on staff. Add on the fact that since 2008 our wages have effectively fallen by around 15% when you take into account all the rising costs and virtual zero pay rises it makes for very demotivated staff. I think I get .75% of a pay rise next year but my rent will go up by 7% again, other bills will go up also making me yet again worse off for another year making it harder for many to live any sort of decent standard of living, add in the on going worthlessness of my pension and it will get to the point where there is little point in even working for local government unless you are in management and we have a lot of them. I just hope that when things do get worse next year that when people go to the ballot box they remember who caused this.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  2. Maggie

    Is the problem exacerbated by huge sums of PFI repayments to the private sector because of local council policies?

    • Anonymous

      Maggie

      I would think so in the wider picture of things but the main issue appears to be the year on year cuts that are coming from Westminster that will continue to at least 2021, services will really start to feel the pinch even more and I suspect we will see more rises in council tax.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

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