Jobs cull and services hit predicted as Scotland's councils face £1billion black hole
CSPP Chair Professor Richard Kerley was cited in today’s Herald and Glasgow Evening Times on the need for councils to plan ahead for budget cuts as a result of the reduction in UK public spending. The article follows.
Herald / Evening Times (15/6/15) - THOUSANDS of jobs face the axe and a range of frontline local services reduced or withdrawn as new figures show Scotland's councils approaching a financial blackhole of around £1billion.
The Scottish Government's most up-to-date data on projected cuts to public spending shows it will have £2billion less over the next three years, with local government now bracing itself for the brunt of the burden.
If alternative savings cannot be found however the reduction to the Scottish budget would be around £3billion, with a deeper impact again on vital services such as care, schools, refuse collection.
Several councils have told The Herald, which today relaunches its Reshaping Scotland series, they are facing funding gaps between 2016 and 2019 in excess of what they had to deal with in the previous six years combined.
One leading political economist has warned the need for dramatic savings will mushroom after the current financial year, with funding for frontline services and salaries now expected to feel the impact.
Professor John McLaren, who heads think tank Fiscal Affairs Scotland, said: "Scotland, like the UK, is only around a half of the way through the cuts to public services process initiated by the UK government
"Unlike the earlier years it is expected to be day-to-day spending budgets, rather than capital/investment budgets, that take the hits in the coming years
"At over -5 per cent in each of the next two years, the cuts in spending could be over double the average size seen in the past four years.
"As the NHS budget will continue to be protected the position for all other public service budgets will involve even bigger cuts."
Since 2010 councils have received £800million less in real terms in their grants, with over 40,000 posts removed through voluntary redundancies, natural wastage and internal changes to how they do business .
The imminent cuts to schools' and social work budgets, home helps, parks, libraries, refuse collection and even environmental health services also come amid record levels of demand, an increasing elderly population, high energy prices, debt repayments and wage rises.
Evidence from England, where councils have had their spending power reduced by a third since 2010, has shown how they have had to refocus priorities to cope with the impact of cuts sparked by the reaction to the collapse of the banks on their poorest citizens.
Watchdogs have already warned in recent months that most Scottish councils have failed to make long-term plans for the financial precipice ahead.
With the need for reforming councils again falling under the spotlight, The Herald today asks what national and local government is doing to protect the millions of citizens who rely on their vital local services from the oncoming cuts.
Sir John Arbuthnott, who led an aborted attempt to restructure core council services in the country's most densely populated area, the Clyde Valley, over five years ago, said: "With the financial pressure ahead, we know what is needed and further change has to happen soon. The pace remains extremely slow.
"With elections forthcoming in May next year, let us see clear plans at national level and delivery by local government."
Professor Richard Kerley, of Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University, a leading expert on local government, added: "Plans need to be made now for next year and the year after that. All these changes required by public authorities take a longer amount of time than people think and it’s much easier for trading organisations.
"This should have started long ago, some have but many haven't. All will be required to make significantly different choices in the few years ahead."
Report Highlights Green Potential of 'Circular Economy'
Report advocates making things last to tackle climate change.
Scottish Government (15/06/15) - Making things last instead of throwing them away could make a drastic difference in the fight against climate change, according to a world-leading new Scottish report.
Zero Waste Scotland’s Carbon Impacts of the Circular Economy sets out how actions such as repairing, reusing and remanufacturing valuable products and materials has the potential to slash Scottish greenhouse gas emissions by up to 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) by 2050.
That’s the equivalent of almost 275 million return car journeys between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The report is one of the first in the world to quantify the environmental benefits of moving to a more circular economy which is where we keep products in use for as long as possible; and reused, refurbished or taken apart to make new products at the end of their initial life.
Speaking from the EU’s Environment Council in Luxembourg, Scotland’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod said:
"Scotland is already recognised internationally as a leader in tackling climate change and the movement towards becoming a circular economy – and this report is further proof of how we are punching above our weight on the world stage.
"Scotland’s target of a 42 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is the most ambitious in the world, and we are on track to meet this ahead of schedule – although we must all do more.
"The consumption of materials is responsible for over two thirds of Scotland’s carbon emissions – and this report underlines the need to bring an end to our throwaway society.
"We can all take simple steps to do this, for example by reusing carrier bags, hiring clothes for a special event, or repairing broken toys instead of buying new ones. And we want to hear the public’s ideas for how they can #MakeThingsLast and contribute towards a more circular economy for Scotland.
"At the same time, I will continue to strongly press the international community to look to Scotland and follow our example in striving for the highest global ambition to tackle climate change. This is essential if the new international treaty to be agreed in Paris in December is to stand a good chance of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
"We welcome the European Commission’s consultation on a circular economy, and will also be publishing our own proposals for a more circular economy for Scotland later this year."
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:
"This report shows that a circular economy – where we move away from a ‘take, make and dispose’ society – could have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland.
"Making the link between the circular economy and climate change highlights just how important it is that we all get behind practical actions that will make a difference. We’re asking people all over Scotland to give us their thoughts on how else we can help #MakeThingsLast.
"The report also shows the importance of thinking about the things we consume as a society, regardless of where they come from. Moving to a circular economy will reduce emissions here in Scotland and around the world too – whilst still growing our national economy."
Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
"This is a ground-breaking report that shows the huge potential to reduce climate emissions if we only start using materials more sensibly. Our throw-away attitude to resources costs money, wastes valuable materials and creates climate change. This research shows that better choices about resources and waste could be saving us more carbon than a whole fossil-fuelled power station emits. The Scottish Government needs to push forward with Circular Economy ideas so we can reap the benefits to the economy, the environment and the climate."
The new study comes shortly after it was reported that Scotland missed its target for carbon emissions reduction for the fourth year in a row, although Scottish greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.6% between 2012 and 2013 to 53 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e).
Emissions have fallen a total of 34.3% since 1990. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act requires a minimum 42% cut in emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
Scotland’s Social Enterprise Awards 2015 Launched
Scotland’s annual awards for innovation and success in social enterprise are now open for entries! Social Enterprise Scotland is calling on all social enterprises to step up and demonstrate how they’re improving Scotland’s economy and society.
Fraser Kelly, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, said:
“We want all businesses to be social enterprises. Social enterprise is a more sustainable and progressive way to do business. The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2015 is a prime opportunity for social enterprises of all types to step up and be counted and show us how they’re changing Scotland. We urge all social enterprises to apply. Best of luck to everyone!”
Audrey Carlin of Wasps Studios, winners of Social Enterprise of the Year 2014 said:
“It was fantastic for Wasps to win Social Enterprise of the Year last time. The recognition the award has given Wasps on a national level has been incredible and it has opened new doors for us as an organisation. We'd urge all Scottish social enterprises to put themselves forward for the awards this year.”
Social Enterprise Scotland is The Voice of Social Enterprise - uniting social enterprises and their supporters into a strong campaigning force. We're your gateway to Scotland's social enterprise community. We’re an independent, Scottish, membership-led organisation, built and controlled by social enterprises. We're the first point of contact for the media and public and promote a positive vision for social enterprise.
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