Local authorities across the country are under severe pressure due to the financial impact of COVID-19, creating uncertainty over service provisions and the safety and job security of those who deliver them.
The UK Government announced an additional £1.6bn of support south of the border, with £155m for Scotland calculated through the Barnett Formula, though it remains unclear when and how this money will be distributed to councils.
Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government, said: “It is deeply disappointing that Scottish councils have still not received assurances that they will be receiving this £155m additional funding in full.
“This Covid-19 crisis has increased the pressure on local authority budgets through increased charges for PPE and procurement of services, at the same time as their other revenue streams like business rates and charges have dried up.
“Covid-related deaths in care homes are now out-numbering those in hospitals or at home. The scale of the crises that local authorities are having to deal with – and the impact on their resources – should be abundantly clear. It cannot be that a Conservative administration at Westminster can see the need for, and pass on additional funds to local authorities in the rest of the UK in full, but an SNP administration prevaricates over whether any additional funding is actually necessary.”
Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON’s local government committee, said: “Before Covid-19 local authorities were already struggling financially, with overall revenue falling over 7% over the last 10 years. And more of their revenue being ring-fenced for Scottish Government priorities
Now more than ever there is a desperate need for additional financial support from the Scottish Government. We urge the Finance Secretary to provide those additional funds to councils as a matter of urgency. ”