WHERE: Scottish parliament, Public Entrance, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
WHEN: Wednesday 24 February, from 13.00 hours
Unite Scotland says the Scottish government is ‘not listening’ to local government workers, who will descend on the Scottish parliament again tomorrow (Wednesday 24 February) in protest against a £600 million (5.6 per cent) cut to local government funding for 2016-17.
Tensions have heightened after finance secretary John Swinney said the cuts will have a ‘minimal impact on jobs and services’ and claimed his measures plus £250 million of ring-fenced funding for social care will ‘increase the pace of reform and improve public services’.
Unite has previously called on the Scottish government to work with its members and explore alternatives to alleviate financial pressures on councils already burdened by debts estimated to be in the region of £12.95 billion.
Councils are now setting their budgets within the funding package for 2016-17 with thousands of redundancies confirmed and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has said the budget could result in the loss of a further 15,000 local government jobs.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The Scottish government has tried to switch the focus with ring-fenced packages but the funding needed to alleviate pressures on revenue budgets isn’t being provided and that’s the reality.
“An estimated 15,000 jobs could be lost yet workers are being told the impact of this budget will be ‘minimal’. This is an astonishing disregard of a workforce that will be left to deal with the pressures of delivering underfunded services or face the prospect of redundancy.
“Unite has proposed a number of measures, including an amnesty on pre-devolution debt owed to the UK Treasury, to try and mitigate the impact of austerity on our councils and we’ll keep campaigning into the election period and beyond.
“We’ve already lost 40,000 council jobs since 2009 and we will lose thousands more unless the Scottish government is prepared to seek alternatives to the cut and gut of austerity which it is choosing to enforce.
“Regrettably, the Scottish government is not listening.”
For further information please contact Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland Communications, on 07810157931.
Notes to Editors:
1. The 5.6 per cent cut to local government funding is confirmed in the Scottish government’s draft budget proposals (‘Scotland’s Spending Plans & Draft Budget 2016-17), available from: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00491140.pdf
2. The total debt held by Scottish local authorities, £12.9 billion, is derived from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) Local Government Finance Statistics 2013-14, available from http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/02/3131/4
3. The estimated further 15,000 local government job cuts figure is used by COSLA, available from http://www.cosla.gov.uk/news/2015/12/cosla-president-slams-package-measures-totally-unacceptable
- Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.