WHERE: Scottish Parliament (Public Entrance)
WHEN: Thursday 10 December 2015, 12:30
Local government workers from Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils will tomorrow (Thursday 10 December) call on Scottish parliamentarians to work with them and tackle an estimated £14.8 billion debt crisis across Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) and Glasgow City Council (GCC) hold debt liabilities to HM Treasury and private banks worth £1.6 billion and £1.7 billion respectively and both plan budget savings of £141 million and £120 million over the next three years, demanding a minimum of 5,000 jobs cut across Scotland’s two biggest cities.
In response, Unite’s local government sector is proposing an amnesty on interest payments for an estimated £2.5 billion worth of pre-Scotland Act (1998) debts owed by Scottish local authorities to the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), potentially alleviating huge cuts to revenue budgets and the need for widespread compulsory redundancies.
Unite deputy Scottish secretary Mary Alexander said: “Government can no longer bury its head in the sand over the funding crisis affecting Scottish local authorities and we need a collaborative political effort to try and avert a disaster.
“Edinburgh and Glasgow are merely the tip of the iceberg and we estimate the equivalent of 44 pence in every £1 of council tax collected in Scotland over the last year was spent just meeting the cost of servicing debts.
“A debt amnesty, alongside other measures, could create breathing space in revenue budgets to mitigate the need for compulsory redundancies and cuts to local services, helping to keep jobs and services in public hands.
“No-one apart from the trade unions is offering any solutions other than a cut and gut programme of extreme austerity that will decimate many of the public services which we currently take for granted.
“How we fund, protect and re-shape Scottish local government is going to be a key issue in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and we are saying ‘let’s work together now’ to save jobs and services for the next generation.”
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Willie McGonigle on 07810 157912 or Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland Communications, on 07810 157931.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.