Friday, 11 February 2011

'Don't handcuff our councils' says UNISON as cuts hit Scotland

UNISON Scotland says Government moves to dictate how council budgets are spent is effectively ‘handcuffing’ local authorities and sounds the death knell for democracy.

Trade unionists, community groups and members of the public were lobbying council meetings across Scotland today to urge their elected members to put the needs of their communities first when setting their budgets.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said: “To let the government dictate how council funds are spent is absolute madness and sounds the death knell for democracy.

“Democracy is the defining difference between public and private services and it is vital local authorities are able to allocate funds based on the local needs of their communities, not political ideology. This move by the Government is an attempt to handcuff our councils and our elected officials need to stand up for their communities and set a needs-based budget that protects our public services.”

In Edinburgh the Lib Dem/ SNP budget, threatening 1,200 jobs, was voted through on the casting vote of the Lord Provost cutting £90 million over three years. Labour's alternative budget which would have avoided compulsory redundancies, protected services to the most vulnerable and set in train a process to get a living wage of at least £7.15 for the lowest paid, was beaten despite the Tories voting with them. The Council also voted to close the Blindcraft factory. See more at

Glasgow saw cuts of £60 million this year alone with South Lanarkshire cutting £25 million. South Lanarkshire UNISON Branch Secretary Stephen Smellie produced a damning analysis of how the cuts would affect the most vulnerable at,%20etc%20pay%20for%20the%20crisis%20in%20SLC's%20cuts.doc

Aberdeenshire Council approved budget cuts of over £50 million. The UNISON branch has warned of the damaging impact that this will have on jobs, services and the local economy. It called on Aberdeenshire councillors to keep their commitment to no compulsory redundancies and to maintain services to the most vulnerable.

Kate Ramsden, UNISON Branch Chair said, "Cuts to public services are driven by political ideology and not economic necessity. In fact, as many respected economists have pointed out, public service cuts will only make things worse. Look at Ireland which went down the same austerity route. That shows beyond a doubt that it is not the way to repair the economy.

"And we are not "all in this together". Cuts will hit the poor and low paid much more than the rich. You only have to look at the "business as usual" banks to see that. They have announced a £6 billion bonus pay out for this year which is the same amount that is being cut from public services. How can the Westminster government justify that?" she asked.

Aberdeen City's Lib Dem/SNP administration began putting through cuts of £127million over five years. It had been thought the coalition could break down after the SNP group came out against plans for 900 compulsory redundancies.

Moray Council has cut £9.4 million on a budget of £193m, with 75 jobs to go.

In East Renfrewshire the Labour Council pushed through cuts but also a pledge for a living wage.

This was one of the few bright notes on a day when £450 million was cut from council budgets across Scotland with thousands of jobs at risk and services decimated.

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