Scotland’s Ageing Population At Risk From Council Cuts
The number of people in Scotland aged over 75% is set to increase by 27% over the next decade, but funding cuts to councils means social services will be hard pressed to cope, Scottish Labour has said.
Coming off the back of an independent report from Accounts Commission which warned that “Council revenue funding from the Scottish Government has fallen in real terms by 9.6 per cent between 2010/11”, Scotland’s ageing population has experts worried. Many councils have funding gaps which are projected to be larger than their reserves, and social care services are already feeling the brunt of the cuts.
Council regulatory departments which are absolutely necessary for taking proper care of older people have borne the cost of a lot of austerity. For instance, planning and development spending has been reduced by 20% since 2010, at exactly the time when forward planning is needed, and according to COSLA, environmental health spending fell by 8% in the last year alone. These are not frontline services - but political appeals to protecting the frontline are only a short term solution. Backroom services are needed to cope with demographic changes, but cuts by the Scottish Government have left them decimated.
Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Monica Lennon, said:
“This expert report exposes the huge scale of SNP cuts to councils and the impact that has had on the poorest communities never mind the challenges that lie ahead in meeting the needs of our ageing population.
“It kills the myth pedalled by Derek Mackay that local government has had a fair deal from the Scottish Government.
“The only way we can build a Scotland that works for the many, not the few, is by ensuring that the vital local services we all rely on are properly resourced.”
“Council services are crucial in the fight against poverty and inequality - rather than slashing local budgets while forcing through major reforms Scottish Labour would empower local authorities with new ways to raise revenues locally and boost economic growth.”
“That is why Scottish Labour has outlined a plan to give councils new tax powers – like the ability to levy a tourist tax on visitors and a Land Value Tax vacant or economically inactive land. We want local government to have more autonomy not less.”
“This report should act as a wakeup call to SNP Ministers in Edinburgh - education, social care, economic development and anti-poverty policies are all completely undermined if local council budgets continue to be cut. The harshness of SNP cuts to local government is exacerbating poverty and inequality in Scotland.”