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Scottish Council Tax Freeze £450m Hole

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One Penny Extra Scottish Income Tax Will Make Up Loss Of £450m Per Year From Eight Year Freeze In Scottish Council Tax Says GMB Scotland

Using Scottish Parliament powers to raise revenues to mitigate the impact of severe cuts and 8,785 job losses at Scottish Councils is welcome says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland commented on the proposal from the Scottish Labour Party to raise an additional 1p in a Scottish rate of income tax with a rebate for lower paid workers.  See notes to editors for previous GMB Scotland press releases on cuts and details of lobby of Scottish Parliament on 3rd February.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said “GMB Scotland welcomes the proposal to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise additional revenues to mitigate the impact of the cuts in the pipeline. We have identified 8,785 job losses on the way at Scottish Councils.

The additional 1p on income tax with the rebate for the lower paid goes some way to reverse the erosion of the tax base in Scotland where the eight year freeze in council tax has led to a loss of £450m per year which councils would have had if council tax had kept pace with inflation.

This erosion of the tax base only applies in Scotland and can only be remedied in Scotland. Above all it ends the policy of paying for local government in Scotland by “robbing Peter to pay Paul ". It is not right that wealthy Scottish households pay less council tax in real terms than eight years ago leading to cuts to jobs and services in Scotland’s least affluent areas.”

End

Contact: Christina Lambie 07775 571 564 or Alex Mc Luckie 07885 348269 or Benny Rankin on 07912 560808 or 0141 332 8641 or GMB press office 07921 289880.

Notes to editors

Copies of previous GMB Scotland press releases

GMB release dated 29th Jan

GMB SCOTLAND FACE 350 JOB LOSSES AND CUTS TO TERMS AND CONDITIONS AT STERLING COUNCIL DUE TO BUDGET CUTS

These jobs are part of the 8,785 council jobs under threat and are why workers are lobbying the Scottish Parliament on 3rd Feb for fair funding for Scottish councils says GMB Scotland

Stirling Council has told GMB Scotland that is seeking 150 redundancies as part of the Council response to cut budgets by £6.3 million in 2016/17. The 150 are the first tranche of job losses as Stirling council say they are looking for up to 350 job losses in the next 5 year.

GMB Scotland has also been told that Stirling Councils plan to cut terms and conditions of employment with unsocial hour’s payments stopped and cuts to salaries.

GMB Scotland is organising a lobby of the Scottish Parliament to coincide with the stage one debate on Scottish Government budget which takes place in the Parliament in Edinburgh at 2.40 pm on Wednesday 3rd February.

The lobby will begin from 1pm. The aim of the lobby is to secure fair funding for Scottish councils facing massive cuts to services and jobs.

These are the cuts GMB Scotland are aware of which involve 8,785 job losses:

3,000

Glasgow City Council

2,000

Edinburgh City Council

1,000

North Lanarkshire Council

900

Fife council

700

Falkirk Council

400

South Lanarkshire Council

350

Stirling Council

306

Argyll and Bute

84

Western Isles

45

Dundee City Council

Aberdeen Council

£26m

Aberdeenshire

£17m

Angus

£25m

Highland Council

£35m

West Dunbartonshire Council

£7m

     

Christina Lambie, Scotland Organiser for Stirling council, said “Here we are again another Council sacking workers, terms and conditions attack as they grapple with setting the budget imposed on them by the Scottish Government.

The immediate 150 job losses are almost a 5% reduction of the affected workforce. This will be big hit for the local economy in Stirling and will put increasing pressure to deliver the service to the citizens of Stirling with this reduction in the workforce.

Once more we are seeing the real impact of John Swinney’s budget for local government on jobs, cuts to terms and conditions and the delivery of services under real pressure.

The job losses at Stirling are part of the 8,785 council jobs under threat that we are aware of. They  are why GMB Scotland is lobbying the Scottish Parliament on 3rd Feb for fair funding to local councils.”

End

2  GMB Scotland press release dated 25th January

GMB SCOTLAND SAY MORE REVENUES NEEDS TO BE RAISED TO BLUNT IMPACT OF SPENDING CUTS FOR SCOTTISH COUNCILS

John Swinney is wrong to make light of the impact of cuts to budgets for Scotland councils as Glasgow for example faces draconian cuts says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland, the union for public service workers, commented on the article in the Times by John Swinney rejecting the case for increasing council tax to avoid cuts to Scottish local councils. See notes to editors for copy of article by John Swinney deputy first minister of Scotland in the Times on 25th January 2016.

Alex Mc Luckie, Regional Officer GMB Scotland, said “John Swinney is wrong to dismiss or make light of the impact of cuts to budgets for Scotland councils.

He could not be more wrong to say “some of the language used to describe this has been unnecessary.” The cuts in Glasgow, for example, are draconian.

More revenue needs to be raised to blunt the impact of these cuts.

If council tax had kept pace with inflation Scottish councils would be raising an additional £427m in 2016/17. There would be no need to raid Scottish Government central funds to compensate for these lost taxes thus increasing to amount available for the block grants to councils by £427m.

Freezing council tax is eroding Scotland's tax base. The compensation mechanism perpetuates a "Rob Peter to pay Paul" approach to funding Scotland's councils and should stop.

Local tax to fund local services should be a vital part of local democracy. Voters should be able to make choices about how much tax they should pay and for what level of public service.

If the Council Tax is to end any replacement should fairer, more progressive and empower local voters.

GMB Scotland will work to build a consensus for a tax base to be broadened in a fair way to pay for essential public services"

End

3 Copy of article by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland in the Times January 25 2016

 Reform is key as councils handle challenging budgets

John Swinney

The UK government’s austerity programme has reduced Scotland’s public finances and put significant pressure on household income. It is against that backdrop that the Scottish government has had to take its decisions in forming its Budget for 2016-17.

The financial context created by these damaging cuts means that organisations must operate more efficiently to protect public services, and to protect household finances we believe there is no justification for increasing income tax or council tax.

The Scottish government funding proposals for the coming financial year deliver a strong but challenging financial settlement for local government. Scotland’s councils are able to address these challenges from a healthy base. Local government funding has been rising in Scotland in recent years, with core funding protected and new money provided for additional responsibilities. This is in stark contrast to the position in England, where councils have faced a real terms funding cut of 27.4 per cent between 2011 and 2015.

As a percentage of total revenue expenditure, next year’s reduction in local authority budgets in Scotland is 2 per cent. While I do not pretend that this is easy for any council to handle, some of the language used to describe this has been unnecessary.

The key to addressing this challenge is reform, and local government is a key partner in our programme to improve public services. Local government plays an essential role in social care and we are embarking on a radical reform to the way this care is paid for. At the heart of the Budget is our commitment to spend an additional £250 million to support the integration of health and social care.

This is a direct investment in ensuring this process can be undertaken swiftly to meet growing demand. This extra resource can be counted upon by local government as a real and tangible investment in improving a lifeline service.

Successful integration of health and social care will mean that fewer people need to go to hospital to receive care but it will also ensure that where that care is necessary, people will spend less time in hospital and return home more quickly. It will mean a service more focused on the needs of individuals.

As the biggest reform of our health care since the establishment of the NHS in 1948, it deserves the resources we have allocated and it needs the energetic participation of our health and local government services.

I look forward to creating a settlement that will deliver for communities right across Scotland.

John Swinney is deputy first minister of Scotland

4 copy of GMB press release dated 9th December

GMB SCOTLAND LOBBY SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT ON 10TH DEC OVER £121 MILLION CUTS AND 3,000 JOB LOSSES AT GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL OVER NEXT TWO YEARS

The funding formula for Glasgow is being enforced by the Scottish Government whereby Glasgow ends up subsidising other councils to its own detriment says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland, the union for public service workers, will lobby the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood on Thursday 10th December at 12 noon in protest against the £121m of budget cuts at Glasgow City Council, and its arms-length bodies. See notes to editors for previous GMB Scotland press release on the cuts.

GMB Scotland is insisting that the Scottish Government steps in to change the funding formulae and save Glasgow’s services.

Benny Rankin, GMB Scotland Organiser, said “ I am meeting with Labour Group Leader, Frank McAveety this afternoon (9th December 2015) in an endeavour to at least begin talks on alternatives to these proposed budget cuts which will result in massive job losses and of course loss of services.  

At this time of austerity and shameful food banks, the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council should work together to stop Westminster’s austerity cuts being passed onto Glasgow’s citizens.  

Glasgow City Councillors are doing nothing to prevent these cuts, laying the blame firmly at Holyrood’s door – likewise the Scottish Government say it’s up to Glasgow how it spends its budget.

Glasgow has had the third biggest decrease in monies allocated from the Scottish Government from 2014 onwards.  

The main issue is how Glasgow is treated regarding its budget funding and that Glasgow does not get the same percentage back from its revenue for funding the budget that the other councils in Scotland get. The funding formula for Glasgow is being enforced by the Scottish Government. Glasgow ends up subsidising other councils to its own detriment.

This shifting the blame has to be addressed. The political standoff only hurts the people of Glasgow and the services that they rely on and pay for in their council tax.

The First Minister knows only too well the ongoing problems that Glasgow’s services face: being the MSP for Glasgow South side and her constituency office is based in Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow. Maybe it is time she used the tax raising powers the  Scottish Parliament has to close the funding gaps needed to protect services in Scotland

Likewise, the Councillors, who like their constituents live and work in Glasgow, cannot fail to see the erosion of their services and the impact that this has on their City – it is high time that they stand up for the people who they promised to serve and for the City that they promised to protect.  

Anything less is to show contempt to the workers who make Glasgow work”.

End

5 GMB Scotland press release dated 15th October.

GMB SCOTLAND LOBBY GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL ON 29TH OCTOBER OVER £103 MILLION CUTS WITH UP TO 3,000 JOB LOSSES OVER NEXT TWO YEARS

Glasgow City Council workers and services they run are literally on their knees now and further cuts on these services will make jobs detrimental to health and not worth having says GMB Scotland

Members of GMB Scotland, with members of Unite, Unison, Ucatt and EIS, are planning a lobby of Glasgow City Councillors at the next full sitting of the council at on Thursday 29th October to protest at the £103 million cuts to the budget over the next two years. There is a cut of £56 million in year 2015/2016 and a further £46 million in year 2016/2017.

GMB Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to change its policy on restricting funding for local government services and that further funds should be provided for Glasgow City Council and that City Councillors stand up for the people of Glasgow and its employees.

The details of the protest are as follows:

From 12 noon Thursday 29th October

Glasgow City Council

City Chambers,

George Square,

Glasgow G2 1DU

There will be members present with flags and banners.

Benny Rankin, GMB Scotland Regional Officer, said “Glasgow City Council has made spending cuts of £250m since 2010 including huge cuts in learning disability and mental health services, home care support, supported education for children, community work, cleansing, library services, frontline office support and grants to voluntary organisations. At least 4,000 council jobs have been lost.

The council has stated it intends to make further cuts of £103m in 2016 and 2017. This may give rise to up to 3,000 job cuts which is over 10% of the current workforce. This will be a disaster for vital services in the city and hit future employment opportunities for our young people.

GMB Scotland call on all elected politicians in the city to use all available financial mechanisms to hold-off any further cuts whilst leading a fight to win more money for the city. The council could use some of its reserves and borrowing powers, supported by the legal financial process of “capitalisation”, to fill the two year £103m hole expected in April 2016.

This would allow time and space to build a mass campaign of elected councillors, trade unions, user groups and local communities with the objective of winning more money from the Holyrood and Westminster governments. There is plenty of money in our economy – it is just in the wrong hands or lying in the bank accounts of big business. The trade unions will support any council politician or council political grouping who adopts this strategy of “No More Cuts”.

GMB Scotland is aware of previous statements by the Glasgow City Council Leadership that the city is treated unfairly under the current national local government funding arrangements. Based on previous figures, this could be as much as £30m over the next two years.

GMB Scotland call for directly funded and run council services.  Glasgow City Council should bring council owned Arm’s Length External Organisations (ALEO) back under direct control. This ALEO model has not improved services and has reduced accountability to the citizens of Glasgow. Public services should be directly funded and run by the council, and be democratically accountable to elected politicians. This is the best way to ensure the quality of services and manage the workforce.

Morale within Glasgow City Council employees has hit rock bottom particularly within the cleansing service. Sickness levels due to stress is the highest recorded with more and more cases of musculoskeletal pain arising due to long working days and the demands on employees by management to continue to provide the same service levels as that which would be expected from  a full contingent of  workforce.

The levels and instances of work related stress is not merely confined to front line staff. The demands placed upon depot supervisors have given rise to a sharp increase of absenteeism throughout the cleansing department and council services in its entirety.

Glasgow City Council workers and the services they run are literally on their knees now. Further cuts on these services will make it for the workers jobs not worth having as they are extremely detrimental to their health and well-being. For the people of Glasgow the services will not be fit for purpose and which will eventually be broken beyond repair.”

End

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