The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has signalled that the wellbeing of Scotland’s citizens is at risk in this year’s budget.
Councils are worried that if the Scottish Government again reduces the settlement given to Local Government then the essential services that directly impact on people’s health and wellbeing will be decimated.
Council services provided every day have a direct influence on wellbeing. These include welfare rights, social and financial inclusion, advocacy, mental health support, youth work, social work, libraries, parks, and employability support.
The risks of not investing in these services is short sighted. It is our responsibility to pave the way for a brighter future. If we do not support and intervene early we are storing up increased costs in acute care and hospital waiting times, social isolation and depression when older people can’t continue to live in their own community i.e. increasing use of foodbanks; increased re-offending, increased homelessness, and breakdown in community cohesion and sense of place.
COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said:
“Wellbeing is about much more than investing in the NHS – it’s about investing in the wider public health of this country – the everyday services that enhance the lives of individuals, families and communities. It’s about investing in early intervention and protecting the vulnerable discretionary services so that Scottish Government and Local Government’s shared ambition for the wellbeing of our citizens can be met.
“Dealing with the consequences of not investing in preventative services will cost much, much more than investing now.”
The Chief Executive of Scottish Care Dr Donald Macaskill said:
“Social care is at the heart of so many of our communities. It enables tens of thousands of individuals and families to live meaningful and contributing lives. Local authorities in Scotland have done a great deal over the last decade to try to protect lifeline care services from the worst excesses of austerity.
“However, we have now reached a stage where there is an urgent need for investment in our homecare and care home services. Scotland is faced with the challenges of an ageing population and with acute workforce shortages. Together with local government the independent care sector wants to do be able to do much more to value and invest in the critical women and men who care for their fellow citizens. But without a significant and serious increased financial contribution from Scottish Government the future existence never mind the growth and development of critical services is under threat.
“Nothing else we do as a country matters as much as the degree to which we choose to care for the most vulnerable and those who need support. I call upon Scottish Government to meet this challenge, to significantly improve the financial allocation to local government and to support those who care and who are cared for.
Stephen Smellie from UNISON Social Work Issues Group said:
“The increase in the demands on social work services from demographic change and significant new legislative responsibilities has not been matched by appropriate increased funding. Councils have had to reduce specialist and support services simply to try to keep mainstream frontline services in place. The stress on staff, services and their service users is at breaking point. We need significant investment in Social Work services to avoid a breakdown.”