Local Government at the forefront of service transformation
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Call for impacts on workforce to be a primary consideration in any further reform

Councils are uniquely placed to be the key partner in the Scottish Government's public service reform programme and should be further empowered to better support local service delivery, COSLA said today (Monday).

Responding to the Finance and Public Administration Committee's call for views on public service reform, COSLA - along with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and council Directors of Finance - have highlighted the significant efficiencies and reforms that councils across Scotland have already been making in response to successive real-terms cuts to core funding for over a decade.

Commenting today COSLA President Shona Morrison said:  “In our response, COSLA welcomes the Scottish Government's renewed commitment to work collaboratively with Local Government to deliver on shared priorities, including tackling child poverty and achieving a just transition to net zero.

“Also, as the largest employer in many parts of Scotland our response also warns of the potential impact on staff - and the knock-on effects for communities - of seeking more and more efficiencies while demand for services continues to grow.  Local Government remains the buffer between our communities and real hardship for many and as this submission illustrates that our ability to be this buffer is in large part a result of just how innovative we have been in terms of service transformation.”

Cleland Sneddon from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) said:  “It will be hugely encouraging if the Scottish Government delivers on its commitment to work with Local Government in order to deliver the services the people who live in all our council areas depend upon.  This will need councils to be properly empowered to use our unique local democratic accountability and our knowledge of the needs in each area to provide effective, quality services, with a clear focus on early intervention and prevention.

“Local government understands and supports the Scottish Government’s public service reform programme, but if we are to be the key partners to achieve further improvements and make the most of public spending, in addition to greater empowerment, we will need fair and sustainable funding, to ensure good intention becomes reality.”

Kirsty Flanagan on behalf of CIPFA Directors of Finance said:  “It is important to be clear that reform is not new for Local Government.  We have been delivering significant efficiencies and new ways of working for the last decade, partly because we have had to in response to the real-terms cuts to core funding, but partly because we are committed to continuous improvement and the achievement of better outcomes locally for individuals and communities.  We would welcome more flexibility in our funding to allow us to achieve further innovation and maximise the impact of public spending.”

Read the full response: COSLA response to Public Service Reform consultation.

Find more information on the Committee’s inquiry into public service reform