Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Alex Rowley has called on the government to clarify how it intends to spend the new £250 million for social care announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney in his draft budget. The new funds come as a direct consequential of George Osborne’s announcement of additional spending for the NHS in England.
Speaking after a meeting with senior Fife Councillors Mr Rowley said he had welcomed that the new money was being targeted at health and social care but was concerned that councils had not been told how much they will get and that it is being suggested there may well be a string of conditions attached to any new funding.
He said; “There are currently massive overspends in social care budgets with long waiting lists for assessments and care packages. This is not just about money it is about the care available for older people and it is not acceptable that those who have given all their lives to our communities are being let down at a crucial point of need in their lives. The Scottish Government are failing these people, it is outrageous and they need to make clear how this money is to be allocated so that councils can properly plan to bring about much needed improvement to these vital services.
The Fife MSP also called on the Finance Secretary to make clear what sanctions the Scottish Government will impose on any council which decides to raise council tax. He said; “The leader of Fife Council advises me that they are consulting on a 7.5% increase in council tax and whilst they are aware this will incur a penalty of £4.6 million in grant they tell me the finance secretary will not rule out other penalties being imposed. This is not acceptable he needs to make clear what the deal is. The truth is that John Swinney is failing local councils; he has failed to address the growing financial pressures of the increasing demands on public services. In 2007 he said he would fix local government finance, 9 years later he has done nothing and vital services that young and old alike depend on are at risk. This is a failure of his leadership and it needs to be addressed”.
Photo shows Alex Rowley meeting with Cllr Linda Erskine and council leader David Ross to discuss council budgets.