Edinburgh Council needs some of Scottish Goverment’s £770m ‘rainy day’ fund – Cammy Day

Councils, including Edinburgh, should be at head of the queue for support from a £770m Scottish Government underspend, writes Cammy Day.

By Cammy Day
Monday, 14th September 2020, 7:30 am
Edinburgh Council appointed independent chair Jim McCormick  to lead the Edinburgh Poverty Commission
Edinburgh Council appointed independent chair Jim McCormick to lead the Edinburgh Poverty Commission

As we’re all still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re doing all we can to reopen our services safely and responsibly – keeping the latest guidance at the forefront of our minds.

All our schools are now fully operational and it’s thanks to the huge efforts of Council colleagues that this has been achieved. Let’s not forget, however, that the virus is still with us, and while we are seeing a number of positive cases in our schools, the immediate response to each location has been dealt with appropriately in line with our advice from Health Protection Scotland.

In the coming weeks, we’ll start to see our libraries re-opening, with plans ongoing to open community centres through a phased approach.

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Our amazing day care and adult day services – both council-run and the voluntary sector – however, are still stuck in limbo with no decision from Scottish Government on when they can return, leaving many vulnerable adults and older people stuck at home isolated. It’s time we put a concerted effort into getting these services – forgotten by some – back into operation.

In the coming weeks, we’ll see Edinburgh’s Independent Poverty Commission report its findings. This has been taken forward by independent commissioners from a range of backgrounds in trade unions, business and young workforce, social care and voluntary sector and many of the country’s leading charities.

Tackling poverty

Importantly, we’ve also heard the strong voices of people who have directly experienced poverty both as commissioners and from the many people we’ve worked with over the last 18 months. Let’s not forget in our thriving successful city, more than 80,000 still remain in poverty in 2020. We can’t accept this any longer.

My huge thanks and appreciation to all the commissioners and to Jim McCormick who has led this work, ably supported by dedicated council officials.

I know the Council will have a robust response to the Poverty Commission report and how we challenge the city and our own services to provide better opportunities for those in poverty, and the commission will call for the city to consider this as we go.

Edinburgh: Smart City

Edinburgh has the chance to be a smart city leader in the UK, with some of the best universities and smart city thinkers here in our capital city.

I want us to think out of the box and hear more on what a 2050 Smart Capital City could look like, with current plans for a smart city operations centre, new approach to CCTV, potential for new uses for drones, advanced technology for schools, intelligent traffic lights systems and much, much more.

Budget for recovery?

As we all struggle to get thought the pandemic, the strain on businesses, jobs and local councils is an increasing concern. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government reported unallocated reserves of over £770 million. The ask from local authorities across Scotland to properly fund local council services is around £500 million. If there was ever a time to spend that money (saved for a rainy day or some other SNP political priority), that time is now!

Our city needs to hear from our MSPs as they stand for election in 2021 – how much of this money will be released to help Edinburgh, our capital city, deliver basic services to our citizens?

Cammy Day is the Labour group leader at Edinburgh City Council

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