Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee
Petitioner submission of 13 December 2021
PE1912/B - Funding for council venues
Unite, Unison and GMB are happy to respond to the submission made by the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.
Unite, Unison and GMB recognise that it is for local authorities to decide what services are offered and delivered and, all things being equal, that is exactly what they do. However we do not feel that those decisions are without unfair challenges caused by a real terms reduction of funding from the Scottish Government which has inevitable consequences for local authorities when considering their spending plans and objectives.
Local authorities have been caught between a rock and a hard place. The funding required for culture and leisure is competing with other financial black holes in local government such as the demands from social care, housing, education, economic development, roads and transport, planning etc. Furthermore, given that much of the £11.7 billion settlement figure referred to in the Minister’s submission is ring-fenced for Scottish Government’s commitments, the Local Government settlement is therefore not technically available to spend as local authorities might wish. Rather it is made available on the proviso that it meets the Scottish Government’s own commitments on key indicators.
Glasgow is also a victim of its own success in terms of administering and running of venues regarded as national venues. Glasgow’s highly successful cultural and sporting venues require regular and ongoing maintenance and administration. Unite would argue that some of these venues should be considered more as national and even international venues, which should mean costs being partly met by the relevant Scottish Government department and not specifically costs wholly the responsibility of Glasgow City Council.
The Scottish Government must also recognise that the culture and leisure facilities provided by local governments across Scotland have proved to be an invaluable resource to many people during the pandemic with additional online content made available, but particularly as we emerge to the new normal. Community centres, football and sports facilities, libraries, museums and galleries are not only a way to exercise our bodies and our minds, they also connect us as a community, which as we know is vital in ensuring our mental and social wellbeing. We all want to recover from the pandemic as quickly as possible however for some of Glasgow’s citizens, recovery may be hampered if the facilities which they have utilised are removed or do not reopen.
Unite remains firm that the concerns raised in this petition regarding inadequate local government funding remain, and that additional local government funding is required as a matter of urgency.
PE1912/A – Funding for council venues