New cash

Swinney finds £140m to raise councils’ pay offer

John Swinney
John Swinney: commitment (pic: Terry Murden)

Interim Finance Secretary John Swinney has provided £140 million to local authorities to help them raise a pay offer which has been rejected by trade unions.

Mr Swinney announced the extra funding following talks with local authority body Cosla which had been unable to raise the 2% offer rejected by the unions.

Members of the Unite, Unison and GMB unions who work at schools and nurseries as well as waste and recycling centres have voted to strike this month.

The council leaders decided they needed more information and said they would reconvene next week.

Mr Swinney, who is standing in for Kate Forbes during her maternity leave, later said that the Scottish government would contribute £140m of recurring funding to help Cosla make a revised pay offer.

He added: “Without the ability to borrow or change tax policy, this will have a significant and ongoing impact upon our fixed budget that ministers are taking steps to address.

“Finding a solution must be a collaborative endeavour and local authorities now need to do the same.

“This additional funding demonstrates our commitment to local government and their staff and will allow local authorities to make a significantly enhanced pay offer.”

Earlier, GMB Scotland’s senior organiser Keir Greenaway, said: “The ongoing inaction on pay will only increase the anger and fear among our members – anger about the total lack of value being shown to them and fear about what the winter will bring.

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“In the six months since the 2% was rejected, staff have suffered badly in a cost-of-living crisis that’s now spiralling out of control. More of our members are affected by debt, fuel poverty, and hunger, and this will only get worse with further rises to inflation and energy bills.

“This is also exposing a huge gulf between our political leaders and frontline workers. It is shameful that swathes of our public services are delivered by people in working poverty and it’s disturbing that our political leaders won’t confront it.

“This crisis will turn into a catastrophe for tens of thousands of key workers, and more councils will face more strikes, unless a significantly improved pay offer is tabled.”

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