Local Council Elections Preview: Scottish Labour
As we approach polling day for the Scottish Local Council Elections on Thursday 5 May, we'll be reviewing each of the main party manifestos and finding out what they want to achieve at local government level.
We'll focus on what they're saying on issues that affect social workers, including their vision for the National Care Service, tackling poverty and homelessness, implementing the promise and improving mental health services.
Current number of seats: 262
Scottish Labour’s local election manifesto is called “Build the Future Together”.
Scottish Labour is focusing on the impact of the rising cost of living in the local elections. They state that “Scottish Labour are clear that these elections should be about bringing down bills, reinvigorating services, and building a better future for our communities – not division and political bickering.”
They want to “build safe, thriving, sustainable communities right across Scotland” and say that their manifesto sets out commitments at every level of government to tackle the cost of living crisis.
National Care Service
Scottish Labour want to see a National Care Service that is "locally delivered and accountable." They believe that local people should be at the heart of designing care services. They want to end the marketisation of care and increase public provision. They say they will "alter the membership of integrated joint boards so there is greater representation and decision-making power given to elected members, carers and those who use care." Scottish Labour also support "a strategy for unpaid carers which includes the restoration and expansion of respite services, with entitlements to short breaks and wellbeing services, to ensure carers are properly supported."
Tackling Poverty and Homelessness
Scottish Labour say that "housing should be a national priority" since affordable housing is crucial to tackling poverty and improving mental health and wellbeing. They want to "take action to end rough sleeping", stating that "the pandemic showed it was possible to provide shelter and accommodation to everyone who needs it, so we will prioritise homelessness services to prevent anyone feeling forced to sleep on the street." Some of their policies include:
Investing in improvements to council-owned homes to tackle fuel poverty and working towards every home in Scotland having a minimum of energy efficiency C rating by 2030.
Increase the supply of affordable housing, helping to reduce long waits for people stuck in temporary accommodation and support the construction, across all tenures, of 25,000 homes every year.
Contribute to the building of social homes. Scottish Labour want to see at least 120,000 new social homes built over the next decade, with at least 10 per cent being fully accessible, and parity of grant funding between councils and housing associations.
Take tough action against landlords who fail to maintain standards, ensuring councils have the resource to assist tenants and pursue enforcement of necessary repairs.
They also go on to advocate for "Anti-poverty measures to improve attainment such as an expansion of the Challenge Schools funding, an increase in free school meals, and investment in Additional Support Needs staff for those who require that help."
Scottish Labour don't explicitly mention The Promise in their manifesto. They do include support for foster carers, stating that they want "Better support for foster carers¸ including improvements to child allowances and access to respite, as well as measures to increase the number of foster carers and reduce the need for out of area placements."
Scottish Labour want to see mental health workers in every GP practice as part of a wider plan to increase the number of community based mental health workers. They say they want this plan to "help combat long waiting times and inequalities in accessing mental health care and ensure people of all ages and backgrounds can receive mental health treatment close to home and in their community."
Scottish Labour is opposed to the Workplace Parking Levy. They say they will "prioritise improvements to public transport so that leaving the car at home is a viable option for everyone. This should be the focus over unfairly penalising working people and those who have no other option but drive."