A ‘perfect financial storm’ is facing Dundee, it has been warned, as calls have been made for more local government funding and a pay rise for public sector staff.
The long-term effects of coronavirus, combined with Brexit implications and a loss of income has sparked Dundee City Council to unanimously call for more cash.
Councillors have said to protect jobs and services, the local authority needs more money, over and above the coronavirus support packages already offered at a national level.
At a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Monday night, councillors also called on both the UK and Scottish governments to provide a pay rise for public sector workers.
It comes after UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak included a planned pay freeze for millions of civil servants.
Council leader J0hn Alexander suggested it is a “slap in the face” to people who worked in key roles during the pandemic.
He added: “I vehemently disagree and I think this is quite insulting to suggest that they should be taking a freeze or a below inflation rise, given how hard they have been working.
“They have dedicated themselves to working hard and protecting fellow citizens and they should be recognised for that.
“I’m realistic that they [UK Government] are not going to bow to Dundee City Council’s will but I think it’s really important that we defend the position of public sector workers.”
His motion, suggesting that the write to the Chancellor saying the council does not support the freeze and public sector staff should be paid “fairly and appropriately” was unanimously agreed.
Conservative councillor Philip Scott pointed out that some public sector staff, including those earning less than £24,000 per year, will receive a pay rise, and the UK Living Wage will be increased.
He said: “If a way could be found to give public sector workers more money that would be a good thing but we have to look at the overall position.
“£280 billion has been spent to deal with the cost of Covid-19 and 800,000 people have lost jobs during the crisis.
“I’m happy to to support asking for more money for public sector workers but I don’t think I can support condemning the UK Government for proposing a public sector pay freeze.”
Councillors also warned the local authority is facing “impossible choices” in the coming months.
They unanimously agreed to support trade union Unison Scotland’s Plug The Gap in Local Government campaign, which calls for public services to be rebuilt.
The motion by Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson and Mr Alexander, said: “Whilst we welcome the recognition of the financial crisis local government is in, we remain concerned that this ‘financial package’ announced so far does not solve the problem.
“This council still faces a perfect financial storm of extra demand for services at a time of substantial loss of income, which means impossible choice about the funding of services going forward.”
The motion continues to call on the Scottish Government to lobby the UK Government for more money in the upcoming budget.
The campaign said this will allow local governments to “recognise and reward” staff for their work during the pandemic, secure the “long-term financial sustainability” of councils, protect them from coronavirus impacts still to come and fully implement the Living Wage.
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