Thursday, May 3, 2012

Response from the SNP Group

1. How will you protect public services? We have campaigned successfully for an increase in funding for Aberdeen, which has seen our budget increase by £5m this year and will go a significant way to protecting services. We have a policy of no compulsory redundancies, which will ensure that staff can feel secure in their jobs resulting in improved morale and better services. 2. Will you oppose any proposals for privatisation of key council services? As you know we opposed the corporate governance ADM as we believe that council services should wherever possible be carried out by the council. If we do need to change the way services are provided this should not be along the model of Sport Aberdeen where it is a company owned by the council - and no need to make a private profit. 3. With budgets going down, how will you protect standards in social care? We will utilise the Scottish Government's change funds and work in partnership with other public bodies to ensure that support is given to allow people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. This will save money and result in better outcomes for older people. 4. How can you ensure that the amount of personalisation or self-directed payments are at a level for elderly or disabled people to purchase an adequate amount of care? We will regularly review how these payments operate and ensure that consultation is undertaken with service users/carers to ensure standards are maintained. 5. Should everyone delivering public services - council staff and those working for contractors - be paid the Living Wage? Ideally yes - we have introduced it for council staff from this year and will explore if this can be rolled out for contractors. We passionately support the living wage. 6. Will you recognise the contribution made to our children’s education by classroom assistants by supporting them in opposing cutbacks? We have tried to limit the reduction in the numbers of PSAs. Following consultation last year we rolled back on proposals to reduce PSAs by 50% and reluctantly accepting a 33% reduction. There were no further reductions this year and we increased DEM budgets by £1m this year - if head teachers think they need more PSAs they can use this money to fund it. 7. Will you oppose the 3,000 planned job losses among police staffs? Policing will be a matter for the Scottish Government. Due to declining budgets savings will need to be made. It is important to note that the SNP has a no compulsory redundancy policy at a local and national level. 8. What will you do to lessen the impact of the UK Government’s Welfare Reforms which will see many families losing entitlement to a range of benefits including council tax benefit, housing benefit and working tax credits? We will ensure that support and advise is given to people who bear the brunt of the massive welfare cuts. We feel that the cuts are wrong and will only create further social and economic problems for some of our most vulnerable people. We will support initiatives that help people back to work. 9. Do you think it’s fair that council staff should have their pay frozen while inflation is high and the rich are getting richer? In principle no. Pragmatically I would rather see a pay freeze than job losses though, which is the motivation behind the pay freeze. 10. Will you support the council negotiating a Green Workplace agreement with trade unions to help meet climate change targets? We are totally committed to achieving the ambitious CO2 reduction targets and will explore all options to do this and would very much welcome working with the Trade Unions to achieve this goal.