Scotland’s councils should draw on their COVID-19 experiences when handling the new challenges posed by service backlogs and rising inflation, the country’s spending watchdog has suggested.
A report by the Accounts Commission published today said that Scotland’s councils will need to draw on the crisis management skills learned during the health pandemic to stabilise services amid rising demand and soaring costs.
The commission warned: ‘Now councils must lead recovery work with and alongside their local communities, focusing on getting the services people need in place as pressures and stresses escalate and impact the day-to-day lives of individuals and communities.
It observed councils were still dealing with long-term pressures that pre-date the pandemic, such as rising poverty rates and inequality, and face further challenges such as ‘high absence levels’ among staff, skills shortages and a lack of certainty over long-term funding.
Accounts Commission chair, William Moyes, said: ‘Councils are operating in a complex and increasingly volatile, unprecedented and unpredictable environment.
'Strong leadership from councils is needed now more than ever, with new and returning councillors being able and willing to make difficult decisions about where and how to spend highly pressurised resources.
‘Pressures on councils and their communities have intensified from spiralling inflation and significant increases to the cost of living.
‘Councillors and senior officers must use learning from the past two years, working with their partners and communities in the recovery, renewal and difficult decision making about the future of services.’