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The impact of the proposed devolution for scotland

Downloads Based on extensive research into the impact of the Scottish Parliament on local government, this report is the first assessment of how the roles of Parliament and the local authorities are evolving in the 'new Scotland'. The research involved interviews in eleven case-study local authorities, with members of the Scottish Executive and Parliament, with trade unions, and others.

In addition, the researchers carried out surveys of councillors and the members of four professional bodies.

  1. It focuses on a more consistent way of funding devolution across Britain while allowing the UK Government to go on determining overall spending and borrowing limits.
  2. Finally, the latter retains its right to legislate for Scotland—it is still the only Parliament that is sovereign and can legislate for the whole of the United Kingdom.
  3. But even more important, at least for the Scots, it provided the Scottish people with its own democratically-elected representative body. It discusses the tensions that exist between the two tiers, and the different forms that these may take for different local government services.

The study reveals the complexity of the relationships between the two tiers of government, and the difficulties in achieving the goal of 'joined-up government'. It discusses the tensions that exist between the two tiers, and the different forms that these may take for different local government services.

The report also confirms that, in local government, there is overwhelming support for the Parliament, together with a belief that governance is improving under devolution. This study, by a team from the University of Strathclyde, analysed the impact of devolution on local government in Scotland. The study mapped the impact of the proposed devolution for scotland changing relationships in the new 'multi-level democratic governance' of Scotland, including the continuing relevance to Westminster in Scottish central-local relations.

It assessed the impact of devolution on national local government organisations; the centralisation of political power in Scotland; and the impact of devolution on local public service delivery. The great majority of local government interviewees supported devolution politically with virtually none calling for a return to pre-devolution state of affairs.

Notwithstanding this endorsement, there were a number of areas where there was dissatisfaction with how devolution has worked out in practice. Nearly half of councillors 48 per cent thought devolution had reduced the importance of local government. While relations between local government and the political Executive were generally much improved compared with those before devolution, relations with the civil service were often marked by mutual distrust.

Westminster has become much less important to the day-to-day operations of Scottish local government although UK party political links remained important.

  • One Scottish Executive Minister commented;
  • Parliament has listened, but it has not always acted;
  • The Jones-Parry Commission of 2009 meanwhile formally called for a Welsh referendum on legislative powers;
  • The 1998 Act was to serve as the legal framework of Scottish devolved institutions for the next ten years;
  • They felt those in power had no authority or legitimacy to govern.

List MSPs were largely seen as a nuisance who simply chased headlines in local newspapers in order to raise their own profile. This study was based on interviews and surveys of those working in central and local government in 11 Scottish local authorities. Central-local relations in post-devolution Scotland The majority of interviewees working in local government believed that the Scottish Executive was striving to be more open and inclusive, and that there was more partnership working.

However, most in local government also felt that they were the junior partners in the relationship, with 48 per cent of councillors thinking that devolution had reduced the importance of local government. While there were tensions in the complex relationship between the tiers of government, the general view was that things had improved for local government since devolution.

They are not as good as they could be but I think that is a development issue; things will improve. A range of relationships between different departments of the Scottish Executive and different parts of local government was uncovered.

At the corporate level of councils, relations with the Executive varied significantly depending on the issue.

This contrasted with the views of Directors in other local government service areas where, in general, less positive relations seem to exist. The research also highlighted the different perceptions between politicians and senior officers, particularly chief executives, within the case study councils. Most of the local government interviewees regarded the civil service with a degree of suspicion and mistrust.

They felt that the civil service was largely dismissive of local government and on some issues even hostile to it. There is still a tendency to tell things rather than to listen.

A decade after Scottish devolution, what is the verdict?

They are high in arrogance - they have a command model of the world. If they fail on any Executive priority, that will put strain on the 'partnership'.

The research found that Westminster remains a major influence not just in financial and policy terms but also as a mindset, one that does not always sit in accordance with the aspirations of devolution. The civil service still remains pre-occupied with reacting to 'events, dear boy, events'. One Scottish Executive Minister commented: This indicates the continuing importance of UK party political contact within Scottish political networks.

These informal party political channels were critical to the management of policy and created a web that bound local government, the devolved administration and Westminster together. The Executive and Parliament: A further issue highlighted by the research was the role of List MSPs. Under the Additional Member System used for the Scottish Parliament elections, these MSPs' seats were allocated according to the total number of votes cast for the political parties.

  • The golden rule was that no other parliament at sub-national and national levels would compete with Westminster;
  • The Scotland Act, perhaps unwittingly, may be the trigger that will take the debate onto a new, more controversial and even dangerous path;
  • The idea is to substitute a proportion of the block grant—the current main source of funding for the Scottish Parliament—with the power of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenues through some taxes and so exercise some fiscal responsibility;
  • In its report entitled Serving Scotland Better:

List MSPs were largely seen as a nuisance who simply chase headlines in local newspapers in order to raise their own and their party's profile. The key issue that emerged from this analysis was that, while COSLA has pursued a strategy of partnership in order to try influence the Scottish Executive, most councillors had not perceived the benefits of this approach.

Devolution and public service delivery Among both councillors and local government professional associations there were strong feelings that central control of many local government services had increased since devolution.

Despite these concerns the general consensus for public service delivery was a positive one. While devolution has not resolved all the problems, it has made some important changes and the machinery of devolution allows closer joint working.


I think devolution was needed to improve decision-making structures and processes in Scotland. In the main the research found that devolution had significantly improved matters by bringing national government closer, geographically, to local government.

  1. They have to decide, because they won't be able to do three or even two of those things. With the support of leading neurosurgeons and clinicians, Baxter launched a campaign to save the units.
  2. The SNP had formed a minority government after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections and thus became emboldened by its political breakthrough. This violence, combined with poverty and the deep-rooted culture of alcohol and drugs that blights some communities, means that even after 10 years of "Scottish solutions for Scottish problems", in some parts of the country men have a life expectancy of just 54 years, nine years less than men born in India.
  3. Indeed, the central government allocates resources to the different parts of the UK according to its own priorities and not to the needs of each nation. A range of relationships between different departments of the Scottish Executive and different parts of local government was uncovered.
  4. Taxes raised in Wales excluding Council tax and non-domestic rates are pooled at the UK level, from which the UK Parliament provides a sum of money to the Assembly Government to fund devolved activities.

In addition to being physically closer to local government the research found that the Scottish Executive was perceived as more open and willing to listen to local government than the Scottish Office had been before devolution. In addition, the policy and legislative capacity that devolution brought created far greater opportunities to deal with Scotland's problems. What is apparent from the research is the need for a political culture that is willing to overcome the remaining problems of distrust between and among Scotland's public servants.

While many had hoped devolution would produce a 'new politics', progress has been limited and Scotland has yet to fully free itself from the 'old politics' of the past.

The impact of devolution on local government in Scotland

If devolution is to produce new goals and a new history then it must make progress on this issue more than on anything else. The study consisted of 120 personal interviews with Scottish Executive Ministers, civil servants and senior councillors and officials from 11 local authorities. Other key commentators on Scottish political affairs were also interviewed. Five surveys were also conducted, with each producing a representative response rate.

Surveys were carried out with elected councillors, and four local government professional associations: Downloads Findings The impact of devolution on local government in Scotland 44.

The impact on local government 223. Uniquely, we also run a housing association and care provider, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.