Scotland must devolve powers to save money, says think-tank

15 Oct 10
A new relationship between central government and local delivery bodies in Scotland would lead to better and cheaper public services, a think-tank says today
By David Scott in Edinburgh

18 October 2010

A new relationship between central government and local delivery bodies in Scotland would lead to better and cheaper public services, a think-tank says today.

In a report, Radical Scotland, the National Endowment forScience, Technology and the Arts warns that current responses to the UK government’s spending plans are not sustainable, given the limits of traditional efficiency measures and the cost of rising demand for public services.

It advocates a radical approach to reform involving the creation of a ‘new community status’, which would greater freedom and responsibilities to leading local authorities and health boards. This would allow councils and health boards to develop new approaches to service provision, with particular emphasis on prevention.

They would have access to investment, support and greater independence to innovate in return for a commitment to give back a proportion of the projected savings from innovation to central government and to share their experiences with others.

The report says that without these suggested reforms, the cost of maintaining current service levels will rise by £27bn over the next 15 years – mainly due to the ageing society and prevalence of certain health conditions. But in this period, the Scottish Government would have £42bn less to spend.

‘To make services more sustainable, radical reform needs to become a more significant part of the Scottish Government’s strategy towards spending reductions,’ the report states.

Nesta chief executive Jonathan Kestenbaum said numerous examples from Scotland demonstrated how services could be refocused at a local level to prevent longer-term problems.

He added: ‘Scotland must make radical reform of its public services the driving mission.’

 

 

Did you enjoy this article?

AddToAny

Have your say

Top