Derek Mackay MSP

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Derek Mackay MSP

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  • Member for: Renfrewshire North and West
  • Region: West Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Derek is a member of the following Committees:

Derek is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Derek Mackay

Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
The Minister for Local Government and Planning (Derek Mackay)

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning has outlined the Scottish Government’s forward-looking policies, which are for our local government partners to implement. Our partners need adequate resources if we are to fulfil our ambitions.

The vast majority of the funding for primary and secondary school spending is provided as part of the annual local government finance settlement. As members know, the Government has worked hard with COSLA to provide settlements that are as fair as possible given the cuts that the United Kingdom Government has imposed on the Scottish budget.

Given that the Scottish budget is roughly divided into three, with health and local government sharing around two thirds of it and everything else having to be funded from the remaining third, and that the health budget has received a real-terms increase in each year, as set out in our manifesto, some very difficult decisions have had to be taken to maintain the local government budget.

Despite those pressures, local government has been treated very fairly under the Government. The local government finance settlements have been maintained across the 2012 to 2016 period on a like-with-like basis, with extra money for new duties. That has resulted in a total settlement of over £10.6 billion in 2014-15, and that is set to increase to almost £10.8 billion in 2015-16.

We as a Government expect something in return for maintaining our funding in the face of the difficult financial situation. We have worked with COSLA to ensure that all 32 local authorities have frozen their council tax since 2008-09 and, as the cabinet secretary made clear in his opening statement, we are working with it to reach an agreement on what educational outcomes may look like.

Local authorities supplement their central Government funding with their locally raised council tax income, of course. Again, the Scottish Government has fully funded the council tax freeze by providing a new additional baselined sum of £70 million for each of the seven years of the freeze to date, from 2008-09, with a further £70 million being provided for 2015-16.

The committee will be well aware that there are no allocations of funding for specific services and that the vast majority of the funding, including funding in support of primary and secondary school education, is provided by means of a block grant. The Government does not believe in micromanaging how local authorities spend their money. It is the responsibility of individual local authorities to manage their own budgets and to allocate the total financial resources that are available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities, having first fulfilled their statutory obligations and the jointly agreed set of national and local priorities. However, we know that local authorities are budgeting to spend £4.6 billion on education this year. That represents 40 per cent of their total net revenue expenditure.

I will, of course, be happy to answer any questions that committee members may have about the local government funding settlement and allocations.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

In addition, the new funding that has been announced that arises from political priorities such as the expansion in childcare and free school meals represents dedicated specific resources for those purposes that were negotiated with local government.

Councils are embarking on various consultation exercises on how to manage their budgets. Not everything that they consult on may come to fruition in the budget, of course. Members will be aware of the cycle. There is consultation, the Parliament approves final figures, and councils then set their budgets. They will look at a range of options, but we have no reason to believe that there will be the cuts impacting on local schools that Jayne Baxter suggests there will be.

Councils have aspired to meet their obligations and to commit to the new obligations that the Parliament has agreed. We have negotiated with local authorities and balanced the books, but the member will be well aware that that has been in quite difficult circumstances, with financial and cost pressures. How we have been able to protect local government has been significant. The picture south of the border is quite different. There, people have had the worst of all worlds. Budgets have been reduced and there have been compulsory redundancies and council tax rises. That has not been the case in Scotland. That said, of course there are significant pressures that I am sure we will explore as the day goes on.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

Jayne Baxter will be well aware that education is a very large part of a local authority’s budget. On average, approximately 40 per cent of total budgeted net revenue expenditure by local government is on education, in large measure due to staffing costs. You have to consider the education budget in the context of the overall financial picture. If there were no reductions at all in the education budget, you can imagine the impact that that would have on other services. We have to look at everything in the round.

I am very mindful, as I am sure all members are, of the Audit Scotland and Accounts Commission report on school education, which looks at deprivation as a factor in education. We have to consider all services and how they affect our young people.

As I say, there is a range of consultations and not everything that a council consults on comes to fruition. That will be a matter for the council; as it consults and engages with people, it makes the priorities that reflect the demands of local communities. We would expect such consultation to involve parents, pupils and staff.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

There is much room for improvement on the shared services agenda, but the Scottish Government cannot compel local authorities to follow it. We can ensure that any barriers to shared services, collaboration and co-operation are removed and that the conditions are there to promote shared services not just in education but across the broad range of council services. If savings were realised in other departments, local authorities could redirect money to the education budget. There has been progress on shared services outwith education—in roads and waste, for example—and a few initiatives in education, but local authorities need to look at the shared services agenda more imaginatively.

Some years ago in Mr Bibby’s area—West Scotland—the Clyde valley collaboration involved eight local authorities working together. It gave them huge spending power and huge capacity to identify shared services, but few workstreams went forward. That was not because of the actions of the Scottish Government or anyone else; it was for the leaders involved to decide what went forward and what did not.

There are no barriers to shared services. Audit agencies have said the same thing. The Government has provided the conditions to progress with shared services and we could realise further savings in local authorities and other public services if there were more shared services. That is partly where community planning comes into play; by aligning resources, working together and maximising the spend of the public sector at a partnership level, we can do more with the same resource. That is the challenge that we face with the existing resources and the Westminster-based budget reductions.

Parents groups and others are right to identify shared services as a potential way forward, but nothing is stopping local authorities getting on with merging management structures and focusing on procurement and best practice. We have provided a large measure of budget protection against the reductions that other parts of the Scottish Government’s expenditure have faced, and it is imperative that local authorities support the agenda and take advantage of opportunities that might have been missed in the past, but that is a matter for them. If we start to compel them, we can guarantee that that will not work. The approach has to be organic and it has to be for the local authorities to choose what works best in their areas.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

When the Government or the Parliament commits to a policy that places a burden on local authorities, we negotiate with those local authorities through their umbrella organisation, COSLA, to arrive at the global sum and to agree how that will be distributed among the local authorities on whatever basis is deemed appropriate. Surely it would not surprise Mr McArthur to know that local authorities sometimes produce different figures for the Scottish Government, because we are in a process of negotiation. Sometimes, those cycles are at different stages, and we might have a different methodology and a different approach. Some of the negotiations might well involve each side trying to protect its interests.

What matters is that we reach a resolution and deliver the policy. On measures such as free school meals or childcare, or whatever it happens to be, we reach resolution in partnership with local government. Crucially, we agree it and then we agree the distribution methodology for sharing the sum across the country to achieve the purpose.

In any negotiation, there will be a difference; people will naturally pitch for the best that they can get, which might sometimes lead to friction, but the style of our negotiations is as different from what local government enjoyed under any previous Administration as night is from day. It is in the spirit of partnership, following on from the concordat, that we will settle on a figure that ensures that the policies are fully funded. They are new burdens and they will come with new resources to ensure that they are delivered.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

Mr McArthur is right that that is a policy choice. Of course, we have a mandate from the Scottish electorate to deliver it. We should put the £70 million of compensation into the perspective of a grant of more than £10.8 billion to local authorities. Local authorities can choose not to freeze council tax—they do not have to do it—but they will not get the compensation. That is significant. Some local authorities would have proposed not increasing the council tax anyway, for the good reason of protecting hard-pressed households.

I am convinced that the overall budget settlement for local authorities has protected front-line services from the worst ravages of Westminster reductions. We can see the difference south of the border. I make the comparison simply for information that, south of the border, there are compulsory redundancies, service reductions, a council tax increase and the removal of reductions that have helped the most vulnerable. That takes us back to the point about deprivation. It is important to have quality school buildings and quality education but, if children are brought up in a cycle of deprivation, that certainly does not help with educational achievement and attainment.

In our policy choices, we have protected health spending—as we stated that we would do in the manifesto—and next we have protected local authority budgets. I repeat that the local authority budget will grow in cash terms. There will be new burdens, which relate largely to education. I do not deny that there are cost pressures—of course there are, and of course they have consequences. The Government will take responsibility, but it should get some credit for making decisions that have ensured that more pupils are in good-quality buildings and which have protected front-line services in difficult circumstances.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

I am sure that Mr McArthur and Mr Bibby support localism. Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors and their leadership in COSLA are demanding that we focus on outcomes and not specifically on the input of teacher numbers. That is valuable and important, but we will look at the flexibility and see where that gets us.

The arrangements will absolutely stay in place unless we reach an agreement that has all the criteria of success that have been laid out. The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are saying something completely different in local government from what they say in this Parliament.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

The Government has been clear that we want public and local authorities to be free to work across boundaries. The boundaries are arbitrary. If local government were to be designed now, nobody would design it to be the way that it is today. It is a construct of previous Tory gerrymandering. However, the energy, the years and the court battles that it would take to redraw local authority boundaries would not be worth the effort, when all our focus and energy should be on productivity and the outcomes that really matter, rather than on boundary disputes.

Local authorities can work across the boundaries, and we have made it clear that there is an imperative to do so. The commission on strengthening local democracy suggests that there should be more councils and more councillors, not fewer councils and fewer councillors. The Government’s response will continue to be to have discussions with COSLA and other key stakeholders but, as has been the case, we propose no boundary changes to local authorities. At the same time, we absolutely support the drive for change in new ways of working, how we conduct our business, how we share services, how we procure services and how we involve people. Further work on empowering our communities will be forthcoming in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill.

The structural change that is being proposed does not include changes to council boundaries, but there is nothing to stop directors changing management structures and how local authorities work with each other. That is very empowering.

We look forward to the committee’s conclusions and recommendations on radical thinking. I can inform Mr Adam that COSLA has not brought to the table the restructuring of education along the lines that the committee has heard about in evidence yet, although that is not to say that such a discussion cannot be had.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

Mr Adam makes a very fair point. Although it is good practice for a local authority to embark on a comprehensive consultation exercise that sets out choice, that is not necessarily empowering, because the parents, the pupils and indeed the staff still have to wait to be consulted. The bill will change that. Of course, practice could be changed right now, but the bill will empower communities to initiate engagement and consultation on their terms instead of waiting for individual authorities to consult them. Not only is that quite empowering but it allows a new engagement mechanism to be implemented.

The best authorities will engage early, offer people choices and then report on that in a transparent way. Of course, the danger then is that some people might misrepresent the choices that have been offered, which is not helpful when we are trying to have a free debate about what matters and is important to parents.

Choices can also be offered in other areas, and that is all very healthy in allowing local authorities to make the right decisions.



Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Derek Mackay

I am hardly likely to say that we have got the balance completely wrong but, in all honesty, I think that the balance is correct in relation to what is provided nationally, which includes national safeguards in the areas of assurance, inspection, quality, examinations and qualifications, and what is overseen locally, which involves the school estate and infrastructure, the deployment of staff and the matters that are devolved to headteachers through school management budgets, because there is that further layer of devolution, within the parameters of necessary expenditure.

I think that I covered the issue of the 32 local authorities in my answer to Mr Adam. There are many good reasons for redesigning local authorities, but the necessary energy, commitment and cost involved in doing so would mean that we would take our eye off the ball in terms of what really matters, which is outcomes. The challenge is to be creative and deliver those new ways of working within the existing infrastructure in order to deliver change on the ground.

You might say that the Government or a panel can call in and consider decisions such as those around school closure, but that approach is the exception rather than the norm and ensures that the checks and balances are there and that the decision has been taken correctly, given the available information, the process and so on. However, on the big picture with regard to education, I think that the balance is broadly right from a local government perspective.

Local authorities, through COSLA, may argue for further empowerment, and that discussion will happen. Others may argue for further centralisation, regionalisation or whatever—I have looked at the evidence that has been presented to the committee—and we can certainly have a conversation about what works best, but what has precipitated the discussion is the financial challenge that we all face. It is not the case that money absolutely connects to outcomes or attainment. It is far more sophisticated than just that.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Derek Mackay
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11386: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10262: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08769: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06933: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05883: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/03/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05717: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/02/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05358: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05247: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05246: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05245: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2012 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-04121: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04120: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04123: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04122: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04119: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04124: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04039: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04037: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04038: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-04036: Derek Mackay, Renfrewshire North and West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/11/2011 Show Full Question >>

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