Council makes positive progress despite pressures of Covid on services

Edinburgh City Centre View

New performance and benchmarking reports reveal that the City of Edinburgh Council continues to make good progress, despite the significant impact of Covid on the hundreds of services it provides.

The latest Annual Performance Report for the last financial year, which will be considered by the Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee today(10 June) provides a detailed analysis of Council performance during a year in which the Council had to make big changes to how it delivered services to residents due to Covid19.

It sets out a holistic picture of performance for 2020/21, showing where improvements were made, where service delivery performance was maintained or where progress was slowed due to the need to focus service capacity on keeping residents safe and businesses supported.

Also set for consideration at Thursday’s Committee meeting, the latest Local Government Benchmarking Framework report covering 2019/20 reveals that Edinburgh saw an overall improvement over the period and compares favourably to the other Scottish cities.

Edinburgh compares favourably when considering overall rankings to those of the three most comparable urban cities, Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow. The Capital shows the highest number of indicators in the top two quartiles and the fewest in the bottom quartile of the four cities.

Finally, a report covering financial year 2020/21shows that of the Coalition’s 52 Commitments, which the Council has committed to deliver by the end of 2022, 47 have now been achieved or partially achieved.

The 14 Coalition Commitments recorded as ‘fully achieved’ include delivering the City Region Deal, increasing the number of classroom assistants and support staff for children with additional needs and planting an additional 1,000 trees in communities (since 2017, 39,966 trees have been planted, significantly surpassing this commitment).

Meanwhile, good progress continues to be made on the Trams to Newhaven project, despite changes to the programme necessitated by the temporary shut-down of construction sites during the first lockdown in 2020.

And construction is due to complete on the new Meadowbank Sports Centre later this year, meaning the commitment to build a new sports centre at Meadowbank by 2021 is on course to be fully achieved.

Council Leader Adam McVey said:

It’s been a year like no other and Council services have been tested like never before as we’ve grappled with the impact of the pandemic on our lives and on the city.

We’ve needed to make massive changes to the way we deliver hundreds of lifeline services to residents to make sure we keep the city going and ensure our most vulnerable are supported.

While dealing with the immediate public health needs of the City, it’s inevitable progress has slipped in some areas but we’ve managed to improve and maintain progress in many more areas, which is testament to the sheer dedication and commitment of our workforce. Major important projects like taking trams to Newhaven and the new Meadowbank continue to progress at pace.

The number of children receiving 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare continues to grow, we’ve successfully reduced our carbon emissions and our performance in areas like building warrant applications has improved despite the need to allocate resources elsewhere. Meanwhile vital services such as bin collections continued thanks to early actions taken to ensure our colleagues could work safely.

Crucially, we’ve been able to keep progressing our core Business Plan priorities of reducing poverty and inequality, tackling climate change and improving wellbeing for everyone in the city – these continue to be the central pillar of our programme for the Capital.

Depute Leader Cammy Day said:

The global pandemic means that, as a Council, we’ve had to adapt in unexpected ways to maintain lifeline services and to quickly set up additional support measures – and throughout this our primary focus, rightly, has been on those who need our help the most.

It’s really welcome, then, that we’ve been able to achieve so much despite the enormous challenges of the crisis. In a time of huge uncertainty, we’ve still made positive progress against our commitments, and where improvement plans have rightly had to be put on hold to let us focus capacity on keeping residents safe and businesses supported, we’ll set out how we plan to get back on track.

In many areas, we’ve already delivered what we promised to do and are on schedule for delivering many others. More and more Edinburgh region employers are accredited as Living Wage Foundation employers, we’re making good progress on Trams to Newhaven and two more of our parks have netted Green Flag awards, taking our tally to 34, the highest amount of any Scottish local authority.

Throughout the crisis, the End Poverty Edinburgh citizens group has continued its vital work helping us towards our goal of eradicating poverty in Edinburgh by 2030 and our agreement as a Council to invest £600,000 in additional revenue monies towards prevention services and community engagement will further support this work.

Key areas of progress covered in the three Committee reports include:

  • the number of employers in the Edinburgh region accredited as Living Wage Foundation employers has increased year on year (545 in 2020/21, up from 416 in 2018/19)
  • 75% of early years settings are providing 1140 hours’ early learning and childcare (surpassing our 51% target)
  • 100% of emergency road defects were made safe within 24 hours in 2020/21
  • Total Council emissions of all greenhouse gases fell to 74 MtCO2e in 2019/20 from 151 All MtCO2e in 2017/18
  • At number 14 out of 32 Scottish local authorities, the latest Local Government Benchmarking Framework shows Edinburgh has risen to its best road condition ranking for unclassified roads in 9 years
  • good progress is being made on the City Region Deal, drawing down capital funding of £165m from the UK and Scottish Government grant of £600m. Projects worth 61% of the full Deal have had business cases approved
  • continued investment in school buildings with construction commencing on a further 2 schools in 2020/21
  • significant investment is being made in transport across the city for both active travel improvements and roads infrastructure
  • work has been able to continue on the new tram line to Newhaven during the COVID-19 pandemic and passenger services are scheduled to begin by the revised timescale of spring 2023
  • recruitment of Pupil Support Assistants (PSA) has continued throughout the school session in mainstream and Special Schools and the number of FTE pupil support assistants employed has continued to increase
  • the roll-out of Three Conversations approach is in its second year, and it has helped reduced the time people wait to see a care worker to 2.5 days
  • two new parks in the city have been awarded Green Flag status and a significant level of future investment has been agreed for future improvement work

Published: June 10th 2021