Loss of six Labour seats in Scotland could see social care climb agenda

The Scottish executive could face renewed pressure to improve its
social care provision following last week’s elections.

Although Labour remains the biggest party in the Scottish
parliament with 50 seats, the loss of six seats means that a
coalition with the Liberal Democrats would produce an overall
majority of only five.

The executive could be forced instead to deal with other parties in
the parliament to gain support for its policies on an
issue-by-issue basis, which could see social care appearing further
up the political agenda.

The Scottish Socialist Party election manifesto, for example,
included promises to introduce free school meals for all children
and free public transport for pensioners. The SSP now has six

Meanwhile, in Wales the Labour-Liberal coalition formed in October
2000 could end after Labour won 30 of the 60 assembly seats

But the Welsh Liberal Democrats warned Labour that there were
likely to be difficult times ahead without an outright majority.
They said they would seek to implement their social care policies –
including free personal care for all – even if they were not
included in the new administration.

In England, Labour lost power in five councils with low star
performance ratings in social services as a result of the local
elections in 40 unitary councils and 36 metropolitan councils last

North East Lincolnshire, Birmingham and Coventry Councils, whose
social services departments each has a star rating of zero, are now
under no overall control, as are Brighton & Hove and Bristol
Councils, which both have one star.

North East Lincolnshire and Coventry Councils were both rated
“poor” in the comprehensive performance assessment last December,
while Birmingham and Bristol councils were rated “weak”.

Windsor and Maidenhead, which has a zero star rating and was
previously under no overall control, was won by the Liberal

Labour retained power in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and in Sunderland.
Both have three-star social services departments. Labour also
gained power from the Conservatives in Plymouth, where the council
is rated weak and has a one-star social services department.

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