Watchdog highlights sicknote surge at SBC

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THERE has been a marked increase in the number of days lost through sickness absence at Scottish Borders Council.

And performance figures just published by Audit Scotland also reveal that less Borderers are using council-run public libraries since many of these facilities were amalgamated with contact centres.

The statistics reveal that, in 2012/13 the number of days lost by non-teachers who were absent because of sickness totalled 37,440, compared to 34,115 in 2011/12. That equates to 11.6 days lost per employee over the year (10.4 days the previous year).

The total days lost because of teachers being sick was 8,414 – up from 6,846 – with days lost per teacher hitting 7.5 (6.4).

The accounting watchdog confirms that 87 women – or 41.3% - were in the top 5% of the council’s earners, slightly down (by 0.3%) on the previous year.

Visits to the region’s libraries in 2012/13 totalled 384,681, compared to 398,370 in 2011/12. However, the library usage figure in 2010/11 was 434,208, revealing a significant fall in custom over the past two years.

There was a small decrease in the number of Borderers using swimming pools with 636,923 attending (639,556), although participation at “other indoor sports and leisure facilities” were up from 173,237 in 2011/12 to 176,924.

There was also an increase in visits to council-run museums with 165,467 recorded (163,440).

The number of people aged 65 and over who are receiving home care from the council was 1,271, up by 21 on the previous year, although the total hours of home care actually delivered fell from 9,256 to 8,839.

The ever more onerous burden on the council of maintaining its roads is highlighted by the watchdog.

In 2012/13, 41.7% of the entire network for which SBC is responsible “should be considered for maintenance treatment” compared to 40.2% the previous year.

The category requiring most maintenance are unclassified (non A, B or C) roads, with 51.6% (47.2%) requiring treatment.

Finally Audit Scotland reveals that 42.3% of household waste in the Borders was recycled last year, compared to 44.8% in 2011/12.