Scotland’s councils will struggle to implement the country’s new smacking ban with concerns raised over the extra stress it will place on social workers, teachers and health workers.

A new survey of Scottish councillors also suggests a general lack of support for the controversial ban across local authority representatives of all main parties.

The research, carried out by a group which argues against the smacking ban, claims three in four councillors who responded do not believe their council has the resources to handle the additional pressure that a smacking ban may bring.

In addition, seven in 10 say social workers would fail to cope with extra caseloads created by the law, set to be introduced in the coming year.

The survey also claims most councillors believe parents should be allowed to use reasonable chastisement, and that smacking should not become a criminal offence.

Holyrood voted in October by 84 to 29 to support Scottish Greens’ MSP John Finnie’s anti-smacking bill which outlaws all physical punishment of children and raises the prospect of parents being prosecuted for any use of physical punishment on their own children.

The legislation was given Royal Assent last month and is due to come into force in the coming year. It means Scotland will be the first UK country to outlaw smacking and will give young people the same protection from assault as adults.

A consultation on Mr Finnie’s bill was widely supported by children’s charities however opponents have argued that the law already protected children from assault and the ban risked criminalising ‘good parents’ for using reasonable chastisement.

It has been likened by some opponents to the Scottish Government’s failed ‘named persons’ legislation which was ditched following criticism that it could place ordinary families under undue scrutiny.

The new research by campaign group Be Reasonable received 225 responses from 1227 Scottish councillors, representing 18% of the country’s local councillors.

Despite claims that the survey is too small to be reliable, the group says it spotlights a deep divide between the views of local politicians and Holyrood.

It also warns that while the law change could see increased pressure on social services and a need for extra training for teachers and health workers, there has so far been no indication that the Scottish Government plans to release funds to help cover additional costs.

Be Reasonable spokesman Jamie Gillies, said: “Three-quarters of councillors who completed the survey felt local authorities will not cope with additional pressures brought about by a change in the law.

“Crucially, social workers – who are already cracking under the pressure of identifying and helping vulnerable children – are also thought to be unable to cope.

“Many councillors seem aghast at the prospect of a smacking ban which would tie up social workers, deplete local authority resources and affect services for years to come when there is no reliable evidence to show that mild physical discipline is harmful to children.

“When significant numbers of councillors in all of the main parties oppose legislation the Government should take notice.”

The survey claims seven in 10 councillors think parents should be allowed to use reasonable chastisement on their children. A similar number do not think smacking should become a criminal offence.

While only the Scottish Conservatives opposed the bill in Holyrood, the survey suggests half of SNP and Lib Dem councillors who responded agree that parents should be permitted to use reasonable chastisement with their children. The numbers were higher among Labour (62%) and Conservative (85%).

Meanwhile, more than seven in 10 councillors felt the Government should finance the implications of a smacking ban “as fully as necessary over time” and provide “public assurances that no other frontline services will be affected as a consequence of the Bill diverting resources”.

According to Be Reasonable responses to the survey from councillors suggests confusion over how the smacking ban might work, with one apparently unclear over whether the new law would apply to foreign tourists and another raising concerns that it may lead to family disputes and unproven allegations.

One councillor commented that “some (children) need a quick, harmless smack on the leg or bottom to save them from harm”, while another raised concerns that the legislation is “overly heavy-handed and is not proportionate to the issue.”

Others raised concerns over the extra workload for police and social services, with one commenting: “As usual with Scottish Government, they will simply pass the buck to hard-pressed local authorities, as they have with so many other subjects.

“If they want this it must be fully resourced out of their annual underspend.”

Responding to the survey, Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “It’s typical of the SNP to rush through a headline-grabbing law without thinking about the consequences.

“The Nationalists were well-warned about these challenges but blundered on regardless.

“Now we have a situation where the SNP is creating criminals of ordinary parents and placing immense pressure on council services which are already struggling to cope.”

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “The Act gives children, without exception, the same protection from assault as adults.

“This is backed by an overwhelming majority of public opinion and commanded support from a wide range of Scottish society including the Church of Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health (Scotland), Children First and Barnardo’s.

“We are working in partnership with organisations including local authorities, children’s charities, Social Work Scotland and Police Scotland to raise awareness of the Act and build on the existing support we offer to children and families.”