COSLA President Councillor David O’Neill said: “There have been various presentations and misrepresentations of the local government budget over the last couple of years which we feel are not only confusing to communities but also significantly damaging to the role of local government.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Cabinet Secretary is linking growth in reserves in 2015/16 with a ‘fair’ settlement for local government this year. Over 2016/17 and 2017/18 local government has seen a £550m reduction in its settlement and that is the budget reality.  
“On reserves, Both COSLA and Audit Scotland have highlighted on numerous occasions that due to the fact councils have been provided with one year spending reviews and gloomy financial forecast, Councils have acted responsibly in 2015/16 to build reserves to both smooth saving plans and fund transformation programmes. Particularly given the late nature of both this year and last year budgets from the Scottish Government, longer term planning is essential to reshape and redesign services not only in light of the cuts but also the increasing demand for services.
“What the stats do show us is that despite challenging financial circumstances councils continue to prioritise spend in front line services and as Friday’s benchmarking report from the Improvement Service highlights despite the real term reduction in funding of 11% over five years the vast majority of productivity, output and outcome measures within Councils have improved.”

Article published: 
Tue, 28/02/2017 - 16:15