Time to invest in unique role of Local Government says COSLA
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COSLA to tell Committee that serious financial challenges lie ahead.

To ensure sustainable communities across Scotland, Local Government’s unique role in designing and delivering the vital services which underpin and provide the lifeblood to communities must be given recognition and investment, Councillor Gail Macgregor and senior officials from COSLA will tell the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee today (Wednesday).

As part of the Pre-Budget Scrutiny Councillor Macgregor and senior COSLA officials will also today stress the need for the Long-Term Financial Sustainability of Local Government.

Speaking in advance of appearing before Committee, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “Within the overall context of the National Performance Framework, COSLA’s Council Leaders have agreed four key priority areas for the upcoming Spending Review.

“These are:

  • Inclusive Growth
  • Wellbeing
  • Tackling Child Poverty
  • Climate Change emergency

“Our message is clear - these areas cannot be addressed in isolation as they are deeply interrelated, recognising the complexity of the issues.

“A whole system approach is required to tackling these priorities and ensuring sustainable communities across Scotland. Local Government is uniquely placed to achieve this and the financial settlement for Local Government must reflect this critical role – that is what I will be stressing to the Committee today.

“Sadly, Local Government budgets have decreased significantly over a number of years. In 2019/20, core revenue budgets fell by £147m while core capital budgets fell by £17m - this is not sustainable.

“Funding reductions, increased national priorities and protection, all have a fundamental impact on the ability of local authorities to invest in people, places and inclusive growth.

“Councils cannot achieve all we or the Scottish Government might aspire to achieve if the Scottish Government does not invest in Local Government.

“Going forward Local Government’s core budget cannot be further eroded.

“Transparency around the budget is key and new Scottish Government commitments already announced for 2019/20 and 2020/21, currently totalling £480m revenue funding, must be additional to the current Local Government Settlement.”

Councillor Macgregor continued: “Local Government has absorbed inflation and demand pressures – again, this is not a sustainable position.

“The gap forecast between income and the spend which will be necessary to fully address demand moving forward is deeply concerning.

“Over the next 15 years, social care funding alone will need to increase by 3.9 per cent in real terms each year to meet the needs of an ageing population and more adults living with disabilities, not to mention the unknown demands that Brexit will bring.”

Councillor Macgregor concluded: “My final message to Committee today will be that serious financial challenges lie ahead.

“Not only does Local Government require investment, it needs a longer-term financial planning horizon, protection of core Council budgets, and a focus on outcomes not inputs.”