Budget in current form will devastate communities, councils warn
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The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has warned that the Scottish Government’s Budget will hit vulnerable communities the hardest.

COSLA has warned the Government that it has not considered successive years of cuts, or rising inflation and demand and have therefore put council services at risk.

Councils have said they believe the budget will have a major impact on the Government’s ability to address the four priorities of inclusive growth, tackling child poverty, wellbeing and climate change, and puts Scottish Government commitments at risk if no further funding is found as part of the Budget Scrutiny process.

COSLA’s view is that taken on its own, the Scottish Government’s announcement of an additional £495m for councils is misleading to communities.

Councils are required to deliver an additional £590m worth of new Scottish Government policy commitments, resulting in a cut to council budgets of £95m. It is vital to note that this doesn’t account for inflation and therefore the real terms cut to the Local Government revenue budget is nearer £300m.

The draft capital budget is equally as devastating. Whilst £54m of new capital money has been announced this is negated by £171m worth of Scottish Government commitments. This leaves a £117m cut to core capital budgets of 17%. Again, if we include inflation the real terms cut to capital budgets is £130m.

This settlement does not address any of the restoration called for in light of many years of cuts.

Speaking ahead of an evidence session at the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee tomorrow (Wednesday), COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “COSLA has campaigned hard in recent months for the Scottish Government to address falling Local Government budgets.

“We called for Scottish Government commitments to be funded, inflation to be accounted for and restoration to the budget to reflect successive years of cuts to Local Government. It is unfortunate that a sphere of government in this country has not been listened to.

“This draft budget will impact on jobs, frontline services and Local Government’s ability to address inclusive economic growth, child poverty, wellbeing and climate change and does not address the growing demand most councils are facing in relation to services.”

COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison added: “Recent benchmarking statistics have shown that 10,000 FTE jobs have been lost in Local Government since 2010/11. The impact of this on communities is real and cannot continue.

“We are calling on Scottish Government and the Parliament to address these concerns, listen to our asks and prevent the loss of essential council services which communities rely upon.

“Make no mistake, councils and the services which communities rely upon will be at risk as a result of this budget.”