Independent report shows need for real investment in Local Government
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The Local Government Benchmarking Framework Report released by the Improvement Service at the end of last week illustrates perfectly why the Scottish Government must invest in Scottish Local Government when they unveil their budget tomorrow, COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison said today (Wednesday).

In one final push for a fair funding settlement for Local Government ahead of Mr Mackay’s Budget Statement to Parliament Councillor Evison said: “The Local Government Benchmark Framework Report clearly shows that councils are continuing to protect expenditure with spending in education and care relatively protected.  

“However, as our own Essential Services document showed, these protected areas account for the vast majority of councils spend, which means that most other service areas have experienced substantial reductions in spending since 2010/11, such as:

  • 23% reduction in culture and leisure spending;
  • 21% reduction in planning;
  • 28% reduction in economic development spending;
  • 24% reduction in roads spending;
  • and 10% reduction in environmental services spending.

Councillor Evison continued: “These reductions in spend on ‘non protected’ services in and of themselves are bad enough – but cutting them has wider implications by impacting severely on Council’s ambitions to deliver     sustainable communities as well as impacting heavily on the four priorities identified by COSLA as key strands of our spending review campaign – Inclusive economic growth, child poverty, well-being and climate change.

Councillor Evison also expressed concern that despite Local Government having continued to perform well despite growing pressure on budgets there is evidence that performance, satisfaction, and system capacity are all beginning to show real signs of strain.

She continued: “After a number of years where service performance has improved or been maintained remarkably well across key policy areas, the evidence emerging this year from the LGBF Report indicates that progress is now stalling.  

“The cracks are starting to show and performance improvements gained in recent years are now beginning to slow or decline.

“This is not an isolated incident but worryingly a pattern emerging across all key service areas and within all councils. This is unsurprising given the long-term funding pressures on councils and local services.”

Councillor Evison concluded: “Scotland’s communities need the Scottish Government to invest in the Essential Services that Local Government provides when they unveil their budget tomorrow. Without this investment our Communities are at risk because as the Local Government Benchmark Framework Report clearly states, the next phase will be even more challenging.”