The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has launched a campaign to persuade the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP to invest in Scotland’s councils before it is too late.
COSLA has produced a briefing document, Invest in Essential Services,which clearly shows the reduction to Local Government funding since 2013/14 and how the flexibility councils have to spend their budget has been eroded by the Scottish Government. Between 2013/14 and 2019/20 national policy initiatives have increased, and now account for 60% of council budgets. This means that cuts can only be applied to the remaining 40%, meaning that cuts are amplified in services that are not protected.
Speaking at the launch of this morning’s campaign, COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said:
“COSLA’s vision is that Scotland’s communities are sustainable, vibrant places to live, work and visit. Every year, councils invest in a huge range of services and capital projects that are key drivers for economic growth.
“However, ringfencing and Scottish Government-devised policy initiatives mean that more and more has to be delivered from an ever decreasing portion of local budgets.
“The reality is that services such as roads, buses, paths, planning, community learning, events, sports facilities, libraries, tourism, business support and environmental health all sit unprotected. These services are what make our communities attractive places to live, work and visit.
“Local Government’s role in creating sustainable communities cannot continue to be underestimated. The public rely on us as leaders and as a provider of vital services.
Echoing these concerns, COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison said:
“Local Government is the sphere of Government closest to Scotland’s citizens.
“Sadly however, whichever way you want to dress it up, the reality is that in recent budgets the Scottish Government has chosen to overlook the essential services that communities rely on day in day out.
“Our vision for Scotland’s communities depends on fair funding for council services. If we are to truly realise Scotland’s potential then local authorities must be receive a fair settlement.”