The financial impact of dealing with COVID has been brought into sharp focus, as councils look to balance their books this year and plan for the future COSLA said today (Monday).
Before the pandemic, Local Government was already dealing with significant financial challenges. Councils are now facing considerable additional costs, as well as uncertainty in relation to funding for 2021/22.
Commenting, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “Over the last few weeks, COSLA’s Spokespeople have been highlighting via our Blueprint the leading role that councils play in supporting vulnerable individuals, families, communities and businesses. This role has proved even more crucial over the last few months.
“Scotland’s Councils have been heroic in their efforts with this pandemic and have underpinned the emergency response within communities, whilst continuing to deliver essential services, but this will cost more than was budgeted for.
“Each year before the Budget, COSLA makes a compelling case for investment in Local Government – this year’s response to the pandemic has proved that this is absolutely essential.
“At such a difficult time, Councils need stability and certainty in relation to funding. Knowing what we have to spend next year and the year after as early as possible will benefit everyone – the businesses we support, the people we care for, the partners we work with, and of course the staff we employ, who are an integral part of our communities
“With fair funding, we can provide our dedicated workforce with certainty around their employment, who in turn will be a key building block of recovery. Fair funding also supports local economies through key construction and infrastructure investment - building projects create much needed jobs as well as supporting local supply chains.
“A lack of longer-term funding certainty also impacts on organisations who we contract with – third sector organisations who provide youth work, befriending services, community transport, domestic abuse support to name a few. Councils have worked hard to ensure providers and local suppliers remained solvent but this all required resources.
“Last year’s budget meant tough decisions for many Councils - the pandemic has made this financial context even more challenging. Local Government must now be at the forefront of Scottish Government’s spending plans if our key role in recovery and renewal is to be maximised.”