Following a full meeting of Council Leaders today (Friday) COSLA said it cannot accept the essential services provided by Scottish Local Government being once again overlooked by the Scottish Government in yesterday’s budget announcement.
COSLA described the budget as a bad deal for communities and warned that serious financial challenges in key service areas lay ahead for Scotland’s Councils.
Speaking this afternoon COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “My initial feeling is one of real disappointment for our communities. Once again Local Government has been treated as the poor relation of the public sector.
“This settlement represents £100m cut to our core Settlement, before any other pressures such as National Insurance costs, pay or inflation are taken into account.
“We wanted a Budget for Local Government that enables people to Live Well Locally – what we have is a budget that barely allows Local Government to survive.
“We are left in a position where we do not have adequate funding to provide our range of essential services and support recovery from COVID.
“Many essential services provided by Scottish Local Government are in a fairly precarious position as a result of cuts to Councils’ core budgets and direction on spend towards Scottish Government priorities over the last few years.
Councillor Macgregor continued: “In terms of Council Tax- whilst we welcome the removal of the cap and the recognition that this is a local tax that should be decided locally – we cannot put the burden of a poor settlement onto hard pressed families. That is simply not fair.
Council Leaders were unanimous today that we need to work together, with one Local Government voice, to raise our concerns at the highest level of Scottish Government.
COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison said that it was beyond frustrating that Local Government’s ambition to enable people to Live Well Locally has been totally disregarded.
Councillor Evison added: “Whichever way you look at it, the reality of the situation is that yet again the essential services Councils deliver have been overlooked by the Scottish Government. There is no recognition that these very services are the bedrock for additional policies and priorities which the Scottish Government wants councils to provide.
“It is beyond frustrating that the importance of Local Government’s role in enabling Communities to Live Well Locally across Scotland, has not been reflected in the Budget announcement.
“The Scottish Government has to realise that cuts to our core budget hit the most vulnerable in our communities the hardest and are damaging to our workforce. That is why Council Leaders were unanimous today that we must fight for a fairer settlement.
“The consequences of us not doing this would be disastrous for our communities and workforce.
“It adds insult to injury the fact that the NHS in Scotland has been compensated for the increase in their National Insurance costs whilst we haven’t. So unlike Councils in England who have also been compensated for these our costs will once again have to be taken from frontline services.”