Communities across Scotland will face unavoidable and damaging consequences if Local Government does not receive a fair funding settlement in this year’s Budget, COSLA warned today (Tuesday).
COSLA said that the trend of recent settlements for Local Government needs to change because on top of existing pressures, the COVID pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on the finances of Scotland’s Councils this year.
The organisation has produced a comprehensive 14-page briefing document, ‘Respect Our Communities: Protect Our Funding’, which covers three areas:
- the costs of COVID-19 to Local Government and the need for these to be met,
- flexibility on how the budget allocated to Councils is spent and
- an increased budget allocation to address the reduction in funding to Councils over recent settlements.
Speaking as she launched the document today, COSLA Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “This year, across every community in Scotland, Local Government’s essential role has been magnified and once again we have delivered for our communities.
“Nobody in Scotland has been unaffected by this pandemic and the financial impacts of COVID-19 are severe. Individuals, families and businesses have all felt the effects and continue to look to Councils for support every day.
“Sustaining this lifeline support is placing extreme pressure on already strained budgets and without fair funding for Local Government this year, the consequences for the most vulnerable in our communities would be unacceptable.
“That is why we need fair funding for 2021/22 that respects our communities. Without this, there will be further cuts to services, reductions in spending locally, increases in the inequalities exposed by the pandemic and a much slower recovery.”
Echoing these concerns, COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, said: “Local Government’s role on behalf of our communities cannot be underestimated anymore. The COVID pandemic has shown exactly how much the public rely on us as leaders and as providers of vital services.
“The reality is that in recent budgets, the Scottish Government has chosen not to provide enough funding for the essential services that communities rely on day in day out.
“On top of this, this year we have had to contend with COVID-19 which has seen the inequality in our society grow.
“Our ability to recover from this and continue to deliver for Scotland’s communities depends on a change of emphasis from Scottish Government that provides fair funding for Council services.
“If we are to truly recover from this pandemic then Local Authorities must receive a fair settlement.”