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A properly resourced and empowered Local Government can provide essential support and protection against the cost crisis facing Scotland, COSLA has said today (Thursday 22nd September).

COSLA warned that without adequate funding and flexibility to respond locally, Councils would simply be unable to ‘Bridge the Gap’ for the most vulnerable within our communities and be unable to provide the vital protection and support that people need at this time.

Speaking ahead of the UK Mini Budget, Councillor Shona Morrison, the COSLA President said:

“Councils are currently playing a pivotal role in supporting people in our communities to keep their head above water, given how serious this situation is for many. Scotland’s Councils are dealing with the dual impacts of the cost crisis every day. Firstly, in relation to increased demand for support services from people who need them, and secondly in relation to the impacts on the cost of delivering services, including rising food and energy costs.

“Throughout Scotland we are seeing this cost crisis beginning to really take hold and it is only going to get worse for the most vulnerable people within our communities.

“Councils understand the needs of the people in their communities - day in and day out, we work so closely with people in communities, delivering essential services that keep children fed and families out of debt.  The best way for Holyrood and Westminster to help people at any time, but particularly now, is to make sure that Councils are properly resourced and empowered to provide essential, locally tailored services to the people most in need, be that in their own home, in a care setting or in a school.

“That is why our ask of both Governments ahead of their Budgets is to properly empower and resource us to help stem the tide of this cost crisis.

“In essence, we are concerned that the proposed increases in Central Government funding, particularly in the areas of Health and Social Care, take a reactive, rather than a preventative approach on the key issues we are facing.

“The work Councils can do with adequate funding and empowerment will take action ‘upstream’.  The four key priorities set out in the Scottish Government’s recent spending plans are tackling child poverty, addressing the climate crisis, securing a stronger, fairer, greener economy, and delivering excellence in public services.  We believe the only way to achieve these ambitions is with fair funding and flexibility for Local Government.

“We would welcome further dialogue with both The Scottish Government and UK Government on what Councils will need to have in place in order to tackle these issues proactively.  We believe that Local and Central Government can work in partnership to help Scotland’s communities not only face the current crisis, but to improve outcomes for our communities for the longer term.”

Councillor Morrison concluded: “Our Pre-Budget Campaign last year was about the funding required to ensure that Local Government can enable people to ‘Live Well Locally’ within their communities, this year it is about our role in helping them to survive.

“It is critical that Holyrood and Westminster act now and recognise Local Government’s vital role in tackling poverty and the effects of the cost crisis, as it’s needed now more than ever.”