This week, the Deputy First Minister answered questions in Parliament and in the media about COSLA’s Budget SOS campaign.
Commenting on his statements this afternoon (Friday), COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Cllr Katie Hagmann said: “COSLA takes great care to ensure that all financial information put into the public domain is clear about whether ‘cash terms’ or ‘real terms’ figures and changes are being presented.
“Scottish Government stated that Local Government has seen an increase to its budget in cash terms since 2013/14 (around 22%), predominantly for new Scottish Government policies – for example, over £500m for the expansion of early learning and childcare. But so too has the Scottish Government, which saw a 46% cash terms increase to its block grant over the same period.
“In its most recent Local Government Overview report (2022), the Accounts Commission noted that both Scottish and Local Government saw a real terms increase between 2013/14 and 2020/21 mainly due to significant additional Covid-19 funding. 'When this additional funding is excluded, councils’ underlying cumulative funding has fallen by 4.2% in real terms since 2013/14. This is in contrast to an increase of 4.3 % in Scottish Government funding of other areas of the budget over the same period.'
“What these figures demonstrate is that so far, Scottish Government has chosen not to invest in Local Government at the same rate as other areas of spend as its own funding has increased. Unless this is reversed, the very serious consequences spelt out in our Budget SOS message will become inevitable.
“There is no flexibility left in the system and this year’s pay negotiations, which are not yet concluded for all bargaining groups, have already placed significant recurring pressure on budgets. That is why COSLA Leaders remain resolute that the current pay offers, addressing the cost-of-living impact for those on the lowest pay scales, are at the limits of affordability, unless additional funding is available from Scottish Government.”