COSLA is deeply disappointed that the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance have refused the request of all Council Leaders to engage in discussions regarding the current settlement for Local Government and its significant impact on our ongoing pay negotiations. The implications of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the rest of the parliament are deeply concerning for communities across Scotland and have further increased the already strong likelihood of industrial action in the coming months. Scottish Government continues to fail to respect the fundamental role Local Government and its workforce has in addressing their own priorities of tackling child poverty, climate change and a stronger economy.
The ‘Resource Spending Review’, published on 31 May, shows that Local Government’s core funding for the next 3 years will remain static at time when inflation and energy costs are soaring. This “flat-cash” scenario gives no scope to recognising the essential work of our staff, whose expectations, quite rightly, are being influenced by Scottish Government’s decisions in relation to other parts of the public sector. A suggestion that increases in welfare payments will mitigate the cost of living crisis do not recognise that our staff should not have to depend on such payments to make ends meet.
As things stand, the only option available to Councils is yet fewer jobs and cuts to services that are essential to communities everywhere.
COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Gail Macgregor said: “COSLA, every year, argues for fair funding for Local Government to maintain the essential services our communities rely on. No increase in our core funding damages these services and limits the options we have in successfully concluding pay negotiations. Refusal to engage in discussion will only see this continue and our communities will see and feel the difference.”
The Fraser of Allander Institute has recognised the impact on councils: “The local government budget will decline by 7% in real terms between 2022/23 and 2026/27…….the real terms erosion of the funding allocations of local authorities represents the continuation of a longer trend.”