The Scottish Government has delivered a major blow to communities and has put councils at financial risk with a cash cut to Local Government in its draft Budget (published on 19th December) and no provision for inflation or pay increases, COSLA said.
COSLA Leaders described the draft Budget as not only leaving councils at real and significant financial risk for the coming year, but as it stands, it will mean cuts in every community in Scotland and job losses across Scottish Local Government.
Following a full meeting of Council Leaders today (Thursday) COSLA said that whatever way the Government presents the figures, the reality is that once again the people in our communities have been left at the end of the queue. That is why we are calling for urgent discussions with Scottish government to ensure a meaningful negotiation on the budget takes place before the final budget is presented to Parliament.
Speaking this afternoon, COSLA’s President Councillor Shona Morrison said: “COSLA’s initial analysis, shows a real terms cut to our revenue and capital spending power which will leave Council services at breaking point, with some having to stop altogether. The Budget in its current form could result in service cuts, job losses and an inevitable shift to providing statutory services only. This means potentially losing Libraries, leisure centres and all the things that improve our lives.
“COSLA’s initial analysis of the Budget is that the Council Tax freeze is not fully funded. Leaders from across Scotland agreed today that decisions on Council Tax can only be made by each full Council, and it is for each individual Council to determine their own level of Council Tax. With any sort of shortfall in core funding, the £144m revenue offered for the freeze is immediately worth less.”
COSLA Vice President Steven Heddle said: “Despite the Verity House Agreement rhetoric about working together on shared priorities it is the same outcome at Budget time for Local Government in reality. The Scottish Government is claiming to protect public services, but are not protecting the essential public services provided by councils– Scotland’s councils are key, they deliver your homecare, schools, road maintenance, street lighting, leisure and waste services and have been locked out again.
“We needed increased funding to cope with inflation, but have been given less instead. The cut to Revenue funding we have been given is a devastating blow and the cut to our Capital funding means that we will be unable to meet our targets in terms of a move towards Net Zero and mitigating climate change targets.”
COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said: “The Scottish Government has disappointingly failed to recognise that investment in Councils is investment in cities, towns and villages across Scotland. As it stands, this is not a good Budget for our communities or the people who deliver our essential front-line services. This is a Budget which will mean job losses – real jobs that support families, and deliver vital services that make a positive difference to people’s lives. Sadly, the budget as it stands, leaves nothing for meaningful pay rises in 24/25 so we would call on the Scottish Government to look again, so that our workforce can get the pay rise they deserve next year.”