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COSLA has today (Wednesday 15th May 2024) called for a real and meaningful solution to the long-term issue of the underfunding of Scottish Local Government, in order to protect the essential front-line services of our communities.

The call comes following publication of an Accounts Commission report on the budgets set by councils for 2024/25 which shows that Scotland’s councils faced a collective gap of over half a billion pounds (£585 million) between the money needed to deliver services and the money available when setting their budgets this year.

Commenting, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said:  “The Accounts Commission’s report on the budgets set by councils for 2024/25, published today, reinforces what we have been saying about Council finances and the severe challenges Scotland’s Councils face in trying to balance the books and deliver essential front-line services.

“It is vitally important that these concerns, which have been consistently raised by COSLA Leaders and are now backed up by evidence presented by the Accounts Commission, are acted upon for the sake of Scotland’s public services and our communities who rely upon them.

“Now is the time to take real action. Today’s Accounts Commission report is an accurate portrayal of where we are now – over half a billion pounds short for this year and a cumulative budget gap of £780m by 2026/27.  The reality right now for Councils has never been more challenging.  The effect of years of real-terms cuts to core budgets have been compounded by additional policy commitments and less flexibility in how we allocate increasingly directed budgets. This makes the ability to take local decisions on most of our budget, almost impossible.”

Councillor Hagmann concluded: “We must seek a sustainable solution to these long-term issues in order to protect the essential front-line service of our communities before it is too late.”

Further information

Read the full report from Accounts Commission here.

Find out more about COSLA's budget lobbying for Local Government here.