COSLA today (Wednesday) called on the Scottish Government to increase this year’s Scottish Local Government budget, should there be more money coming to Scotland as part of the UK Budget announcement.
The Budget statement will be made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (11 March).
COSLA’s call follows the announcement of the Scottish Government Budget, on 6 February, which allocated an additional £495 million revenue funding for councils – but required delivery of £590 million worth of new policy commitments. There was also a significant shortfall (£117m) on capital funding.
A subsequent pledge from the Scottish Government – made on 26 February - to plug the £95 million gap was acknowledged by council leaders, but the move was criticised for ‘doing nothing to address inflationary or demand pressures, nor did it address the significant cut to the capital budget’.
Taking inflation into account, the real terms cut to Local Government currently stands at £205 million for revenue.
COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: "The bottom line is that Scottish Local Government needs more money for the essential services it delivers to communities.
“There is every possibility that there will be more money coming to Scotland as a result of Wednesday’s UK Budget and if this is indeed the case, we will be pushing for money for Local Government over and above the assumptions made by the Scottish Government.”
COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, added: “Councils across Scotland still face significant budget pressures because of inflation and demand which the Scottish Government Budget doesn’t recognise. We are also left with a huge drop in our core Capital Budget. Councils will not be able to mitigate the impact these gaps will have on communities.
"What is on the table at present is simply not a fair settlement for Local Government, and if left unaddressed, the impact of these severe cuts will continue to be felt.”