COSLA President Councillor David O’Neill said that Council Leaders had given COSLA a very clear message over the course of the last week that the Scottish Government have to treat local government fairly in this week’s settlement announcement.
Speaking in advance of a Special Leaders meeting in Edinburgh COSLA President Councillor David O’Neill said:
“Over the course of the last week, COSLA has undertaken a media campaign to show the services that Scotland’s councils deliver and to give a genuine warning around the damage a cut to our funding by Scottish Government later this week would do to these services.
This information campaign covered vital council services such as Roads, Housing, Social Care and Education and flagged up that a cut of the magnitude of last year’s (£349 million) would have a disastrous impact on both communities and services.
As we are seeing from the informative and excellent BBC1 documentary The Council – Scotland’s Councils are there for those that need us the most and budget cuts affect those people more than anyone. In many instances if the Council was not there to pick up the pieces – who else would be?”
Councillor O’Neill continued:
“All too often when we talk of cuts to local government these are seen in the abstract. The reality is that we are talking about real cuts to services and jobs.
The simple truth is that a cut to local government means a cut in teaching assistants, a cut in levels of care for all our elderly relatives, cuts for the homeless as a freezing winter starts to bite, and cuts to gritting of the roads at a time of freezing temperatures when trains and the wider transport network is struggling to cope.
The government cannot simply bat this away by claiming that they are treating local government ‘fairly’ and ‘providing enough cash’.
The financial facts are straightforward on this matter. The Parliament’s own SPICe report on Local Government Funding said:
In 2016/17 the revenue settlement for Local Government fell by 3.6% (£349m)
In 2016/17 Local Government’s share of the Scottish budget fell from 32.3% to 30.6%
Since 2013/14 the Local Government settlement has decreased by 1.9% whereas the Scottish Government’s has increased by 3.2%
“Make no mistake the Scottish Government has a political choice here and with additional cash of £418m for next year there should be no cut to Local Government.”