Scottish councils' appeal for funds to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt should prompt SNP shame, not outrage – Scotsman comment

Cross-party council body Cosla has criticised the Scottish Budget and said that local authorities must be ‘properly resourced’

There probably is a party political element to the appeals for extra funds made by two Labour-run Scottish councils to the UK Government. However, that does not necessarily mean the leaders of Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire council are making nothing more than a cynical attempt to embarrass the SNP. Political parties should be forced to pay a price at the ballot box for bad policies.

Many years of underfunding by the Scottish Government have left local authorities in a desperate state. The renewed council tax freeze so suddenly announced by Humza Yousaf at the SNP conference last year and voted through this week as part of the Scottish Budget has only added to their woes.

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The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) is a cross-party organisation and its president, Shona Morrison, is an SNP councillor. In a statement responding to the passing of the Budget this week, Cosla said: “Whichever way you cut it, this is not a good Budget for Scottish local government or communities that we represent… If we are serious about tackling inequalities in Scotland, investing in prevention, and promoting inclusive growth we must be properly resourced.”

Cosla has also taken the “unprecedented” step of writing a joint letter with other UK local government associations to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, urging him to provide additional funding in next week’s UK Budget. In a statement, Cosla said that “each nation typically lobbies their respective government for additional funding, however given the shared financial challenges faced by all local government it was seen as a necessary step to raise concerns directly with the Chancellor”.

So Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe, who yesterday reached out to Finance Secretary Shona Robison to suggest a compromise deal over the planned council tax freeze, was not going much further in asking for UK money to be paid to councils directly, particularly given the concern that the Barnett ‘consequentials’ of any increase announced by the Chancellor would be pocketed by the Scottish Government, rather than passed on.

Some in the SNP appear to be outraged by McCabe’s idea. Instead, as Glasgow Council ponders laying off hundreds of teachers, they should be ashamed.



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