The services that local government in Scotland provides are essential. They are essential to individuals – educating our young people, protecting the vulnerable, providing affordable housing and bringing people back into work.
They are essential to communities – tackling inequalities and providing cultural and leisure services. They are essential to Scotland’s economy – employing 10 per cent of Scotland’s workforce, providing infrastructure and roads, and developing transformational projects like the V&A museum in Dundee.
In everything we do, our councils aim is to make Scotland thrive – that means investing in Scotland’s people. We all want to deliver inclusive growth and local government has a vital role in achieving this ambition. Our primary objective is to support our communities.
The truth is that councils have a huge remit and are a fundamental part of the local economy and community. The nature of our services are pivotal. But if we are to continue to invest in our economies and our communities then the Scottish Government needs to invest in local government.
Now it is our core budget that is under threat. In the last five years, it has been reduced by four per cent, ten times as much as the Scottish Government’s. For years, we have risen to the challenge of the financial climate and shown courageous leadership. We have made £1.7 billion in efficiencies, redesigned and protected services to the most vulnerable where possible.
There is simply no room left for manoeuvre. A cut to local government is a cut to essential services.
The forthcoming Spending Review must properly recognise the vital contribution that local government makes to individuals, to communities and to the economy if we are to deliver on our shared ambition of inclusive growth for all.
Councillor Gail MacGregor is resources spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla)