£500 million austerity cuts to hit poorest Scots

Poorer Scots will feel the worst  impact from more than £500million of fresh austerity cuts facing local services this year, new Holyrood research has found.

Council run transport services like Lothian buses could be among the areas facing cuts

All councils across the country are making the "largest amount of savings" from services which are mostly used by Scots on low incomes.

The report, entitled The social impact of the 2016-17 local government budget, does say that about two-thirds of spending already goes on services classed as "pro-poor" so the impact on them is not a surprise.

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"This spread of expenditure means that, when dealing with budget reductions, councils have little option but to make most of their savings from services which are used more by lower income groups," the report states.

"This pattern of spending is similar across all groups of councils, whether they are grouped by deprivation, population density and population size."

The Scottish Government has already faced widespread criticism about the extent of the cuts amid opposition claims that the SNP is passing on Westminster austerity.

Services which tend to be used by poorer Scots include older persons’ social work, services for children and families, council-run public transport and citizens’ advice services. Services which are used more by better-off groups include car parking, museums and galleries.

But the report does point to the rate of reduction being greater in services for the "pro-rich" which are falling by 12%. Even though services for the poorer are only falling by 2%, the impact is greater because there is so much more of them to cut.

The report says councils are "trying to protect" services for poorer Scots relative to services used by the better off and back office functions.