A national campaign setting out the “drastic” cuts to frontline services including education, social care and health has been unveiled by council leaders who said that Scots deserve to know the “reality” of the forthcoming budget.
Local government body Cosla said £349 million is being axed from direct day-to-day spending in the grant councils receive from the Scottish Government. A social media blitz is being unveiled in the coming week which will set out the full extent of the reductions.
Cosla president David O’Neill said: “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 Scottish Government has insisted that overall resources to frontline services are going up by more than £200m when extra cash for areas such as health and social care are taken into account. But Cosla said the “revenue settlement” for local government is down 3.6 per cent.
The body also hit back at claims of £107m coming in extra cash to help address bed blocking, insisting this money has already been earmarked for the living wage and veterans’ allowance.
MSPs will vote on the first stage of the budget next week, but there have already been warnings that Scotland could face a snap election as the minority SNP government struggles to get support for its spending plans.
The Greens and Liberal Democrats, who had been expected to strike a deal, are holding out for income tax hikes before agreeing to support the proposals.
Labour also wants to see income tax go up to help fight austerity, which they claim is being passed on by the SNP government to local services.
But finance secretary Derek Mackay has insisted that he has published a budget for growth and services. It will deliver increased investment in education, the cabinet secretary added, with £120m for schools to “use at their discretion” to help close the attainment gap between rich and poor areas – £20m more than previously announced.
Mr Mackay said earlier this week of his budget: “It delivers record investment in the NHS through an additional £304m in resource funding, £120m above inflation as part of an overall commitment of an extra £500m above inflation over this Parliament.
“And it protects low income households from tax hikes and supports more and better jobs.”