Cosla job losses warning over Scottish budget settlement

Derek Mackay. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Derek Mackay. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
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Scottish councils’ allocations in the draft budget put jobs and local services at risk, according to local government body Cosla.

Total funding for both the revenue and capital budget in the settlement is up more than £210 million, with overall Scottish Government support to local authorities at £11.1 billion.

This includes core funding and cash from other areas, but council umbrella body Cosla argues, due to money already committed and ring-fencing, both core capital and revenue budgets have been cut.

Cosla’s resources spokeswoman, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “This is a severe cut to the core budget that provides the vast majority of our essential services. This is bad news for communities - the impact on jobs and services is significant.

“The budget does not recognise our role as an employer, procurer and deliverer of essential services.

“If this settlement is not changed it will mean substantial job losses in places where local government is the main employer.”

Ms Macgregor added: “Without meaningful movement on the basic settlement and proper discussions around enabling local government to raise more locally, I fear we are running towards a cliff edge.”

The Scottish Government said it was protecting essential services by delivering a “real-terms funding increase for local government”.

Under the 2019-20 allocation, the government said Edinburgh City could recieve £848,085 in funding plus potential council tax income, Glasgow £1,437,768 and Dundee £328,167.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay said: “The Scottish Government has continued to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK government.

“After removing the health uplift, the Scottish Government fiscal resource block grant funding goes down by £340m or 1.3 per cent in real terms for 2019-20. Despite that reduction, we have still provided a two per cent real-terms uplift in the total local government settlement for 2019-20.

“If local authorities choose to use their powers to increase council tax by up to three per cent they can generate up to an additional £80m to support the delivery of essential local services.”

Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman James Kelly said: “Rather than insult people with spin, Derek MacKay should be delivering a budget that delivers the radical investment local services need.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Once again local government is getting the short end of the stick.”

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “It’s increasingly clear that the Scottish Government’s proposed budget cuts will force local councils to slash front-line services.”