FMQs: Council cuts leading to `Dickensian' Scotland, says Leonard

Teachers for children with additional support needs are being axed, childcare is being 'cut to the bone' and breakfast clubs are closing, Labour leader Richard Leonard has claimed.
Scottish Labour leader Richard LeonardScottish Labour leader Richard Leonard
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Leonard said the SNP-led Falkirk Council was being forced to take such action as he challenged Nicola Sturgeon to do more to combat the “Dickensian” conditions caused in Scotland by austerity.

Mr Leonard called on the First Minister to use next week’s Scottish budget to give more cash to councils as he produced statistics revealing the proportion of Scottish children in material deprivation.

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A break down of Scottish Government figures by local authority area showed that 39 per cent of children in Falkirk were classified as being in material deprivation.

The figure for Dundee City Council was 54.1 per cent with Glasgow close behind with 53.5 per cent.

Mr Leonard said Falkirk Council was planning to cut childcare “to the bone”, “was planning to close down breakfast clubs and is planning to axe teachers for children with additional support needs.”

He asked: “Does the FM believe that if she fails next week to properly resource councils to properly invest in local services that we will see this material deprivation faced by Scotland’s children go down? Or will it go up?”

Ms Sturgeon said the government was doing “everything we possibly can to protect front line services from the impact of Tory imposed austerity”.

She added: “We face in the coming financial year a cut to our day to day spending in real terms of more than £200 million imposed by the Tory Government – that Richard Leonard still prefers to have control over these issues than he would prefer it to be a government in this parliament...The only councils that haven’t taken the opportunity to maximise their revenues through the council tax were Labour led councils.”