Glasgow suffers biggest local government spending cuts in Scotland

Glasgow city centre. Picture: John Devlin.
Glasgow city centre. Picture: John Devlin.
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Austerity has hit cities twice as hard as other parts of the UK, with Glasgow among the ten worst-hit areas in the country in terms of cuts to local government spending, a think tank said.

Almost three-quarters of cuts to local government funding over the last decade have fallen on cities, according to a by the Centre for Cities.

This equates to a loss of £386 per city dweller since 2009/10, compared to £172 per person elsewhere, it said.

With cuts to the Scottish Government’s budget disproportionately being handed on to local government, Scotland’s four cities saw on average 16 per cent reductions to their budgets over the past decade, equivalent to £455 less for each person living in them – a bigger fall than the 14 per cent average across the UK.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee collectively shouldered 61 per cent of all local government cuts north of the Border, despite being home to 35 per cent of the Scottish population.

Cuts have been particularly deep in Glasgow, where local government spending fell by 23 per cent in real terms over seven years to 2016/17 – a loss of £638 per person – placing Scotland’s largest city ninth in the table of worst-affected areas across the UK. In Edinburgh, spending dropped by 9 per cent, or £351 per head.

According to Centre for Cities research, services that councils are not legally obliged to deliver, such as planning, libraries and cultural activities, have seen the deepest cuts overall.

The report, Cities Outlook 2019, also found that rising social care demands were adding to the pressure on councils’ finances. Ten years ago, just four out of 62 cities spent the majority of their budget on social care, compared to almost half now. And, reflecting on the last 12 months, the report found it ironic that the dominance of Brexit had “drowned out any policy that would help improve the economies of those places that voted to leave”.

It described cities as being in “limbo”, paralysed by a lack of clarity over future funding.

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: “Councils have managed as best they can but the continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government continues to ensure our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement, despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.”