Scotland’s climate targets in ‘serious doubt’ due to spending cuts, warns Cosla

Shona RobisonShona Robison
Shona Robison
The council umbrella body said the Scottish Budget was ‘bad news’ for the transition to net zero

Scotland's climate targets are in "serious doubt" as a result of planned spending cuts, the body that represents local authorities has warned.

Cosla said the Scottish Budget was "bad news" for the transition to a net zero economy, and would also undermine work to regenerate communities and tackle inequality.

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The draft Budget was published on December 19 and provoked an immediate backlash from council leaders.

Ministers said more than £140 million would be provided to fund a council tax freeze, with overall funding for local authorities hitting a record high of over £14 billion.

However, Cosla – whose president, Shona Morrison, is an SNP councillor – said the plans amounted to a cut of £62.7 million to councils’ day-to-day funding.

In a new statement, it said there was “dismay and frustration” from council leaders about the way local authorities had been treated by the Scottish Government.

“As the Budget currently stands, communities will see and feel a range of negative impacts,” it added.

Cosla continued: "The Budget is bad news for the just transition to a net zero economy. We are still analysing the impact across all services but one notable cut is to the regeneration capital grant fund (RCGF) and the vacant and derelict land improvement programme.

"Overall capital regeneration funding to local government has been cut by 27 per cent, from £62.5 million to £45.8 million. This undermines work to regenerate communities, tackle inequalities and to reduce carbon emissions.

"This means the RCGF, which is jointly managed by local and Scottish Government, now won’t be open to new bids for 2024-25. Our town centres and communities will be worse off due to this decision.

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“On a larger scale, cuts to local government revenue and capital funding are completely the wrong things to do if government is serious about tackling climate change and its impact on society and the economy.

"Given that 82 per cent of all emissions are within the scope of influence of local authorities, plans to deliver on the Scottish Government 2030 statutory target must now be in serious doubt a few weeks after ministers were talking up Scotland at COP28.

“Cosla’s president, vice president and political group leaders from all parties have written to the deputy first minister and are seeking an urgent meeting. Council leaders will not let this lie, they simply cannot afford to because it will have such a detrimental impact on the communities they represent.”

Shona Robison, the deputy first minister and finance secretary, said: “The Scottish Budget includes record funding of over £14 billion for councils in 2024-25 – a real-terms increase of 4.3 per cent compared with this year’s Budget – should they agree to freeze council tax.

"The Budget also invests more than £5 billion in building a fair, green and growing economy which creates jobs, supports businesses and helps finance Scotland’s public services and the transition to net zero.

"The Scottish Government is happy to meet with Cosla to discuss their concerns. We will continue engaging with them and other stakeholders to ensure regeneration funding is targeted where it is most needed.”



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