Frontline services at risk as councils warn of £430 million funding cuts

Scotland's councils have warned they face a "real terms" cut of more than £400 million to their budgets which will hit many frontline services and "devastate" local communities.

Budgets which fund activities like summer cooking classes in Edinburgh are among those with face a real terms cut

Flagship Government priorities to tackle growth, child poverty, wellbeing and climate change will all be put at risk as a result of the funding settlement in the spending plans for 2020/21 which were set out a fortnight ago.

Although the budget shows a £495 million increase to about £10.57 billion this year, this includes about £590 million of ventral government commitments. Council body COSLA insists that this effectively means their budgets are reducing by £95 million. They insist that when inflation against the £10.078 billion settlement from last year (2019/2020) is taken into account, this rises to £300 million.

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COSLA resources spokesman Gail MacGregor will appear before MSPs tomorrow to warn of the looming impact.

She said: "We called for Scottish Government commitments to be funded, inflation to be accounted for and restoration to the budget to reflect successive years of cuts to Local Government. It is unfortunate that a sphere of government in this country has not been listened to.

“This draft budget will impact on jobs, frontline services and Local Government’s ability to address inclusive economic growth, child poverty, wellbeing and climate change and does not address the growing demand most councils are facing in relation to services.”

The draft capital budget which funds building projects. also sees a real terms funding reduction. Whilst £54m of new capital money has been announced this is negated by £171m worth of Scottish Government commitments. This leaves a £117m cut to core capital budgets of 17%. Again, if we include inflation the real terms cut to capital budgets is £130m.

An estimated Recent 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs have been lost in local government since 2010/11, the report adds.

COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison added: “The impact of this on communities is real and cannot continue.

“We are calling on Scottish Government and the Parliament to address these concerns, listen to our asks and prevent the loss of essential council services which communities rely upon.

“Make no mistake, councils and the services which communities rely upon will be at risk as a result of this budget.”