Budget reaction: hidden cuts for councils

Thursday 6 February 2020

Inverclyde Council leader has highlighted that council’s core budgets look set to be reduced in a budget of ‘hidden cuts’.

Responding to the budget announcement by Kate Forbes MSP, Councillor Stephen McCabe, said: “The call for investment in core local government budgets is about making sure that communities get the support they need and starting the work in reversing years of cuts and austerity.

“It is a shame that based on the initial information shared with councils that call has been ignored.

“While the budget announcement claims to deliver an increase to councils there are hidden cuts in there to core council budgets.

“We need to look at the detail, but on the face of it, council’s core capital budgets are reduced across Scotland with Inverclyde’s reduction nearly £1.8m and there are significant cash reductions across Scotland.  The claimed increase in revenue funding is masked by increased ring-fencing of budgets for health and social care and more spending on Government priorities including early years commitments.  While many of these investments are very worthy, the simple fact is that the call from local government was to invest in core budgets to allow councils to make local choices for their local communities and that call appears to have been ignored.

“It is important that COSLA’s essential services campaign continues to press the case for actual increases to core local government funding on behalf of communities the length and breadth of Scotland to seek to make a change to this budget proposal before MSPs finally decide the Scottish budget,” he added.

BUDGET RESPONSE FROM THE CONVENTION OF SCOTTISH LOCAL AUTHORITIES (COSLA): THE BUDGET REALITY IS THAT A CRISIS REMAINS

COSLA said it was disappointed that once again the Scottish Government has presented a Budget for Local Government that looks much better than the reality behind the figures.

Speaking this afternoon following the Scottish Government’s (Thursday) Budget announcement. COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “On the face of it this looks like a good Budget for Local Government with a cash increase of £495million and whilst we acknowledge this money, the reality behind this figure unfortunately is quite different.

“What we are left with when you factor in the Scottish Government commitments of £590million - is a cut to Local Government core budgets of £95 million. This is £95 million in hard cash that will need to be taken out of front line services for communities. We campaigned hard to ensure that this position did not happen – it is disappointing our message has not been listened to.

“When you add in a £117million cut to capital funding (which equates to a 17% cash cut) - a hit to both communities and growing the economy you are left with a crisis for Local Government which is a long way from the picture being painted. This is even worse when seen in the context of an increasing Budget for the Scottish Government.

COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison added: “Local Government’s core budget which provides our essential services has been cut as a result of today’s budget. A cut of a significant proportion is the Budget Reality that our Communities now face - a cut to services, a cut to local jobs, a cut to the work councils do to tackle child poverty and respond to climate change.”

“In addition to the cuts – it is also extremely disappointing that we have seen no money for inflation or any other of the significant pressures we face, such as restoration for cuts to our funding in previous years. COSLA will be raising these issues with the Scottish Government and all parties across the Parliament at the earliest opportunity to ensure this picture is rectified as part of the budget scrutiny process. It is our communities and the priorities of tacking child poverty, wellbeing, climate change and inclusive growth that will suffer.

“Things cannot go on in this manner. I am really concerned that more and more of what Local Government does is directed by the centre. As a result of the Scottish Government commitments that Local Government has to deliver we are no longer able to respond to local priorities.”

Page last updated: 6 February 2020