Funding cuts hit Edinburgh twice as hard as average: Labour

Edinburgh has suffered more from funding cuts under SNP, Labour says. File picture
Edinburgh has suffered more from funding cuts under SNP, Labour says. File picture
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FUNDING cuts have hit Edinburgh twice as hard as other councils since the SNP came to power, Labour says.

New figures show central government funding for local authorities across Scotland falling by seven per cent since 2007, while in Edinburgh the drop was 13 per cent per person.

The funding reductions included withdrawal of finances for police and fire services when these were centralised, which means the figures from one year to the next are not strictly comparable.

But Edinburgh Labour candidates said the crucial fact revealed in the statistics was how much the Capital had suffered compared with most other parts of Scotland. They said that, adjusting for police and fire funding, the cuts amounted to £245 per person in Edinburgh since 2008.

The calculations are based on figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

They show Glasgow also fared badly with a 15 per cent cut, while SNP-controlled Dundee was closer to the average with an eight per cent fall.

Daniel Johnson, Labour candidate for Edinburgh Southern, said: “It’s time someone stood up for Edinburgh.

“It’s clear Swinney’s half-a-billion cuts are falling more heavily on our city – the cost of which will be felt in our schools, nurseries and services for the most vulnerable members of our community.

“It is irresponsible of the SNP to freeze council tax for almost ten years and do nothing to reform how our councils are funded. There’s widespread agreement that local government finance is broken.

“Local leaders need the ability to determine and control their own finances.

“If fiscal responsibility is good for Holyrood, it’s good for our town halls – why are the SNP against it?

“The SNP are failing in a primary duty of government, to ensure stable and equitable funding of local services. Instead they are hitting Edinburgh and Glasgow and failing to reform local government finance.”

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said: “Edinburgh is a strong, growing city but the SNP’s cynical and unfair cuts undermine the efforts being made by Edinburgh’s Labour-led council to build a strong local economy and support local services.

“This is austerity plain and simple and it seems the SNP are focused on hitting Labour-run cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow far more than the one per cent real-terms budget cut the Scottish Government has received.

“The price is being paid by people who will be hit by reductions in council services and vulnerable people who need quality social care.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney has defended the SNP’s record on council funding, saying that in the period 2012-16 local government funding settlements were maintained on a “like-for-like” basis with extra resources allocated to deal with additional responsibilities, while local government in England had seen real-terms cuts of more than 27 per cent over 2011-15 with more to follow.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com