Scottish Budget shortchanged Edinburgh Council because of SNP's independence obsession and education of children will suffer – Daniel Johnson MSP

The recent budget set out by the Scottish government fell short in several ways, but particularly in the case of our local councils.

By Daniel Johnson
Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:30 pm
Edinburgh Council cannot properly fund schools amid huge cuts to its budget by the Scottish government (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Edinburgh Council cannot properly fund schools amid huge cuts to its budget by the Scottish government (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Cuts of £50 million are on the horizon for Edinburgh City Council over the next three years, a figure which would have our local services on their knees. Further cuts to services coming out of the pandemic would be catastrophic.

It might seem counterintuitive to argue that the council, which already operates on a big budget, should be receiving more money, but all you need to do to see how desperately local government needs a boost is walk outside.

Anyone who uses the road, be it a cyclist, motorist or pedestrian knows how bad conditions are. How can we encourage use of bikes and greener transport when the roads are often dangerous and damaged? I hear from constituents all too frequently about accidents that have happened on uneven stretches of pavement.

Our libraries are vital in the day-to-day life of our community, and not just for providing access to books. Be it computer classes for the elderly or maintenance of physical and mental well-being for many, these are facilities that we desperately rely on.

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But all too often our libraries stay shut. The buildings sit dormant with lights switched off because the funding to keep them open simply isn’t there.

In 2007 the SNP promised to reduce classroom sizes to 18 pupils or less, but that promise was quickly dropped. Fifteen years on and class sizes have basically stayed the same. On top of that, the number of full-time teachers is 1,700 less than when the SNP assumed office.

The council are responsible for the delivery of the high quality of education in Edinburgh that our children deserve. But that is almost impossible with nearly £1 billion in cuts they have been handed by the SNP government over the last decade and a half.

In the same budget that outlined the latest round of cuts that will be heaped on local authorities, £370.5 million was announced for spending on the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture portfolio.

The SNP government’s priorities could not be clearer: independence comes first, and the running of the country comes second.

Daniel Johnson is Labour & Co-op MSP for Edinburgh Southern

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