Burns says funding for councils is worst since devolution

CITY council leader Andrew Burns has labelled the Scottish Government's funding package for councils the worst since devolution.

Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 11:21 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:03 pm
Andrew Burns

He said the budget announced last week by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay would mean Edinburgh had £37 million less to spend on local services.

In a blog, he wrote: “Having first been elected on Thursday 6th May 1999, I’ve actually witnessed every single Local Government Budget Settlement since devolution from very close quarters.

“I think it’s also fair to say that I’m not exactly someone who can very easily be categorised as unnecessarily, politically-tribal in my outlook - epitomised by my current leadership of the only two-party Labour/SNP coalition across the whole of Scottish local government.

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“But, tragically, the undeniable conclusion that I’ve regrettably come to is that, for the City of Edinburgh Council, this is the worst revenue settlement from the Scottish Government since the onset of devolution in 1999.

“As things stand at the moment; year-on-year, we’ve got some £37 million less revenue from the Scottish Government this year, than last, to spend on services.

“That’s on top of recent, and recurring, revenue reductions all of which has led to the council having well over 1300 less people in employment than two years ago.

“And this is all against a backdrop of the Scottish Government actually receiving, year-on-year, more revenue this year than last, from the Westminster Government.”

Cllr Burns has already said the reduction in funding will mean the council has to go ahead with the three per cent council tax increase, job losses and cuts in services it had budgeted for.

He said he welcomed the Scottish Government U-turn which will allow councils to keep additional money raised from adjustments in the higher council tax bands.

“I want to thank Derek Mackay for actually listening to the arguments from Councils on that specific point.

“But I cannot welcome a general revenue grant settlement for Edinburgh that sees the funding received from the Scottish Government being reduced, this year compared to last, by some £37 million.”