Government Review signals severe challenges for West Lothian Council services
With councils facing serious financial challenges following the Scottish Resource Spending Review announcement, the leader of West Lothian Council is warning of tough times ahead.
West Lothian Council receives 80 per cent of its funding from the Scottish Government, and has already delivered savings of over £150 million since 2007 and estimates that £45 million of further budget reductions will be required over the next five years.
West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “We have said for years that the position councils have been forced into is gravely concerning; both for the council as a whole and for local people who rely and demand good quality services.
“Let’s not shy away from the facts here. This has been a prolonged, sustained and systematic decline in funding for local services for local people over the past 15 years.
“Demand for our services is growing and becoming more and more important to local people; this has only become more apparent over the past two years. At the same time, we’re being asked to deliver more services with less budget from the Scottish Government.
“Tough decisions have been forced upon us and services will change further in the years ahead. Unless adequate levels of funding are given to councils, local services for the people of West Lothian will be impacted on by this continued reduction in our budget, year after year.
“Council tax is important, but we receive 80 per cent of our funding direct from the Scottish Government, with council tax making up the remaining 20 per cent.
"What is required is more funding from the Government being given to local councils for local services. Not the top down, centralising approach that has sadly become the norm in Scotland.
“Over the past 15 years, successive council administrations have navigated the council through extremely challenging times and we will continue to take a prudent approach to financial planning and plan for the long term.
“The council needs to plan for an extremely challenging financial position over the next five years, and local groups and individuals will have their opportunity to help shape the future delivery of local services.”
He added: “The council will now look to prepare a priority-based revenue financial plan for 2023/24 to 2027/28 and set out how local priorities will be delivered over this period, always aiming for the best possible outcomes for the communities in West Lothian.”