Councils '˜face £700 million cuts over next parliament'

Council budgets could be cut by £700 million by the end of the current Parliament, according to a new report.

Monday, 12th December 2016, 8:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:43 pm
Scottish Parliament. Pic by Cate Gillon

The study, commissioned by the Scottish Local Government Partnership (SLGP), found that local authorities have suffered more than £1 billion of cuts over the past five years and could face further reductions.

Council chiefs said that local authority finances are in “meltdown” as they face “crippling cuts” and called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to give councils the money they need to deliver crucial services.

The report was carried out by economic think-tank the Fraser of Allander Institute ahead of the Scottish Government’s Budget this week.

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SLGP convener Jenny Laing, who is also leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “The First Minister has tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Scottish people by claiming that the funding settlements for local authorities have remained roughly the same over the past five years, but this report shows that this simply isn’t true.

“Local government finances are in meltdown as the Scottish Government piles crippling cuts onto councils while expecting us to deliver the same critical services for ordinary hard-working families.

“Furthermore, ministers are using a funding formula which hasn’t changed since 2008. With all the drastic reductions, it’s clear that this system is not fit for purpose and needs to be reviewed urgently.

“The SNP Budget this week will heap more pain on to local government - but it’s the ordinary folk of Scotland who will ultimately suffer.”

The SLGP consists of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire Councils.

The report found that revenue funding to councils has declined by around 10 per cent – or £1.1bn – in real terms between 2010/11 and 2016/17 on a like-for-like basis.

And it claims that local authorities could face a spending reduction of up to £700m by 2020/21.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Audit Scotland last week published their independent report into council finances and found that local government had experienced the same reduction in funding as was imposed on the Scottish Government by Westminster.”

“It is therefore clear that local government has been treated very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK government,” the spokesman added.