Edinburgh gets lowest funding per head for public services

Social care is among a number of services which is affected by below-average funding
Social care is among a number of services which is affected by below-average funding
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SCOTTISH Government funding cuts have hit Edinburgh harder than most other Scottish local authorities, new figures reveal.

The Capital now has the lowest revenue support per head of population, 20 per cent below the average for the country. And the cut to Edinburgh’s grant per person over the past three years is four times the national average.

Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, who produced the figures using data from the Scottish Parliament information centre (Spice), said the repeated reductions in government funding were to blame for the £21 million cuts which councillors are today expected to approve for public consultation.

The package includes dozens of job losses among city bin men, a £420,000 cut to Edinburgh Leisure’s budget, an expansion of the controlled parking zone, £3m cuts to health and social care and a £25-a-year charge for garden waste collection.

The music school has been saved, but that means another £363,000 savings must be found elsewhere.

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Mr Johnson said Edinburgh had seen its share of Scottish Government funding fall over the past few years, with a real-terms cut of over £44m or 5.7 per cent since 2013/14.

That means the Capital received the fourth biggest percentage cut in the country, with only Shetland, the Western Isles and Argyll & Bute seeing bigger reductions.

Mr Johnson said: “Edinburgh has been hit hard by huge cuts to its budget. Our council delivers vital services, but has been forced into impossible choices by the SNP Scottish Government.

“These new statistics show that Scotland’s capital is getting a smaller slice of the pie each year. As our population grows that can only lead to cuts to services we all rely on – from roads to schools; from bin collections to social care. “Edinburgh gets the least Scottish Government support per person of any council area in the country, and our cut has been four times the national average at almost ten per cent.”

The figures show Edinburgh fares worst out of Scotland’s four big cities with a real terms reduction of 5.7 per cent in funding since 2013/14 once inflation is taken into account, compared with a 5.4 per cent cut in Glasgow, 3.5 per cent in Dundee and 1.1 per cent in Aberdeen.

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Calculated per head of population the figures are even more dramatic, showing a 9.4 per cent cut in Edinburgh’s support, 8.2 per cent in Glasgow, 3.6 per cent in Dundee and 2.2 per cent in Aberdeen.

Edinburgh’s per-head cut in funding was the largest percentage reduction of all Scottish local authorities except Shetland, which had a cut of 9.9 per cent.

Mr Johnson said: “As the council is once again forced to consult on making savings by raising charges and cutting services, we know who to blame: the SNP Scottish Government.”

The Scottish Government insisted it had treated councils “very fairly” despite cuts from the UK government.

A spokeswoman said: “Councils will receive funding through local government finance settlement of more than £10.4 billion for 2017-18.

“Taken together with a range of other measures this amounts to £383m – or 3.7 per cent - in additional support for local authority services compared to 2016-17. Edinburgh’s share amounted to an extra £30.8m or 3.9 per cent.”

Council leader Adam McVey said he was working with the government and other council leaders to ensure local authorities got a “fair deal”.