SNP accused of 'selling next generation short' as spending on playparks drops

The Scottish Government has been accused of “selling the next generation short” after an almost 40 per cent drop in spending on play parks.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th April 2022, 4:55 am

According to the Local Government Benchmarking Framework (LGBF) – a dataset that logs local government statistics – net expenditure dropped from £169 million in real terms in 2010-11 to around £104.5m in 2020-21, a fall of 38 per cent.

Real terms expenditure per 1,000 of population also fell from £32,377 to £19,112 – a drop of some 41 per cent.

The figures come as the SNP pledged at last year’s election to improve every play park in Scotland at a cost of £60 m .

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Spending has dropped on playparks

At the time, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “If re-elected we’ll provide free school breakfasts and lunches to every primary school pupil in Scotland, year-round.

“To break down barriers to learning and give every child a fair chance, we’ll provide every pupil with their own laptop or device, and a free internet connection.

“And backed by a £60m fund, we’ll put in place a plan to renew every play park in Scotland, so that all children have access to a place to play in their own community.”

The LGBF data covers the decade immediately before the pledge made by the SNP, who went on to win the election and continue in power.

In August of last year, it was reported a leaked document showed the pledge had been “revised” after local authority body Cosla told the government £60m was not enough and new wording of the policy gave greater flexibility to local authorities.

Labour local government spokesman Mark Griffin said playparks have been “left to rust” because of cuts to council funding.

“This time last year the SNP were promising to renew every playpark in Scotland, but the ballots had barely finished being counted by the time they ditched this pledge,” he added.

“The pitiful funding they are bragging about is a drop in the ocean compared to the cuts inflicted on their watch.

“The SNP are selling the next generation short with their cuts to local services, leaving kids with run-down playparks, closing libraries, and struggling schools.

“The SNP have shown their disdain for local government time and time again – they cannot be trusted to defend your community.

“Scottish Labour are committed to fighting for a fair deal for local government and investing in parks and green spaces across the country.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As we have stated previously, the overall local government 2022-23 funding package of almost £12.7 billion represents an increase of almost £1.1bn, or 6.3 per cent in real terms, compared with 2021-22.

“This comes against a cut to the Scottish Government’s overall budget of 5.2 per cent in real terms, due primarily to UK Government funding reductions.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to invest £60m for play park renovation over this Parliamentary term, which will ensure that all children across Scotland have access to quality play in their own community.”