COSLA warns of ‘substantial job losses’ as a result of Scottish Government budget

Written by Jenni Davidson on 18 December 2018 in News

This follows the publication of a full breakdown of what each council in Scotland will receive

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“Substantial job losses” can be expected if changes are not made to the Scottish Government’s budget deal for councils, COSLA has warned.

The local government body that the draft budget was “bad news” for communities and predicted that that impact on jobs and services would be “significant”.

This follows the publication of a full breakdown of what each council in Scotland will receive.

Local government is set to receive a total funding package of £11.1bn from the Scottish Government.

According to finance secretary Derek Mackay that represents a real terms increase of over £210m.

However, local government has said that because the increase is set aside to cover new policy commitments such an increase in free childcare hours, it amounts to a decrease for existing services.

Commenting on the individual allocations from the draft budget for each of Scotland’s 32 councils, COSLA’s resources spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said that without a rethink from Scottish Government or a parliamentary intervention “it puts at risk the delivery of essential services in the coming year”.

She said: “Without meaningful movement on the basic settlement and proper discussions around enabling local government to raise more locally I fear we are running towards a cliff edge.

“The circular announcing individual council budgets allows us to see the real impact of the £237 million pound cut on the ground, and there can be no hiding from the fact that budgets at the local level, in local communities, have gone down substantially.

“The issuing of the circular today, basically confirms what we already knew, that this is a severe cut to the core budget that provides the vast majority of our essential services.

“This is bad news for communities – the impact on jobs and services is significant.

“The budget does not recognise our role as an employer, procurer and deliverer of essential services.

“If this settlement is not changed it will mean substantial job losses in places where local government is the main employer.

“Scottish Government need to look at the bigger picture and really start to think again about the economic impact of such a challenging settlement for Scottish local government.”

However, finance secretary Derek Mackay said the allocation for local government was a “fair funding settlement” in the face of cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK Government.

He said: “After removing the health uplift [increase in funding for the NHS] the Scottish Government fiscal resource block grant funding goes down by £340 million or 1.3 per cent in real terms for 2019-20. 

“Despite that reduction, we have still provided a two per cent real terms uplift in the total local government settlement for 2019-20.

“If local authorities choose to use their powers to increase council tax by up to three per cent they can generate up to an additional £80 million to support the delivery of essential local services.”

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