Councils getting real-terms revenue cut in Scottish budget, SPICe reveals

Written by Tom Freeman on 20 December 2018 in News

Frontline council services to face fifth year of cuts, according to research by the Scottish Parliament's Information Centre

Bin lorry - credit curlsdiva

Local authorities are getting a real-terms cut of £319min real terms in their revenue budget for services in Derek Mackay’s draft budget, parliamentary research has shown.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) report reveals that rises in the total spending on local government in the 2019-20 Budget is mainly coming through ring-fenced funding for social care and the expansion of early learning and childcare.

It said non-ringfenced Revenue funding available for councils to deliver services falls by 3.4 per cent (-£319.1 million) in real terms between 2018-19 and 2019-20.  

Revenue budgets have been cut by around seven per cent in five years.

This is cash used for services such as bin collections and road repairs.

Public finance minister Kate Forbes said: “Excluding £507 million of specific revenue grants to fund services such as the expansion of early learning and childcare and the pupil equity fund, as well as the £151 million of revenue funding still to be distributed, presents a distorted picture of the facts.”

But the Scottish Greens said the offer would need to be improved before the party could back the budget.

Andy Wightman MSP said: “This cannot continue and ministers must commit to end the outdated, unfair council tax and broaden councils’ tax base if they want Greens to enter formal budget talks, in which we would insist councils receive a genuinely fair settlement.”

Scottish Conservative Graham Simpson said: “There’s no excuse for this reduction when the money coming from Westminster is going up.

“This takes autonomy away from local authorities, and could force council leaders to lobby for even more punishing tax increases on hardworking households.”

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