Scottish Government budget amounts to two per cent cut for councils, COSLA claims

Written by Jenni Davidson on 13 December 2018 in News

The local government budget has risen overall but includes money for additional policy commitments

Money jigsaw - Image credit: Holyrood

The Scottish Government’s budget amounts to a two per cent cut in funding to councils, COSLA has claimed.

The local government body expressed “disappointment” at the budget and said it failed to “recognise the value of essential services” delivered by councils.

While the Scottish Government described the local government deal as “a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding”, COSLA claims it amounts to a cut in real terms.

There is an increase of £198m in the revenue budget, which is used for day-to-day funding of services, and £207m in the capital budget from the Scottish Government to Scotland’s councils.

However, included in that are ringfenced amounts to cover new policy commitments made by the Scottish Government that will have to be provided by councils in addition to existing services.

These new commitments include an increase in free childcare hours, the extension of free personal care to people under 65 with conditions such as dementia and the town centre grant.

This will leave councils with £192m less for services they already deliver, such as education, COSLA has calculated.

COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “First and foremost my feeling is one of disappointment. 

“Disappointment for councils, disappointment for communities and disappointment that local government’s role as a deliverer of vital services, an employer and a procurer has not been recognised.

 “There is always smoke and mirrors around how those at the centre present their budget.  

“The one message that the Scottish people need to take from today’s budget is that the local government’s core budget which provides our essential services has taken a hit.

 “We have engaged positively with Scottish Government throughout these budget negotiations and we have run a positive campaign around the meaningful impact that our essential services make to communities throughout Scotland.

 “The essential services that local government deliver are the foundations on which Scotland is built – today’s announcement means that these foundations are under severe pressure.”

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