Budget delay putting funding for thousands of services at risk, COSLA warns
Funding for thousands of essential services is being put at risk by the delay to the UK budget, COSLA has warned in a letter to the UK Chancellor, Sajid Javid.
The Scottish local government body described the decision to delay the UK budget until 11 March as “extremely worrying” since it hampers Scotland’s councils’ ability to set their own budgets on time – which are also due to be finalised by 11 March.
While local government is a devolved matter, the Scottish budget, which sets out funding for councils, usually follows the UK budget, as the Scottish Government needs to know what it will receive before it allocates funding on to others.
The extremely late UK budget means councils may have set budgets, including next year’s council tax rates, based on estimates of what they will get and so they will not be able to guarantee that funding will be available for all current services in the next financial year.
Commenting on this, COSLA’s resources spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “By delaying the UK budget until mid-March, the UK Government is putting thousands of essential public services at risk of going without funding.
“COSLA is calling for the Scottish Government to do all it can to mitigate this risk.
“Local authorities carry out a complex and hugely important role in our society.
“As the employer for 10 per cent of Scotland’s workforce and a procurer of over £6.3bn in goods, we are the key economic driver for communities across the country.
“Any delay to our budgets means that these services are put at risk.
“The UK Government’s decision runs the risk of delaying the Scottish Government’s budget.
“This significantly impedes the ability for local authorities to formulate their own budgets meaning Scotland’s communities are disadvantaged.”
COSLA also called on the UK Government to provide Scotland with an increased settlement so that the Scottish Government can give more funding to councils.