Cosla demands over £1.5bn more for councils to recover from Covid
Councils need over £1.5bn more cash next year to “thrive” post-pandemic, local government umbrella body Cosla has said.
The group also called for an additional £500m for capital spending to help invest towards net zero and to transform local economies.
Speaking at a media briefing on Monday morning, Cosla president Cllr Alison Evison said the increase in cash was necessary to deliver services “in line with local democratic choice”.
She added: “Sadly cuts to councils’ core budgets over recent years have not allowed us to fully realise this shared ambition.”
Launching its ‘Live Well Locally’ campaign ahead of next month’s budget, Cosla warned councils were facing extra pressure on local services, exacerbated by a combination of backlogs, pent up demand due to Covid and increasing costs.
It said that because core revenue funding from the government had not kept pace with demand, many councils were having to cut back on services that are “critical to recovery” from the pandemic – including those which promote economic development, youth work, and community centres and libraries.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes will deliver the Scottish draft budget on Thursday 9 December.
Cosla estimates that in order to “stand still”, local government will need £11.7bn in revenue cash – up from £11bn it received in the 2021-22 budget.
To “survive”, the body said it would need £12bn in revenue funding plus an extra £230m in capital funding to expand free school meals and deal with inflation in the construction sector.
And to “thrive”, it is calling for £12.6bn in revenue funding plus an extra £500m in capital cash.
Cosla vice president Cllr Graham Houston said: “People’s local environment has become even more important during the pandemic and local government must be empowered and funded properly to allow us to create the environment for people to ‘Live Well Locally.’
“Recovery needs to start locally to tackle the key issues facing our communities and local leadership is needed for that.”