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MSPs to investigate the impact of coronavirus on council finances in Scotland

Money and houses - Image credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

MSPs to investigate the impact of coronavirus on council finances in Scotland

MSPs are to investigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on council finances in Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has launched a call for views on the impact of COVID-19 on the financial sustainability of local government.

Members want to know which council services have been most impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, and which parts of local government have been least affected or most resilient.

A key focus will be on what steps local government should take in the short and long term to manage the financial impact of the crisis and what further help councils will need to overcome the ongoing funding difficulties.

They will also consider.

The Committee is also keen to hear views on how soon the sector will return to normal, and whether the outbreak will lead to a ‘new normal’ in the way some services are delivered.

Views on the impact of COVID-19 on housing policy are also welcome.

Committee convener James Dornan said: “Councils are responsible for delivering a vast range of important services that are a crucial part of our everyday lives, from social care and street cleaning to public libraries and planning.

“When COVID-19 struck earlier this year, it had a massive impact on local authorities.

“They suddenly had to change basic working practices and finds ways of delivering emergency services to many vulnerable people.

“This has had a knock-on effect on their ability to maintain some core services.

“Council staff have risen to the challenge and there are many positive stories to share – for instance on how councils worked with others to help homeless people and rough sleepers during the lockdown.

“However, the impact of Covid-19 will likely be felt for years and the full extent of the financial implications, and the ability of councils to provide these vital public services, remains unclear.

“We therefore want to hear views on what can be done to help councils weather the financial storm, in the short and long term.

“We also want to know if the crisis has also provided an opportunity for fresh thinking about how councils deliver local services and local democracy and whether there are already good practices councils can share.”

The call for views is open until Friday 4 September and submissions can be sent to LocalGovernmentandCommunities@parliament.scot.

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