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by Louise Wilson
02 February 2023
Thousands of council jobs at risk, Cosla paper warns

Thousands of council jobs at risk, Cosla paper warns

Councils across Scotland may have to cut over 7,000 jobs under the Scottish Government’s draft budget plans.

A financial update prepared by council umbrella body Cosla warned the settlement on offer would put “severe strain and risk” on local government.

Raising the issue at first minister’s questions, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Scottish people were being asked to “pay more for less”.

He said: “The public are being asked to foot the bill for public services that are getting worse by the week because this government underfunded councils for 15 years.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government was “treating local government as fairly as we can” and added more could not be provided without cutting budgets elsewhere.

The Cosla paper includes responses to a survey which indicated 23 councils could cut 5,400 full-time roles over the next three years. Extrapolating this to all councils puts the estimate at 7,100 jobs.

But it notes the reductions are “concentrated in a number of local authorities” with some councils able to manage savings in others way, including the use of reserves.

Almost a third of the roles under threat are in education, though the paper acknowledges this is proportionally less than the number of total education roles, meaning “councils are taking steps to ensure that education is less impacted than other areas”.

However, it warns other services – particularly leisure, culture, sports and art – are taking “more than their fair share”.

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