COSLA calls for reversal of historic cuts to local government

Urgent action is required to address the consequences of real term cuts to the core budgets of Scotland’s 32 councils in recent years, COSLA has warned.

COSLA calls for reversal of historic cuts to local government

The local government umbrella body said more than £1.5 billion of extra funding is needed for councils to “thrive” post-pandemic.

The call comes as finance secretary Kate Forbes prepares to lay out the Scottish Government’s spending plans in the Scottish Budget on December 9.

Launching its Budget lobbying campaign, ‘Live Well Locally’, COSLA said local government can no longer continue to be the “poor relation” it has been in recent Budgets and that December 9 presents a perfect opportunity to reset Scottish public spending in a way that empowers councils to achieve their ambition for our communities.

Speaking at a virtual news conference in Edinburgh, COSLA president, Councillor Alison Evison, said: “Enabling people to ‘Live Well Locally’ is a shared ambition across Scottish Government and Local Government, but the resources must be provided to deliver this at a local level in line with local democratic choice.

“Sadly cuts to Councils’ core budgets over recent years have not allowed us to fully realise this shared ambition.”

COSLA’s vice president, Councillor Graham Houston, said: “The fact is that Scotland’s councils are key to creating the conditions for people within our communities to ‘Live Well Locally’, whether that’s on a remote farm or in a city centre.

“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.”

COSLA’s resources spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, added: “Tackling the economic and health challenges created by the pandemic needs a local dimension – all the evidence and research backs this up.

“We fully support Scottish Government’s ambitions around economic transformation but that starts in every community.

“Local government has been the poor relation of recent Budgets and our local knowledge and links need to be used fully before we are past the point of no return. Our communities are starting to show the neglect of an under-funded local government.

“Quite simply, what we need from this Budget is proper funding to provide the everyday services our communities need and deserve.”

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