Further local government cuts will result ‘severe’ job losses, warns COSLA

COSLA president David O’Neill
COSLA president David O’Neill

Up to 7,000 jobs have gone in local authorities over the past year with thousands more at risk if there are any further cuts to local government funding, Scotland’s councils have warned.

COSLA, the umbrella body for local authorities, said more funding reductions would result in “severe consequences” for communities and local economies across the country.

Speaking in advance of the Scottish Government laying out its spending plans for next year, COSLA president Councillor David O’Neill said: “The Scottish Government needs to realise that if as a result of their political choices the local government settlement is cut again next week – this will have severe consequences for jobs across Scotland.

“There were 7,000 job losses arising from the £350m cut to Scottish councils last year. A further reduction in budget of similar proportions, on an already reduced base, will have even more severe consequences for job losses in councils and have a wider knock on effect for jobs within communities. We need to remember that services are delivered by these people – no people, no services to communities.

“The Scottish Government needs to remember that in many areas the council is the largest employer and therefore a cut in council jobs has a devastating knock on effect for people and local economies. Consequences for families and communities will be severe due to reduced local spending and the economic vibrancy of many communities will be threatened.

“I also feel that the Government should be made aware of the wider economic development perspective as a result of any cuts to council budgets. Any further reductions in funding for councils, combined with an expectation that statutory services such as education and social care are maintained, can only mean a disproportionate reduction in discretionary services such as economic development.

“Councils help thousands of businesses to start or grow every year, creating jobs in the process. A reduction in that support can only mean much less opportunity for job creation, a reduced opportunity to tackle inequality. This will have a detrimental impact on the local economies affected, especially in many areas still suffering from the financial downturn.”

Fife Council leader Cllr David Ross added: “A cut of the same proportion as last year (3.5 per cent) would result in well over 300 jobs being lost within Fife Council. David O’Neill is right, the Scottish Government has to be made aware of the wider ramifications of yet another substantial cut in funding for local government – a cut to local government is a cut to jobs and economic development.

“Reductions in economic development locally in Fife, mirror a reduction in spend by national agencies which has already delivered a significant reduction in expenditure in Fife at a time of great uncertainty. This double whammy has a worse effect on our most needy communities and many of our most needy communities are already at breaking point.”

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