Scots councils balk at £11bn funding deal

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said on Tuesday its 2019-20 funding settlement from the Scottish government will mean “substantial job losses in places where local government is the main employer.”

The Scottish government said its draft Scottish Budget delivers a total funding package amounting to £11.1 billion for the 32 local councils in Scotland.

“This provides local authorities with a £197.5 million increase for day to day spending on essential public services in 2019-20, alongside a £207.6 million increase on their capital spending budget,” said the Scottish government.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said despite a £2 billion reduction in real terms to Scotland’s block grant over the last decade, the 2019-20 Scottish Budget “provides local authorities with a real terms increase in overall funding of over £210 million.”

He said this is alongside a real terms increase in both the revenue and capital settlements.

However, Cosla’s resources spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “This is not good news for Scottish Local Government and without a rethink from Scottish Government or a Parliamentary intervention it puts at risk the delivery of essential services in the coming year …

“This is bad news for communities – the impact on jobs and services is significant. The budget does not recognise our role as an employer, procurer and deliverer of essential services.

“If this settlement is not changed it will mean substantial job losses in places where local government is the main employer.

“Scottish Government need to look at the bigger picture and really start to think again about the economic impact of such a challenging settlement for Scottish local government.”

Mackay said: “The Scottish Government has continued to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.

“After removing the health uplift the Scottish Government fiscal resource block grant funding goes down by £340 million or 1.3% in real terms for 2019-20.

“Despite that reduction, we have still provided a 2% real terms uplift in the total Local Government settlement for 2019-20.

“If local authorities choose to use their powers to increase Council Tax by up to 3% they can generate up to an additional £80 million to support the delivery of essential local services.”