An East Dunbartonshire Council leader has spoken out in anger about the Scottish Government’s latest budget proposals for local authorities.
Tory Andrew Polson, who shares council leadership with Liberal Democrat Vaughan Moody, rubbished claims by the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay that the latest funding package represented a £210 million increase in local government funding.
East Dunbartonshire is due to receive just over £200m in total funding and the Scottish Government is recommending increases in council tax of up to three per cent. The total amount being paid to council has been reduced by 1.3 per cent.
Mr Polson said: “This is terrible news for Scottish local government and, in particular, East Dunbartonshire.
“In already difficult and challenging times we are facing a real terms cut to our budget, which will undoubtedly put at risk the delivery of essential services in the coming year.
“I call upon the Scottish Government to have a serious rethink, and prove that local government is not at the bottom of their agenda. I also sincerely hope that East Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP opposition Leader Gordan Low will join with me and my colleagues in pressing for a reverse of these cuts.
“I stand ready to work with him and all parties represented in our authority, in order to initiate meaningful movement on the basic settlement and have proper discussions around enabling local government to do its job properly.
“The circular announcing individual council budgets allows us to see the real impact of the £237m cut on the ground, and there can be no hiding from the fact that budgets at the local level, and in local communities, have gone down substantially.
“Crucial services are now at risk and we are hurtling towards a cliff edge. It’s time the Scottish Government and Finance Minister Derek Mackay stopped their smoke and mirrors approach as no one is buying it any more. There is a severe cut to our core budget, and this terrible news for our community, will have a serious impact. If this settlement is not changed I fear there could be substantial job losses and will result in a severe detrimental economic blow to our area.”
Speaking at Holyrood, Mr 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.