All 32 council leaders in Scotland write to Nicola Sturgeon over ‘unacceptable’ £371m cut to funding

All 32 council leaders in Scotland have written to Nicola Sturgeon over their concerns about an “unacceptable” £371 million real terms cut to funding.

The letter, also addressed to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, has been signed by SNP chiefs in Glasgow (Susan Aitken), Edinburgh (Adam McVey) and Dundee (John Alexander), as well as big hitters from Aberdeen and the Highlands.

Council leaders are now calling for an urgent meeting with the First Minster to resolve the funding issues following the announcement of the Budget earlier this month.

In the Budget the health service was granted the most cash, however leaders slammed the plans for their impact on local services across the country.

With the Government axing its national council tax freeze, local politicians fear they will have to consider significant tax rises to meet any shortfall.

It comes as voters are set to go to the polls next year for council elections in Scotland.

The letter to Sturgeon and Forbes read: “As Council Leaders from the 32 Local Authorities in Scotland, we are writing on behalf of the communities we serve, to say that we are deeply concerned at how the Scottish Government has treated Local Government in this year’s Scottish Budget.

“At a special meeting of Leaders on 21 December, we expressed our extreme disappointment at the Local Government financial settlement for 22/23 that has now been circulated to Councils.

“Our view is that this settlement, which is a £371m real terms cut in core funding, is unacceptable. Every penny of the cash increase presented on the 9 December (£791m) is for Scottish Government policy priorities and in real terms, erodes our core funding – funding that is essential for the services that underpin our communities and support our shared ambitions including recovery, economic transformation and eradicating child poverty.

“Put simply, it does not allow us to enable people to ‘live well locally’. We are unanimous in our view that we have been managing challenging budgets for over a decade now but that there is now no room to make further savings, without a detriment to our communities.

“Additionally, the settlement does not include any funding for pay, inflation or increased demand for services. The impact of this Settlement will be stark for our services and our staff. It will mean that Local Government must reconsider commitments at a local and national level.

“Yet again, this settlement demonstrates that Scottish Government is not giving Local Government the respect it deserves and is showing complete disregard for Local Government’s role as a key partner in achieving better outcomes for the people of Scotland.

“COSLA Leaders believe that the relationship between Local and Scottish Government has been called into question by this Scottish Budget which, for the benefit of our communities, we must work to rectify immediately.

“We would ask that an urgent meeting is set up with you, First Minister, and the COSLA Leadership Team including Political Group Leaders.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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