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Local Authority Funding ‘Deeply Disappointing’ : Scottish Budget

£13.2 billion in Scottish Government funding for 2023-24 will be distributed among local authorities according to the proposed recently announced Budget. 

Orkney Islands Council has been allocated £89.6million for 2023/24 an increase of £5.7million (6.8%) on the 2022/23 allocation of £83.9million.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“Local government had sought even more funding but – candidly – there was no way in the current climate we were going to be able to meet the request in full. The entire country is having to make difficult choices, including government and local authorities, but we have managed to find an extra £570 million for councils on top of last year’s budget allocations. “

COSLA which represents Scotland’s local authorities has described it as ‘deeply disappointing’.

COSLA Vice President Councillor Steven Heddle said:  

“Yes, money is tight, but Scottish Government has made political choices. Cuts to our core budget hit the most vulnerable in our communities the hardest and are damaging to our workforce – Scottish Government needs to consider this seriously. ”

Passing the cuts down the line the Scottish Government has made it possible for local councils to be ‘flexible’ on rates of council tax, employability and homelessness services, early learning and schools workforce provision.

John Swinney said:

“We are building flexibility and autonomy into how budgets can be spent, but a more fundamental shift is required. We will work with local authorities to review how public services are delivered, so that they are designed around the needs and interests of the people and communities of Scotland.”

COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said:  

“Council Services will now be at absolute breaking point and some may have to stop altogether.

“This is a result of cuts to our Councils’ core budgets and direction on spend towards other Scottish Government priorities over the last few years. Yesterday’s budget announcement compounds this and there is a real risk that many of our essential services will not only be cut but may have to stop altogether.

“Council Leaders were unanimous today that we need to work together, with one Local Government voice, to raise our concerns at the highest level.

“The Fraser of Allander Institute has already commented on the settlement stating that although Scottish Government has presented a cash increase for Local Government, Councils will see a “real-terms decrease relative to a GDP deflator of 4.9%.”

The settlement for Local Authorities in the Budget is as follows:

Local Authority£m£m£m%
Aberdeen City390.6435.945.311.6
Argyll & Bute219.7232.512.85.8
Dumfries & Galloway329.0354.725.77.8
Dundee City338.0359.921.96.5
East Ayrshire268.7290.822.18.2
East Dunbartonshire217.7232.815.16.9
East Lothian203.6221.017.58.6
East Renfrewshire205.5222.316.88.2
Edinburgh, City of872.9948.976.08.7
Eilean Siar103.7108.64.94.7
Glasgow City1,407.91,529.3121.48.6
North Ayrshire314.5337.723.27.4
North Lanarkshire719.4774.955.57.7
Perth & Kinross294.8320.425.68.7
Scottish Borders243.0260.117.17.0
South Ayrshire235.8256.020.28.6
South Lanarkshire651.9702.950.97.8
West Dunbartonshire213.5228.715.27.1
West Lothian369.7402.432.88.9

The Scottish Government and COSLA will now be involved in robust discussions to see if amendments can be made to the proposed allocations.

COSLA President Councillor Shona Morrison added:  

“The reality of the situation is that yet again, the essential services Councils deliver have not been prioritised by the Scottish Government. COSLA asked for £1bn but from our initial assessment of the Budget, we believe that Local Government will see an uplift of only £71m once policy commitments are taken into account.

“Whilst the decision to allow councils the freedom to set their own council tax rates is welcomed, scope will be extremely limited this year, as councils seek to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, recognising the cost-of-living crisis.”

The final allocation will be announced in February 2023.

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