Cosla urges Scottish Government to avoid ‘catastrophic’ cuts to local services

Cosla warns of bankruptcy risk in funding plea

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has warned that some councils may face bankruptcy if the Scottish Government does not provide adequate funding in the upcoming budget. Cosla, which represents all 32 local authorities in Scotland, has made a funding plea ahead of the Scottish Budget on December 14, 2023. It has asked for a £1.5bn increase in core funding, as well as additional resources to cover Covid-19 costs and other pressures.

Cosla president Alison Evison said that local services were “at breaking point” and that councils had been “starved of funding” for years. She said that without a fair settlement, some councils may have to use their reserves to balance their budgets, which would put them at risk of bankruptcy. She also said that councils would have to make “catastrophic” cuts to vital services such as education, social care, waste management, and transport.

Scottish Government says it is committed to supporting local government

The Scottish Government has responded to Cosla’s funding plea by saying that it is committed to supporting local government and that it has provided “unprecedented” levels of funding during the pandemic. A spokesperson said that the Scottish Government has allocated over £1.8bn of additional funding to local government in 2023-24, including £1.1bn to support Covid-19 costs and £700m to deliver national policy commitments.

The spokesperson also said that the Scottish Government has given local authorities “flexibility and autonomy” to manage their own budgets and that it has protected the local government budget share since 2016-17. The spokesperson added that the Scottish Government will continue to work with Cosla and local authorities to ensure that they have the resources they need to deliver essential services.

Local government faces multiple challenges and uncertainties

Local government in Scotland faces multiple challenges and uncertainties in the coming years, according to a report by the Accounts Commission, the public spending watchdog. The report, published in October 2023, said that local government has been “at the forefront” of responding to the Covid-19 crisis, but that it has also faced significant financial and operational pressures. The report said that local government spending has fallen by 7% in real terms since 2013-14, while demand for services has increased.

Cosla urges Scottish Government to avoid ‘catastrophic’ cuts to local services

The report also said that local government faces uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, the climate emergency, the demographic change, and the future of local taxation. The report called for a “long-term vision” for local government and a “clear and transparent” funding framework that reflects the needs and priorities of local communities.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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