Cosla demands meeting with Nicola Sturgeon after councils’ core budget cut

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  • Nicola Sturgeon
    Nicola Sturgeon
    5th First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party
Councils’ core funding is facing cuts (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Councils’ core funding is facing cuts (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Scotland’s council leaders have demanded an urgent meeting with Nicola Sturgeon to discuss the real-terms cut to local authority core budgets.

At a virtual meeting of Cosla on Tuesday, all 32 council leaders unanimously expressed their disappointment in the financial settlement in this month’s Budget.

They said councils will face a real-terms cut of £371 million to their core funding.

The Budget also scrapped the council tax freeze which has been in place in recent years.

Cosla president Alison Evison said: “Many in the meeting described this settlement for local government as the worst they had seen.

“Council leaders were clear last night that we could not sit back and simply accept this and there was a real strength of feeling that enough is enough.

“Not only do leaders consider that we have been given a real-terms cut of £371 million, the local government settlement makes no provision for pay, inflation or increased demand for services nor for the increased burden of National Insurance Contributions.

“Leaders instructed Cosla to seek an urgent meeting with the First Minister and the Cosla leadership team including political group leaders and that is what we will be pushing for as a matter of urgency.”

Cosla’s resources spokeswoman Gail Macgregor said: “All 32 of Scotland’s council leaders were clear last night that they owe it to their communities to take the case for a better financial settlement directly to the First Minister as a matter of urgency.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was “misleading to claim there has been a £371 million real-terms cut to the 2022-23 core local government budget”.

“This figure is extremely selective as it ignores almost £1.4 billion of other funding for joint priorities within the overall local government finance settlement of over £12.5 billion. The Scottish Budget provides revenue funding amounting to over £11.8 billion – a cash increase of £855.4 million and a real-terms increase of £543.6 million,” the spokesman said.

“Despite the continued economic uncertainty facing us all as a result of the pandemic, we are treating councils fairly and providing a real-terms increase of over 5% to local authority budgets for the coming year. Councils themselves asked for financial flexibilities this year such as the ability to take their own local decisions on raising council tax, which we were pleased to provide.”

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