This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
LOCAL authorities in Scotland could face bankruptcy without a Scottish government funding boost, council leaders have warned.
The stark message from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) comes after two English councils issued section 114 notices over the last month.
The notices, which amount to a declaration of bankruptcy, mean that Birmingham and Nottingham councils have now entered financial special measures, under which only statutory services will receive cash.
There are less than three weeks until Scotland’s SNP-Green government publishes what is expected to be the toughest draft budget since devolution.
And Scottish councils, in many cases already struggling to meet their statutory duties, have put Holyrood leaders on notice.
A new Cosla briefing paper says: “Last year, councils faced a £1 billion funding gap just to keep services going.
“This year there have been increased costs and greater demand on services, meaning councils have had to prioritise spend away from libraries, community and leisure centres.”
The retreat from non-statutory services could become even more marked if First Minister Humza Yousaf’s council tax freeze pledge made at SNP conference earlier this year is not fully funded as promised.
Mr Yousaf made the pledge despite his government facing an estimated £1bn black hole in its finances; Cosla has now estimated councils would need an extra £14.4bn just to stand still if it is to be implemented.
Cosla resources spokeswoman Cllr Katie Hagmann said: “Sadly, our reality right now is an extremely challenging financial climate coupled with years of real-terms cuts to council budgets, while additional policy commitments are continually being introduced.
“If this situation doesn’t start to improve soon, it will mean tough choices being made and the many essential services councils currently provide will cease.”
In an apparent ripost to Finance Secretary Shona Robison’s remarks last week that there was “no doubt” that “the size of the workforce will have to reduce,” Cllr Hagmann added that “cutting front-line staff isn’t the answer.”
The Scottish government said: “Scotland is facing the most challenging budget settlement since devolution as a result of sustained high inflation and a UK government Autumn Statement that failed to deliver the investment needed in Scotland’s public services.
“Decisions on local government budget allocations for future years are subject to the outcome of negotiations with Cosla, the results of which will be confirmed in future Scottish budgets.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £10 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.