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THE Scottish government was accused today of “turbo-charging” Tory austerity by passing on budget cuts to local services.
Local government body Cosla has demanded the SNP cough up more cash to protect communities.
The organisation has warned increased ring-fencing means damage from cuts has been “amplified,” with a report showing that Scotland would require £1 billion of investment to maintain essential services.
Opposition parties at Holyrood have now called for commitments from SNP ministers.
Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “It is absolutely vital that local government is fully equipped to deliver essential services to the community and able to protect schools, care for the elderly, libraries and sports facilities from government austerity.
“The SNP government has taken Tory austerity, turbo-charged it, and passed it on to Scotland’s councils.
“Across Scotland local authorities are struggling to deliver lifeline services and are being forced to make more and deeper cuts, leaving communities suffering.”
Cosla said 60 per cent of its funding must go towards specific schemes, leaving public transport, sports facilities and environmental health at greater risk from cuts.
The body also says that local government currently receives a 33 per cent share of the Scottish budget, down from 34.7 per cent in 2013-14.
Cosla’s resource spokeswoman Gail Macgregor said: “The reality is that services such as roads, buses, paths, planning, community learning, events, sports facilities, libraries, tourism, business support and environmental health all sit unprotected.”
The Scottish government has said its budget will be published next month on February 6, before the Westminster government’s own in March.
The decision has been welcomed by the Greens, who say they are working to create positive solutions for Scotland amid “Tory chaos.”
A Scottish government spokesman said: “The failure of the UK government to publish its budget at an earlier time means we do not have clarity on the funding available for our schools, hospitals and other vital public services.
“Decisions on budget allocations for future years are subject to the outcome of the current negotiations with Cosla.
“The results will be confirmed as part of the budget in due course.”
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