Council calls for ‘full and fair’ budget

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West Lothian Council has demanded the Scottish Government provide a “full and fair” budget settlement to protect public services in the county.

The leader of the council John McGinty has said failure to do this could have “stark consequences” for the region.

The call comes in the week David O’Neill, president of Cosla, Scotland’s local authority umbrella group, warned that similar cuts experienced last year to local government funding would have “severe consequences for job losses in councils and have a wider knock on effect within communities”.

The Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is expected to outline the government’s spending plans for the next year on December 15.

West Lothian Council has said it has made “significant savings” over many years but further reduction to council funding would mean more cuts required to services.

The council also said it was facing savings over the 10-year period 2008 to 2018 of £92 million, which equates to almost £1200 per household.

Council leader Mr. McGinty said: “It is critical that the Scottish Government provide a full and fair financial settlement to protect local services in West Lothian. Failure to do so could have stark consequences for West Lothian.

“The council notes the details of the Autumn Budget Statement and that the Scottish Government will receive a £400 million cash increase in Revenue Grant in 2017/18.

“Failure by the Scottish Government to provide West Lothian Council with a full and fair settlement on the 15 December will see more cuts which is totally unacceptable.

“West Lothian has significant unique pressures with a growing younger population and a growing older population and so it is vitally important to West Lothian that when it comes to sharing the budget that the financial and social situation is fully considered.

“If future funding for the council continues to be insufficient to meet the required growth in key services, the outcome could be disastrous.

“It is vital that local government is properly funded with a fair finance settlement from the Scottish Government so that we can continue to deliver the services people rely on.”

Last month, local government finance watchdog the Accounts Commission said the country’s 32 councils are heading to a £533m funding shortfall within the next two years.

Scotland’s 32 councils received £18.9bn in funding last year.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “As Audit Scotland’s report last week confirmed, we have treated local government very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.

“West Lothian Council has and will continue to receive its fair share of the available funding, which amounted to almost £317.4 million in 2016-17.

“The Finance Secretary will publish the Scottish Draft Budget later this month that will support our economy, tackle inequality and provide high-quality public services for all.”