£12 million hole – so future looks ‘bleak’

John McGinty
John McGinty

West Lothian Council is facing a gaping £12 million funding gap following recent Scottish Government funding proposals.

Released by the Scottish Government this week, the proposals have been described as ‘bleak’ by West Lothian Council.

Budget proposals for local councils are decided by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney.

He has now written to all 32 Scottish councils, setting out provisional local government finance settlement allocations for 2015/16.

John McGinty, leader of West Lothian Council, said: “This announcement is very concerning.

“The provisional level of settlement significantly hampers our ability to provide and improve our key services such as schools, care for the elderly and economic development.

“Funding received by the Scottish Government is not sufficient to meet the needs of local people which leaves West Lothian Council facing a significant funding gap of nearly £12 million in 2015/16.

“This is not good enough for West Lothian. Over the coming months, we will be working hard to identify the true impact of this incredibly bleak finance settlement, handed down to us from the Scottish Government, and to identify an appropriate way forward.”

Based on the latest information, the council expects its 2015/16 Scottish Government grant figure to be around £293 million.

The Council Tax income for that year is forecast at £69.8 million. Taken together, therefore, the total will be approximately £12 million less than what is needed to balance the council’s revenue budget in 2015/16.

Councillor McGinty added: “The amount of savings that West Lothian Council has been forced to make over the past four years is astounding and has inevitably had a direct impact on hard-pressed families in West Lothian.”