‘Hammer blow’ as West Lothian Council budget cut

Local authorities across Scotland face a cut to their finances
Local authorities across Scotland face a cut to their finances

Council bosses have vowed to protect the most vulnerable as they face the biggest ever budget reduction from the Scottish Government.

As John Swinney delivered his budget for Scotland, West Lothian Council said local communities should not be penalised by a lack of funding for vital services.

The local authority budget is to be cut by 3.5 per cent. This is on top of savings made in West Lothian over the past ten year period, 2008 to 2018, of £92 million, which equates to almost £1,200 per household.

Council leader John McGinty said: “The council was already managing a huge budget gap as a result of Scottish Government grant funding being insufficient to meet the estimated growth in council expenditure.

“It is absolutely vital that the Scottish Government provides a proper funding settlement so that we can continue to deliver vital services.

“We will have to make difficult decisions and prioritise the most vulnerable people in our community, but a cut in funding would be a hammer blow to West Lothian.”

The council said the timing of the announcement leaves little time to make necessary adjustments to balance the budget for 2016-2017 and it is not helpful for long term planning.

A spokesperson for West Lothian Council said: “School education is successfully aligned with support into employment, apprenticeships, and further and higher education.

“It is essential that funding is available to support the most vulnerable young people and families. Jobs and employment are linked to economic prosperity.”

A report on the budget will be presented to a meeting of the Council’s Executive Committee before Christmas.