Edinburgh Depute Leader in call for extra funding

Tuesday January 15th 2019

Edinburgh

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, David Bol

The depute leader of the Edinburgh city council has blasted the “unacceptable level of cuts” imposed by the Scottish Government as the administration draws up plans to shave almost £50m from next year’s budget.

The city council is currently assuming it will need to remove around £47m from next year’s budget – which will be set in February. It is believed the SNP leadership was locked in meetings throughout Monday and were set to meet again to thrash out an agreement – while the Labour half of the administration are set for crunch meetings this week.

Initially, the council estimated that £28m would have to be saved next year, but this rocketed to around £39m after the Scottish Government’s draft budget settlement was announced last month – with the council on the end of a further £11m loss. It is now thought as much as £47m of cuts may have to be found with health and social care services struggling to find savings this financial year and potentially £2.4m more being required for teachers’ pensions.

Specific proposals as to where the axe may fall could be published as early as Friday – and it is understood that a review of senior management is taking place as part of the plans.

Councillor Cammy Day called the level of cuts imposed on the council by the Scottish Government as “disgraceful” which he admitted is “unlikely to be far short of £50m”.

He said: “When the additional £11m came in, I was pretty shocked by that – it was hugely unexpected and put us into huge difficulties.

“It’s got to the point where it could have to impact on schools, social care and services people use on a daily basis. I don’t think the parliament understands the importance of local services. We only hope is they come round and see sense.”

He added: “For my party, we have red lines about compulsory redundancies and to see mass privatisation of public services. Other than that, we need to look at everything else – nothing is off the table.

“It’s going to be us looking at services and saying, can we do that anymore? We will try to protect the services that we can, but we can’t make any guarantees – we have to look at everything.

“The SNP Scottish Government have £200m of reserves for a rainy day – it’s pouring in Edinburgh just now and we need some of that money.”

Councillor Day’s comments echo that of Midlothian Council Leader, Derek Milligan, who in December called on Scottish Ministers to re-examine the formula used to decide how much money is given to individual local authorities saying the current formula is out-dated.

He said: “How can it be right for a growing council like Midlothian with all the pressures put on us by the Scottish Government to increase the housing, there has to be support for councils like us.”

Pointing out that years ago Midlothian was seen as one of the smallest ‘landward’ councils while West Dunbartonshire was consider one of the “bigger laddies”, he said now Midlothian had a population 1,000 higher than West Dunbartonshire but receive £8million this financial year less.

Mr Milligan said: “The minister needs to reopen that. There needs to be an independent review of the funding stream.”

Midlothian has a £6.8 million funding gap for the next financial year which starts this April.

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