Finance Secretary hears council’s case for funding to support population growth

Wednesday January 27th 2021

Scottish-Parliament


Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

The case for a fairer funding allocation for Midlothian has been put to Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes by the council leader at a “very positive” meeting held last week.

Midlothian Council Leader Derek Milligan reported that the Cabinet Secretary was “receptive to the council’s suggestion for a Growth Fund and was very interested to hear about the financial challenges that rapid and repetitive population growth is creating for councils such as Midlothian.”

Following the meeting, it was agreed that Scottish Government officials and council officers would look further into the issues raised.

“I am pleased that the Finance Secretary was willing to hear our case and to consider the impact that this extraordinary level of growth is having on our ability to plan for local services,” said Councillor Milligan.

“Midlothian’s population growth far exceeds that of other councils and is equal to East Lothian and Edinburgh’s percentage growth combined. This brings immediate financial pressures, especially for our schools, but also for other vital public services including health and social care services, the wider NHS and Police and Fire services.”

He added: “As well as the challenges these pressures present for us locally, they also impact on the wider public sector and on the future well-being of the Scottish economy which is reliant on sustainable growth. Our position is that we need to work with the government, other councils and public sector partners to jointly develop a growth fund which address the particular issues we face.”

Figures show that by 2028, the population of Midlothian is projected to increase from 91,340 to 103,945. This is an increase of 13.8%, compared to a projected increase of 1.8% for Scotland as a whole.

Against the trend for most Scottish council areas, Midlothian will also see an increase in its child population over the next 25 years. The rising number of school pupils is also expected to place a significant pressure on the council’s budget planning, with the need for more schools, extended school buildings and more teachers.

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