Council Leader makes case for fairer funding during ministerial visit

Wednesday July 5th 2023

Tom Arthur Kelly Parry

Midlothian Council leader Kelly Parry with Tom Arthur, Scottish Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

The case for a fairer funding allocation for Midlothian has been put to Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth when he visited the county today.

Council Leader Councillor Kelly Parry welcomed the Minister whom she’d invited to see first-hand transformational services delivered by the council and its partners.

Cllr Parry described the meeting as “very positive”. She said:

“The visit gave us the opportunity to discuss the brutal financial pressures we’re facing because of rapid population growth.

“We’re the fastest growing local authority area in Scotland. By 2028, the population is estimated to increase by 13.3%, compared to a projected increase of 1.8% for Scotland as a whole.

“The Minister was keen to understand the extreme strain this is putting our budget under and the impact it is having on service planning and delivery.

“However, while we wanted to put our case for fairer funding, we’re also intent on showing the Minister we’re continuing to innovate, continuing to come up with creative solutions to support our communities, hence the short tour of Number 11.”

Number 11 is a flagship recovery hub in Dalkeith offering holistic wrap-round care to adults with complex care needs such as support with mental health and substance use.

The hub houses multi-agency teams including the Third Sector and NHS. It’s collaborative, person-centred approach in communities is not just helping individuals recover, resettle and rehabilitate. It is also freeing up intensive care mental health beds at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Cllr Parry added: “Our local challenges and solutions 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 funding solutions which address the particular issues we face.”

Cllr Parry said Mr Arthur has agreed Midlothian’s case can’t be seen in isolation and any future ways forward must take account of regional and national demographic and fiscal challenges.

She said the Minister was in support of organising a meeting with regional public bodies including neighbouring authorities later in the summer to discuss funding.

The Scottish Government allocates funding to councils to meet over 70% of their costs. However, the funding model used does not keep pace with population changes. This puts Midlothian at a considerable financial disadvantage compared to other local authorities in Scotland.

In 2019/20, the SPICe briefing paper, which covered the provisional allocation to local authorities, highlighted Midlothian would only receive 99.6% of the Scottish average whilst West Dunbartonshire Council, with a population which is 480 less than Midlothian, would receive 116.2%, which equated to £26.1 million more.

SPICe researchers produce detailed, impartial briefings covering subjects of interest to the Scottish Parliament.

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