Well-funded councils are the key to unlocking the very best for Scotland’s communities

Monday December 4th 2023

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Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Councils are key to unlocking both the potential and the best outcomes for our local communities but require proper funding to do so, COSLA has said today.

The comments came as COSLA launched their Budget Lobbying campaign for the coming year, ahead of the Scottish Government’s Budget announcement on December 19th.

COSLA President, Councillor Shona Morrison, said: “Councils really are the key to unlocking the best for our communities – from safe, quality housing; to clean streets; to supporting the most vulnerable people to thrive; to education and social care – the importance of these services cannot be emphasised enough, but they need to be funded properly.

“We all see the headlines in our local and national press about the difficult financial choices councils need to make, deciding whether to reduce or even cut vital services and ending funding for essential charity and community partners.

“Unfortunately, Councils have no choice but to protect core statutory services, especially with the unprecedented financial challenges we are all experiencing. Budgets are tight, creating risks to many other local services our communities rely on, such as programmes supporting children and young people, sports and leisure facilities and public transport.

“The Verity House Agreement has facilitated positive working between Scottish Local Government and Scottish Government since being signed in June, but COSLA is clear that we must use this to jointly tackle poverty, make a just transition to Net Zero, and achieve sustainable public services. Fair funding for Local Government must be a Scottish Government priority in order to unlock the full potential of our councils to achieve these goals.

“The campaign we are launching today clearly illustrates not only the challenges our Councils are facing, but the great potential they have if funded properly. We will continue to work closely with Scottish Government and other partners to get the best deal for our councils and our local communities.”

COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann added: “What councils deliver with and on behalf of communities is key to creating the safe, healthy, vibrant and empowered communities we all want to see.

“Local Government holds the key to unlocking the potential in local areas, with its unique understanding of context, challenges and opportunities in individual local areas.

“Sadly, our reality right now is an extremely challenging financial climate coupled with years of real-terms cuts to council budgets while additional policy commitments are continually being introduced.

“If this situation doesn’t start to improve soon, it will mean tough choices being made and the many essential services councils currently provide will cease – services that not only address problems on the ground, but actively prevent bigger issues occurring down the line. We have been clear that cutting frontline staff isn’t the answer. We need to see Scottish Government investing in Local Government, so we can do what we do best – preventing problems in the first place and improving quality of life.

“The challenges we face nationally are best addressed at the local level, not at crisis point in A&E or within the criminal justice system. From better health to reaching our net zero ambitions to improving our economy, a well-funded Local Government is the key to Scotland achieving a better future.”

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