Austerity cuts by the UK ConDem coalition have slashed £6bn from the Scottish Government budget. SNP ministers have decided to dump the largest share of these cuts onto local government.
While the overall Scottish government budget has faced a 10% pressure over the last five years, council funding has been hit by a 24% cut in real terms. Local government is the only major Scottish Government spending portfolio to suffer a cash cut since the financial crash.
Four out of five Scottish public service job cuts are in local government. That’s 40,000 job losses and at least the same to come if the Tories get back in May.
The council tax freeze has now cost £2.5Billion – with wealthy householders gaining three times more than poorer ones. As well as undermining local democracy the allocation is exactly the same as in 2007, so bears no relation to the increased costs that councils have faced. Councils are forced to use charges to balance budgets - that hit the most vulnerable hardest.
The impact of all this can be seen in a range of service cuts – from the potholes in the roads to school, day centre and library closures – to the national disgrace that is our social care system.
The root cause of this is ConDem austerity. But the SNP have also dumped more than a fair share of the misery on local government – far enough away for ministers to say ‘nothing to do with me’. Well it is – it’s time the ConDems and the SNP stopped dumping austerity on local government.