South Scotland Labour MSP has criticised the SNP Scottish Government as new figures revealed that the Government have slashed Scottish Borders Council’s funding by £136 per person since 2013/14.
New figures published in a report by the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE) show that between 2013/14 and 2019/20 the Scottish Government have reduced the Local Government Settlement for Scottish Borders Council by £136 per person. In real terms that meant a decrease of £12.7m or a 5.7% cut over the five years.
During the same period the cut to the overall Scottish Budget as a result of Tory austerity was 2.8%.
The Report also highlighted that the Local Government Settlement for 2019/20 contained a high level of ring-fenced funds for the Council. The Government ring fences funding so it can direct to local authorities how that money to be spent. In 2019/20 £9.3 million of the Local Government Settlement contained ring fenced allocations, which was 4.4% of the total budget. In 2013/14 the Government ring fenced no allocations for Scottish Borders Council.
Colin Smyth said, “This report exposes the extent to which the Scottish Government are imposing severe cuts to local authority budgets. Slashing council funding by £136 per person over the last 5 years has led to cuts across schools, social care, roads and other local amenities. We also can not forget that along with this cut of £12.7 million Scottish Borders Council has had to make more cuts to services to fund the public sector pay rise and general rising costs.
With the Scottish Government increasing the use of ring fencing – where councils have no choice how to spend it’s money- it also means that councils have to make further cuts to local priorities to pay for SNP manifesto commitments.
With Scottish Borders Councils budget being cut by 5.7% in real terms since 2013/14 the Scottish Government really have turbo-charged UK Government austerity onto local councils and communities. Scottish Labour have long argued for the SNP to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to end the cuts to schools, social care and local infrastructure.”