South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth and Labour Council Leader Elaine Murray have called for an urgent rethink by the SNP Government after it was revealed that their proposed budget will leave Dumfries and Galloway Council facing £11m of cuts in day to day services, and a loss of £4m capital funding for projects such as new schools.
Last week Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes announced the Scottish Government’s budget in Parliament following the resignation of Finance Secretary Derek MacKay. The budget included yet another real terms cuts in council funding.
Council Leader Elaine Murray has written to Kate Forbes calling for a rethink by the Government after it was revealed at meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Finance Committee by officials that the SNP’s budget will leave the local council with a total of £10.883m of savings to find this year through cuts and higher charges and council tax.
So far the council have agreed £5.686m of savings but will need to find another £ 5.197m to balance the books. The paper to councillors revealed that over the next three years nearly £40m of cuts will be required- on top of over £106m saved since 2010.
The SNP Government have indicated to councils that they can raise council tax by 4.84% in Dumfries and Galloway (currently 7.3% below the national average) which would generate an estimated £3.576m.
In a shock move the SNP Government have also slashed capital funding to councils for programmes such as new schools. In a separate paper to the Council’s Finance Committee yesterday it was revealed that the council face a £3.951m cut in core capital funding compared to last year.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “Locally people need to wake up to what the SNP Government’s budget means for our area- more cuts and higher council tax. I am not prepared to sit back and watch that happen, so unless there is an urgent rethink by the SNP I will vote against the Scottish Government’s budget in Parliament”.
“I am sick and tired of seeing our local services cut year on year by a Government who could not care less about the services people in our region rely. Thousands of jobs have also already been lost as a result of cuts in council funding and more will go if the SNPs budget goes ahead”
Councillor Elaine Murray said, “The Scottish Government’s budget will leave the council having to find £11m through more cuts and higher council tax yet again this year, at a time services have already been cut to the bone. These cuts come on top of the £106m made by the council in the past nine years and shows that once again it is local services bearing the brunt of austerity from the UK and Scottish Government”.
“What is particularly disappointing is that as well as the £11m cut in day to day services, we are also receiving nearly £4m less for capital projects such as new schools. I have written to Finance Minister Kate Forbes calling for an urgent rethink before MSPs vote on the budget. Local people will be furious that once again because of the SNP Government’s budget they face a council tax rise but will still see local services reduced because of Government attacks on council budgets.”