The local government finance settlement is distributed in full using a needs-based formula. That is discussed and agreed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. All local authorities, including East Lothian, receive their formula share of the total funding available. In 2020-21, East Lothian Council will receive an above-average increase in support for revenue services of 6.5 per cent, or £11.5 million.
The Scottish Government is always open to suggestions to improve the funding formula, and should the member, or the council, wish to propose a change to the current formula, that would need to be raised with and through COSLA in the first instance.
I understand that there is a formula, but the problem is that it is not working for East Lothian. Not enough account is being taken of East Lothian’s almost unique rate of population growth. That growth is being fuelled by the building of more than 10,000 houses, which are required of the council’s local development plan by the Scottish Government. Will the Scottish Government not find some way to reflect that, so that the council can fund the infrastructure that is needed for that expansion, which is demanded by the Scottish ministers?
O f course, we are supporting population growth through a range of measures, including our ambitious affordable housing building programme, for which £843 million will be included in this year’s budget.
I repeat the point that, if the member considers that there should be a change in the methodology, that would have to be agreed with all 32 local authorities. All would have a case to make on their own unique circumstances. Therefore, the matter should be raised with and through COSLA. If the member does that, I would be happy to speak to COSLA.