Ministers have been in regular and on-going dialogue with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and individual local authorities, including Aberdeen City Council, since the Covid-19 crisis began. We appreciate the range of challenges and pressures that face local government at this time, and ministers welcome the opportunity to discuss the critical issues that are affecting individual local authorities and the ways in which we can address those challenges in more detail.
The burden on councils will only grow and, in the north-east, Aberdeen City Council faces a £27 million shortfall. Despite the United Kingdom Government giving a windfall that is explicitly for Scotland’s councils, Aberdeen is looking at receiving less than £6 million in funding, instead of double that amount. The Scottish National Party has underfunded the north-east for years. Will the cabinet secretary guarantee that Aberdeen will now get the money it deserves to fight this crisis?
Like other local authorities, Aberdeen City Council has been allocated a considerable amount of support to help it cope with the on-going crisis. We will continue to work with COSLA to ensure that we distribute the resources that are available to us and meet the needs of local authorities across the country.
I also point out that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance continues to have to engage with the UK Government to ensure that Scotland gets what it needs to cope. Perhaps it would be useful for us to engage with Mr Kerr on what the Scottish Government requires in order to be able to cope, such as increased borrowing powers.
We understand that local authorities, and indeed bodies across the whole of public life, face challenges in coping with the current situation. As it always does, the Scottish Government will continue to ensure that it treats local government fairly and recognises the hugely important part that local authorities play—in general, but particularly in response to the pandemic. The role of Aberdeen City Council is no different. We value the huge amount of work and effort that is going on there, and we want to support the council in continuing with that.
Meeting closed at 15:25.