Local Government (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd March 2021.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

1. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to address the needs of local government. (S5O-05065)

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

Maintaining a close constructive partnership with local government has always been a priority for the Government. That partnership approach enables us to meet the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities regularly and to respond positively to the needs of local authorities and their communities. For example, I recently undertook extensive engagement with local authorities on our levels approach in the strategic framework, which will continue; we are supporting the European Charter for Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, which is a long-held aspiration of COSLA; and the overall Covid-19 support package for councils is up to almost £1.8 billion over this year and next year.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer, but the needs of local government have not been helped by a decade of Scottish National Party cuts. Cumulatively, £937 million of cuts have piled agony on to local communities, which has resulted in councils having to cut services and has undermined their ability to protect jobs. That can be seen in South Lanarkshire Council’s budget, which, as the cabinet secretary will be aware, has been cut by more than £5 million. When will the SNP start standing up for local communities and stop cutting local government budgets?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

We have continued to, and always will, treat councils fairly. I set out a range of ways in which we engage regularly and thoroughly with local government. The current settlement that is being decided on through the budget process means that local government will get £11.6 billion, which is a fair and affordable settlement. Day-to-day funding for revenue services will increase by £335.6 million, which is a 3.1 per cent increase on last year’s settlement.

South Lanarkshire Council will receive a total funding package of £649.3 million to support local services, which includes an extra £15.5 million to support vital day-to-day services.

During the Government’s tenure, we have managed to deliver fair and affordable settlements for local government, treat councils fairly and engage with them thoroughly despite being under a decade of Tory austerity. We will continue to engage positively with local government as the budget bill progresses through Parliament.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Has the Labour party approached the cabinet secretary to say from whence additional funding for local government should be sourced—perhaps from the national health service, justice or education budgets? If additional funding is to come through increased taxation, has Labour said who would pay and by how much taxes should be increased?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

My colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Finance has been liaising with all parties in the chamber to discuss their budget propositions and to listen to their priorities. Interestingly, I am not aware of any specific Labour proposals on where additional funding should be sourced.

We will continue to hear about the budget developments in Westminster, and the finance secretary will continue the discussions with Opposition parties. However, as far as I am aware, despite the calls for more money, I have not heard any specific proposals from the Labour party.