The 2021-22 local government finance settlement of almost £11.7 billion includes an additional £375.6 million—or 3.5 per cent—for day-to-day revenue spending. In addition, the value of the overall Covid-19 support package for councils now totals more than £1.5 billion over this year and last year. Ultimately, it is for locally elected representatives to make local decisions on how best to deploy the resources at their disposal to deliver services to their communities on the basis of their local needs and priorities.
The minister will be aware that concern has been raised by the Scottish Information and Library Council that many libraries that have been closed during the pandemic will not reopen. In my Central Scotland region, 13 libraries are closed at the moment and there are concerns for their future. Councils have a statutory duty to provide such services, so what is the Scottish Government doing to ensure that all libraries that have been closed by the pandemic will reopen?
As I emphasised in my first answer, the fact that we have different spheres of governance here in Scotland means that local councillors have to make decisions affecting local communities. However, I appreciate the significance of the point and the tone in which Mr Simpson raised it. As citizens and representatives, we know the value of libraries in communities. If Mr Simpson would like to write to me with more details of the circumstances in his region, I would be very glad to receive that correspondence.