Point of Order

– in the Scottish Parliament on 8 February 2023.

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Photo of Neil Bibby Neil Bibby Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Earlier today, during portfolio questions on finance and the economy, in response to my Labour colleague Daniel Johnson, the Deputy First Minister said:

“the Government has increased the resources available to local government by more than £570 million. That cash increase is there for local authorities to deploy in the appropriate way, as they see fit, to meet the challenges in their local areas.”—[

Official Report

, 8 February 2023; c 21.]

I am not sure whether the Deputy First Minister has misspoken, but it certainly appears that he might have misled the chamber.

Clearly, the Government wants to present its local government settlement in the most positive light possible. However, as we heard in the chamber earlier today, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities believes that only £71 million of that £570 million is an increase in the resources to spend “as they see fit”. As confirmed by our own Scottish Parliament information centre, that COSLA figure equates to a £304 million real-terms cut. The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Fraser of Allander Institute also believe that the budget represents a real-terms cut.

The issue with what the Deputy First Minister said earlier today is that it is no longer simply an issue of presentation; this is now an issue of fact, accuracy and respect for this Parliament, as well as for councils across Scotland.

The Deputy First Minister knows fine well that the £570 million cash increase is almost entirely ring fenced or set aside for other policies, and therefore the figure cannot be regarded as accurate.

Just yesterday, we had the education secretary directing education spending.

Presiding Officer, we know that you are not responsible for the accuracy of ministers’ statements—lucky you—but ministers are responsible for theirs. Has the Deputy First Minister sought to correct the record on that matter? Will you remind all members, including Government ministers, how they can correct the record and remind them of the importance of positive relations between this institution and our colleagues in local government?

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

As Mr Bibby will be aware, responsibility for the accuracy of a contribution rests with the member who is making it. If a member believes that there has been a factual inaccuracy, the guidance on corrections sets out the steps that they can take.

Members’ business will be published tomorrow, 9 February 2023, as soon as the text is available.