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£18.4 million funding headache

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DUMFRIES and Galloway Council has confirmed it is facing a funding gap of £18.4 million for next year.

According to the Scottish Government’s draft budget, the local authority is set to get £285.8 million for 2019-20. Analysis from The Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICE) has shown that it is a real term cut of 3.2 per cent for the region.

This week South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and council leader Dr Elaine Murray both criticised the SNP Scottish Government’s Budget, which gives the council new responsibilities without any additional funding, but also ring fences nearly £10million for health and social care, increasing the number of hours for four years olds in nursery and providing free sanitary products in public places.

The pair also revealed that even a three per cent increase in Council Tax would generate just over £2 million for local services, still leaving them with a £16.3m headache.

Dr Murray is seriously concerned about the implications and said: “Vital local services in our region have already been cut to the bone as a result of cuts inflicted by the Scottish Government. When the SNP came to power in 2007, they said they were ending ring fencing for local authorities. In 2019, ring fencing is back with a vengeance, and as a consequence other council services will suffer severe cuts. New responsibilities such as increasing the number of hours of nursery provision and measures to tackle period poverty should be funded in addition to current services and not by cutting current services. The draft budget will lead to cuts in schools, roads and other local amenities which have already been cut to the bone.”

And Colin Smyth added: “Dumfries and Galloway Council have had to make £96 million worth of cuts since 2010, so to learn that the SNP Government budget will still mean an £18.5million funding gap for the council is shocking. This will mean more cuts in services and more public sector jobs being lost across the region. To protect vital local services in our region the SNP Government must rethink its budget and put an end to the cuts to councils.”

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