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Council services may hit ‘breaking point’

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By Fiona Reid
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Council services may hit ‘breaking point’

A WARNING has been given that council services could reach breaking point unless the Scottish Government finds more money for the region.

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s leaders yesterday expressed their ‘extreme disappointment’ at the forthcoming budget settlement in which there is an an additional £71 million for local authorities.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney revealed the details last week and officials locally are now pouring over the figures, with concerns already expressed that it’s nowhere near enough

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) had asked for a £1 billion settlement for 2023-24 to maintain councils’ current spending commitments.

Instead, the Scottish Government opted for £550 million.

Reacting, the area administration released a statement saying: “While we acknowledge the impact of inflation, the UK Government Mini Budget, and global economic factors that continue to weigh heavy on budgets and the Scottish Government, we are concerned that, as a result, local services will be at absolute breaking point, and some may have to be stopped completely.

“This is a significant five per cent real-terms reduction in councils’ core funding, and after more than ten years of similar budget cuts, may lead to socially harmful effects to vital local services and the loss of jobs within local authorities or from local companies that rely on councils for their employment.”

The leaders, who come from the Labour, SNP and Independent groups, are calling for the offer to be ‘urgently reconsidered’.

And they are signing a joint letter to the First Minister, along 31 other local authorities in Scotland, highlighting the real terms cut and the impact the budget settlement will have.

The administration statement added: “We sincerely hope the response will be positive and demonstrate the commitment to work together flexibly and look at ring-fencing and direct funding as part of a partnership agreement between local authorities and the Scottish Government.”

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