Mon 11 Dec, 2017

A budget that contains a return to cuts for councils will be unacceptable, and the Finance Secretary has known since last year that this is unfinished business. Andy Wightman MSP

Ahead of this week's statement (Thu 14 Dec) from the Scottish Government on its proposed tax and spending plans for 2018-19, Green MSPs are warning ministers that they cannot support a budget that cuts funding to local council services such as education, social care, transport and leisure.
 
During last year's budget process, the Green MSPs succeeded in getting SNP ministers to cancel proposed cuts of £160million to local councils, and they made clear that they expected ministers to go further in future and begin to repair the damage done by previous years' cuts.
 
Already this year, following pressure from the Greens, Scottish Ministers have announced that the public sector pay cap will be lifted and the government's discussion paper on income tax echoed Green policy in proposing new rates and bands of income tax, to deliver a fairer system, generate more revenue and protect lower earners.
 
Budget cuts being faced in Edinburgh, for example, include:

* Cuts to the maintenance of or availability of sports pitches
* Reduction in bin collections and opening hours of community recycling depots
* Reductions in home to school transport arrangements 
* Removal of the night time noise response team 

Andy Wightman MSP, Local Government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
 
"Last year's Green budget deal stopped the cuts to councils’ overall funding package but we must now start to see a reversal of the reductions previously suffered.  A budget that contains a return to cuts for councils will be unacceptable, and the Finance Secretary has known since last year that this is unfinished business.
 
"With inflation and growing demand, investment in council services is essential if we are to support our communities and tackle inequalities. Local councils provide vital services ranging from education and social care to welfare advice and libraries. Councils play a key role in the health of our communities by maintaining sports facilities and parks, and building walking and cycling infrastructure.
 
"Councils have shed 15,000 jobs over the last five years, with remaining workers seeing their pay eroded and service users seeing charges increase. More than half of what councils get from the Scottish Government is ring-fenced for national priorities; if the Scottish Government won't provide councils with the funding they need, they must give them the power to raise more money themselves."

Cllr Gavin Corbett, Finance spokesperson for the Greens on Edinburgh city council, said:

"Edinburgh is looking at £20m of cuts next year and £150m over the next 5 years.  At that level, cuts penetrate to every part of services: schools, care for older people, parks and homelessness services, to name only a few. 

"Councils are doing a lot to adapt to leaner finances but it's demoralising for staff and service users alike to face cuts after cuts. As well as a fair settlement from the Scottish Government now, councils also need powers over their own income - on tax, on business rates and on other levies - so that they can make choices to invest in services."

Cllr Allan Young, Finance spokesperson for the Greens on Glasgow city council, said:

"Glasgow is facing cuts of around £50m which will have a massive impact across the city. We need to use all the powers at our disposal to give councils the vital financial assistance they need to service our schools properly and tackle the homelessness crisis in the city. We also need to look again at how councils are funded, replacing the unfair council tax with a progressive land value tax and giving councils more powers to raise their own income."
  
 

Get involved

More like this

Three key tests our MSPs will apply before deciding whether to support or oppose the Budget

Sun 21 Jan, 2018

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today (21 Jan) outlined three key tests that the Green MSPs will apply before deciding whether to support or oppose a revised 2018-19 Budget from the minority SNP Government.

Last Wednesday (17 Jan), SNP MSPs supported a Green debate amendment at Holyrood, calling for changes to the draft budget to improve local council funding, public sector workers' pay and low-carbon infrastructure. The government is under pressure to present any revisions ahead of the Stage One vote on the Budget Bill at the end of this month.

SNP Climbdown On Draft Budget Shows Greens Leading The Change

Wed 17 Jan, 2018

Following tonight’s vote at Holyrood, in which SNP MSPs voted to accept Green changes to the Scottish Budget on public services, workers’ pay and low-carbon infrastructure, Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:

"Tonight’s climbdown by the SNP shows they accept that their draft budget cannot command support in Parliament, and they have accepted our view that changes are needed to protect public services, improve frontline workers’ pay and invest in low-carbon capital projects.

Harvie says analysis shows ministers have work to do on council funding and pay

Mon 18 Dec, 2017

Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said today's (18 Dec) draft budget analysis by the impartial Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) shows ministers have serious work to do on council funding and pay if they want support from the Green MSPs.

The SPICe analysis shows:

*The Local Government Finance Circular shows Total Revenue falling by 1.6% in real terms, or £157.3m.

*Councils could potentially raise an additional £77m, if all 32 raised Council Tax by the maximum 3%.