SNP Ministers must take the opportunity now to signal a new direction and a commitment to change.Patrick Harvie MSP
Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP is today (12 Oct) warning that the “the clock is ticking” on the need for fairer funding of local services, as councils across Scotland start drawing up fresh cuts and increased charges to cope with “carnage” on a scale already inflicted on councils in England.
Ahead of a political panel discussion at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) conference in St Andrews today, Mr Harvie is stepping up the case for reform of local government finance, which remains the Green MSPs’ precondition for any budget negotiations with the minority SNP Government.
“While other parties have postured from the sidelines, the Scottish Greens have used the opportunity of a minority government since 2016 to reverse cuts to local government, shielding staff and service users from the worst of the austerity caused by previous under-investment. As demand for local services and fair pay grows, so too does the case for renewed local democracy, for fairer and more locally-controlled funding.
“Councils are already drawing up budgets for 2019/20 and we’re hearing of plans being drafted that anticipate cuts as deep as twenty per cent. That would be on a scale which has already been inflicted by the Tories to councils in England, causing immense damage to schools, social care, road maintenance, sports centres and libraries. It would be unconscionable to repeat such carnage in Scotland.
“The Tory claim that austerity is suddenly “over” will be judged when the UK budget is published later this month. But whatever they do, Scotland is no longer forced to follow suit. Last year, the Greens showed how the use of devolved tax policy could put a cuts budget back into real terms growth. This year we’re making the case that the same vision must be shown at local level.
“The clock is ticking, and the future of our public services is at stake. Over the years Greens have made the case that our communities need the financial freedom that cities and regions across Europe take for granted. We stand with the quarter of a million staff working to deliver these services and the citizens across the country who rely on them. SNP Ministers must take the opportunity now to signal a new direction and a commitment to change.”