Wightman warns Finance Secretary against smoke & mirrors on local gov funding

Scottish Greens local government spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP has blasted Finance Secretary Derek Mackay for continuing to mask multi-million budget cuts with ‘smoke and mirrors’ on local government funding.

Grilling the Finance Secretary at the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee today (9 January 2019), Mr Wightman highlighted that the true extent of ringfenced funding to councils for national commitments is far greater than Ministers claim, resulting in hundreds of millions of pounds in real terms cuts.

Andy Wightman MSP said:

“Derek Mackay needs support to pass his budget but he’s not helping himself by continuing his smoke and mirrors routine, claiming to give more cash to councils but denying the true extent to which their hands are tied by Scottish Government ringfencing.  This ultimately means that cuts will fall most heavily on the services which matter to local communities.

“COSLA has even highlighted the absurd situation that while extra cash is being given to increase childcare provision from 600 to 1140 hours, cuts to Councils’ core budgets, which pay for the existing 600 hours, might mean those commitments can’t be delivered after all, unless Councils effectively ringfence the whole sum.  We could then end up with councils and Scottish Government passing the buck on who’s to blame, and the public deserve better than that.

“No one’s fooled by Mr Mackay’s claims of extra cash while they’re also hearing about real world cuts being proposed to vital local services like education, social care and community facilities as a direct result of his budget plans. It’s high time he dropped this charade and faced up to the reality of his cuts budget by backing our calls for real reform of local funding and a fair deal for local services this year.”