£20 Million Council Cuts For D&G

The Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson has confirmed that the Council will need to make cuts or raise revenue to close a £20m funding gap, following the Scottish Government’s budget.

Analysis of the budget shows that the core grant paid to local councils will be cut by £327m across Scotland- approximately 3.6%. As with last year , Dumfries and Galloway’s share of the cut is higher at approximately 4.4% . That will see a straight cash cut of over £12.5 m from the council’s revenue fund. When added to the nearly £7.5 m uprating needed for agreed extra costs such as the 1% pay rise, the funding gap is confirmed as almost £20m.

Some extra funding has been promised to schools through national attainment fund of £120m. The exact funding has yet to be confirmed but will be based on the number of free school meals in primary one to S3. This means Dumfries and Galloway will receive less than it would have done had the funding been allocated in the same proportion as other local council grants. The money is also paid direct to schools so must be paid on top of existing education budgets so cannot offset against any of the £20m funding gap.

The Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said, “The detailed analysis of the budget confirms our worst fears and that means we will have to find £20m in cuts or extra income. The Scottish Government have hiked council tax for homes above band D so that will bring in an extra £2m. Councillors can also now choose to raise council tax by up to 3% which would raise about £1.8m but that is a decision for Councillors in February. The other £16m will need to come from cuts in services. Given that we have already saved over £70m since 2012, this will be a huge challenge. The Government have claimed there is some extra funds through for example social Care and the attainment find but not only is this massively below the level of cuts we need to make, it is ring-fenced for additional costs like the living wage for social care staff so cannot be used to support existing services. The bottom line is at a time the Scottish Government’s budget is increasing , local services are being hammered yet again and hundreds of council jobs will need to be axed to balance the books, which will impact yet again on the local economy”.

Councillors are due to set the budget for the year ahead on 23 February.

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