Local MSP Colin Smyth and Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader Elaine Murray have criticised the Scottish Government’s Budget after Dumfries and Galloway Council confirmed it faced a £18.467 million funding gap.
The Scottish Government’s draft budget announced in December last year will provide Dumfries and Galloway Council with a revenue grant of £285.8 million. However, the Scottish Government have also given new responsibilities to the Council and ring fenced nearly £10million for health and social care, increasing the number of hours for four years olds in nursery and providing free sanitary products in public places- without additional funding.
Analysis from The Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICE) has shown that Dumfries and Galloway Council’s budget will see a real terms cut of 3.2%.
In a briefing to councillors, officials at Dumfries and Galloway Council have confirmed that the budget will mean the council having to fill a £18.467m funding gap for 2019/20. The Scottish Government’s draft budget allows for local authorities to raise Council Tax by 3%. If such an increase was agreed by Dumfries and Galloway Council it is estimated this would generate just over £2million for local services, still leaving a £16.356 million funding gap.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and Councillor Elaine Murray are seriously concerned about the threat this level of cuts will mean for vital local services.
Councillor Elaine Murray said, “Vital local services in our region have already been cut to the bone as a result of cuts inflicted by the Scottish Government.”
New responsibilities such as increasing the number of hours of nursery provision and measures to tackle period poverty should be funded in addition to current services and not by cutting current services. The draft budget will lead to cuts in schools, roads and local and other local amenities which have already been cut to the bone.”
Colin Smyth MSP said, “Dumfries and Galloway Council have had to make £96 million worth of cuts since 2010, so to learn that the Scottish Government budget will still mean an £18.5million funding gap for the council is shocking. This will mean more cuts in services and more public sector jobs being lost across the region. To protect vital local services in our region the Scottish Government must rethink its budget and put an end to the cuts to councils”.