South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth and Dumfries and Galloway Council Labour Leader Elaine Murray have said that the SNP’s draft budget announced to the Scottish Parliament on 13 December will lead to yet more massive cuts in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Draft Budget outlined by the SNP’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work could only offer warm words for the much talked about Borderlands Growth Deal but not a single penny of funding. This was a similar announcement to that of the UK Chancellor in the Autumn Statement in October.

The SNP’s draft budget will mean that Dumfries and Galloway Council will have to make even more cuts to services. Analysis from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has shown that despite the false words from the SNP Government of £198million cash increase for local government across Scotland when new financial responsibilities for councils are taken into account councils will actually face a £175million or 2% cut to revenue budgets. Based on financial projections from Dumfries and Galloway Council that will equate to over £14 million of cuts, although it will be next week before the Government shares the specific financial settlement for each council. 

The SNP’s draft budget also failed to end the Tory two child benefit cap and increase Child Benefit.

Colin Smyth MSP and Councillor Elaine Murray joined trade unions and Councillors from across Scotland yesterday morning in a protest against cuts to the public sector outside the Scottish Parliament.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “On the same week that we learn 650 more people will be looking for a job in our region this Christmas, this budget failed to deliver for our economy and for local services. Instead of seizing the moment the SNP could only offer warm words for the Borderlands Growth Deal, no more than the UK Tory Government budget offered. It means that there will likely be no money spent on the proposals put forward by the five cross border local authorities until 2020 at the very earliest. 

When we see the highest level of unemployment in our region since 2014 we need to see action to grow our economy, support businesses and communities and create high skilled jobs, none which will happen as a result of the SNP’s budget.  

Yet more cuts to local council funding will mean services more services and jobs having to be axed.

The budget was also a missed opportunity to tackle the scandal of child poverty by failing to adopt Labour’s plans to increase child benefit and the two child benefit cap. The Scottish Parliament now has the powers to do this and it is scandals the SNP has chosen not to use them”

Labour Group Leader Elaine Murray said, “The Scottish Government’s draft budget is another blow for local services as we will face severe cuts  to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s budget. That will have a devastating impact on schools, social care and for local roads and amenities. Under this Government, Dumfries and Galloway Council has already been cut to the bone, if they are serious about ending austerity the SNP Government must properly fund our council in line with inflation and an additional 1% so we can invest in our valuable local services, support the economy and deliver for our local communities.”