COUNCILLORS CALL FOR FAIR FUNDING SETTLEMENT

Council Leader Elaine Murray has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek MacKay calling for a fair funding settlement for Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The call for a fair funding settlement comes as Councillors on Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Policy and Resources Committee unanimously agreed the Council’s position on the Local Government Settlement announced by the Scottish Government in December 2018.

The motion stated,

“that cuts of this magnitude, in the 10th year of austerity, will not be achieved through efficiencies alone, and will result in the reduction or removal of services;

 

That the Leader should write to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work and the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government to express our Council’s deep concern over the implications of this funding settlement; in particular that it will make it extremely difficult to achieve the objectives in our Council Plan, or respond to any economic or social emergency, that it will reduce our ability to meet our Council’s four priorities and deliver the Scottish Government’s policy objectives,”

The SNP Scottish Government’s draft budget announced last December provided Dumfries and Galloway Council with a revenue grant of £285.8million. However, the Government also gave the local authority new responsibilities and ring fenced over £11million 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. When the new responsibilities, ring fenced allocations and inflation and other cost rises are considered the Council faces a £18.5million funding gap for the next financial year.

After the council’s response to the Local Government settlement was unanimously agreed by all Councillors, Council Leader Elaine Murray wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay, to express the views of all Councillors.

Writing to Derek Mackay, Councillor Elaine Murray said,

“The Council’s finance officers have advised therefore that our council faces a revenue funding gap of £18.467m in 2019/20, increasing to £34.498m in 2020/21 and £51.152m in 2021/22. Since the start of austerity, this council has already had to accommodate a funding shortfall of almost £100m, and we believe that the further cuts proposed to our budget will result in the reduction or removal of valued local services. It is with great regret that Councillors are being forced to consider cuts such as school closures, closure or transfer of leisure facilities and public toilets and measures which will increase pupil:staff ratios,”

Councillor Elaine Murray said, “The unanimous decision taken by Councillors from all groups on the proposed Local Government settlement sends a very clear signal to the Government . The harsh reality is that the cuts that are being imposed onto councils by the Scottish Government will result in the reduction or removal of vital local services. If the Scottish Government do not drastically improve the local government settlement for Dumfries and Galloway Council the future of leisure centres and some schools could be at risk.

 

Given the challenges that our region faces such as the recent economic shocks with Pinney’s and the looming fall out of Brexit, the Local Government settlement will make it much more difficult for Dumfries and Galloway Council to protect the interests of local people. Various council services were involved, and continue to play a key role in the aftermath of the closure of Pinneys. But with extreme cuts from the Scottish Government it will be extremely difficult for our Council to tackle unemployment and any short or long term impacts of Brexit.

MSPs who represent our region in the Scottish Parliament must listen to this cross party call from Dumfries and Galloway Council and fight for our Council to be properly funded and a fair funding settlement so that we can protect vital local services and deliver for communities across Dumfries and Galloway.”