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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Sean Bell

Council in funding plea to Scottish Government to plug budget gap

West Dunbartonshire Council has appealed to the Scottish Government for support

WEST Dunbartonshire Council has appealed to the Scottish Government to provide greater financial support for local government as the authority faces an estimated £14 million budget gap.

Council leader Martin Rooney of Labour this week wrote to Deputy First Minister John Swinney – standing in for Finance Secretary Kate Forbes during her maternity leave – warning that the cost-of-living crisis has placed rising demands on council resources and employees.

While the Scottish Government already provides roughly 85% of the funding for the local authority – one of the smallest in Scotland - the council leader nevertheless fears that public services may be cut if more money is not provided.

Councillor Rooney said: “West Dunbartonshire Council needs additional financial assistance from the Scottish Government with closing the £14m budget gap in 23/24 and with funding fair pay for all of our local government staff.

“Without the Scottish Government’s financial support, local residents will be faced with the prospect of the loss of public services. In addition, there is the real possibility of industrial action impacting on communities over the coming months affecting services such as waste collection, early years and schools as trade unions fight for fair pay for Council workforces across Scotland.

“Council services are vital to our communities and provide a lifeline for the most vulnerable, and we need investment to ensure they are protected now and for the future.”

Responding, a Scottish Government spokesperson told the National: “We fully understand the pressures facing local authorities and are grateful for the vital work they do for our communities.”

Noting the Scottish Fiscal Commission’s assessment that the overall Scottish Budget for 2022-23 is 2.6% lower than this year in cash terms and 5.2% lower after inflation due to reduced Covid-19 funding and falling capital funding from the UK Government, the spokesperson added: “Despite continued economic uncertainty, the Scottish Government is providing a real-terms increase of 6.3% to local authority budgets this year – despite cuts to Scotland’s overall budget by the UK Government.

“In the current financial year, the West Dunbartonshire Council will receive £224.1 million to fund vital day-to-day services, an 8.4% increase compared to 2021-22.”

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