Jackie Baillie MSP – cuts are jeopardising vital and essential services.
By Democrat reporter
Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP Jackie Baillie joined colleagues in the Scottish Parliament this week to challenge the SNP Government over its cuts to local government.
Analysis of the local Government settlement by the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) showed that for West Dunbartonshire Council since 2013 its budget had been cut by 4 per cent, or £13.2 million, in real terms.
In the case of Argyll & Bute Council, their budget was cut by 12.2%, or £27.5 million, in real terms over the same time period.
Jackie Baillie claims these cuts are jeopardising vital and essential services in local communities and making it incredibly difficult for the councils to tackle local issues.
She added: “The SNP may talk about putting power in the hands of the people of Scotland, but Scotland is still one of the most centralised countries in Europe.
“The SNP has passed on cuts to West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute Councils at four times the rate of cuts to the Scottish Government’s budget.
“The communities that West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute councils serve have suffered for years at the hands of SNP and Tory austerity.
“We have seen year after year that local government is at breaking point. There is only one way to ensure we have local councils fit to provide local services and tackle the issues of the day and that is to provide them with the resources they need.
“As we approach the publication of the Scottish Budget my message and that of COSLA and Trade Unions to the Scottish Government is clear: stop the cuts to West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute Councils and protect our services.
Meanwhile, a Scottish Government report on access to postgraduate study published this week has revealed the stark inequality that exists in Scotland’s higher education system between students from deprived areas and those from more privileged areas.
Ms Baillie said: ““This report from the Scottish Government confirms what we already know; students from deprived areas in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute continue to face disadvantages in the higher education system.
“The disparity in progress to postgraduate study between students from deprived areas and more privileged students shows that we continue to waste the talent and chances of too many young local students.
“Cuts in grants have seen poorer students having to borrow more as they struggle to live through their studies – perhaps one reason they graduate with poorer degrees.
“In spite of the progress made on widening access, there is still a huge disparity between the “ancients” and post-92 universities in creating access for poorer students. That is not good enough.
“It is vital that the government does all within its power to ensure students from disadvantaged areas in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute have the same opportunity as those from more privileged areas. They need to reverse cuts to University funding and review the cap on student places which has failed to keep up with demand.”
- There is a report in earlier in this issue of The Democrat of the debate between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour leader Richard Leonard on the subject of student loans. Go to SEARCH on first page.