Council leader Martin Rooney and his deputy, Michelle McGinty.
By Bill Heaney
The Leader of West Dunbartonshire Council has called for fair and transparent funding to protect services and jobs following the Scottish Government’s budget announcement.
Councillor Martin Rooney spoke out in the wake of confirmation of the settlement and said it fell “far short” of what the Council needed to bridge a £21 million gap between the funding it receives and cost of delivering vital services.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced yesterday that £550 million would be provided to local government, however, this includes £260.6 million of revenue and capital funding already agreed to meet pay deals for employees and funding previously agreed to deliver on national commitments such as £100 million to introduce the real living wage in adult social care and £17.5 million for the roll-out of free school meals to P6 and P7 pupils.
In real terms, after adjusting for existing commitments and Scottish Government policies, Scotland’s 32 local authorities will receive an additional £71 million of revenue funding between them and no additional capital funding.
The Council is currently facing an anticipated funding shortfall of around £21 million in the coming year and a range of saving options which will reduce services and costs have and are being developed by officers in response to this.
Council Leader Martin Rooney said: “This is not a time for politics, our communities are suffering. We need to be honest and transparent, it is not an additional £550 million for local government as commitments previously made by the Scottish Government are included.
“The reality of the budget announcement is that with inflation running at 11% and costs for everything from food to fuel going through the roof, councils across the country will receive £71 million between them which does not come close to meeting the significant funding gaps councils face.
“In West Dunbartonshire we have the biggest financial challenge since our inception and are facing stark decisions which will impact on our services and workforce at a time when people need our services more than ever.”
Depute Leader Councillor Michelle McGinty added: “The cost of living crisis is evident all around us, our residents are struggling and we need fair funding to continue to provide the vital services they rely on. With increasing costs for delivering services, including inflation, interest rate and utility rises, we had called for a settlement which reflected the reality of the situation we are all in.
“The only option we are being left with is to reduce services and raise Council tax – risking jobs and taking money out of our residents pockets at a time when they are reliant on every penny. Pay more and get less. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure fair funding for our services and residents.”
The Labour Group can wring their hands all they like and shed the crocodile tears, they will still implement the cuts to services and jobs. For Martin to say this is not a time for “politics” shows you how ideologically weak he is regarding any fight in him to oppose the Tories.
And yet, at least £1 million went to the mental health act law review. Their Final Report does nothing yet takes nearly 1,000 pages without even looking at the law. The law itself is just a blank cheque to criminals kidnapping and drugging people to death for a living.