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MSP challenges government over council funding cuts

Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

The SNP government has hammered Orkney Islands Council with cuts to their budget, putting lifeline services at risk, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has claimed.

The Scottish Labour MSP has hit out at the government, quoting new figures, from the Independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice), which indicate that between 2013-14 and 2018-19, OIC’s budget was cut by £90 per person in real terms.

The figures from Spice have shown, across Scotland, council budgets were cut by £810 million in real terms during the period.

Scottish Labour has claimed the cuts have put lifeline services at risk and show the SNP has not only failed to stand up to Tory austerity, they have “turbo-charged” it on councils.

The government has said the funding settlements are fair, considering the cuts to the Scottish budget from Westminster, and has pointed to an upcoming real terms increase in funding for all local authorities in 2019-20.

Scottish Labour’s Rhoda Grant MSP said: “The SNP has hammered Orkney council with year after year of cuts”

“These cuts have put lifelines services, like schools and social care, at risk. More than £800 million has been stripped from councils in real terms in recent years.

“Instead of using Scotland’s powers to stand up to the Tories, the SNP government has used Holyrood as a conveyor belt for cuts. And we know these cuts have been made amid the government sitting on almost half-a-billion pounds of unspent cash.”

“It’s time for Derek Mackay to listen to Scottish Labour and use this money to properly fund local services.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman responded: “We continue to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.

“We are delivering a funding package of £11.2 billion for all local authorities in 2019-20 — a real-terms increase of more than £310 million for essential public services in Scotland. All local authorities receive their fair share of the total funding available.

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