I recently met with the leader of the Labour Group on Clackmannanshire Council to discuss the threats facing the local authority’s budget. According to reports, the council is under threat of bankruptcy in the years ahead due to funding issues.
The Accounts Commissions has found that the council, along with Moray and North Ayrshire, facing running out of spare money for emergencies and face a “challenging year” ahead.
With budgets down 7.6% in real terms from 2010-11, local authorities across Scotland are facing having to either identify even more cuts or continue to dip into their reserves. If Clackmannanshire was to continue to use its General Fund reserves at the level planned for 2017-18 it will have run out within two to three years’ time.
We can all see in our communities the impact cuts to local authorities’ budgets are having. These are cuts to local services that we all use and has an impact on many, young and old. Further cuts, initiated by Westminster and passed on by the SNP Government in Holyrood will only make things worse. There are real threats that further valued services will close down.
This is especially true in Clackmannanshire. The Accounts Commission have issued a stark warning that local councils face serious financial hardship. This is unacceptable and has a real impact on the wider local economy. For every cut administered by the SNP run council, there is a subsequent cut in the wider economy.
These are more than numbers on a spreadsheet – these are our schools, our social care services, local housing and community centres. These cuts will end up falling the hardest on the poorest, the most vulnerable, and our children. That is why Scottish Labour has 5 key tests for the upcoming budget:
1. Does it stop Tory austerity?
2. Does it tackle the shameful growth in poverty?
3. Does it redistribute wealth?
4. Does it redistribute power?
5. Does it grow the economy for the many, not just the few?
We now need to see the SNP Government at Holyrood meet these tests.