Local Government is the frontline of our public services, and one that I am passionate about. We expect our Councils to be in a position where they are able to provide the services that we need every day, however we are seeing a situation manifesting where they are at breaking point.
14 years of SNP mismanagement of Local Government funding has left many of them on their knees financially, thus forced into difficult decisions when it comes to the services they provide. The question you need to ask yourself is why is Local Government an afterthought for this SNP administration?
Since 2013-14 Local Government funding from Holyrood has fell by more than 7%. When you consider that this is the budget that provides your children’s education, cleans your streets, and even keeps the streetlights on, the cuts are even more baffling.
The canny thing about this SNP Government is that they manage to mask many of these cuts by saying that there is a “Real terms increase to the Local Government settlement”, to say that this is disingenuous is an understatement. The Scottish Government is placing more and more spending commitments on Councils, meaning that cuts are necessary to fund these additional commitments.
In West Dunbartonshire alone figures in recent years have laid bare how damaging these cuts are, especially for our young people. Funding has dropped for secondary pupils by 11% and by 9% for primary pupils. These are our children’s futures that are being short-changed by the Scottish Government.
But it doesn’t just stop there, a staggering 20,000 calls that were made by residents to West Dunbartonshire Council went completely unanswered in 2020. That is almost 1 in 5 people who were completely ignored by the organisation whose role is there to provide the day to day running of the area.
Our Councils need to be taken seriously by the Scottish Government and are in desperate need of a funding settlement that will allow them to kickstart their own recovery from over a decade of cuts AND a global pandemic. Granted, it’s not a glamourous subject, but it is one that affects us every single day when our kids go to school, we drive on the roads, or we take out the bins. If things continue the way they are currently going our kid’s education will suffer, the roads will become unusable, and our rubbish will begin to pile up.