Scottish councils see funding allocation rise

24 May 18

Scottish councils have turned a corner in their revenue funding allocation from the Scottish Government, with a small increase reversing a trend of decline in recent years, analysis has revealed.

Local authorities saw their revenue funding increase by 0.3% in 2018-19, despite a fall in the Scottish Government’s own revenue budget of 0.4%, according to figures from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre, released on Monday.

The analysis, which is still subject to the publication of outturn data, suggested an overturning in the trend of recent years, which has seen the local government finance settlement fall at a steeper rate than that of the Scottish Government.

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, revenue funding fell by 7.1% for councils, compared to 1.8% for the Scottish Government.

As a share of Scottish Government revenue, local government revenue also appears to have risen in real terms this year by 0.2 percentage points, following a decrease by 1.9 percentage points between 2013-14 and 2017-18. A similar picture emerges from a combined analysis of revenue and capital figures.

SPICe also found that councils were increasingly opting to draw on fees and charges to boost revenue, with the largest proportion coming from social work, followed by roads and education. In 2016-17, the income raised by Scotland’s 32 local authorities rose by 7% on the previous year, reversing year on year reductions since 2012-13.

A Scottish Government spokesman noted that the figures excluded a number of important additional funding sources, including £355 million for health and social care, which sat outside the core settlement but benefited local government.

“In 2018-19, our £10.9bn local government settlement will provide a real-terms increase in both revenue and capital, at a time when the Scottish revenue budget faces continued real terms cuts – showing that we have treated local government very fairly in [the] face of those,” he said.

However, a spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said councils had suffered the brunt of cuts in recent years.

“The simple truth is that Scotland’s councils have no room left to manoeuvre in terms of budgets,” he said.

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