Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

In order to cover budget gaps, Scotland’s councils must make some of their “hardest expenditure decisions in years,” a watchdog has warned.

According to the Accounts Commission, local authorities may have to cut down on services as a result of Covid, inflation, and rising living expenses.

Two thirds will reportedly need to tap financial reserves to close the £400 million difference.

Since 2013–14, the Scottish government claimed to have increased local funding by £2.2 billion in real terms.

Even with more Covid-19 financing for 2021–22, according to the Accounts Commission, the independent agency that keeps municipalities accountable, councils were had to make considerable reductions in order to balance their budgets in 2018.

According to Audit Scotland’s study, several councils have also utilized reserves to close financial shortfalls and pay for essential services. This is also anticipated to be true in 2022–2023

As local governments struggle with the “increasingly urgent” cost of living problem and mounting demand, certain council services may have to be decreased or eliminated, according to William Moyes, head of the Accounts Commission.

Many councils would have to use reserves in order to balance the budget, which is what they must do, he told BBC Scotland.

But using reserves to fund ongoing operations is a short-term solution. Overall, it’s a difficult settlement and a difficult future.

pressure-related services

The commission stated that councils would be able to manage upcoming financial difficulties thanks to £570 million in extra money for 2023–2024 that was provided by the government in its December budget. However, the research said that more adjustment and reform are necessary to guarantee long-term financial viability for all councils.

“I’m sure councils are pleased to get it,” Mr. Moyes added. It indicates that the government has taken note of their worries.

But if we believed it to be a solution, I believe we would be deluding ourselves.

Charges for certain services may need to be implemented or raised, while other services may need to be scaled down or discontinued entirely, according to the commission head.

People will surely see that their services are under strain when the next fiscal year starts, he said.

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