Chair of CSPP, Professor Richard Kerley, was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive programme last week to discuss the implications of the Scottish Government’s draft budget for local government finance. With Scottish Government and local authority leaders disputing whether proposed spending represents an increase or decrease in local government budgets, Professor Kerley was asked for his view.
The CSPP’s Chair observed that part of the divergence stemmed from the fact that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek MacKay MSP, had discussed spending on ‘local services’ rather than ‘local government services’. This meant that while the grant to local government may be reduced, additional funds could be put directly to other local services, such as via head teachers. Therefore depending on the focus of analysis, “both sides may be right and both sides may be wrong” in their description of central government funding for local services in the 2017/18 period.
Despite this, it was observed that the “long term and inexorable trend” appears to be that local government spending has been in decline, as have staffing levels, which does indicate a reduction in central government financing of local government budgets over recent years.
Listen to the full interview on BBC I-Player Radio [from 09:45 on the player].