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Thousands of Scottish council jobs at risk if further funding cuts go ahead

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has warned Holyrood that further cuts to local government funding next week will have “severe” consequences for jobs across Scotland, as the Scottish government prepares to announce its spending plans for the next year.

Scottish councils have been forced to cut 7,000 jobs in the past year due to £350m in budget cuts, COSLA’s senior executives have warned.

With local councils being the largest employers in many areas of Scotland, the body warned that a cut in council jobs will also have a knock-on effect for local economies due to a reduction in local spending, threatening the economic vibrancy of many communities. 

COSLA president, Cllr David O’Neill said: “There were 7,000 job losses arising from the £350m cut to Scottish councils last year. A further reduction in budget of similar proportions, on an already reduced base, will have even more severe consequences for job losses in councils and have a wider knock on effect for jobs within communities.

“We need to remember that services are delivered by these people – no people, no services to communities.”

Cllr O’Neill added that further funding cuts, combined with councils’ statutory obligation to maintain services such as education and social care, will only lead to a ‘disproportionate’ reduction of discretionary services such as economic development.

A cut in economic development would have a ‘detrimental’ impact on local economies, especially in many areas still recovering from the financial downturn, he explained.

“Councils help thousands of businesses to start or grow every year, creating jobs in the process. A reduction in that support can only mean much less opportunity for job creation, a reduced opportunity to tackle inequality,” Cllr O’Neill said.

The leader of Fife Council, Cllr David Rose, backed Cllr O’Neill’s concerns, saying that if council budgets were cut to a similar proportion as last year (3.5%), his council alone would lose over 300 jobs.

He urged the Scottish government to be aware of the ‘wider ramifications’ of another substantial cut in local government funding.

“Reductions in economic development locally in Fife mirror a reduction in spend by national agencies which has already delivered a significant reduction in expenditure in Fife at a time of great uncertainty,” Cllr Rose concluded.

“This double whammy has a worse effect on our most needy communities and many of our most needy communities are already at breaking point.”

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