Derek Mackay’s ‘shambolic’ Budget today continues to unravel with a series of damning revelations:
- Analysis reveals the SNP has cut enterprise budgets by more than 40 per cent since 2009/10.
- Mr Mackay has admitted in a letter that councils could slash funding for integrated health and social care boards by up to £80million.
- The leader of the Labour/SNP coalition in Edinburgh has branded the Budget the ‘worst revenue settlement since devolution’.
The Labour leader of Edinburgh Council, which is run by a Labour/SNP coalition, said the capital has been dealt ‘the worst revenue settlement since devolution’.
In an online blog, Councillor Andrew Burns wrote: “Rarely in my near 18 years as a local councillor have I seen so much spin and manipulation of figures, as that which I've witnessed in the last 72 hours.”
He added: “I cannot welcome a general revenue grant settlement for Edinburgh that sees the funding received from the Scottish Government being reduced, this year compared to last, by some £37million.
“I understand that it's a choice the Scottish Government is entitled to make - but what's particularly galling is that other choices were available, which would have negated the need for any year-on-year revenue reduction.
“At the council, we'll simply get on trying to ensure we deliver services to the very best of our ability, within the finances that are available to us - but please spare me any further spin as sadly - my measured conclusion is clear - for the City of Edinburgh Council, this is currently the worst revenue settlement from the Scottish Government since the onset of devolution in 1999.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “The SNP's Budget includes a £327million cut for the valued services that our councils deliver, like schools and care for the elderly.
“Behind that figure is the devastating reality that services used by everybody will suffer as a result. These are cuts that will hit everybody, but particularly hurt the most vulnerable.
“It is a budget the Tories would be proud of. It is a shambolic mess that continues to unravel. Labour cannot and will not stand back while public services are subjected to more brutal SNP cuts.”
A new briefing prepared for the Scottish Parliament’s economy committee reveals a cut to Scottish Enterprise of more than £120 million from 2009-10 to this year’s draft budget – a reduction of 41 per cent.
The new analysis follows the publication of the draft budget for 2017-18, which will see Scottish Enterprise funding cut by 33 per cent in a single financial year.
Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “These are utterly damning figures that show just how badly the SNP has failed on economic development after a decade in office.
“Slashing the enterprise budget demonstrates how narrow and short-sighted the Nationalists’ vision for Scotland is. Cutting budgets may save money year-on-year but Scotland loses out in the long term with stalled growth and lower productivity.
“The SNP’s management of Scotland’s economy is under the microscope now more than ever – and we are seeing the results: a £15 billion deficit and missed targets on growth, exports and research and development. This all boils back to a failure to invest in our economy properly.”
In an extraordinary letter to the president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), David O’Neill, Mr Mackay suggests councils could cut funding to Integration Joint Boards (IJBs) by up to £80million.
The letter suggests local authorities could transfer money back to their main spending lines. The Scottish Government is handing IJBs £107million, but if councils take back £80million it would mean there is significantly less money to spend on social care.
Labour social care spokesman Colin Smyth said: “This is an extraordinary letter that confirms from Derek Mackay himself that his budget underfunds councils.
“Derek Mackay knows he hasn’t given local services the settlement they need – but his suggestion they cut funding to integration joint boards is simply staggering. Social care is already in crisis, it needs more investment, not less.
“This looks like a political manoeuvre to blame councils for cuts to social care – despite the brutal £327million cut Derek Mackay has handed out.
“The only way to ensure social care is properly funded is to stop the cuts by using the new powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest.”
Councillor Andrew Burns went on to say: "...to be clear, I really don't care much what those in the Holyrood legislature (it's called that, because that's what people who work there are supposed to do - legislate) argue one way or the other ... what I care about, as a Council Leader, is trying to ensure we deliver services locally to the very best of our ability and to do so within the finances that are available to us.
"I think it's also fair to say that I'm not exactly someone who can very easily be categorised as unnecessarily, politically-tribal in my outlook ... epitomised by my current Leadership of the only two-Party Labour/SNP Coalition across the whole of Scottish Local Government.
"But, tragically, the undeniable conclusion that I've regrettably come to is that, for the City of Edinburgh Council, this is the worst revenue settlement from the Scottish Government since the onset of devolution in 1999.
"...And this is all against a backdrop of the Scottish Government actually receiving, year-on-year, more revenue this year than last, from the Westminster Government."