The body representing Scotland’s local authorities is urging the Scottish Government to invest in councils before it is “too late” and has accused the Scottish Government of “overlooking” council services.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) recently launched a briefing document which shows the reduction to local government funding since 2013/14 and how the flexibility councils have to spend their budget has been eroded.

COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said:

“COSLA’s vision is that Scotland’s communities are sustainable, vibrant places to live, work and visit. Every year, councils invest in a huge range of services and capital projects that are key drivers for economic growth.

“However, ringfencing and Scottish Government-devised policy initiatives mean that more and more has to be delivered from an ever-decreasing portion of local budgets.

“The reality is that services such as roads, buses, paths, planning, community learning, events, sports facilities, libraries, tourism, business support and environmental health all sit unprotected.

“These services are what make our communities attractive places to live, work and visit.

“Local government’s role in creating sustainable communities cannot continue to be underestimated. The public rely on us as leaders and as a provider of vital services.”

Echoing those concerns, COSLA President Cllr Alison Evison added: “Local government is the sphere of government closest to Scotland’s citizens.

“Sadly however, whichever way you want to dress it up, the reality is that in recent budgets the Scottish Government has chosen to overlook the essential services that communities rely on day in day out. If we are to truly realise Scotland’s potential then local authorities must receive a fair settlement.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is set to announce the Scottish Government’s draft budget plans on February 6.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The failure of the UK Government to publish its budget at an earlier time means we do not have clarity on the funding available for our schools, hospitals and other vital public services.

“Despite this, we remain focused on introducing a Scottish budget for 2020-21 at the earliest practical opportunity and are in discussions with Cosla on how we can support their budget process.

“Despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government, we have ensured our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement - delivering a funding package of £11.2 billion for all local authorities in 2019-20, which is a real terms increase of more than £310 million.

“While ring-fenced funding is for increased investment in services such as our schools and nurseries, local authorities have complete autonomy to allocate over 92 per cent - £10.3billion of the funding we provide, plus all locally raised income.

“Decisions on budget allocations for future years are subject to the outcome of the current negotiations with COSLA. The results will be confirmed as part of the Budget in due course.”