The financial mess left behind by the Labour party is set to lead to swinging cuts to public services across Scotland as the Westminster government cuts Scotland’s grant in an effort at addressing the UK’s £150bn plus deficit.
Local authority umbrella group Cosla has claimed that this will result in Scottish councils having to cope with a 12% real terms reduction in funding over the next three years. According to figures from the BBC, Labour controlled Glasgow Council is facing having to make savings of £115 million.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has already warned of “brutal” cuts to come and UK PM David Cameron warned that “Jobs will be lost and programmes cut.”.
The cuts to Scotland’s block grant by the coalition government is expected to be as high as 25% over four years and the impact on jobs and public services will be severe. Thus far talk of job cuts has been avoided, instead there have been suggestions that voluntary redundancy and ‘natural wastage’ might be employed, but such is the scale of the UK’s debt and the cuts from Westminster that job losses are looking almost inevitable.
The SNP have announced that they will publish an alternative proposal that will spell out the benefits of granting Holyrood full fiscal autonomy. Last year Scotland actually contributed more to the UK Treasury then she received in the form of a block grant.
The Labour party in Scotland are proposing that the financial shortfall should be met through increases in council tax bills. This would mean ending the agreement between local authorities that includes a freeze on council tax, a system that has seen families save around £300 a year. Labour MSP Lord George Foulkes has also called for a ‘tartan tax’ to be levied on Scots, making them the highest taxed workers in the UK.
The Westminster coalition government are to unveil the extent of the cutbacks within the next few days. Only then will the Scottish government and Scotland’s local authorities know exactly what they will have to spend next year.