Council budgets straining to keep pace with demand

Local government finance

Most of Scotland’s 32 councils are increasingly relying on money from reserves to keep up with demand for services and balance their budgets.

A report today from the Accounts Commission, Scotland’s national watchdog for local government, says the financial pressures are likely to get worse. Demand for services continues to grow, funding for councils from the Scottish Government has reduced by 7.6 per cent since 2013/14 and is forecast to reduce further.

The report, Local Government in Scotland, also says Integration Joint Boards are struggling to balance their budgets; in 2018/19, 19 of Scotland’s 30 IJBs needed additional funding, or recorded deficits.

Graham Sharp, chair of the Accounts Commission, said:

“We urgently need much faster progress in the reform of our health and social care services. The current position is increasingly unsustainable.

“There’s a need for councils to continue rethinking how they deliver services, as well as look at ways to increase their income. For some councils in Scotland, finding ways to do this is getting more and more difficult as their current income doesn’t match demand.”