Today is Budget Day in the Scottish Parliament.  It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic will have a major impact on the economy.  These problems will come after years of Tory and SNP austerity have had a devastating impact on services.


Earlier this week the Accounts Commission issued a report about the finances of local government in Scotland.  That report highlighted the perilous state of local government finances in Scotland and highlighted that cuts to local government in Scotland have been disproportionate compared to cuts to the Scottish Government’s Budget.


As the Accounts Commission report says, ‘Over the last six years local government revenue funding from the Scottish Government fell by 4.7 per cent, while other Scottish Government revenue funding fell by 0.8 per cent.’  This is not some accounting process these figures represent cuts to services in our communities, they represent job losses.  Cuts to local government are cuts to our communities.


The report also demonstrated that the pandemic has cost local councils at least £767 million, the Scottish Government has £800 million in unspent Budget consequentials we are looking for the Budget to pay those costs to local government.


Today’s Budget has to include fair funding for communities – fair funding for local government.


The Budget needs to support the economy and in this time of pandemic it needs to protect our NHS.  The pandemic is the greatest economic crisis in living memory – the budget must fund radical plans to rebuild the economy and deliver jobs.


In the face of the pandemic the NHS needs protection.  We are calling for investment in Community Mental Health services especially focused on children and young people.


We need a Budget today designed to deal with the impact of the pandemic.  As co-operators we need a Budget which shows a concern for our communities and which invests in local government, health services and jobs.