Politics

Delay for £155m emergency council cash is ‘unbelievable’

Furious council chiefs warn budgets are evaporating after waiting a month for a promised £155 million in emergency funds.

Local authorities organisation Cosla said they were given no reason for the massive delay despite pressure on SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to deliver.

Alison Evison, Cosla president, again called for the cash today as she underlined the massive strain on public services during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s huge funding pressures at the moment as councils are dealing with the challenges of delivering services,” she told MSPs on Holyrood’s local government committee.

“Also, we have to bear in mind the income councils are losing at the moment in terms of services that are normally receiving money – obviously leisure services, car parks and things. We’ve lost a huge amount of income. Another aspect that sometimes gets forgotten is our inability to make savings.”

Plans were drawn up to build budgets, but they were jeopardised by the pandemic. At the same, staff still have to paid.

The UK Government confirmed on April 18 that £155 million had been made available to the Scottish Government. It was triggered to compensate for additional spending on English councils.

By May, Labour was accusing the SNP of a “cash grab” for failing to pass on the money.

The Scottish Government confirmed to Cosla on May 5 that every penny of the extra cash will be handed over.

Today, Evison said: “Unfortunately councils have not received this money. When we had our leaders meeting a couple of weeks ago the priority of council leaders was that the funding be received without delay.

“Unfortunately we have not recieved it yet – though we have had assurance it will be during the month of June.”

Graham Simpson, a Conservative MSP on the local government committee, who sits on the committee, said: “I find this unbelievable. We’ve been having this discussion for weeks and weeks and weeks.”



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