Council leaders are demanding Scotland’s political parties commit to a “menu for change” in the run-up to May’s Holyrood election – insisting this must include “fair funding” for local government.
In what it describes as an election “like no other” amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the local government body Cosla argues councils are “at the heart” of communities across Scotland.
But Cosla president Alison Evison claimed local authorities have for “too long” been given a “poor diet” in terms of the funding they receive from Scottish ministers.
Ahead of the election, she called for all political parties in Scotland to acknowledge the role local authorities play.
Cosla, which represents all 32 of Scotland’s councils, has published a blueprint urging all parties to “make local government the one in 21”.
The blueprint includes a demand for a “fair funding settlement for Scottish local government”, which Cosla says must include the removal of ring-fenced funding pots, where councils get no control over how the money is spent.
It also insists there should be no removal or reduction in the essential functions of local government, while ensuring a move away from centralisation to a default position where services are “managed and delivered as close to communities as possible”.
Ms Evison said the new parliament gives councils the “opportunity for us to reiterate our value”, adding: “For too long Scottish local government has not had its rightful place at the top table.
“Our response during the pandemic has been remarkable, our communities have appreciated what we have done on their behalf and realise that only local government comprises all of the various ingredients that can truly deliver for our communities.
“Therefore we call on all parties to make a commitment to the Cosla local government blueprint in their forthcoming manifestos.
“This last year has been like no other, the forthcoming elections to the Scottish Parliament will be like no other and local government is the sphere of government at the heart of our communities like no other.”
The Cosla blueprint “provides a narrative around the kind of country we want, and about the changes that could make a real difference to communities across the country”, she said, adding that May’s election provides the “chance to make this a reality”.
Ms Evison continued: “The value of local government can be seen in our response to Covid-19, where councils have taken decisive action to support communities, people and businesses.
“For too long now, local government has been given a poor diet – and that is why we developed the local government blueprint, which is our menu for change that we want to see.”