Figures from a new report from Audit Scotland has highlighted significant challenges for Scottish Borders Council including deprivation and core funding.
The ‘Local government in Scotland: Challenges and performance 2019’ highlighted changes in core funding for Scotland’s 32 local authorities and highlighted that ring-fenced funding, such as for social care and education, now makes up 69 per cent of council net expenditure which has squeezed output on other services:
“As a result, as we have previously reported, councils have made larger reductions to services other than education and social work. These include economic development, waste management and planning services, which are still important for maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.”
Particularly concerning was the report’s analysis of core funding in Scottish Borders Council which it highlighted had seen a 8.2 per cent reduction since 2013/14.
The analysis also underlined that rurality remains an issue for the Borders and noted that its non-working age population has risen.
South Scotland MSP, Michelle Ballantyne, expressed her concerns with the report and highlighted that decreases in core funding impacts the provision of public services.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“Despite continuous increases in Barnett Consequentials from Westminster, the SNP Government has cut core funding for SBC over the past five years.
“With our population growing, the Borders needs more support from the Scottish Government to ensure that our public services are not hurt. Sadly, this has not been the case.
“This report underlines that core council funding has fallen by 8.2 per cent, which has had a significant impact on the provision of local public services.
“Ring-fenced funding for social care and education increasing is part of the issue, despite being ‘a priority’ of the Scottish Government, its allocated funding does not seem its public ambitions, leaving councils to pick up the pieces.
“The Scottish Government needs to take a new approach in order to ensure that local residents get a fairer funding settlement.”