Falkirk Council will get funding to help with pandemic costs
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A war of words broke out when some opposition MSPs claimed that finance minister Kate Forbes had seemed to suggest that councils would not receive the full amount of money that was earmarked for Scotland.
Alison Harris, Scottish Conservative MSP for Central Scotland, said: “Councils across the country have been struggling to meet the demands of the coronavirus and will continue to struggle as the demand on health and social care services grow and greater supplies of personal protective equipment are required.
“Local authorities across Scotland are spearheading the response to this virus. Falkirk should not have to ask the SNP for funds.”
But the Holyrood government has confirmed that the cash will be passed directly to local authorities.
Cecil Meiklejohn, the leader of Falkirk Council, said: “Scottish Government has made initial funding available to councils, notably a £80 million Hardship Funding and £30 million Food Fund as well as a number of funds to support the business community.
“In the last couple of weeks we’ve had positive discussions with the cabinet secretary for finance, and it was made clear that the consequentials of £155 million, would be passed on in full. That’s now been confirmed, which is good news for councils across Scotland.”
She added: “However it is very early days, with many variables and a highly uncertain landscape so it would premature to try to assess specific impact on the council’s finances.
“What we do know is there are key areas of financial risk such as loss of income form a range of revenues streams and higher expenditure as well as the in ability of services to now deliver on planned budget savings.
“Cosla ( Convention for Scottish Local Authorities) are currently in the process of collating the headline cost for recovery for Local Government which will be the basis for further discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for finance.”
Councillor Gail Macgregor, COSLA’s resources spokesperson described the decision by Scottish Government to pass the £155 million on to councils as a “positive step in the right direction”.
“Scotland’s Councils are doing a heroic job in keeping a huge range of essential services running to meet the needs of communities and to be responsive locally.
“The costs to Local Government in dealing with this pandemic and coping with the loss of income are going to be substantial.
“COSLA is working closely with all councils on an ongoing basis to understand the scale of these costs and to ensure that Scottish Government recognises that this could well exceed the £155m Consequentials.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have already committed to passing on these consequentials.
“We are in discussions with COSLA to fully understand the pressure that councils face.
“We are still awaiting details from them on the outcome of their cost collection exercise and that will be used to inform the distribution of the £155 million.”