Funding cuts are finally beginning to take their toll as Scottish councils can no longer protect services, according to report published today.
Councils’ performance is beginning to suffer and public satisfaction is falling, the Local Government Benchmarking Framework from the Improvement Service said.
The report found that over the last eight years - despite total revenue funding for councils having fallen by 8.3% in real terms from £10.5bn to £9.6bn - ‘service performance has been maintained remarkably well with improving trends’.
Education and social care spending have been protected, resulting in 16- to 19-year-olds in education, training and employment rising to almost 92% and a record 62% of older people being supported at home.
Reductions of 22% have been made in culture and leisure, planning spending fell 34%, highways budgets have been cut 15% and environmental services budgets have decreased by almost 10%.
The report concluded that in 2017/18 there was ‘indicative evidence across some services covered by the benchmarking framework that performance improvement is slowing down for the first time since 2010/11’.
Improvement Service chair and president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Cllr Alison Evison, said: ‘This report shows that, once again, Scottish local government has risen to the challenge and done a remarkable job in difficult circumstances.
‘The problem now is that, as the report identifies, this will become increasingly difficult as budget cuts over a number of years begin to bite.’