Laura Sharman 17 March 2016

Watchdog warns about 'starker choices ahead' for councils

Councils in Scotland have been warned that cutting staff numbers and increasing charges is neither 'sustainable nor sufficient' to meet future budget cuts, by a public spending watchdog.

A new report from the Accounts Commission shows that while councils in Scotland have successfully balanced their budgets to date, councils have ‘starker’ choices to make ahead of them.

The report also warns that while councils have reduced their workforces to save money, this leave them at risk of not having the right people in place with the knowledge and kills to design and deliver effective services in the future.

Douglas Sinclair, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: ‘Councils have coped well so far but the scale of the future challenge requires longer-term planning and a greater openness to considering alternative forms of service delivery.

'What is important for the public is that whatever choice a council makes about how to provide a service, it can demonstrate that the choice represents best value both in terms of cost and quality.’

The report also calls for councillors to have the knowledge and skills to challenge and scrutinise decisions and performance, and for more effort to be made to involve local people in delivering services.

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