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Friday 7th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

SNP-IMPOSED cuts to councils and centralisation will contribute to growing inequality, Scotland’s local government body warned yesterday.

Cosla president David O’Neill said that inequality in Scotland is a “scar on the face of the Scottish political world” warning that it will continue to grow if councils are deprived of funds.

The local government budget is expected to be cut by a staggering £1 billion over the next two years, which will lead to the loss of front-line jobs and services.

Speaking at the opening of Cosla’s annual conference, Mr O’Neill warned that the “gap between rich and poor grows bigger every day while the cost of everyday living gets harder.”

He said: “Centralisation is the enemy of everything we stand for in local government.

“It does not lead to efficiency and effectiveness, it leads to increased cost, inflexibility, an inability to respond to local requirements and lesser outcomes for communities.”

Mr O’Neill stressed that the blight of inequality is the “biggest threat to a cohesive society” and cannot be addressed with a top-down approach.

The conference gets underway at a time when council leaders have been angered by Scottish government plans to use the extra £100 million which will be raised through council tax reforms to fund education.

The local authority leaders fear this could lead to an erosion in local accountability.

“There seems to be in Scotland a national view from both government and Parliament of a fall-back position that when money is tight or when we wish to direct services to be effective and efficient, centralisation is the only answer.

“And we cannot allow that to happen in education,” added Mr O’Neill.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We are decentralising power to schools by making teachers and parents the key decision-makers in the life of their schools.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted that councils are “equal and indispensable partners” to the Scottish government.