Council budget spending priorities to be scrutinised by Holyrood committee
The way in which local governments plan and spend their budgets is to be scrutinised by a Holyrood Committee. The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has today announced its review into local government spending ahead of its scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s draft budget 2018/19, which should be revealed towards the end of this year.
As part of its work, the Committee wants to know how local authorities prioritise spending and assess the impact of increased charges. This could include changes to the charges for burial services, local authority gyms or even access to public toilets.
MSPs will also explore the ways in which local government finances may evolve over time. For example, the recent announcement of the Local Democracy Bill in the Programme for Government may provide local communities with a say in how at least 1% of council funds are spent.
Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said: “We know that local governments have been facing financial challenges for a long time because of growing demands on their services and significant revenue budget cuts, as part of UK-wide reductions in public sector budgets.
“We want to ensure that a fully transparent position of local government finances can be established, which takes into account other funding streams within councils such as Pupil Equity Funds, Health and Social Care Integration funds and City Deal resources.
“While local authorities have been making savings over previous years, the future shape of the local government settlement is changing and this may pose a level of uncertainty they’ve not previously had to cope with.
“We now want to hear from the public, local authorities and stakeholder groups on what areas local governments are currently prioritising and whether resources are managed effectively.”
Some of the key questions are:
- How is spending prioritised and are resources managed effectively in local government?
- How are national policies impacting on local government spending?
- How transparent is the local government financial settlement?
- How are fees and charges being used, and how are decisions made on which services are affected?