Argyll and Bute’s council has had its Scottish Government funding cut by more than the Scottish average, meaning millions of pounds will have to be cut from council budgets in 2020/21.
Argyll and Bute’s capital budget (for investment in roads, schools and other assets) has been cut by 21% compared to the Scottish average of 17%.
Its revenue budget (for the day to day running of services) has been cut by 1.4% compared to the Scottish average of 1%.
Council Leader, Councillor Aileen Morton slammed the cuts:
“Argyll and Bute deserves as much support and investment as other council areas. This level of cut will mean more impact on our day-to-day services. It also puts obstacles in place to growing the local economy at a time when Argyll and Bute needs to attract people and jobs to the area.
Argyll and Bute covers the second largest area, and has the highest number of inhabited islands, of all Scotland’s councils. This means that services can be more expensive to deliver. It also means that the council must invest in services many other councils do not, such as air and ferry services, and yet the council’s budget cut is higher than the Scottish average.
This is unwelcome to say the least.”
Councillor Morton did however welcome the news that the Scottish Government is increasing its investment in ferry services, by £1 million:
“We have raised the importance of investment in ferry services in Argyll and Bute with the Scottish Government and welcome this increase as what must surely be support for this area.
The Scottish Government, via Transport Scotland, funds ferry services in other parts of Scotland. We have worked to secure similar support for Argyll and Bute, to support both our day to day costs and the replacement of the Lismore ferry.
The fact that the Scottish Government has increased its budget by that amount is a positive sign at this stage for Argyll and Bute.
What we need now is formal confirmation of our allocation.”
Reports outlining the council’s budget outlook will be published on www.argyll-bute.gov.uk by the end of the week, in advance of the Policy and Resources Committee meeting to consider them on 20 February.
The council will meet to set its budget a week later, on Thursday 27 February 2020.