Labour must shoulder some of the blame for £85 million budget cuts
Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier reckons Labour must shoulder some of the blame for the £85million cuts facing South Lanarkshire Council.
But Labour’s James Kelly this week accused the Scottish Government of denying council’s access to much needed cash.
We revealed last week the authority was facing unprecedented pressure on its budget.
Council leader Eddie McAvoy called on Scottish MP’s to “make the case for local government” at Westminster.
However, Ms Ferrier claimed Labour MP’s had backed austerity when they voted for the Charter for Budget Responsibility, a claim repeatedly rubbished by Labour themselves.
Ms Ferrier said this week: “It is unfortunate that the Labour Party, when given the recent opportunity to do so at the General Election, chose to champion continued austerity rather than follow the SNP’s lead and oppose it.
“Perhaps if they had, they would have won a significantly greater amount of seats South of the border and Scotland would not now be faced with further cuts from Westminster.
“I will continue to oppose austerity, and in doing so, continue to make the case for local government.”
After backing the Charter for Budget Responsibility, which sets binding targets on public spending, earlier this year, then MP Tom Greatrex, defended the decision and accused the SNP of misleading the public.
He said: “The Charter is for a commitment to balance the current budget over the course of a Parliament – in other words day-to-day spending excluding capital investment.”
James Kelly MSP, meanwhile, said the SNP’s underspend last year could have gone to supporting public services.
He said: “Every single day I am contacted by constituents feeling the brutal effects of the cuts.
“Parents are worried sick about getting their kids to school safely and yet the Scottish Government are sitting on a cash pot in Edinburgh refusing to properly fund South Lanarkshire Council.
“Underspending a budget is a sign of poor financial management, and it is hard working families in our communities who are feeling the effects.”
Finance secretary John Swinney had said the underspend would be taken forward to lessen the impact of cuts at a UK level, saying it showed “sensible management” of Scotland’s public finances.
Councillors agreed the report that predicted the cuts at an executive committee last week without discussion, although the SNP are understood to believe it is “crystal-ball gazing.”
While SLC are facing tough times, Glasgow may need to slash £100m from it’s budget over just two years .