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Cosla today said that now was the time for action, not words, on ...
Cosla today said that now was the time for action, not words, on

local government finance.

And called on the Scottish executive to take action on the evidence being

presented by Cosla on behalf of Scottish local government.

Cosla has campaigned for a long time for a review of local government

finance and welcomes the local government committee's decision to undertake

an inquiry - something the executive refused to do.

Cosla's evidence, which is a product of detailed research and commitment

from all of Scottish local government and has been developed on a fully

inclusive basis, will show that the basic problem with the system is that

there is a lack of partnership and trust, not enough money to provide for

all the issues that need to be dealt with and the tax system that raises the

money is inadequate to raise enough cash.

Commenting on the evidence Cosla's newly elected finance spokesperson

John Pentland said: 'There is no doubt that change is needed and

our evidence cannot just sit on the shelf.

'The current system of local government finance erodes democracy. As each

year goes by, more and more of our funds are being prioritised nationally,

leaving us with less scope to maintain and improve the things that matter

locally, such as repairing holes in the road, dealing with litter and

improving leisure facilities.'

Cllr Pentland continued: 'We are also concerned about the growing

trend being used by the Scottish executive to get councils to bid against

each other for relatively small amounts of cash which will only go to a few.

This is divisive, time consuming and costly.

'We will be telling the committee that like most of the Scottish population

councils are also suffering from initiative fatigue brought on by the


'Our evidence will point out that the overall formula used at present to

decide how much cash each local authority receives is over complicated and

needs to be simplified.

'It needs to focus on what is important and that is the service received by

the public. This needs to be unfettered by central government bureaucracy.

'There is a lot of common ground and agreement between the Scottish

executive and local government on what needs to be done. But the bottom

line is that we simply do not get the cash to deliver for the people in our

areas that we are democratically elected to serve.'

Cllr Pentland concluded: 'We are concerned about announcements which

often relate to recycled monies rather than new money, the constant

bombardment of initiatives and of having to bid against each other for

relatively small amounts of money. There has to be more to local democracy

than scrimping, cost cutting and ticking off lists.

'Local authorities are best placed to know what their communities want and

how to deliver that. What matters is what works and the Scottish executive

must invest in and trust local government to deliver on priorities with an

adequate supply of funding.

'Partnership working and trust are key ingredients to bringing about change

and the time has come for action, not words, from the Scottish executive.'

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