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COSLA REINFORCES THAT HEADLINE FIGURES CAMOUFLAGE REALITIES

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Cosla today reinforced the message that the Scottish executive's headline figures camouflaged the realities of anot...
Cosla today reinforced the message that the Scottish executive's headline figures camouflaged the realities of another difficult financial settlement for local government.

Cosla stated that the executive's headline figure is misleading, as it does not provide a like for like comparison.

Speaking ahead of the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2002 to be debated in parliament tomorrow Cosla also expressed its concern at the extent of ring-fencing and central direction on the use of available resources. Cosla feels that this erosion of democracy undermines the efforts that have been made through LGF system changes to introduce a more appropriate balance between central direction and local flexibility.

'The inappropriate level of central direction on the use of available resources is placing considerable pressures on councils' capacity to maintain core service provision,' said Cosla's finance spokesman John Pentland. 'There needs to be more trust and local flexibility on the use of resources. At the end of the day local government delivers local services that is what we are elected to do.

'Genuine partnership arrangements need to be put in place to ensure that local government is fully involved right from the very start of the policy development process.'

Cosla president Pat Watters joined the calls adding: 'The Scottish executive needs to assess on a more realistic basis the spending pressures and inescapable costs which are faced by local government. Settlements need to provide sufficient resources to allow councils to deliver on national and local priorities.'

Mr Watters continued: 'Local government needs to be put in a position whereby it can start to tackle years of under investment and neglect. This means looking at things such as replacing the capital controls that we currently have with self-regulated safeguards, this supported by sufficient and sustainable revenue funding.

'Cosla has long campaigned, and will continue to do so, that the capital receipts set aside arrangements for housing should be removed with immediate effect. The current system is forcing councils down the stock transfer route.

He concluded: 'The executive's full commitment to the local government committee's inquiry into local government finance is needed. Early changes are needed to simplify the complex system we currently have and put in place arrangements which restore local democracy and accountability.'

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