Councils in Scotland have accused business leaders of being out of touch in suggesting the authorities are not being tough enough in controlling their costs.
CBI Scotland made the claim in its submission to a Holyrood parliamentary inquiry into local government finance.
It says the difficulties associated with spending restraint could be considerably reduced if:
- local authorities pursued a tougher approach to controlling public sector costs , particularly wages and pensions
- councils altered their spending priorities with a focus on core and statutory services
- radical reforms were introduced so that councils become ‘more of a commissioner of services’ than a provider
- there was more widespread collaboration on delivering services across councils and with external providers who benefit from economies of scale
The CBI paper also calls on the Scottish Government to deliver a continuing freeze in Council Tax, look at slimming down the number of local authorities north of the border and to scrap barriers which make it more difficult for firms to deliver public services
In response, Cosla says: “This shows how out of touch the CBI are with the reality of what is happening in Scottish Local Government.
“This is not just an issue for Local Government - everyone is being effected by the financial challenges that we are going to face over the next five to ten years.
“It is something that we must all work together if we are going to mitigate the effects of a recession. We can say that Scotland’s Councils are doing all they can with their public sector partners and others to respond to the current economic problems.
“There is a huge effort across the country, led by councils, to help local communities and businesses respond to the recession.
“This has required councils to re-prioritise their spending which is all the more difficult when budgets are so limited.
“We believe that it would have been better if the CBI had supported this effort in their press release.”