Council leaders in Scotland have warned that cuts to the services they provide could be “catastrophic”.
Local authorities across Scotland provide a range of services, including housing, schools and social work.
But senior figures in the local government body Colsa said they were now facing a defining moment, with the UK government preparing to reveal details of its comprehensive spending review in just a few days time.
The Scottish Government is also due to unveil is budget proposals in November.
Cosla president Pat Watters warned today: “This is crunch time for the vital local government services that communities across Scotland rely on, and also for the workers who work day in and day out to deliver them.
“If it is not handled correctly then the consequences could be disastrous.”
Mr Watters said the decisions in the spending review and in finance secretary John Swinney’s budget would have “a massive bearing not only on the local services we so often take for granted but also on tens of thousands of local jobs”.
He stressed that councils provide “a huge range of services that enable our communities to grow and flourish”, and added: “To do damage to such services would be catastrophic.”
The local government leader added: “From making sure that the food we eat is safe, the buildings we live and work in are fit for purpose, and the communities we live in are clean and vibrant, councils are there providing vital round the clock services that support every aspect of our work, learning and leisure lives.
“From registering births to carrying out cremations, councils really can be relied on from the cradle to the grave.”
He continued: “This is not about preserving the status quo, and nor is it a go at our partners in government - but the reality is that ignoring our front-line services carries major risks and could set the most vulnerable in Scotland’s communities back by decades.
“Councils provide a safety net for all of us - housing the homeless, protecting women and children from domestic and sexual abuse, helping those with mental health issues, and rehabilitating offenders.
“We deal with those that others often choose to ignore and this must be recognised in the decisions that will be taken in the days and weeks ahead.”