Audit Scotland report: Wightman urges real council reform

Andy Wightman, Scottish Green Party local government spokesperson and MSP candidate for Lothians, has responded to an Audit Scotland report, highlighting that the key to tackling councils’ budget crisis is to reform local democracy.

The report, “An overview of local government in Scotland 2016”, says that councils should not tackle the challenges they are facing by imposing further cuts to staff numbers and services, and calls on local authorities to improve service design, planning and management.

Wightman said that it is crucial for councils to work with communities to develop and improve services, but that focus should be placed on giving councils the fiscal freedom to raise and spend revenue according to local needs.

Andy Wightman said:

“Audit Scotland’s new report clearly shows that our councils simply cannot face any more cuts to their already stretched budgets. Local authorities have been scrimping and saving to try and balance their finances in the face of drastic cuts, without the ability to properly raise revenue through local taxation.

“The Scottish Greens believe in the fundamental value of local democracy – we need to empower people to be able to take key decisions about how their communities are run. Working with community groups to develop services in an important first step, but will not be enough to bring power back into the hands of Scottish people. To do this, we need to give council the fiscal freedom to raise and spend revenue according to local needs.

“The Scottish Greens will continue to campaign for a local tax system that supports local democracy and gives people the ability to decide on what services they need, and how these services should be funded.”