The scale of the budget cuts facing Scotland’s capital were made clear in an e-mail that welcomed all of the City of Edinburgh Council’s staff to work yesterday. It outlined how over the past five years we’ve faced cuts amounting to £240m and over the next five years we’ll have to deal with a further £140m.
Despite the problems facing education, social care and waste collection, these budgets will be further squeezed. Readers should ask themselves how we can hope to improve these key services by cutting their budget?
The discussions surrounding the latest round of cuts have been protracted and difficult. Although I was openly critical of the decision my Labour colleagues made to enter a deal in Edinburgh with the SNP, I can say now that the cuts facing Edinburgh would have been worse without our progressive voices being around the table arguing for the many, not the few.
Whilst as much as possible we argued to protect services used by the vulnerable and those who need a helping hand to have the best start in life, these cuts have sacrificed non-statutory services to protect what we are legally obliged to deliver. Notwithstanding this, everything from waste collection to education is being cut.
The good news is that if you can afford it, you can pay to have your garden waste collected or even hire a music tutor to ensure your talented youngster reaches their full potential. If you are on a low income, the story is a little different however.
Be in no doubt, this is just the start. If continued, the Council will only provide basic statutory services and those who want something better will have to pay if they can afford to do so.
One piece of non-statutory provision, however, will not be consulted on. Because policing in the capital is not adequately funded, the City of Edinburgh Council contributes around £2.6m to pay the salaries of well over 50 police officers of various ranks. So not only is Edinburgh dealing with its own funding crisis, it is also making up for the underfunding of Police Scotland by the Scottish Government.
The SNP Council Leader Adam McVey said about the latest round of cuts this week that the “consultation will go live soon” and he wanted to “hear what you think”. Well I think these cuts to basic services are unacceptable and it is time this his party’s elite in Holyrood used its powers and gave Edinburgh the funding it deserves. It needs funding not only to reverse these cuts, but also bring social care back from the brink, close the attainment gap and actually get the bins collected on time.