Importance of budget stability


First Minister Alex Salmond today called for any future UK Government to safeguard Scottish spending plans for 2010-11 and not subject Scotland's budget to further cuts.

Speaking at COSLA's Annual Conference, the First Minister reinforced the importance of budget stability following the Scottish Parliament approval of the Scottish Government's 2010-11 budget plans last month. He said local authorities and public bodies across Scotland are now finalising their budgets and further cuts imposed by the UK Government for 2010-11 would threaten double damage - damage to services and economic recovery.

At the conference the First Minister also outlined his vision for local and national government in Scotland, reflected on recent achievements, and highlighted the importance of the new relationship in driving forward Scotland's future economic success.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"This Government will not sit idly by and accept cuts imposed from Westminster. Scotland's local authorities and public bodies are working hard to finalise their budgets and further cuts could damage public services and Scotland's economic recovery.

"The Scottish Government is demanding no reopening of 2010-11 spending plans. Local government representatives, including COSLA political group leaders, have also made this case.

"Thus far, the response from the Westminster parties has been evasive. We need clarity and stability over budgets. Amid #500 million of cuts that have already been imposed by the UK Government, our recent budget was tailored to protect frontline public services and to support individuals and households suffering economic hardship.

"The relationship between local and national government has never been stronger. By working together we have frozen the council tax, delivered more police and fire-fighters, and worked tirelessly to tackle the inequalities in health, education and employment opportunities that have marred Scotland's potential for too long.

"The historic Concordat has offered local government the flexibility and responsibility to respond to local issues and this has helped councils support their communities through these challenging times.

"The next few years will be tough for public spending, which is why maintaining strong bonds between national and local government is critical. Together can we increase sustainable economic growth for our communities and deliver a successful, more prosperous Scotland."