Leonard accuses Sturgeon of 'Quadrupling austerity' at FMQs
The Scottish Labour leader hit out after figures emerged showing Scottish local council funding had dropped four times faster than the Tory had cut the block grant.
The Accounts Commission report revealed that council funding was cut by £0.2billion in 2017/18 financial year.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “This time last week the First Minister stood up in this chamber and claimed that she had given ‘a very fair settlement to local government’."
“Instead the Accounts Commission reports that funding for councils was cut in real terms, by £220 million in the last year. "
“Meanwhile, funding from the SNP Government to local government decreased at a faster rate, 6.92 per cent, than the Scottish Government revenue budget at 1.65 per cent. "
“That’s taking Tory austerity and quadrupling it."
Leonard pointed to the example of parents in Falkirk, who recieved letters warning of 'unprecedented cuts' to school funding in 2019.
"It has reached the point where head-teachers in schools across Falkirk are writing to parents to tell them that this so called fair settlement means swingeing cuts." he continued, citing the case of Catherine Sneddon, who's son Louis has epilepsy and learning difficulties, and who received a letter from the school warning of nearly £6m of cuts to the local education budget.
“And the result is that vulnerable children like Louis, and families like the Sneddons, face the stress of cuts to the services and the support that they need." added Leonard.
The First Minister attempted to defend the Scottish Government's record on education, pointing to a 3.2 percent increase in the Education Budget, and admitted the SNP council leader in Falkirk had apologised for the letters sent to parents.
“Since the SNP came to office, total revenue spending on schools has risen by almost £500m, that is ten per cent.” she claimed, adding: “That is ensuring that local government can protect frontline services and, of course, he managed that against a backdrop of massive cuts to the Scottish Government budget imposed by the Tories at Westminster.”