Scotland

Scottish councils fear cuts 'may hit all areas of life'

comp pic of council services
Image caption Cosla has warned that all areas of people's lives could be hit

Major cuts to the services provided by Scottish local authorities could have a "catastrophic" impact on the country, council leaders have warned.

Local government body Cosla said they were facing a defining moment.

The UK government Spending Review is due on Wednesday and the Scottish government will unveil its budget proposals in November.

Cosla warned that the consequences of cutting too deep would impact on all aspects of people's lives.

Cosla president Pat Watters said: "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 said: "To do damage to such services would be catastrophic."

Mr Watters 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 said ignoring frontline services would carry 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," Mr Watters warned.

"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."

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour accused the coalition government of being "hell-bent on cutting too fast and too deep" and claimed Scotland would suffer more than the rest of the UK.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "Our unemployment is now the highest in UK. But the coalition is using the deficit as a smokescreen to axe public services, hammering the poorest and most vulnerable when it should be concentrating on growing the economy and protecting jobs."

The Treasury has said that "a decisive plan" was needed to reduce the UK's "unprecedented deficit" and restore confidence in the UK economy.

"Not taking action to tackle this problem would put the economic recovery at risk," a spokesman added.

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