Unison Scottish organiser Dave Watson said local authorities had borne the brunt of budget cuts north of the Border, while spending on day-to-day services was suffering because of the focus on capital spending.
This, he said, meant councils were increasing less able to carry out the kind of preventative work they had previously been able to do.
The union leader voiced his concerns to MSPs on Holyrood's Local Government and Regeneration Committee, who are currently scrutinising the Scottish Government's budget plans for next year.
He spoke about how there was a "great pressure on the revenue budget" as a result of the Scottish Government's focus on boosting the economy by funding capital projects.
Mr Watson also told how councils were "managing these cuts largely by cutting corners, by cutting out reactive work, what we call preventative spend areas, not doing that" as well as by "just cutting out services".
Mr Watson added: "The same is true in bigger budgets like care and education, the time of home care workers is a classic example.
"We've heard about 15-minute care visits, some of my home care members would tell you that is a luxury in some parts of Scotland."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government's budget supports employment in the public sector through our policy of no compulsory redundancies and our investment in the NHS, local government and the public services."