GLASGOW has been hit almost twice as hard by austerity compared to other cities in Scotland, a new report has claimed.

An analysis of a decade’s worth of swinging cuts to council budgets has found that spending has fallen by £638 per head in Scotland’s largest city since 2009, equivalent to a drop of 23 per cent.

Campaigners say this has led to filthy streets, pot-holed roads and slashed frontline services which have left communities across the city worse off.

They point the finger of blame at city leaders’ inability to find creative solutions to budget black holes, but also criticised declining funds from the Scottish Government and the over-arching policy of belt-tightening introduced by the Conservatives at Westminster.

Glasgow City Council have disputed the figures, saying they do not take into account key budgets such as education spending or services which generate money.

HeraldScotland: GV of Glasgow City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow city centre. Photograph taken from roof terrace of 5 George square...   Photograph by Colin Mearns.28 October 2016.

Glasgow City Chambers

The figures are contained in this year’s report by the Centre for Cities, a think tank which aims to help UK cities “realise their economic potential”.

They reveal that cities across the UK have borne the brunt of the policy of austerity spending, introduced by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition to reduce the deficit in government spending.

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Glasgow was ranked 9th out of all UK cities for the severity of the cuts to public spending, while Edinburgh’s budgets had fallen by 9%, or £351 per person, Dundee’s by 3 per cent, a reduction of £95 per resident, and Aberdeen’s by 2%, or £117 per head. Stirling and Inverness were not included in the survey.

Years of declining budgets have seen millions slashed from public services in Glasgow - in 2017 alone £53million of savings had to be made, with the axe falling on social work departments, roads funding, libraries, sports centres and elderly people’s services.

Last year, leaked draft budget proposals suggested another crunch was in the works, with proposals to close swimming pools, libraries and golf courses being mooted along with an end to free bulk uplift services and pest control.

Bin collections could also be altered while council bosses have considered cancelling the city’s multi-cultural Mela celebration.

Previously, an attempt to balance the books saw plans to hit around 5,000 young, working families with increases to nursery charges which would have almost doubled monthly bills. However, parents were spared after the council rowed back on these proposals.

HeraldScotland:

Services such as bin collections have been affcted by cuts

Gary Smith, Scotland Secretary of the GMB union said the scale of the cuts affected Glasgow was apparent in every sector.

He said: “You can see austerity shame everywhere you look in Glasgow; filthy streets, pot holed roads and iconic buildings in disrepair. It’s not going to get any better anytime soon. This year the city council is set to cut even more from our front line services.

“The workers that we represent at the sharp end of these cuts, home carers, cleansing and refuse, and culture and leisure staff, will tell you the challenges are increasing year on year for them and the communities they serve.

“There is a growing sense among many of them that as the balance of political power has shifted from Glasgow to Edinburgh, their city is being left behind.”

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He criticised the local authority for not fighting harder to secure funding, adding: “The blame lies at all levels of government but someone needs to stand up for Glasgow’s interests.”

The report, Cities Outlook 2019, warned city-dwellers that the picture might not improve anytime soon, saying that local authorities were in “limbo” over future funding as the dominance of the Brexit debate had “drowned out any policy that would help improve the economies of those places that voted to leave”.

HeraldScotland:

Roads budgets have been slashed

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: “Councils have managed as best they can but the continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue.

“There is a very real risk that many of our largest councils will in the near future become little more than social care providers.

“Fairer funding must mean more funding for cities.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said that Glasgow City Council will receive over £1.4 billion to fund local services in 2019-20, while using council tax powers they could also generate an additional £8.7 million.

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She added: “We fully agree that the UK Government’s austerity programme is damaging the Scottish economy, taking money from the pockets of low income families and pushing them into crisis, debt and poverty.

“Despite cuts to the Scottish Budget by Westminster, we have continued to ensure local government receive a real terms increase in funding. Our 2019-20 Budget allocates £11.1 billion for councils – a real terms increase of more than £210 million, including more than £1.4 billion for Glasgow City Council.

“We are investing in the development of Glasgow’s economy, including contributing £500 million to the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal, which is estimated to deliver around 29,000 jobs in the region and attract some £3.3 billion in private sector investment.”

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A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “There can be little doubt that, despite driving the country’s economic growth, cities face distinct funding challenges. However, we just don’t recognise these figures or, frankly, understand how they have been calculated.

“What we can see is that they disregard education spending, which is one of the biggest areas of expenditure for any local authority in Scotland – along with any service that generates income or is supported by project funding. These aren’t valid comparisons – either over time or geographies.”