SCOTLAND’S councils were forced to raid more than £100m from their reserves to fund day-to-day spending last year, new official figures have revealed.

Scottish Government statistics found local authorities suffered a net overall fall of 9.7 per cent in 2018/19, although three councils drained more than 40% from their coffers.

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Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest council, used more than a third of its savings.

Of the country’s 32 councils, 29 had to rely on savings to get them through the year.

The provisional outturn figures for local government revenue expenditure found councils spent £12.3bn on day-to-day services, up 2.4% from 2017/18.

Education and social work accounted for 42% and 27% of overall spending respectively.

Total council spending was 58% funded by Scottish Government grants, 21% came from business rates, 19% from council tax and 1% from reserves.

Councils withdrew a total of £157m from reserves while transferring in £47m, a net decline of £110m to £1.026bn at the end of March 2019.

Projections for the current financial year suggest another £77m, or 6.9% net, will be withdrawn, in 2019/20, with 22 of the 32 authorities expected to dip into reserves.

Councils normally use reserves to cope with exceptional circumstances, such as extreme weather, or to make long-term investments.

Opposition MSPs said councils were “having to sell the family silver” to cope with SNP cuts.

The council umbrella group Cosla said lower funding for local government was “forcing councils to reassess their use of reserves and make often uncomfortable decisions”.

The figures also show the winners and losers in council spending.

While education and social work both enjoyed overall increases of 3.7%, the revenue budget for roads and transport fell 4.8%, with planning and development down 3.6%.

The Accounts Commission, which monitors council finances, last year warned Moray, North Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire were in danger of running out of reserves in a few years.

The new figures show Moray spent 48.4% of its reserves in 2018/19, the highest proportion in Scotland and worse than its 31.5% forecast, while Clackmannanshire spent 36.9%.

Other councils seriously depleting their reserves were Midlothian, which drew down 42.1%, Highland (40%) and Glasgow (36.6%).

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After its previous warning, North Ayrshire halted its raids and increased reserves by 9.1%.

Tory MSP Alexander Stewart said: “The SNP has cut council budgets to the bone, and now local authorities are having to sell the family silver to compensate.

“It’s a complete disgrace that councils are having to raid their well-earned savings just because this SNP government won’t fund them properly.

“The nationalists seem to think they can scrimp on local government funding, and that hard-pressed council taxpayers will pick up the slack.

“Local government is entirely devolved to the SNP and has been for more than a decade.

“The fact we’ve reached this stage is entirely the SNP’s fault.”

Labour MSP Alex Rowley added: “Scotland’s councils are fast running out of money to provide lifeline local services after successive real terms cuts to their budgets by the SNP.

“These reserves are meant to be there for emergencies, now they are being used just to keep the lights on.

“Local government is in crisis but it is clear that SNP ministers simply do not care.

“It’s time for the government to listen to councils, listen to Labour and listen to the public by ending the austerity they have imposed on local government.”

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A Cosla spokesperson said: “The use of reserves is rightly a matter for local determination by individual councils based on local need and circumstances.

“However reductions in the overall pot of funding coming to Local Government for our essential services are forcing councils to reassess their use of reserves and make often uncomfortable decisions.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are delivering a funding package of £11.2bn for all local authorities in 2019/20 – a real terms increase of £310m for essential public services in Scotland. 

“Local authorities must use the financial resources available as efficiently as possible to ensure the best possible value. How this is done is a matter for each council, however, as at 31 March 2018 local authorities’ usable reserves amounted to £1.5bn. This represents more than 12% of the total funding being provided to councils by the Scottish Government.”