THE SNP has been accused of turbo-charging Tory austerity after a Holyrood report found council budgets being cut at almost three times the rate of the Scottish government’s own.

The analysis by the Scottish Parliament’s independent information centre said the Scottish Government’s revenue budget fell 2.8 per cent in real terms between 2013/14 and 2019/20.

However ministers cut the real term revenue for councils by 7.5%.

READ MORE: Derek Mackay under fire as Brexit money spent on other things 

The report found almost all the £870.4m in cuts Westminster made to the Scottish budget fell on councils, whose revenue fell by £810m, despite local government accounting for a third of the Scottish budget overall.

The council cuts coincided with SNP ministers protecting spending on health, which now accounts for almost half of revenue spending.

The report said council revenue had fallen “quite steeply” in 2016/17 and 2017/18, but the trend had recently been reversed, with a 1% rise in 2018/19 and 2019/20, ahead of the 0.9% increase in the Scottish Government’s own revenue budget.

The greatest reduction in real terms revenue funding per head between 2013-14 and 2019-20 had been for Eilean Siar, at £572, with Glasgow suffering the greatest reduction on the a mainland, down £270 per head.

The smallest fall in per capita funding was in North Ayrshire, down £32.

Overall, council spending as a proportion of the government’s revenue budget shrank by 1.7% between 2013/14 and 2018/19, and by 0.9% overall including capital spending.

Scottish Labour said the council cuts “put lifeline services at risk” and showed the SNP had made Tory austerity worse for councils.

Labour MSP James Kelly said: “The SNP has turbo-charged Tory austerity on councils across the country. Instead of using Scotland’s powers to stand up to the Tories, the SNP government has used Holyrood as a conveyor belt for cuts.

READ MORE: Labour accuses Scottish Government of turbo-charging council cuts

“It’s time for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to listen to Labour and properly fund local services.”

A spokesperson for Mr Mackay: “Despite a decade of Tory Westminster austerity, the SPICe analysis confirms that the 2019-20 Scottish Budget will provide local government with an additional £298.5m revenue funding, a real terms increase of 1.2% for day to day services.”

Meanwhile, Audit Scotland’s annual update on fraud and irregularity in the Scottish public sector has identified 17 cases involving £674,000 in 2018/19 out of spending of £44bn.

The biggest fraud saw one unnamed public body lose £500,000 after staff misused vehicles to do cash jobs on the side. Auditors blamed too much flexibility for drivers and poor monitoring. Four employees left their jobs.

Other scams in the year included an employee who stole prescription drugs from a care-home and replaced them with paracetamol, six public bodies losing £82,000 through mis-directed supplier payments, and a quango losing £12,000 after a corporate credit card was used to buy overseas events tickets and resell them.

Fiona Kordiak, Director of Audit Services at Audit Scotland, said: “The level of fraud and irregularity we’ve outlined in this report is very small compared to the £44bn that’s spent across Scotland’s public sector each year.

“That shows that systems to avoid fraud are generally working well. However, there were avoidable weaknesses in all the cases we’ve highlighted, and it’s important that all public bodies ensure that similar vulnerabilities don’t exist within their own organisations.”