COUNCIL leaders are demanding an extra £1.1bn in funding this year.

In a campaign launched today, the council umbrella body Cosla warns more investment is needed in hard-pressed local services “before it is too late”.

It accuses SNP ministers of both skimping on their funding and burdening councils with nationally-directed duties.

In 2014, only 34 per cent of council spending was in ‘protected areas’ such as education and social work.

Last year, more than 60% was in areas protected by central government, forcing councils to find savings in the other 40%.

Cosla said that meant disproportionate cuts in roads, economic planning and culture and leisure.

With another £497m ring-fenced in 2020-21, it said an extra £1bn of revenue and £157m of capital spending was vital.

Cosla president Alison Evison said: “In recent budgets the Scottish Government has chosen to overlook the essential services that communities rely on day in, day out.

“If we are to truly realise Scotland’s potential then local authorities must receive a fair settlement.”

The Government said: “The failure of the UK Government to publish its budget at an earlier time means we do not have clarity on the funding available for our schools, hospitals and other vital public services.

“Despite this, we remain focused on introducing a Scottish budget for 2020-21 at the earliest practical opportunity, and are in discussions with Cosla on how we can support their budget process.

“Despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government, we have ensured our partners in local government receive fair funding - delivering a funding package of £11.2bn for all local authorities in 2019/20, which is a real terms increase of more than £310 million.

“While ring-fenced funding is for increased investment in services such as our schools and nurseries, local authorities have complete autonomy to allocate over 92% - £10.3bn - of the funding we provide, plus all locally raised income.

“Decisions on budget allocations for future years are subject to the outcome of the current negotiations with Cosla.

“The results will be confirmed as part of the Budget in due course.”