COUNCILS across Scotland will be 'hammered' by the next Budget, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.

A debate is to be held on Wednesday at Holyrood on the funding,w ith the Tories claiming councils will be forced to cut essential services.

It comes after the leaders of all 32 local authorities expressed their disappointment at the financial settlement announced by Kate Forbes, which they claim would lead to a real-terms cut of £371 million to their core funding.

Before Christmas the group wrote to Nicola Sturgeon and Ms Forbes, the Scottish Government Finance Secretary, asking for an urgent meeting to discuss their concerns about the "unacceptable" £371m cut.

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The Scottish Government disputes this figure, arguing it ignores other funding for joint priorities and councils will receive a real-terms increase of £543.6 million.

Miles Briggs, the Tories’ local government spokesman, said: “Year after year we have seen savage cuts to council budgets from the SNP.

“That has had a devastating impact on local services and communities, and cannot continue.

“Yet the SNP-Green coalition are proposing to hammer Scotland’s 32 local authorities with another near £400 million cut to their budget."

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Mr Briggs said Holyrood ministers should use the "record funding" from the UK Government received in the last year to provide a boost to councils.

He said: "As we recover from the pandemic, it is shameful that the coalition are not planning to use the record funding at their disposal from the UK Government to support crucial day-to-day services.

“We are only a few months away from crucial local elections and there will be a clear choice for voters.

“More cuts to local services under the SNP-Green coalition or a real alternative with the Scottish Conservatives to enshrine in law a fair funding deal in law for our councils.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Despite continued economic uncertainty facing us all due to the pandemic, we are treating councils fairly and providing a real-terms increase of over 5% to local authority budgets for the coming year – despite cuts to Scotland’s overall budget by the UK Government.

“The Budget provides local government revenue funding amounting to over £11.8 billion – a cash increase of £855.4 million and a real-terms increase of £543.6 million.

“In addition, councils will receive a fair share of a further £487.9 million which is currently undistributed.

“The Scottish Fiscal Commission has highlighted that – as a result of reductions to UK Government funding – the overall Scottish Budget for 2022-23 is 5.2% lower in real terms.

“This is despite the fact we face ongoing challenges as a result of the pandemic.”