FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar clash over council budgets

NICOLA Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar clashed over local authority funding at FMQs ahead of the local council elections.

The First Minister and Scottish Labor leader exchanged blows over the amount of cash given to councils and the impact on local services.

It comes as party leaders have been making their last pitch to vote ahead of polls opening on Thursday May 5.

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Kicking off his question at FMQs, Sarwar asked what the total cut to council core budgets has been since 2013.

The First Minister responded: “In terms of the period 2013-14, the Local Authority Revenue Fund is up £2.2 billion, that is 22.9% higher in cash terms this year than it was in 2013-14.

“And that actually compares with where Labor is in government in Wales of course, that 22.9% increase in cash terms over that time period in Scotland is 7.3% in Wales, so councils doing rather better under the SNP in Scotland than they are doing under Labor in Wales.”

Sarwar claimed Sturgeon was “desperate” by bringing up Labor-run Wales.

The First Minister clashed with Labor leader Sarwar

He added: “A reminder she leads Scotland and Scotland’s national party.

“The answer she was looking for was £6 billion. That’s what’s been cut from core budgets of councils. That’s what the Scottish Government’s own figures tell us – £6bn cut from local budgets since 2013.

“In Glasgow alone that cut has been over £1bn and what does that mean in practice across Scotland?

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“It means the First Minister tweets about reading books, but one in eight libraries shut since 2010 after a £210 million cut to library budgets.”

He continued: “Even when her budget goes up, she still cuts local government budgets. So Nicola Sturgeon can spin all she likes, she can read out the stats in her little book all she likes, the reality is she’s failing communities across the country.”

The First Minister hit back: “The facts in my little book are not going to suit Anas Sarwar, I’m pretty confident about that because he doesn’t like me talking about Wales.

“But you see Anas Sarwar stands up here and tries to say that if Labor were in government here, things would be so much better.

The National: Sarwar focused on local authority budgets ahead of the council voteSarwar focused on local authority budgets ahead of the council vote

“So I think it’s perfectly reasonable, perfectly reasonable to look at where Labor is in government in the UK and put that to some scrutiny.”

She added: “Let me give him the local authority real terms revenue figures now as well. So since that period, 2.3% higher in Scotland in real terms that’s local government revenue funding in Wales 10.7% lower.

“So actually, when Labor is in government, local authorities do much worse.”

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