It's from someone who works for a Government that directly controls around 80% of my Council's funding. The same person works in an institution that has frozen any ability for Councils to influence the 'envelope' of the remaining 20%.
Basically, this means that despite growing service demands on Councils - central Government controls almost all of our funding.
The letter tells me that I'm only getting my annual grant settlement this year if our Council does 3 things ... can I be clear, these are not, per se, bad things to pursue:
- spend specific ring-fenced monies on Integrated Health and Social Care
- spend specific ring-fenced monies on support for teachers
- not flex the 'envelope' in relation to the 20% of revenue I notionally control
- we will be penalised - and lose - some £20million of funding
- we will be penalised - and lose - some £6million of funding
- we will be penalised - and lose - some £7million of funding
Now - I don't mind pursuing the three things above ... as I said, they are not, per se, bad things to pursue --- but I don't really have a choice do I.
For me - as someone committed to the delivery of local public services; with no interest in ever being a Holyrood or Westminster legislator (as that's what they're supposed to do there) - the letter is a complete disgrace, and makes an utter mockery of any semblance of a belief in local democracy.
Shame on those who wrote it - as they know full well what they're doing ... centrally directing local services.
What a truly sad day for local democracy in Scotland.