Over the past 16 years (2007/08 to 2022/23), West Lothian Council has had to make savings of nearly £151 million due to insufficient levels of grant funding. The Scottish Government provides the council with over 80% of its income.
Many changes to services have already been put in place but the council now face a further budget gap of £47.1 million between 2023 and 2028. The budget gap is caused by increasing costs and a rising population combined with insufficient levels of grant funding.
The council will shortly be launching a public consultation on a range of budget reduction measures that will reduce spending and alter local services.
The measures have been developed by senior council officers. Councillors will have a chance to consider public feedback and make a final decision on the measures in early 2023, when the budget for 2023/24 is set and the Council Tax level is agreed.
The Leader of West Lothian Council added that the council will seek to protect the most vulnerable people, but that changes to existing services are inevitable given the scale of the financial pressures being faced.
He has written to the Depute First Minister, who is also the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, to appeal for further support and set out West Lothian's case.
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said:
"It's vital that we're given a proper funding package or it's inevitable that local services will suffer.
"Councils the length and breadth of Scotland are going to be forced into making more cuts to local services because the funding we're provided with simply isn't enough to deliver the services we currently provide.
"The cuts to our budget in real terms over the past 16 years have been hard hitting and now we face further reductions. That's why I'm setting out West Lothian's position and appealing to the Scottish Government for more funding that will allow us to at least maintain our current level of service delivery.
"Like any household, the less budget we have coming in, the less we can spend. That means less money being spent on local services such as roads, schools, social care, parks, waste and street cleansing and subsidising local public transport. All-important services, all valued by local people, all under threat."
"We will continue to protect the most vulnerable people within West Lothian and make every effort to improve services where we can. However, in order that we balance our budget - which we are required by law to do - really difficult decisions need to be made on what services we can no longer afford to provide. Senior council officers have looked at what changes could be implemented that would deliver a balanced budget which will impact adversely on local services.
"There are going to be tough challenges ahead and there's nobody who wants to reduce services. The reality is that if some of the measures proposed aren't agreed, other measures to save the equivalent amount of money will need to be found.
"Regrettably, there is no simple way to reduce this level of spending on local services which will not adversely impact on local communities."