'The decision to deprioritise Glasgow will cost us more than £150m'

GLASGOW is the biggest and most successful city in the country.

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We are one of Europe's top financial centres with a remarkable business-tourism sector, and the physical enhancement of our city has been dramatic.

School attainment is at an all-time high and the Glasgow Guarantee is providing every young person aged 16 to 24 with support in the form of a job, apprenticeship or training. Glasgow was also the first local authority in Scotland to introduce a living wage.

But it is an ever-more difficult struggle to protect frontline services in the face of increasing budget cuts to the city.

Last week, the Scottish Government announced the Local Government settlement for 2013/14, in essence the continuation of a policy to divert resources from the city to the rest of the country. This is not opinion. It is a fact.

Since the SNP's first budget in 2008, the Scottish Government has systematically reduced Glasgow's share of the local government budget.

Our share has been reduced every year, from 13.91% in 2008/09 to 13.19% next year. Indicative figures suggest this trend will continue in 2014/15.

Put simply, if we had received the same share of the local government budget in 2013/14 as we did in the SNP's first budget, we would have an additional £75million next year and an additional £78m in 2014/15– £153m over the next two years.

To put this in context, the Scottish Government's much-heralded free prescriptions policy, namely abolishing fees for the 12% of prescriptions which weren't already free, will cost £61m next year– for the whole of Scotland – significantly less than the reduction in Glasgow's budget to spend on schools, roads and social work every year.

And taking £153m out of the Glasgow economy will have as big an impact on the city as the UK Government's draconian welfare "reforms".

This is particularly disappointing given that local government will be at the forefront of the battle to protect our citizens from these reforms.

I have been disappointed to read the comments of some MSPs who are determined to put party before city, and claim against all evidence that this is somehow a good deal for Glasgow.

But, year on year, our share of resources is diminishing. Despite huge progress over the past 20 years, we still have more than our share of challenges.

Taking money from Glasgow to spend in areas with less need is an act of recklessness by the Scottish Government.

This is not the record of a progressive government. Nor is it about where powers reside.

The Scottish Government has the power and the budget to be a genuinely progressive government for change. It chooses not to be.

The Scottish Government has chosen to shift money from Glasgow to other areas.

That is a matter for them. But when the city council is required to make savings of £49m over the next two years, it is worth remembering that the Scottish Government's decision to deprioritise Glasgow will cost us more than £150m in that time.

Local government

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