Scottish council savings hit services used by poorer people

New analysis from Glasgow and Heriot-Watt universities and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre has shown that councils in Scotland are making most of their savings from services used by more disadvantaged residents.

However, the research identified that the services used by wealthier people were proportionately more likely to be cut, indicating most councils were trying to protect services for the poorest.

Anne Hastings, professor for urban studies at Glasgow University, said: "That the services used more by the rich are being cut at a higher rate is really quite interesting because it shows councils are trying to protect and shield low-income groups from the worst effects of the council cuts.

"Councils don't have much wriggle room and this is not a solution. Social care and social work will not be able to withstand cuts of this magnitude continuing."

However, the research raised concern that this strategy may be unsustainable in the longer term as wealthier people begin to question why they should pay for local government if its services are solely provide for poorer people.

The study suggested that two thirds of council spending is on services often, if not exclusively, used by the poorest - for example social work and some children's services and public transport.

Services which were classified as ‘pro-rich’ and make up a lower proportion of council spending include commodities such as car parks, museums and galleries.

A spokesman for local government umbrella body Cosla, said: "The simple truth and hard fact is that we cannot completely shelter our communities from significant cuts to local government.

"Historically, Scotland's councils have had a long and proud track record of standing up for the most vulnerable in society and up until now it is only through the efficiency and good practice delivered by local government that communities have been protected thus far.

"However, as we have said, there is little place left to go and therefore if we are really serious about tackling inequalities in Scotland, then we need to resource this properly."