LAST week I joined a number of my fellow councillors and trade union colleagues to support the launch of COSLA’s ‘Fair Funding for Essential Services’ campaign.

COSLA, the local government umbrella body, is lobbying both the UK and Scottish governments for a better funding deal next year for Scottish councils.

In a briefing for MPs and MSPs COSLA has highlighted that overall government funding for council services has been cut by eight per cent in real terms over the last seven years, with funding for core services down by £590m.

The result has been huge job losses (30,000 in the last five years alone), an erosion of workers’ living standards, as pay rises have been well below the rate of inflation, and large increases in charges for services.

Although councils have been able to protect many frontline services during this period by driving out significant efficiency savings the scope for further efficiencies is limited as demonstrated by the savings proposals officers have come up with in Inverclyde.

While councils deliver essential services to their communities, COSLA has also highlighted how important councils are to the national and local economies. We employ around 10 per cent of Scotland’s workforce, with the council being the largest employer in many areas, including Inverclyde.

The loss of council jobs has a negative impact on the local economy.

Councils also have huge purchasing power as they spend £6.3bn a year on goods and services. Cuts to council services will mean less money spent with local and national companies, leading to potential job losses among suppliers.

It was good to see the Scottish Government step in last week to help secure a rescue package for the 1,400 jobs at troubled engineering firm BiFab, but ironically thousands of jobs in Scottish local government are under threat due to potential government funding cuts.

The jobs our council workers do are no less valuable than those of the BiFab workforce.

Perhaps if council workers marched on the Scottish Parliament like the BiFab workers the government might come up with a way to save their jobs?

COSLA has estimated that just to stand still on current services, taking account of inflation and rising demand, councils will need a revenue increase of £545m in 2018/19.

Some commentators are forecasting that funding from the Scottish Government could actually be cut by a further £300m. That would be devastating for local services and jobs.

We have seen the public reaction to some of the possible savings proposals the council has already agreed to put out to consultation. If the local government settlement is cut by £300m many more savings proposals will need to be identified to balance the council’s books.

If you don’t want to see cuts to essential local services like education, social care, libraries, roads and refuse collection, I implore you to join with the council and our trade union colleagues by lobbying the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government for fair funding for local government.

You can contact our two constituency MSPs by email at the following addresses: (Kilmacolm and Quarrier’s Village); (the rest of Inverclyde).

Please don’t delay. Time is of the essence. The Scottish Government will announce its draft budget three weeks tomorrow.