Researchers from Glasgow and Heriot-Watt universities and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre studied the social impact of council savings.
They found that the greatest impact was on poor communities – even though councils are trying to cut back most on services which benefit the most affluent. Council spending on services defined as “pro-poor” is falling by 2% year-on-year, whereas “pro-rich” services like museums and galleries are seeing 12% cuts. However, because more cash in total is spent on pro-poor services and because the poorest have few other means, the impact is felt disproportionately.
The report authors said that the spread of cuts suggest that local authorities are doing their best to lessen the impact on the poorest – but any cuts impact that section of the community the most. “This spread of expenditure means that, when dealing with budget reductions, councils have little option but to make most of their savings from services which are used more by lower income groups,” it states. “This pattern of spending is similar across all groups of councils, whether they are grouped by deprivation, population density and population size.”