EAST Lothian Council's leader has written to finance minister Kate Forbes MSP warning that a cut in funding for his local authority could lead to 60 jobs being axed.

Councillor Willie Innes described the Scottish Government’s allocation of funds for local authorities in its draft budget as “a very poor outcome for councils across Scotland”.

He has told Ms Forbes, who stepped in to present the budget to Holyrood after Public Finance Minister Derek Mackay resigned amid a scandal last week, that jobs are at risk and services will be cut.

Mr Innes said: “Following publication of the draft settlement last week, the like-for-like reduction in Scottish Government Grant means this council now faces an unforeseen funding gap of between £6-7million in the financial year 2020-21.

“This scale of funding reduction, so late in the budget planning period, cannot be met without a substantial adverse impact on local services, reductions in support for schools and the potential loss of up to 60 jobs.”

The council leader said that in the light of the proposed funding gap, it is “likely” East Lothian Council will need to “defer consideration of its own budget proposals”.

And he warned: “Even setting our council tax level at your maximum permissible level, unless there is a significant additional increase in resources being made available, the council is faced with stark choices that will lead to severe and potentially damaging reductions in services provided to support local businesses and communities.”

Mr Innes urged Ms Forbes to reconsider the budget proposals and increase “significantly” funding for local authorities.

The Scottish Government says its proposed £11.3billion funding to local authorities in the budget represents an increase in revenue spending of £494million.

However, COSLA, which represents local authorities, says that there are £590million additional costs to councils in the year ahead to meet Scottish Government-imposed commitments, meaning an actual cut to capital spending of 17 per cent.

In his letter, Mr Innes said: “This increase includes specific funding to support the delivery of a range of significant new policy obligations and commitments that your Government has introduced.

“At a local level in East Lothian, our core revenue funding has actually been reduced by around £2.1 million, a 1.2 per cent reduction on our revenue funding provided in 2019-20, amounting to a real terms reduction of around 3 per cent.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite a real terms reduction of £840 million to Scotland’s discretionary resource budget allocation since 2010-11, we have ensured our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement that supports vital public services.

"Local authorities will receive total funding from the Scottish Government of £11.3 billion in 2020-21.

“East Lothian Council will receive £200.1 million in 2020-21. Together with their opportunity to increase their council tax by three per cent in real terms, the council will have an additional £12.5 million, or 7.1 per cent, to support their day-to-day services, compared with 2019-20.

“While ring-fenced funding is for increased investment in services such as our schools and nurseries, local authorities have complete autonomy to allocate over 91 per cent - £10.3 billion - of the funding we provide, plus all locally raised income.”