The number of looked after children in Scotland has declined for the fourth year in a row.
Council Funding Cuts Would Be 'Disastrous'
The head of an umbrella body for Scottish local authorities has warned further cuts to council funding would be "disastrous''.
Speaking ahead of a special council leaders' meeting on Tuesday, David O'Neill, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), urged the Scottish Government to preserve funding at this week's budget.
He said "a cut of the magnitude of last year's £349 million would have a disastrous impact on both communities and services''.
"All too often when we talk of cuts to local government these are seen in the abstract. The reality is that we are talking about real cuts to services and jobs,'' he added.
"The simple truth is that a cut to local government means a cut in teaching assistants, a cut in levels of care for all our elderly relatives, cuts for the homeless as a freezing winter starts to bite and cuts to gritting of the roads at a time of freezing temperatures when trains and the wider transport network is struggling to cope.''
Mr O'Neill continued: "Make no mistake, the Scottish Government has a political choice here and with additional cash of £418 million for next year there should be no cut to local government.''
The Government is due to announce the local government revenue settlement funding for councils on Thursday along with the budget.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Finance Secretary will publish the Scottish Draft Budget next week that will support our economy, tackle inequality and provide high-quality public services for all.
"Local government has experienced the same reduction in funding as was imposed on the Scottish Government by Westminster - as outlined last week in an independent report from Audit Scotland.
"It is therefore clear that local government has been treated very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.
"Local government finance settlements were maintained in Scotland on a like-for-like basis over the period 2012-16, with extra money for new responsibilities resulting in total settlements of £10.8 billion in 2014-15 and of over £10.85 billion in 2015-16.
"Taking into account the addition of the £250 million to support the integration of health and social care, the overall reduction in 2016-17 funding equates to less than 1% of local government's total estimated expenditure in 2016-17.
"We remain committed to engaging Cosla in further dialogue on a range of issues.''
The integration of transport policing into the national force will not put at risk counter-terrorism in Scotland, the Justice Secretary has said.
Waiting times for cancer patients have been described as "unacceptable'' by charities after new figures revealed key targets have been missed again.
MSPs are expected to back Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum in a vote at Holyrood today.
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