TWO Ayrshire MSPs have welcomed a landmark agreement between Holyrood and local councils to empower local communities, tackle poverty, transform the economy and provide high-quality public services. 

Ayr SNP MSP Siobhian Brown and her Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley colleague Elena Whitham both said the move would be a huge benefit to their communities.

The Verity House agreement, which was signed last week by First Minister Humza Yousaf and COSLA President Shona Morrison, will build a stronger relationship between the Scottish Government and local government - placing mutual trust and respect at its core.

Among other commitments, it means a new fiscal framework to control how local authorities’ funding is allocated, reducing ring-fencing and giving them greater control over their budgets to meet local needs.

It will also regularly review councils’ powers and funding, incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scots law and reform public services, building on the partnership working established during the pandemic recovery.

Ms Brown, who is Scotland's community safety minister, said: “Building a new Scotland requires bold thinking and a robust relationship between local councils and government so that the needs of the people and communities across Scotland can be championed and addressed at all levels.

“As Scotland continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic, and grapples with the on-going Conservative cost of living crisis and more than a decade of their austerity agenda, it has never been more crucial to have joined up thinking and strategic planning when it comes to tackling issues that matter most to people.

“The Verity House agreement shows a real commitment from the Scottish Government to work alongside local councils, like South Ayrshire to accelerate and achieve its ambitious goals when it comes to eliminating poverty and Scotland’s Net Zero targets – leaving no community behind.”

Ms Whitham, who was recently appointed minister for drugs and alcohol policy added: “In my former roles as a local louncillor, deputy leader of East Ayrshire Council, and COSLA’s community wellbeing spokesperson, I saw first-hand the importance and need to devolve powers to our communities which are supported by thriving national and local governments.

"Therefore, I welcome the Verity House Agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA which will ensure community needs are met by the people who understand them best.

“As Ayrshire continues to recover from the pandemic and grapples with the ongoing Tory cost-of-living crisis, it is crucial to have joined-up thinking and strategic planning when it comes to tackling issues that matter most to people."