A landmark agreement to forge a stronger partnership between local and national government has been signed by First Minister Humza Yousaf and COSLA President Shona Morrison.

The Verity House Agreement sets out principles for working together to empower local communities, tackle poverty, transform the economy and provide high-quality public services.

It includes commitments to:

  • agree a new Fiscal Framework governing how local authorities’ funding is allocated, reducing ring-fencing and giving them greater control over their budgets to meet local needs
  • regularly review councils’ powers and funding, with the expectation that services will be delivered at a local level unless agreed otherwise
  • incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scots Law
  • reform public services, building on the partnership working established during the pandemic recovery
  • develop a framework for collecting and sharing evidence to ensure progress is maintained

The First Minister said:

“Today we have committed to build a stronger relationship with local government, with mutual trust and respect at its core.

“The Verity House Agreement is based on the idea that councils know best how to serve the people in their communities. By giving them greater flexibility over how they use their budgets and regularly reviewing their powers and funding, we can empower them to put that knowledge into practice – whether that’s to tackle poverty, transform our economy to deliver net zero, or to provide the high quality public services on which we all rely.

“This is just the start of the process, and we look forward to working further with COSLA and councils in the interests of the people of Scotland.”

Councillor Morrison said:

“Signing the Verity House Agreement today at COSLA’s offices is a clear signal that both parties want to reset the relationship between central and local government in Scotland.

“This agreement is about creating a new way of working as a partnership of equals – discussing key issues as early as possible and using our collective expertise to deliver for communities across Scotland.

“Scottish local government is the sphere of government closest to the people of Scotland and delivers a range of essential services that impact on people’s everyday lives and livelihoods – from education to improving health; from social care to the fabric of our communities.

“When national and local government work together to tackle shared priorities, the result will be better outcomes for the people of Scotland. This is ultimately what councils seek to achieve every day of every year – better local outcomes for the people we serve, enabling everyone to live well locally.”