NEXT week Glasgow City Council meets to set its budget for the year ahead. We will do so in the most challenging circumstances for public finances in decades.

The cost-of-living crisis squeezing households across the country is devastating the city’s finances too. The soaring costs of heating and powering schools and public buildings and the need to increase staff pay to help them cope with the impact of rampant inflation has created a hole in Glasgow’s finances deeper than at any time since the 1980s.

At the same time, our citizens are more than ever relying on councils to deliver the vital local services upon which the well-being of our communities depends.

As it stands right now, the difference between what we have to deliver services for Glaswegians and the costs of doing so is around £61million.

Were we to plug that gap with Council Tax it would need to rise by around 25%. That’s around an extra £50-per-month for the average B and-D household. A hike of that magnitude would be unacceptable, particularly in the current crisis.

It won’t be happening. But it does show that the consequences of this budget will be severe and far-reaching, impacting on every household in the city. It is not a position we want to be in. But the very least Glaswegians deserve is honesty. We cannot dress this up.

The SNP City Administration has and will always make the case for more resources for Glasgow, its communities and for the services the Council delivers. But solutions to our immediate and long-term needs go beyond just ‘more money’. Those politicians reducing this issue to accusations of Scottish ministers withholding cash from councils are trying to take the public for mugs.

The Tories clearly prefer pretending Scotland’s financial challenges are happening in isolation rather than face their culpability for the cost-of-living crisis, the misery of austerity and its impact on public services, and the long-term, real-terms cut to Holyrood’s financial settlement.

And for Labour’s Anas Sarwar, this appears to be little more than a fresh opportunity for scaremongering and hypocrisy. Not only are his Labour colleagues on the Council the only party to have previously proposed cutting teachers or the Holiday Food Programme, but Glaswegians rightly question the credibility of someone who uses their personal wealth to opt out of the very council services they claim to care about.

Reliance on Westminster for the vast majority of its resources means the Scottish Government is as financially restricted as local government. It is also the case that both the Scottish Government and councils have very limited levers to assist our communities as we’d want to in this time of need.

But it is equally true that councils are being constrained further in their efforts by additional limitations placed on our powers by ministers at Holyrood.

I fully understand the competing demands of other public services such as the NHS or the police. I’m not suggesting local government is funded at their expense. What I am suggesting however is that, like other public services, councils like Glasgow have the flexibility and the trust of ministers to address their local priorities especially given councillors were elected to do that very thing.

Given the scale of the challenges here in Glasgow, and in the context of the constraints caused by the lack of resources, the budget decisions we face must be taken by the elected members serving the communities which they know best.

In each of the previous five years, the SNP city administration has ensured we’ve protected education budgets. We’ve seen the benefits of those decisions in the positive outcomes for students. That’s why we’ll do all we can to keep it that way.

But it’s absolutely vital to the wellbeing of our citizens – including our children and young people – that other crucial local government roles and functions that support decent public services and quality of life within the city are recognised and valued. Many of those services are no less important than, say, education or social work.

Much of what the Government wants to achieve and Cabinet secretaries care about we here in Glasgow do too. Our priorities and aspirations are clearly aligned and we will always work closely for that to continue.

I am proud that our city has been an early and willing partner in expanding free school meals, nursery and early years hours or supporting the roll out of the Scottish Child Payment, to name but a few.

But what we cannot be is treated solely as a delivery vehicle for national priorities at the expense of local needs. Almost the entirety of the additional £550million announced for local government in December has to be directed at national priorities.

It did little or nothing for Glasgow’s budget gap, protecting the policies Ministers were elected on rather than the services local councils are expected to deliver.

The choices demanded by Scotland’s financial position are weighing heavily on everyone elected to represent our citizens.

But it’s councillors who are accountable for decisions about local public services.

Our call to remove the restrictions holding us back from setting local priorities and taking local decisions isn’t just about democracy and accountability, it’s about the very survival of those services at this critical time.

Glasgow City Council’s budget needs to fund all of Glasgow’s services and so - with the greatest respect to colleagues at Holyrood - the decisions about it must and will be made here in Glasgow.