Spending plans announced by the Scottish Government will have “catastrophic consequences” for local services, union leaders have warned.

Funding for the public sector is expected to decline in real terms as a result of the five-year blueprint outlined by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes last week.

There are also fears that the indicative spending plans will lead to job losses.

Tracey Dalling, Unison’s Scottish Secretary, said public services “have already been cut to the bone” and are struggling to cope with increased demand.

“The pandemic has shown us who really are the essential workers,” she added. “It’s the people who have looked after our elderly relatives, cared for our sick and dying in hospitals, the workers who deliver our housing, our education and social care, among others.

“It has shown that no society can survive without strong, sustainable public services or the dedication of the workers providing them.

“These cuts are not inevitable, they are a political choice by an out-of-touch Scottish Government.

“Public services are not a luxury, they are critical to health, safety and community cohesion and are vital to tackling poverty and promoting economic growth.”

Cosla, which represents Scotland’s councils, has also expressed concern.

Gail Macgregor, Cosla’s resources spokeswoman, said: “Every year at budget time, Cosla argues for fair funding for local government to maintain the essential services our communities rely on.

“No increase in our core funding damages these services. Our communities are starting to see and feel the difference.”

Ms Forbes said spending would be prioritised in areas such as health and education but admitted that the Scottish Government “cannot prioritise everything.”

She added: “We do need to reshape and refocus the public sector post-Covid and the spending review calls upon all of the public sector to look creatively at ways to sustainably address that challenge.”