Council tax increases ‘inevitable’ despite extra £120m to avoid inflation-busting rises

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said the extra money, which comes from UK government spending, is equivalent to a 4 percent increase in council tax.

He said he had listened to local authorities’ concerns and that the funding would enable them to tackle “the most pressing problems they face”.

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But Scottish Tory finance spokeswoman Liz Smith said it was “not even close to what councils need just to maintain basic services”.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. Image: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/Getty

She said: “Local authorities are still facing a massive £250m cut in real terms in April, despite a record block grant from the UK government last year.

“It means that Scotland’s 32 councils will now have to choose between providing essential public services cheaply or punishing local residents with drastic increases in council taxes.

“The SNP has neglected local councils for years and they can no longer cope with these devastating cuts.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Alex Cole-Hamilton warned that “many people are feeling the pressure like never before” due to inflation, saying: “We need to reflect that crushing reality in this Budget that we pass.

“But instead we see cuts, and they are cuts, in local government, and you will see an inevitable increase in the city tax that will further exacerbate that reality.”

Scottish Labor finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “The new funding for councils is welcome, but it will not be enough for our struggling local councils who have been hit by more than a decade of SNP cuts.”

A spokesman for Cosla, the council’s governing body, said local authority leaders will meet on Friday morning to discuss the issue.

He has previously warned boards that they face a cut in real terms from core funding of £371m.

The independent Scottish Parliament Information Center found that the Budget would represent a real terms cut of £284 million to councils’ core budgets.

Local authorities will have full control over municipal tax increases next year for the first time since the SNP came to power in 2007.

Ms Forbes made the latest announcement during stage one of Holyrood’s passage of the Scottish budget, where she cleared her first parliamentary hurdle by 69 votes to 54.

He said he was “mindful” of the challenges councils face, including the growing impact of inflation.

She said: “I have said repeatedly that next year’s Scottish budget is fully allocated. That remains the case.”

“However, I have also made it clear that I have been monitoring this year’s Budget very carefully.”

Ms Forbes said UK ministers had “spent weeks advising us that we shouldn’t expect more funding”.

But this position has changed in recent days, he said, and the UK government “has warned, within days, that we should anticipate more funding this year.”

She said: “In light of new information from the UK government, I now have new and additional flexibility in this year’s funding.

“I am therefore pleased to confirm my intention to use the Reserve of Scotland to transfer sufficient funds from this year to next, to allocate a further £120m of resources to local government.

“Councils will have complete flexibility to allocate those additional funds as they wish next year.”

Ms Forbes said the councils had asked for an additional £100m, adding: “We have heard them and we have listened and we will go further.”

“That will allow them to deal with the most pressing issues they face and at a time when people are understandably concerned about the cost of living, I would point out that this increase in funding would be equivalent to a 4 percent increase in city hall. “. taxes next year.

“So while councils have full flexibility in setting local council tax rates, I don’t think there is now a requirement for any inflation-stopping increases next year.”

It came as a dispute erupted after a team of 11 Scottish government employees emerged, made up of one senior civil servant and 10 civil servants, who are coordinating work on a new prospect for independence.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that their combined salaries are around £700,000 a year.

Pamela Nash, executive director of the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, called it “an obscene waste of public money”.

She said: “Instead of focusing on how to divide Scotland once again, the government’s priority should be to bring communities together, giving our NHS and public services the resources they need.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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