Scottish Government announces extra £62.7m for councils after pressure

It comes after local authority criticism that the cash to fund council tax freezes was not enough.

Scottish Government announces extra £62.7m for councils after pressure Getty Images

Scotland’s finance secretary has agreed to hand local authorities an extra £62.7m after local leaders said the cash to fund a council tax freeze was not enough.

Shona Robison, who is also the deputy first minister, announced the funding after a meeting with council umbrella group COSLA.

Following crunch talks with the body last week, she insisted the budget settlement for councils was “fair” in the context of what she described as a “real terms cut” in the Scottish Government budget from the UK Government.

The funding will come in two stages. The first will be from £45m of Barnett consequentials expected as a result of new UK Government funding for social care in England will be fully passed onto councils.

An additional £17.7m will from the Scottish Government be given to councils for the coming year.

It will be welcome news by cash-strapped councils, with many across Scotland announcing cost-cutting budgets as they attempt to balance their books.

The Scottish Government previously announced £147m to fund a council tax freeze across Scotland.

Local authorities have been announcing cost-cutting budgets.iStock

The money amounts to what would have been a 5% rise by councils. Local authority leaders said the cash was not enough and many have been forced to make cuts to their local budgets.

Robison said: “I am prepared to commit that, subject to the overall funding position improving following the UK Government’s Spring Budget on March 6, the Scottish Government will not only pass through to local government the £45m expected as a result of the recent announcement on ring-fenced adult social care funding in England, and any consequentials received for increased teacher pension contributions, but we will also increase the local government general revenue grant by a further £17.7m.”

The finance secretary said while the fund will be ringfenced in England Scottish councils will be able to use the £45m as they wish.

“It will mean that the £147m in funding allocated will be wholly additional funding,” she said.

“This compromise, in the spirit of honest and constructive discussions we have had in recent weeks, represents a significant protection and improvement in the funding position for local government, which no other portfolio is benefiting from.

“It is also a demonstration of our commitment to the Verity House Agreement. In return for this significant compromise, I reiterate the position that the funding is conditional upon the freezing of the Council Tax.” 

Robison said the island’s cost of living fund will also be increased by £4m.

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