Status quo to prevail for Scots council funding
By David Scott
3 December 2009
Scotland’s finance secretary has decided to retain the existing funding system for Scottish councils after rejecting claims that it is anomalous and unfair.
John Swinney’s decision, made jointly with Cosla – the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities – led to a row involving individual councils. One authority, Aberdeen City Council, warned that voters would feel ‘betrayed’.
Several councils – including Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh and Perth & Kinross – argue that they will continue to receive about £800 less per person than Glasgow, which receives the highest amount.
Swinney announced his decision as he gave details of a £12bn funding package for the 32 councils on November 26. He said a joint review of the distribution system had identified no genuine anomalies that needed to be addressed in the medium term.
Aberdeen leader John Stewart said voters in the northeast would feel betrayed. He added: ‘I can’t rule out Aberdeen walking out of Cosla, although there are other things we want to try first.’
His views were backed by Scottish National Party MSP Brian Adam, the party’s chief whip at Holyrood, bringing the threat of a division within the nationalist ranks.
Swinney said total funding for local government would increase by £308m or 2.9% in 2010/11. He confirmed that the Scottish Government would provide £70m to enable councils to freeze council tax bills for the third year.