Swinney sets Scots council tax deal deadline

27 Jan 16

Finance Secretary John Swinney has set Scotland’s 32 local authorities a deadline of 2 February to decide whether or not to accept a financial settlement he hopes will underpin a further year of the council tax freeze.

The deadline comes amid widespread municipal anger over the settlement, which Swinney describes as “challenging but fair”. Already one council – Moray – has decided in principle to opt out of the deal and raise its council tax, while another, Edinburgh, has indicated its readiness to accept.

According to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the settlement amounts to a £350m (3.5%) budget cut that could lead to the loss of 15,000 council jobs.

But Swinney argued this underplays the £250m that he says is being diverted to local authority accounts through the merger of health and social care provision. He also points to recent independent figures suggesting that since the council tax freeze began in 2008 the Scottish Government had over-compensated councils by nearly £165m in real terms.

“The funding proposals I have set out for local government will protect our shared priorities and deliver practical financial support to increase the pace of reform and improve public services. I would urge councils to take up this offer,” Swinney said.

Meanwhile, COSLA today announced that its new chief executive is to be Sally Loudon, currently chief executive of Argyll and Bute Council. She replaces Rory Mair, who steps down on Friday after 14 years in the job.

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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