But big cuts still on the cards for South La­nark­shire

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Ni­cola Find­lay

Cash-strapped South La­nark­shire Coun­cil looks set to re­ceive ex­tra fund­ing from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

The grant set­tle­ment to the lo­cal author­ity will now be £551m – an in­crease of £12m since De­cem­ber.

How­ever, front­line ser­vices will still face mas­sive cuts.

Cash-strapped South La­nark­shire Coun­cil looks set to re­ceive ex­tra fund­ing from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

The lo­cal author­ity had been look­ing to make £23 mil­lion worth of cuts to bal­ance for the books for 2018/19.

This was re­duced by £6m based on the block set­tle­ment of £539m from Holy­rood.

How­ever, this was re­vised last month to £541m fol­low­ing the al­lo­ca­tion of an ex­tra £1.9m due to an er­ror in the orig­i­nal cal­cu­la­tions.

And after the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment bud­get was passed last week, the set­tle­ment to South La­nark­shire Coun­cil will now be £551m – an in­crease of £12m since De­cem­ber.

How­ever, res­i­dents are still fac­ing a coun­cil tax hike of three per cent de­spite £16m worth of cuts be­ing put to coun­cil­lors at a meet­ing of the coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee last week.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion on what will be axed was post­poned and coun­cil of­fi­cials are now crunch­ing the num­bers fol­low­ing con­fir­ma­tion of their new set­tle­ment.

Vi­tal ser­vices in the fir­ing line in­clude the pro­posed clo­sure of a day care cen­tre for the el­derly and the cost of school meals be­ing in­creased along with charges for the com­mu­nity alert alarm sys­tem for the first time in 17 years.

The lo­cal author­ity’s car­riage­way re­place­ment pro­gramme also looks set to be slashed by £3m.

A coun­cil spokesman said: “Key de­ci­sions on the bud­get pa­per were con­tin­ued to the meet­ing of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee on Fe­bru­ary 28 and an up­dated re­port will be con­sid­ered by elected mem­bers at that time.”

Ruther­glen’ SNP MSP Clare Haughey claimed the fund­ing pack­age would “give Scots the best deal in the UK”.

She added: “The draft bud­get shows that where Scot­land has the power, the SNP will take a dif­fer­ent, fairer ap­proach – and give Scots the best deal in the UK.

“Thanks to the de­ci­sions made by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, South La­nark­shire Coun­cil will see an above in­fla­tion rise in their rev­enue fund­ing – with an ex­tra £9.5 mil­lion to spend on lo­cal ser­vices than was ini­tially pro­posed.

“That’s a good deal for tax­pay­ers and for pub­lic ser­vices in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang – and is only pos­si­ble be­cause of the SNP’s pro­gres­sive tax re­forms, that are backed by the pub­lic by two to one.

“In the face of mas­sive West­min­ster cuts, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is us­ing its pow­ers pro­gres­sively to in­vest in our schools and our hos­pi­tals – and in com­mu­ni­ties across South La­nark­shire.”

How­ever, the coun­cil’s Labour group say the cash boost does not go far enough with front­line ser­vices still at risk.

De­pute leader, Coun­cil­lor Wal­ter Bro­gan, who rep­re­sents Cam­bus­lang East, said: “In South La­nark­shire I un­der­stand we will see an im­proved fig­ure in our set­tle­ment, how­ever, this will still see cuts be­ing en­dured by our con­stituents to front­line ser­vices for yet an­other year.”

And Glas­gow MSP James Kelly added: “Un­for­tu­nately the SNP’s bud­get is not good news for Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang.

“Ni­cola Stur­geon has cho­sen to just pass down aus­ter­ity from the To­ries, rather than us­ing the pow­ers she has to raise more money and in­vest it in our pub­lic ser­vices.”

Ruther­glen South coun­cil­lor Robert Brown, of the Lib Dems, said: “The SNP gov­ern­ment’s over­hyped pub­lic­ity sug­gested it was bo­nanza time for coun­cils.

“In­stead they have tried a sleight of hand against lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal ser­vices. The re­sult of the SNP bud­get is ac­tu­ally a com­pli­cated mish­mash which will be dam­ag­ing to coun­cil ser­vices.

“Ac­cord­ing to re­search by the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment, the bud­get leaves coun­cils fac­ing a cut of £183.7m in real terms as well as hav­ing to find an­other £150m to meet the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s un­funded pay pol­icy.”

Cor­ri­dors of power Coun­cil head­quar­ters

Boost Fi­nance sec­re­tary Derek Mackay

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