£10 million set to safeguard services
But council warn that tough calls still to be made
North Lanarkshire Council have been given a pre-budget boost with an extra £10 million put into the council kitty.
The council has been allocated an additional £10.2 million for the year ahead following last week’s revision to the Scottish budget.
It takes the authority’s Holyrood funding for 20182019 to 603.4 million; with the money being part of an overall improvement of £159.5 million in the government settlement for councils, after a deal was reached between the SNP and Greens.
Council leader Jim Logue welcomed the increase but warned that “difficult decisions” on cuts would still be required to balance North Lanarkshire’s books.
He said: “I welcome the additional £10 million. This will allow the council to review some of the more challenging and unpopular options in the consultation. However, it still leaves the council with a significant budget gap.
“It is critically important that the Scottish Government clarifies whether or not the £10 million will be consolidated in the budget for future years, as most of the additional monies given to councils has come from one-off underspends in the current government budget.
“I will be writing to the finance secretary to seek this clarity. I would urge all local MSPs to seek that confirmation and to continue advocating for a fair deal for councils.”
SNP Group leader David Stocks described the new offer as “a good settlement”.
He added: “It’s good that there will be extra money to help with pay rises.
“The money allocated makes it easier to balance the books than it would have been before; we have to look to see if there’s still a shortfall, and also what we’d like to do as we have priorities we’d like to spend money on.
“It’s something we’re looking at and the question is might we dip into the proposals to put money into things we’re interested in doing – but some of the proposals are horrific and we wouldn’t consider them under any circumstances.
“We’ve got our own ideas and we’ll be going through these things at our budget meetings over the next couple of weeks.”
Rosemary McGowan of the North Lanarkshire Greens hailed the Holyrood budget deal.
“Now that the Greens have delivered more than £10 million of extra funding Jim Logue and his Labour colleagues at the Civic Centre must act to scrap the worst of the proposed cuts to jobs and public services,” she said.
“This monumental budget deal delivered by the Scottish Green MSPs secured £10.2 million for the council.
“It also means those on the lowest incomes in North Lanarkshire will get an income tax cut, and those that work in the public sector will get a wage rise.
“The deal also includes funding to support families struggling in fuel poverty and directs funds toward better buses, as well as walking and cycling infrastructure.”