Coun­cil tax rise may avert cuts

Campbeltown Courier - - NEWS -

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s bud­get al­lo­ca­tion may mean a coun­cil tax rise. Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil leader Aileen Mor­ton said there are no easy op­tions left to fill the bud­get gap faced by the coun­cil, which was dis­cussed at the re­cent pol­icy and re­sources com­mit­tee meet­ing. Ar­gyll and Bute has re­ceived a to­tal set­tle­ment from Holyrood of £217.8mil­lion. This would be boosted to £219.4m if the au­thor­ity agreees a coun­cil tax in­crease at its bud­get meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary. Cuts al­ready pro­posed by the coun­cil in­clude the re­moval of school ‘lol­lipop’ cross­ing pa­trols, the road safety unit, and a re­duc­tion in staff in adult and youth learn­ing ser­vices. Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton said: ‘All coun­cils across Scot­land have faced sub­stan­tial fund­ing cuts over re­cent years, and as the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment pro­vide 80 per cent of our fund­ing these cuts then mean lo­cal ser­vices suf­fer. ‘The fund­ing an­nounce­ment by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is sub­stan­tially worse than we ex­pected, con­sid­er­ing the UK Bud­get an­nounce­ment, and leaves the coun­cil fac­ing the need to iden­tify at least an­other £1mil­lion of fur­ther sav­ings. ‘Hav­ing seen our fund­ing cut by 11.4 per cent in the pre­vi­ous five years, there are no easy op­tions left to fill the bud­get gap. ‘We now face a fur­ther cut of 2.5 per cent this year. ‘Much of our bud­get is ef­fec­tively ring-fenced by Scot­tish gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments which means other ser­vices, such as roads, have taken much more swinge­ing cuts.’ Un­veil­ing the al­lo­ca­tion to each Scot­tish coun­cil, Holyrood fi­nance sec­re­tary Derek Mackay said: ‘The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has con­tin­ued to en­sure that our part­ners in lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­ceive a fair fund­ing set­tle­ment de­spite fur­ther cuts to the Scot­tish bud­get from the UK gov­ern­ment. ‘Af­ter re­mov­ing the health up­lift the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment fis­cal re­source block grant fund­ing goes down by £340 mil­lion, or 1.3 per cent in real terms, for 2019-20. ‘De­spite that re­duc­tion, we have still pro­vided a two per cent real terms up­lift in the to­tal lo­cal gov­ern­ment set­tle­ment for 2019-20.’

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil leader Aileen Mor­ton.

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