BBC BLOGS - Blether with Brian
« Previous | Main | Next »

The big freeze

Brian Taylor | 12:21 UK time, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

UPDATE:And so local income tax is no more. Or at least not for this present Scottish Parliament.

John Swinney has announced that he will not proceed with plans for LIT until after the next election.

According to Mr Swinney, this is because he cannot command a parliamentary majority on the issue - and because there are cuts coming down the line from Westminster which threaten to destabilise council finances.

Not the environment, he argues, in which to attempt a complete overhaul in the system of funding local authorities.

The announcement - at the start of the debate on local government finance - produced a sharp reaction from opposition parties.

Labour's Andy Kerr said it was the "biggest retreat" in the history of this parliament. He added that it was now plain that the SNP had been elected on a false prospectus.

Expect much more of this from Labour - in the shape of accusations that key SNP policies are being steadily dropped. Expect to hear revived talk of student debt and support for first time house buyers.

The SNP answer? Welcome to minority government.

Equally, though, this move will enable Mr Swinney to build a strengthened relationship with the business sector - upon whom he will rely heavily in efforts to combat recession.

Business organisations don't always agree with each other on everything. Indeed, they are occasionally disputatious. But they cordially loathed LIT - and said so, repeatedly.

- - - - - - - -

Now we get down to details - and to a substantive political argument. Will the Scottish Government's budget help to stimulate the economy?

If it doesn't, who will take the blame?

Two items today. Firstly, we have further evidence, if it were needed, that the economy is in severe trouble.

Just look at those new jobless figures.

Secondly, MSPs will today endorse £11.7bn of public spending for local authorities.

John Swinney, the finance secretary, will stress that this is a relatively good deal, that he has taken steps to enhance the cash available to councils, that he has included money to enable a further year of council tax freeze.

Opposition critics will point to examples of constraint around the country: from Highland to Dumfries and Galloway.

I would be grateful for your input. What's happening in your area? Are there damaging cuts - or are councils protesting too much? Could they find productive savings to release money?

How about capital spending? Are the projects under way?


or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.