Scotland politics

Scottish councils set budgets for coming year

The bulk of Scotland's 32 councils have agreed their budgets for the coming financial year.

A deal to freeze council tax for a fifth consecutive year had already been agreed, but many councils had still to decide how to spend their money.

Most local authorities have ongoing programmes to save money so there are no significant new cuts.

However, some councils have increased spending on programmes designed to help local economies.

As well as the council tax freeze, the Scottish government said its funding package worth £11.5bn would enable police and teacher numbers to be maintained and fund planned improvements to adult social care.

Details of the funding were confirmed to parliament on Thursday.

Local Government Minister Derek Mackay described the deal as "vital to Scotland's local authorities, providing the funding they need to deliver the vital services the people of Scotland deserve and depend upon".

Funding settlement

And he added: "Under the previous administration, local government's share of the Scottish budget was in steady decline.

"In contrast, we increased local government's share of the Scottish budget in each of the three years 2008-11 and maintained their share in the current year.

"Despite the unprecedented cuts from the UK government, we have worked constructively with our local government partners and agreed an overall funding settlement that means that local government's revenue funding will be maintained next year and over the two subsequent years."

However, Labour's Sarah Boyack said the coming year's council budgets "are shaping up to be bad news for thousands of families across Scotland".

She claimed the SNP had allocated council cuts which were double those that the Scottish government had received from Westminster.

"That means a squeeze on local services, job losses and increased charges for services which will affect people on low or modest incomes hard," she said.

"The council tax freeze is not being fully funded by the Scottish government and will add massive pressures on top of last year's cuts from the SNP."

Holyrood will next month discuss a £70m deal to compensate councils that have continued their council tax freeze.

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