Scotland politics

Scotland's councils begin accepting funding deal on deadline day

council services composite

Scotland's local authorities have begun accepting the Scottish government's funding deal.

Tuesday marked the day on which they had to say whether they would sign the agreement and continue with the freeze on council tax.

Both Stirling Council and South Ayrshire Council confirmed their "reluctant" acceptance.

It had been claimed Scotland's 32 local authorities would have to make £350m in cuts to make the deal work.

None of the country's councils is expected to reject the offer on the table.

However, every local authority not run by the SNP branded the deal as unacceptable.

And a number of them are looking at the possibility of a legal challenge on some of the details.

'Communities will bear the brunt'

The Labour leader of Stirling Council, Johanna Boyd, said it was "with a heavy heart and under duress" from the government that she had been "forced" to accept Scottish government's funding settlement.

South Ayrshire Council leader, Conservative Bill McIntosh, said he believed local communities would bear the brunt of the financial settlement.

He said: "Like many colleagues across the country, we have no choice but to reluctantly accept this brutal settlement from the Scottish government, which will undoubtedly have dire consequences for our finances and the services we currently provide.

"The Scottish government has made a very clear choice to allocate its funding in a way that lets the axe fall on local government and this means it's our people and communities who will bear the brunt."

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, the SNP leader of Clackmannanshire Council Les Sharp said he thought the deal was fair given the circumstances.

He said: "What John Swinney, and the Scottish government, have done is mitigate local authorities against the huge cuts that have been imposed on the local councils down south.

"What he is trying to do is to protect local government by looking at how we perform in our local areas. I think the way he's looked at the money and how we can change things is the right and proper thing to do."

The terms of the deal on offer make it even harder than before to propose putting up the council tax as any rise would need to be large to be effective.

Last week Moray Council dropped a proposal for an 18% increase.


Analysis

By Jamie McIvor, local government correspondent

It would be astounding if any council actually rejected the Scottish government's funding offer.

Councils are heavily dependent on the Scottish government for their money - to say no at this stage, with no prospect of a significantly better offer, would plunge them into crisis.

But this year's budget offer has strained relations badly between non-SNP councils and the Scottish government.

The immediate concern is straightforward. Many councils argue they will receive less than they had anticipated so are now contemplating bigger cuts and savings than they had forecast.

The government offer, as ever, includes money to compensate councils for not putting up the council tax.

The government points to research which demonstrates that, if anything, councils have been over-compensated for freezing the council tax which last went up in 2007.

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