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Council funding talks take place

Published: 26 Jan 2016 18:25
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Public sector

Swinney urges councils to accept “challenging but fair” settlement

FINANCE Secretary John Swinney has held talks with council leaders this afternoon on the Local Government Finance Settlement, as he sought to protect the council tax freeze, invest in social care and maintain the pupil-teacher ratio in Scotland's schools.

If accepted by Scotland's 32 councils, the funding agreement will –

  • protect the Council Tax freeze for householders,
  • invest £250million in integrating health and social care services,
  • maintain the pupil/teacher ratio in Scotland's schools.

Mr Swinney will now write to each of the Council leaders with full details of the proposition, setting a deadline of February 2 to respond to the deal.

Following the meeting, Mr Swinney said:

"I am absolutely committed to continuing a positive, collaborative relationship with Scotland's local authorities, and I have engaged in open discussions with COSLA on what is a challenging but fair settlement for local government in Scotland.

"This settlement is an opportunity to transform the provision of social care in Scotland with a £250m investment in integrating health and social care services – helping to make our services fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

"We recognise that there are pressures on budgets being felt across the whole of the public sector, as well as in households throughout Scotland. That's why it is important to maintain the Council Tax freeze while we consider ways to replace it - as well as reimbursing local authorities to ensure they can continue to provide essential services.

"Contrary to what has been claimed, recent independent research suggested that the Scottish Government has over-funded the council tax freeze, and that between 2008-09 and 2013-14 councils received £164.9m more than they would have by simply increasing council tax by Retail Price Index.

"The funding proposals I have set out for local government will protect our shared priorities and deliver practical financial support to increase the pace of reform and improve public services - I would urge councils to take up this offer."