COSLA: revised budget represents ‘meaningful progress’ on securing sustainable funding for councils

Written by Jenni Davidson on 1 February 2019 in News

The announcements included an extra £90m of funding from the Scottish Government as well as new powers to introduce a workplace parking levy and tourist tax

COSLA president Alison Evison - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

The revised budget deal agreed between the SNP and the Greens represents “meaningful progress” in securing more sustainable future funding for councils, COSLA’s resources spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor has said.

The body, which represents all 32 local authorities in Scotland, had warned after finance secretary Derek Mackay presented the draft budget in December that it represented a “£237 million pound cut on the ground”.

COSLA president Councillor Alison Evison said that while the Budget Bill passed at stage one by MSPs yesterday “doesn’t mitigate all of our funding issues”, councils were now “in a better place” than under the original proposal.

Among the new announcements were an extra £90m of funding from the Scottish Government across all councils, new powers to introduce a workplace parking levy and tourist tax and moving to a three-year budget cycle for local government funding.

The cap on council tax increases will be lifted slightly allowing councils to raise council tax by three per cent in real terms rather than the current limit of three per cent in cash terms, which means in reality the rise for residents could be up to 4.79 per cent.

The Scottish Government has also committed to cross-party discussions to try to agree a replacement for council tax, although any change would not take place until after the next Scottish Parliament election 2021.

Commenting on the revised funding for local government, Macgregor said: “I welcome the movement made by the Scottish Government today in recognition of the essential services local government delivers.

“This helps councils across the country in making their tough choices. 

“Councils will continue to work to mitigate the impact on communities.

“COSLA, on a cross party basis, has engaged positively with Scottish Government and all political parties throughout these budget negotiations.

“COSLA ran a pro-active campaign around the meaningful impact our essential services make to communities throughout Scotland.

“The messages in this campaign were well heard.”

“I would also like to put on record my thanks to the Green Party for working with COSLA to get us to this position today.

“Meaningful progress has been made on a number of fronts including a commitment to secure more sustainable funding for local government going forward.”

Evison added: “Whilst challenges still remain, and today’s movement from Scottish Government clearly doesn’t mitigate all of our funding issues, we are now in a better place than we were with the original budget proposal.

“I welcome the commitment today to the introduction of discretionary taxation (transient visitor tax) and the workplace parking levy – it is right that local authorities across Scotland should be able to raise revenue locally to address local issues.

“A key part of COSLA’s work is to promote the democratic role and rights of our councils.

“Therefore, I appreciate the movement from Scottish Government today, with support from the Greens.

“The job does not end here: with on-going political leadership and cross-party engagement we must all work together to deal with the challenges ahead on behalf of our communities.”

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