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07 February 2014
Local government funding approved by MSPs

Local government funding approved by MSPs

Over £10.6bn of funding measures to deliver local services across Scotland have been approved by MSPs.

The Scottish Government confirmed it would also remove council tax from students progressing from an HNC or HND to a degree-level course and take steps to ensure payday lenders no longer benefit from business rates relief.

The measures were outlined during a parliamentary debate about the Scottish Government’s funding for local government for 2014/15, which also confirmed funding for the continuation of the council tax freeze and the expansion of the Small Business Bonus scheme.

The approved funding for 2014/15 is being maintained at 2013/14 levels with extra money for new services.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Business rates are a key issue for the business community, which is why I have provided additional certainty by legislating for the Small Business Bonus scheme for the lifetime of the parliament.

“This underlines the government’s commitment to maintain Scotland’s position as the best place to do business with a business rates relief package worth over £590 million in 2014-15.

“Students progressing from an HNC or HND to a degree level course will now be exempt from council tax, which will help us to widen access to education for all and provide increasing opportunities for our young people to develop the learning and skills that will equip them for the future.

“The Scottish Government recognises the importance of town centres as a base for small businesses and jobs; they support local economies and offer space for community and civic functions.

“With control of the main levers of power we could do so much more. We have already put forward our proposals for Scotland’s Future and demonstrated how the powers of independence can be used to build a wealthier and fairer Scotland.”

The funding for 2014/15 includes:

  • From 1 April payday lenders will no longer be eligible for business rates reliefs
  • £343m for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme that was introduced in 2013 to replace Council Tax Benefit (CTB), which has been abolished by the UK Government as part of its welfare reform programme
  • £51m for childcare
  • £20m for Discretionary Housing Payments to help top-up housing benefit for those facing hardship as a result of housing benefit changes
  • capping the annual inflationary rise in the business rates poundage at two per cent benefitting every ratepayer in Scotland
  • providing a total business rates relief package worth over £590 million this year, the most generous in the UK
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