Christmas bonus for hard pressed council taxpayers

David Alexander

Local SNP leaders have welcomed the announcement that for the second year running the SNP Government in Holyrood has produced extra money to allow the Council Tax Bills to be frozen.

Nationalist chiefs are also pleased that also for the second year in a row Falkirk has the third highest increase in funding from central government, an inflation busting 6.2%.

Contained within the increased settlement which in cash terms amounts to just short of £17m is an additional figure or around £2m to freeze tax bills and an additional £3m previously unannounced money to meet the deficit in such as the traditional under funding of Free Personal Care and Police, Fire and Teacher pensions.

Commenting on the settlement SNP leader David Alexander said,

“I can only look on with envy when we compare the settlement under this SNP government to the tightness of the settlements we received under the previous Labour / Liberal Executive up to 2007.

The £2m from the government for the freezing of the Council Tax is the equivalent of a 4% rise in Council Tax. If the Labour and Tory Administration believe that Council Tax should have risen by more than 4% then it is for them to explain to the hard-pressed taxpayers why.

The fact that unlike under the previous Scottish Executive the council is being allowed to retain it’s own savings through efficiency will result in a much needed boost to the services we provide.”

However, while the SNP chief was pleased with the settlement figure for the forthcoming financial year he warned of problems ahead.

“The Finance Secretary would normally have announced along with an actual figure for 2009/10 an indicative figure of what local councils can expect for 20010/11. He wasn’t able to announce this as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, has announced an intention of cutting around half a billion pounds from the Scottish budget.

Local governments share of those cuts would be around one third with Falkirk’s being around 3% of that cut, around £5m.

Cuts of that scale would devastate local services such as Education, Social Work and training for work and would set this community back many years.”

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