Angus MacDonald MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement this week that it is to sustain local government funding and a council tax freeze for hard pressed families during these tough economic times.
Commenting on the provisional figures announcement which show that Falkirk Council will receive an extra £2.154 million in revenue funding from the Scottish Government in 2012/ 13 compared to 2011/12, SNP MSP for Falkirk East said:
“I welcome John Swinney’s announcement and am pleased that Falkirk is, provisionally, to receive £2.15 million of additional revenue funding, pending the outcome of the normal consultation period. The Cabinet Secretary’s announcement comes at a time when Westminster are slashing the Scottish Government budget and I am gratified that in these tough times Mr Swinney has found the money to increase revenue funding to Falkirk.
“In the following years the revenue funding is provisionally set to increase by £3.92 million and £4.8 million respectively on the 2011/12 figures.
“I am sure that Falkirk Council, under a new SNP administration from May 2012, will steward these funds well and will invest in protecting the frontline services that we all rely on.”
“This has been achieved in the context of the most dramatic reduction in public spending ever imposed on Scotland by the UK Government. In 2011-12, we have already been forced to reduce public spending by £1.3 billion compared with last year, with an £800 million cash reduction to our capital budget. In spite of this, in Falkirk, while there is a slight reduction in the capital grant from 2012 -14, there is an increase of £1.65 million in year 2014-15 on the 2011-12 figures.
In addition, the Scottish Government has confirmed:
* Funding is available to continue the council tax freeze and maintain police and teacher numbers;
* The poundage rate of 45 pence for 2012-13 business rates;
* A new business rates incentivisation scheme that encourages councils to attract new economic growth and lets them keep a portion of revenue above an agreed level;
* A scheme to allow any business the opportunity to spread the inflationary increase in business rates in 2012-13 over three years.
The package offered by the Scottish Government to local authorities is conditional and it is up to individual authorities to decide whether they wish to accept it. If councils choose to reject, their allocation will be reduced by an average decrease of 5.2 per cent
Angus MacDonald MSP continued:
“The Scottish Government has committed to ensuring Scotland offers the most competitive business rates in the UK, for example through the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which has benefitted nearly 2,000 small businesses in Falkirk district. The SNP Government also committed that it would not allow the poundage for business rates to rise above what it is in England during the lifetime of this Parliament. So the 2012-13 business rate poundage will be 45 pence, the same rate as will apply in England.
“However, it is acknowledged that in the current climate, businesses will welcome an opportunity to reduce their overheads therefore the Scottish Government will allow any business the opportunity to spread payment of the normal inflationary increase, which is tied to September RPI of 5.6 per cent, over three years.
“I was also very pleased to see John Swinney announce the introduction of a Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme from April 2012. Any council that exceeds its annual business rates target will share the additional income equally with the Scottish Government. The scheme therefore incentivises councils to maximise their existing business rates income and to encourage or attract new economic growth which will grow their business rates income.”
Negotiations will now take place with the local authority over the normal consultation period with the final figures being brought to Parliament as part of the Local Government Finance Order early in the New Year.