1st March 2018
The ending of the Council tax freeze and long overdue use of income tax powers by the Scottish Parliament gave greater – and welcome – flexibility to South Lanarkshire Council for this year’s Budget than originally anticipated, according to the Liberal Democrats. Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown warned however that the Budget still involved a cut in grant from the SNP Government in Edinburgh and that much of the extra flexibility on spending was having to offset things like cuts in teacher numbers or inadequate support for childcare and older people care since the SNP came to power in 2007.
Robert Brown said:
“This has been a more difficult budget than usual because of the shifting nature of the figures coming down from the Scottish Government and the lateness of the eventual decisions.
Nationally, the overall position is a further cut in Scottish Government grant. Over recent years, the SNP Government has both reduced local government’s share of the pot and increased the burdens on the Council. The Audit Commission has expressed quite stringent criticisms of the way the SNP Government has prepared and funded the expansion of childcare, and the Council’s Chief Executive warned about the shortfall in the funding from Edinburgh.
This Council Budget focuses on tackling child poverty and focusing on teachers and ASN support – but much of this is just redressing part of the cuts we have suffered in education since the SNP came to power in 2007 and which saw the loss of 4,000 teachers and much of the ASN support they inherited from the Liberal Democrats and Labour in Government in Scotland.
Councils are less and less in charge of its own affairs, as police and fire centralisation continues to spill out problems, and educational reform turns out to mean more powers for the SNP Education Secretary and his officials and more bureaucracy for schools and Councils. It is time that Councils at least received the product of the Business Rates raised in their areas as part of their core income.”