Council tax freeze
A further council tax freeze next year and the delivery of key commitments, including the maintenance of 1,000 more police officers, has been secured after Scottish councils formally accepted the terms of a deal agreed between Ministers and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
Councils had until yesterday to confirm whether they backed the agreement, which will restrict local government's revenue funding reduction next year to 2.5 per cent in the face of swingeing Westminster cuts - a greater degree of protection than other parts of the Scottish Budget and superior to that for local government in England.
All 32 councils had earlier provisionally supported the agreement before setting their budgets. Today it was confirmed that all 32 councils had now formally agreed to sign up.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said:
"This is excellent news for Scottish communities and householders who, in what remains a challenging financial climate, will see the benefits of a fourth successive council tax freeze fully-funded by the Scottish Government.
"The agreement will also maintain 1,000 more police officers than were in post before this Government came to office and secure the delivery of outcomes for Curriculum for Excellence. It will maintain pupil teacher ratios to improve education for our children and young people, protect the number of teacher posts as far as possible and provide resources for a social care fund.
"In the face of the biggest reduction in public spending imposed by Westminster on any Scottish Government, the local government funding package for next year is the best possible outcome. It restricts councils' average funding reduction to 2.5 per cent - a greater degree of protection than other parts of the Scottish Budget, and superior to that for local government in England. The alternative would have been not to maintain delivery of key commitments to improve vital public services, from which the people of Scotland would undoubtedly have suffered."
The Scottish Government will shortly table an amendment to the recently-agreed Local Government Finance Order, which will seek parliament's agreement for the remaining distribution of funding to local government, following the confirmation that all councils have formally accepted the agreement with COSLA leadership.