John Swinney to meet with Cosla over council tax freeze row


Moray only council to make firm proposal to end the council tax freeze

SCOTTISH FINANCE SECRETARY JOHN SWINNEY will meet with the Scottish local authorities body Cosla today in order to thrash-out disagreements over the Scottish Government’s 2016-17 budget and the controversial council tax freeze.

The meeting will give senior councillors from all of Scotland’s major parties the oppurtunity to raise their concerns over the Scottish budget, which was announced on 16 December 2015.

The budget included the controversial decision to maintain the council tax freeze in its ninth year and to reduce the total funds given to Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

The measures drew a furious response from Cosla, which said the budget was a recipe for “austerity and mass unemployment”.

Ahead of the meeting with the finance minister, Cosla maintained that the cuts to funding and lack of income through a potential council tax rise were”totally unnacceptable”.

Quoted on the BBC , a Cosla spokesperson said: “We are still in active negotiations with the Scottish government around the 2016/17 settlement.”

The Scottish Government has maintained that local authorities have in fact been “overfunded”, according to a report by the Scottish Parliament Research Centre (Spice).

So far Moray Council is the only Scottish authority to break rank and propose to end the council tax freeze , a measure it claims is necessary as there was “nothing left to cut” from council services.

The council tax itself has drawn criticism for its allegedly regressive nature, and a cross party review of the tax has agreed to explore alternatives .

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Picture courtesy of Scottish Government