Cosla rejects government funding deal

council services
Epitome caption Cosla leaders said the budget cuts inherent in the scratching deal would hit local services

The group representing many of Scotland’s synods has urged them to reject the Scottish government’s funding settlement extend.

Council leaders on the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities voted by 21 to 7 to drop the “unacceptable” deal.

The motion said the Scottish government’s approach was “all in all misguided” and “threatens grievous injury” to communities and citizens.

Finance secretary John Swinney designated the offer “a deal worth taking”.

Councils have until 9 February to answer to the settlement offer.

All councils in the Cosla grouping which are not run by the SNP united against the contract, with some looking at the possibility of a legal challenge.

Scotland’s four other caucuses which are not rt of Cosla also met, and are exploring whether the terms of the mete out being offered are legal.

‘Horrendous sanctions’

The funding ckage on propose prioritises maintaining the council tax freeze, which has been in place since 2007, with any caucuses which break it facing a loss of Scottish government funding.

Though, some councils are considering raising taxes anyway in the face of budget sways.

Talks have been taking place between Mr Swinney and conference leaders, with the deadline for the deal to be accepted repeatedly pushed service.

Following a meeting of Cosla in Edinburgh, president David O’Neill portended the grouping had rejected the funding ckage as “totally unacceptable and an attack on our self-governing mandate”.

He said: “The Scottish government is basically forcing personal councils into having to accept the deal.

“Sadly, I fully up that individual councils, due to the horrendous sanctions they would out, will find that they have no other option but to give out with in to central direction on this occasion.

“In imposing the deal on individual ministries, the most vulnerable in our communities will be left to pick up the pieces.”

Copy copyright
Image caption Cosla wants local authorities to bin the Scottish command’s funding deal

Analysis by Jamie McIvor, BBC Scotland local regime correspondent

Today’s vote at Cosla is largely symbolic but demonstrates reasonable how angry some councils are over the budget offer.

21 of 28 bodies backed a motion condemning the funding offer. Only SNP councils voted against.

The stirring a get moving makes it hard for local government to present a united front.

Some nels are genuinely angry – even allowing for the politically-charged atmosphere as the Holyrood voting approaches.

First they feared they would have to im rt bigger cuts and savings than they antici ted.

Then their reference to deepened when it emerged the deal on offer made it even harder than in the forefront to contemplate raising council tax to help compensate.

One council, Moray, had tendered an 18% rise in its council tax rates but the calculations which led to this assume are now redundant.

Meanwhile SNP councils, while not disputing that the funding bid is a challenge, believe the offer is, on balance, the best they can expect.

The sway made a manifesto commitment to freeze the council tax for the whole of this procedural term – it believes this has been a popular policy which has been a lift to family budgets.

It also argues it has protected councils from the discourage of what it calls Westminster spending cuts.

The move by the four caucuses which are not in Cosla – which include Glasgow and Aberdeen – to explore whether the tender is legal rests on a very specific point.

But the fact they are looking at this way out demonstrates the depth of their concern. And, indeed, shows how many trump cards the Scottish direction holds.

Realistically councils have little choice but to accept the sway’s funding offer.

This begs longer term questions there the whole system of council funding.

A recent report – commissioned jointly by the oversight and Cosla – set out several possible alternatives to the council tax in detail.

There is also a argumentation over whether councils should be less dependent on the government and bring into the world more ways of raising cash locally.

The rties are all likely to set out their suggestions ahead of May’s Holyrood election.

The motion accepted by Cosla said the extent would see council budgets slashed by £350m, and would be “undeliverable without an unsatisfactory level of cuts to services and staffing”.

Trade union GMB Scotland has alleged 8,785 local authority jobs are under threat due to budget intrudes, and is planning a rally outside the Scottish rliament next week.

‘Impeded to ransom’

Jenny Laing, leader of Aberdeen City Council, which is not put of Cosla, said the relationship between the Scottish government and councils was “disconnected”.

Speaking after the Scottish Local Government rtnership (SLGP) met in Glasgow, she responded: “This is the most significant grant cut ever applied to restricted government.

“And when we’ve carried out our civic duty to question the settlement on behalf of our dwellers, we’ve been held to ransom by the Scottish government’s attempt to control verdicts which should be made by democratically-elected representatives.”

She said the group was “undertaking legal advice” on the matter.

Scottish Labour and the Lib Dems said it was now but for Mr Swinney to “re-think” the deal on the table.

Responding to the Cosla and SLGP show of hands, John Swinney said: “This is a deal worth winsome.

“Our funding proposals deliver a strong but challenging financial settlement for townsman government, despite cuts to the central budget by the UK government.

“It is a deal that will-power see an additional £250m invested in social care, it will help committees deliver the Living Wage giving 40,000 people a y rise, it whim freeze council tax for a ninth consecutive year, and it protects the pupil-teacher correspondence, helping improve attainment.

“Overall, as a percentage of total revenue spending, the reduction in local authority budgets is around just 2 per cent.

“So while I recognise this intention not be easy for councils to accommodate, some of the language used to describe the allot has been unnecessary. I hope and expect cooler heads will wake up to realise this is a deal councils can and should accept.”

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