Midlothian Council braced for more cutbacks

Midlothian Council is bracing itself for more belt tightening after the Scottish Government’s provisional funding allocations for local authorities were unveiled.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the government cash would continue the council tax freeze and maintain police and teacher numbers.

The figures suggest Midlothian Council could receive £158.621 million in revenue support and a £7.074m capital grant in 2012/13. This compares with £158.145m and £7.874m in 2011/12.

The government has also issued ‘indicative figures’ for 2013/14 and 2014/15 for all Scottish councils.

Mr Swinney said: “The package I am offering to local authorities is conditional and it is up the individual authorities to decide whether they wish to accept it.

“If councils choose to reject, their allocation will be reduced by an average of 5.2 per cent, which equates to an annual £579m package to pay for our joint priorities.

“The revenue allocations also include an additional £25m to deliver on our pledge to ensure no council receives less than 85 per cent of the Scottish average in terms of the revenue support they receive.

“Total capital funding from local government spending review is £1.9 billion, which delivers on our commitment to maintain local government’s share of the total capital budget of 28 per cent.”

Midlothian Council is only a year into its business tranformation programme, which runs from 2010/2011 to 2017/2018. The council has already made £5m worth of savings and faces savings of more than £12m in the years to come.

Leader Derek Milligan (Lab) said: “This settlement looks like it is as bad as we had feared and have been preparing for.

“We are already having to make difficult decisions to balance the budget while working to protect schools, jobs, frontline services and the vulnerable people of Midlothian.

“We are assessing the details of the announcement and members will be receiving a report for consideration at council on December 20.”