Council hits back claiming budget settlement is ‘disastrous’ for Midlothian!

Councillors will doubtless be debating the budget in due course.
Councillors will doubtless be debating the budget in due course.

Local authorities will receive total funding from the Scottish Government of £11.3 billion in 2020-21.

The settlement provides councils with an increase in day to day revenue spending of £494 million, fully funds all Scottish Government commitments and provides an additional £100 million for social care, including a contribution of £25 million to ensure all care staff are paid the living wage.

Local authorities will again have the flexibility to increase council tax levels by up to three per cent in real terms, providing up to an additional £135 million to help deliver essential local services.

Midlothian Council sees their share of the cash pot in the 2020-21 Revenue Settlement set at £177.318m, with a further potential £2.492m in council tax increases, bringing the total funding to just short of £180m.

SNP MSP Colin Beattie has praised the “vision and leadership” of the Scottish budget announced today – which he said “contains record investment for health and social care.”

Commenting further, Colin said: “This is a progressive and ambitious budget that demonstrates the vision and leadership of the SNP in government – supporting our public services, helping family incomes and tackling climate change.

“This budget is set against the backdrop of heightened uncertainty and risk, created by the UK Government following their decision to delay the UK Budget until March – as well as the complete uncertainty over our future relationship with Europe.”

Rhoda Grant MSP, Scottish Labour’s Finance, Jobs and Fair Work Spokesperson responded to the SNP Government’s budget statement saying: “Despite the additional powers that have come to the Scottish Parliament over the last decade the SNP Government have failed to maximise their use, leaving our economy, our people and our essential services worse off. They have endeavoured to hide this through smoke and mirrors but they must come clean with the Scottish people.

“Scottish Labour wants transformational change, we want investment for the future. We know that we cannot reverse 13 years of mismanagement in one budget. So we have asked of the Scottish Government in this year’s budget is to take a step in the right direction, to take a step towards real change.

“Can the Minister please tell me exactly how their spending plans will meet our ambitions to invest in the future for all of Scotland? Will it actually tackle climate change? Will it allow our young people the freedom and independence to get to work and play? Will it educate our young people and workforce for the challenges ahead? Will it equip our Councils to protect our communities? Will it, for once and for all, put an end to delayed discharge?”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Our budget will build on progress made over the last decade – with crime, including violence, at one of its lowest levels in 40 years, victims getting more and better support, and the reconviction rate remaining at its lowest level since records began, helping to keep crime down and communities safe.

“This includes an extra £42 million into Police Scotland’s annual budget – now more than £1.2 billion.”

Midlothian Council Leader Derek Milligan slammed the budget saying: “this is a really disastrous settlement for not only Midlothian Council, but councils across Scotland.

“COSLA documents clearly show that we have been subjected to devastating cuts to both the revenue budget and capital core funding. Midlothian Council, the fastest growing council in Scotland is down by around 17 per cent in capital core funding in real terms, and this comes at a time when we have the Scottish Government insisting, in fact forcing us, to provide extra services - all of which at great cost - but without the necessary funding to pay for extra nursery hours, teachers pay and the like.

“They have also cleverly forgotten to tell the public, that although they say council tax will rise by a maximum of three per cent, again, in real terms, with inflation, this equates to 4.84 per cent.

“For our MSP Colin Beattie to commend it, is ludicrous.”