SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod today (Thursday) welcomed the announcement by Finance Secretary John Swinney of the Local Government Finance Settlement. Funding for Scotland’s Councils will total almost £10.6 billion next year and the settlement package includes funding to maintain the council tax freeze as well as a further £81 million in 2014-15 to fund the additional cost of early learning and childcare provision for three and four year olds, increasing the number of hours per child to 600 a year.
Increases in rates paid by businesses will be capped at below the level of inflation and the Small Business Bonus Scheme will be expanded to benefit over 4,000 eligible additional properties, for the lifetime of this Parliament. The Scottish government is also providing £20 million this year and next year to limit the impact of the bedroom tax on households in Scotland.
Dr McLeod commented:
“John Swinney’s announcement demonstrates that the Scottish Government is committed to delivering its promises and working with local Councils even in difficult financial circumstances.
“Even though the Scottish Government’s spending power will have been cut in real terms by 11% by 2016, Scotland’s Councils will still benefit from more than £10 billion of Government support and at the same time continue to freeze the Council Tax, provide 600 hours per year of free childcare per child and cap increases in business rates below the level of inflation.
“In addition to this, the small business bonus, a particularly important measure for Dumfries & Galloway, will be expanded. Dumfries & Galloway Council will still receive almost £280 million of revenue funding next financial year, a slight increase on this year.
“Even with tightening budgets therefore it is clear that the Scottish Government is doing the best it can for the economy, household budgets, early years provision and childcare with the resources and powers that it currently has.
“Of course, as we have outlined in the White Paper on Independence, we could do so much more with additional powers. Fair though this settlement is, it is also a reminder of the extent to which the Scottish Government is hindered by regressive policies imposed by the Westminster Government.”