Scottish Labour warns of increased council charges over Budget deal

Scottish Labour has claimed that council charges will soar across the country as a result of the Budget agreed between the Scottish Government and the Greens.

The party’s finance spokesman, James Kelly, said that the Budget announced by Derek Mackay would lead to a £230 million cut to core funding for councils.

The Budget was passed on Thursday as MSPs voted by 66 to 58 in favour – whilst the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted against.

As part of the spending plan agreement, new tax raising powers were given to local authorities, as well as an increase to core local government funding by £90 million.

Labour said that failures to stop the cuts to councils would hit vulnerable people and families in the pocket.

James Kelly MSP said: “The SNP-Green Budget forces a £230 million cut onto core council funding. That puts jobs on the line, services at risk and will see charges soar.

“In Dundee, hard pressed families are set to be hit with an eye-watering 700% rise in the cost of breakfast clubs, while families in Moray will be charged hundreds of pounds per year to get the school bus.

“The cuts to our councils are so deep that SNP-run Falkirk council has now resorted to snatching milk from primary school children to try and balance the books.

“At the same time as slashing these services and pushing up charges, SNP ministers have handed themselves a tax cut. That is shameful.

“In government, Labour will invest in our people, communities and public services, starting with a 50p top rate of tax.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said that overall investment will rise under the spending plans.

“We continue to ensure our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement,” said Mr Mackay.

“The additional measures agreed in the Budget will deliver the most significant empowerment of local authorities since devolution and provide additional funding to support local services.

“This enhanced package offers up to £187 million of increased funding and flexibility to councils, on top of the £11.1 billion local government settlement.

“In total, overall spending power for local authorities next year will be £620 million higher than it is currently.”

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