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COUNCILS IN SCOTLAND NOT AFFORDED SAME LEVEL

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Scotland has not been afforded the same level of financial protection as in England and Wales to allow council tax ...
Scotland has not been afforded the same level of financial protection as in England and Wales to allow council tax to be dampened down Convention of Scottish Local Authorities president Pat Watters said.

'Late last year the Chancellor announced that he had made provision for additional money in the order of£305m in 2006/07 and£508m in 2007/08 for English and Welsh local authorities to keep council tax increases below 5%. We have had no such protection North of the Border.

'In England and Wales where council tax rises have been higher than they have been in Scotland every year since devolution, the extra money has been found by reallocating money from central budgets in England and reflects a clear decision by the UK Government to prioritise and commit resources to local government - a commitment not so far replicated in Scotland. It appears that they are being rewarded for having high council tax whereas we appear to be being punished.

'We have written to the Scottish Executive urging them to undertake a similar prioritisation exercise in Scotland across Executive departments and quangos.

'This would free up a sizeable amount of money to address the remainder of the local government funding gap as identified by COSLA and backed up by the Parliament's Finance Committee.'

Mr Watters also urged the Executive to release the additional monies that came to Scotland by way of consequentials. This amounts to£49m in 2006/07 and£26m in 2007/08.

'We expect that this will now be made available to local government in Scotland to make some impact immediately on the funding gap and stop services to local communities in Scotland being cut.'

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