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COSLA has slammed Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth after his meeting with the association on Friday, amidst the b...
COSLA has slammed Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth after his meeting with the association on Friday, amidst the budget crisis.

COSLA president Keith Geddes said: 'Mr Forsyth is simply not interested in hearing of the difficulties his settlement is causing councils across the country - nothing illustrates this more than his blank refusal to meet us again before we set council tax levels, when we expect to have a detailed picture of how councils are faring under this strict regime.

'He refused to pay for his priorities of police and fire - rejecting our proposals for 'passporting' which would bring us into line with England and Wales - despite the fact that this will mean swingeing cuts across all other local government services.'

He added: 'He refused to commit the government to meeting the full cost of any pay increases for teachers resulting from his proposed Independent Commission, in fact, he wants to see teachers subject to local negotiations as nurses already are - and we all know the difficulties that causes.'

Mr Geddes said: 'The only one of the package of ideas which we put to Mr Forsyth which he accepted was the proposal - if a council wished - for the cost of redundancies to be met from a one-off reduction in capital expenditure - the first time he has admitted that redundancies are a direct result of his spending policies.'

A new Scottish Office interpretation of the rules on how any outstanding council tax debt collected can be used, means that Scottish councils could have around£40-50m more to spend next year.

The new interpretation emerged at the meeting - previously COSLA had understood that any outstanding debt which was collected could not be used to increase spending, but ministers said for the first time that that was no longer the case.

COSLA welcomed the extra cash, but stressed it was insignificant when compared to what was needed.

An extra£3m was also promised by Mr Forsyth for helping councils to collect outstanding poll tax and council tax.

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