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KYNOCH REJECTS PLEAS FOR FUNDING HELP

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Claims that Scotland should follow Wales and transfer further resources to local government from other essential Sc...
Claims that Scotland should follow Wales and transfer further resources to local government from other essential Scottish Office programmes have been rejected by Scottish local government minister George Kynoch.

Mr Kynoch said: 'The new unitary authorities are to receive an additional £148m (2.9%) of government support next year. This means that the new councils' grant per head of population will be 43% higher than in England and 21% higher than in Wales.

'The scheme announced for Wales is being funded by transferring resources from other areas of the Welsh Office settlement to local authorities. Any increase in the Scottish Office allocation to local authorities would require a similar transfer. The secretary of state for Scotland's responsibilities include the funding of the National Health Service, higher education, industry and training, trunk roads and the environment in Scotland and to suggest transferring more money from these services to local government is unreasonable.

'Local authorities have already been allocated £26.5m more than the formula consquences of the English settlement.Council spending in Scotland is 30% higher than in England and 22% higher than in Wales and there is no justification for transferring cash from other vital Scottish Office programmes.

'We recognise that local government re-organisation would impact on council tax levels in certain areas and we have accepted the COSLA proposals for a transitional scheme to cope with this mismatch.

Glasgow's new authority will gain nearly £31m this year through this scheme.

'Scottish local authorities are being treated very favourably in a difficult public expenditure round. There should be no need for cuts in frontline services or excessive council tax increases if realistic budgets are set.'

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