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£620m spending power boost north of border

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Scotland’s councils will get a £620m increase in spending power next year after a deal over the country’s budget.

The ruling Scottish National Party said it had reached agreement with the Scottish Green Party over the budget to put an extra £2bn into public services.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay said this provided an additional £90m for local government and as well as further flexibilities worth £187m.

Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish government has continued to ensure our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK government.

“These additional measures 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 £187m of increased funding and flexibility to councils, on top of the £11.1bn local government settlement.

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

The budget deal also provides for cross-party talks on replacing council tax, flexibility to increase the council tax by 3% in real terms – equivalent to 4.79% next year – and a three-year funding settlement for local government from 2020-21 onwards.

There will also be consultation on introducing a local tourism tax, powers for councils to introduce workplace parking levies and devolution to them of business rates relief on empty property.

Alison Evison (Lab), president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said: “Whilst challenges still remain, and today’s movement from Scottish Government clearly doesn’t mitigate all of our funding issues, we are now in a better place than we were with the original budget proposal.

“I welcome the commitment today to the introduction of discretionary taxation – the transient visitor tax - and the workplace parking levy – it is right that local authorities across Scotland should be able to raise revenue locally to address local issues.”

 

 

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