Councils warn Scottish budget will mean future education cuts

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the reductions would be offset by a rise in council tax. Picture: Greg Macvean

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the reductions would be offset by a rise in council tax. Picture: Greg Macvean

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Five councils yesterday warned they will have to cut to school spending as a result of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s Scottish budget.

The Scottish Local Government Partnership (SLGP) said education was likely to be the frontline service which loses out the most.

Jenny Laing, convener of the SLGP, which represents Glasgow, Aberdeen, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire, said: “With SLGP councils facing more than £100 million of crippling cuts we will seriously look at schools in terms of the funding we currently provide.”

The Scottish Government’s opponents have pointed out that council budgets will be cut by £327m. Yesterday Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety of Labour said his local authority would have to make savings of £60m.

He said: “When the Finance Secretary announced his budget he tried to convince the people of Scotland he was a Holyrood Santa Claus. Unfortunately when he had passed through all his own smoke and mirrors, and the numbers were crunched, he turned out to be Scrooge incarnate.”

On BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Fife Council leader David Ross said his local authority was facing a probable £30m cut. He said: “No matter how Derek Mackay tries to dress it up, this is a significant cut in the core funding to councils across Scotland that will have a real impact on local services.”

Mr Mackay has argued that the reductions would be offset by plans to raise council tax in E to H band properties.

By refusing to pass on the Chancellor’s tax break for higher earners, Mr Mackay’s budget made Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK. But Labour has called on him to raise more tax on the highest earners.

Mr Mackay said: “We’re investing £700m extra resources. I don’t want to take an unnecessary gamble with the new tax powers that we have.”

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