Scottish Budget: Kate Forbes says she does not 'recognise' claims of £100m cut to council budgets

Scotland's finance secretary has said she does not "recognise" warnings from councils they face a £100 million cut next year.

Kate Forbes said she is protecting the core budget for local authorities in cash terms and cannot "inflation-proof" funding.

The declaration comes after the body that represents Scotland’s councils warned the settlement contained in the Scottish Budget would have "disastrous" consequences.

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/Getty

Cosla said essential services are already in a "fairly precarious position".

Councillor Gail Macgregor, its resources spokeswoman, said: “This settlement represents a £100m cut to our core settlement, before any other pressures such as National Insurance costs, pay or inflation are taken into account."

Giving evidence to Holyrood's finance and public administration committee, Ms Forbes questioned this figure.

She said she would differentiate between the core budget for local authorities and their overall settlement, as Cosla does.

She told MSPs: "In terms of the core budget, which is protected in cash terms, I don't recognise the £100m figure that local government is using."

Ms Forbes said: "As far as I'm concerned, if you compare last year's core budget to this year's core budget, you will see protection in cash terms.

"Of course, the argument could then be made that it doesn't take into account the impact on inflation.

"I can't inflation-proof any part of the Scottish Government's Budget, such is the nature of inflation right now."

Ms Forbes said the overall settlement for councils had grown in real terms.

She has faced criticism from opposition politicians amid claims some local authorities will be left with no choice but to hike taxes.

There will be no freeze or cap on council tax rises next year for the first time since the SNP came to power in 2007.

Elsewhere, health secretary Humza Yousaf accused the UK Government of playing "silly political games" over Covid funding.

Giving evidence to the health, social care and sport committee, Mr Yousaf said a press release previously issued by the UK Treasury claimed there would be new money "when it was nothing of the sort".

There is an ongoing row between UK ministers and the devolved administrations over extra funding in the wake of the Omicron variant.


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