Scottish council elections: Minister broke ‘purdah’, say critics

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LOCAL government minister Derek MacKay is facing calls for his suspension until after the council elections next month.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie accused the SNP minister of breaking rules which restrict major public spending announcements during election campaigns.

It comes after Mr MacKay announced on Thursday that £40 million will be provided to offset council tax benefit cuts in Scotland.

Mr Rennie said the announcement “stepped over the line” of what is allowed during election periods.

He added: “The SNP must have known this but chose to do it anyway in a desperate attempt to win support.

“Following this incident, it is untenable for the SNP’s election co-ordinator to continue as local government minister. Derek MacKay should be suspended for his ministerial role for the rest of the campaign.”

The Scottish Conservatives have also said there are concerns the government has breached “purdah” rules, the term given to the convention restricting political announcements during campaigning.

However, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “The announcement of additional resources to protect recipients of council tax benefit in 2013-14 was agreed with Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) and was fully in line with Scottish Government local government election guidance.”