SNP forced to correct ‘wrong’ town hall budget hand-outs

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay
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The Scottish Government’s budget has been branded a “shambles” after cash settlements handed out to Scotland’s councils last week had to be revised because ministers got their numbers wrong.

Councils such as Aberdeen and Edinburgh have been told they will lose millions of pounds from their original allocations, while the money to other local authorities goes up.

Meanwhile, Holyrood researchers confirmed yesterday that funding for councils is being cut - and indicated that cash which finance secretary Derek MacKay claimed was going to town halls had already been included in the health budget. It prompted claims of “double counting” from opposition parties.

Mr MacKay’s budget last week was the first since Scotland’s gained historic new tax powers. He said that an extra £240 million was being invested in local services, but it prompted a furious reaction from town hall chiefs who insisted their budget was being cut by more than £300m. Ministers had to contact councils yesterday to confirm that the original revenue allocation figures issued last Thursday were wrong and provided revised numbers.

Aberdeen City Council’s revenue allocation was £319.8m. That has now been cut to £317.6m.

Edinburgh City Council was originally allocated £699.4m, but that has now been cut to £691.5m. Glasgow’s allocation was up by £7m to £1,201m, while North Lanarkshire rose by £4m to £591m.

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Alex Rowley said: “The SNP’s budget has now become a total shambles. It’s bad enough that SNP ministers are cutting £327m from local services, but to have to correct their own figures to individual councils within a few days is farcical.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The 20017/18 draft budget local government finance settlement figures, taken together with the opportunity to raise additional council tax, provide a package of measures that confer additional spending power to support local government services of £241 million.”