Warning of further 13,500 jobs facing the axe over ‘underfunded’ council tax freeze

About 13,500 public-sector staff face the axe in the coming year as a result of Scottish Government spending cuts, MSPs were told yesterday.

Labour say the SNP government is “doubling” the spending cuts for councils, which are being imposed on Scotland by the UK coalition.

The council tax freeze is “underfunded and socially regressive”, according to Labour, who claim the cuts will hit “women workers and staff, most vulnerable people in our communities”.

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Labour’s Sarah Boyack said yesterday: “The squeeze on local government services was made in Scotland by the SNP. This SNP government took a cut from the UK Tory government, doubled it and passed it on to local councils. That’s on top of last year’s difficult settlement for local councils.”

She added: “Last year, 13,500 jobs were lost from local government, and Unison tell me that this year we’ll see another 13,500 more lost.”

Councils will share funds of £11.5 billion in the coming year, finance secretary John Swinney told MSPs yesterday.

The budget settlement for 2012-13 aims to continue the council tax freeze across the 32 local authorities and pay for shared agreements with the Scottish Government.

Mr Swinney confirmed the details of the council settlement in a debate at Holyrood. The total includes £10.9bn of revenue funds, which pay for day-to-day services, and about £600 million of capital funds.

He said: “The total funding from Scottish Government to local government next year will amount to £11.5bn. Under this administration, the share of the Budget that is allocated to local government is higher in 2012-13 than it was when we came to office, despite the unprecedented pressure that the Budget has been under.”

Mr Swinney was speaking a day after steering his overall Budget for Scotland through parliament with support from the Liberal Democrats.

The Local Government Finance Order, which was agreed by MSPs, was to secure approval to the payment of £9.9bn out of the revenue total. The rest will be paid in specific grants, mainly for police.

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell raised concerns about funding proposals.

“The Scottish Government has not provided any funding for town centre regeneration, but instead is reviewing the scheme,” she said.