A senior North Lanarkshire councillor has warned that Scottish Government funding plans for local authorities could negatively impact pay increases for council staff.
Paul Kelly, depute leader of North Lanarkshire Council, described the Scottish Government’s budget announcement as “disastrous”.
Mr Kelly, who is also a Labour representative for Motherwell West, slammed claims by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay that the latest funding package represented a £210 million increase in local government funding.
The Scottish Government is recommending that council tax is increased by up to three per cent. If implemented, North Lanarkshire’s total funding for the next financial year would be £671 million, including £4 million from increased taxes.
Mr Kelly said: “This is a disastrous announcement for local government and the services we provide, such as education, roads social work and housing.
“I hope that all political parties in North Lanarkshire reject these proposals from the Scottish Government. This is not a good deal for this council.
“For every one per cent reduction in Scotland’s block grant from Westminster, the Scottish Government increases that reduction by seven per cent.
Mr Kelly also said that if the budget proposals were passed this was likely to impact pay increases for council employees.
He said: “We support our staff and want to give them a good increase but cannot if our budget is being reduced. It is not fair for the council to bear the cost of this when it should be coming from the Scottish Government.”
Speaking at Holyrood, Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government has continued to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.
“After removing the health uplift, the Scottish Government fiscal resource block grant funding goes down by £340 million or 1.3 per cent in real terms for 2019-20. Despite that reduction, we have still provided a two per cent real terms uplift in the total Local Government settlement for 2019-20.
“If local authorities choose to use their powers to increase Council Tax by up to three per cent they can generate up to an additional £80 million to support the delivery of essential local services.”