Harvie accuses Scot Gov of ‘sleight of hand to conceal council cuts’

Patrick Harvie has accused Derek Mackay of ‘sleight of hand to conceal council cuts’, warning at FMQs today (13 December) that the Scottish Greens will not enter budget negotiations unless the Government gives councils the tax powers they need.

Harvie pointed to analysis by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), backed up by separate work by Parliament’s independent researchers, who have described the draft budget as a “cash cut to Local Government’s core budget”.  That’s because hundreds of millions of pounds in new ring-fenced commitments, including delivering the Scottish Government’s commitments on nursery places, are to be taken from what should be core funding for council services such as schools, social care and libraries.

The Greens’ co-convenor also blasted the SNP for offering no new commitments on local tax reform despite it being his parties red line for even entering budget discussions.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Derek Mackay has a brass neck trying to pass off hundreds of millions of pounds in council cuts as a funding increase. National policies like childcare expansion should be funded from national resources, not from a raid on council budgets. Councils across Scotland will now be forced to consider cutting vital services – threatening jobs – unless the Finance Secretary changes course and delivers a real real-terms funding increase.

“The First Minister knows that Greens remain the only party ever to bring down a Scottish budget. There’s no way Greens will back a double-whammy of council cuts and no new action on local tax reform. Her own councillors have backed plans for tourism and parking levies because they know how absurdly dependent councils are on central government grants. The clock is ticking – this Government needs to get serious about local tax reform."