SNP call for a rethink of policy following favourable grant settlement
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 18:38
Falkirk Council’s SNP Group Leader, David Alexander, has called for a rethink of council policy following the news that Falkirk has received the second best cash settlement in Scotland from the SNP Government in Holyrood.
Due to the cuts in the Scottish budget from Westminster it was expected Falkirk would face a 2.6% reduction in the council’s grant funding from Holyrood, 2.6% being the average cut in local government funding across the country. However, the figures released show Falkirk Council’s budget has been cut by only 0.9%, a figure of around £2.5m in cash terms.
The SNP has been critical of the strategy adopted by the Labour / Tory coalition that runs the council in recent months claiming their cuts were both too deep and too premature. The Nationalists are particularly unhappy with the new charges levied on essential Social Work Services such as Homecare and the recently taken decision to privatise the council’s Leisure Services Department.
Commenting on the settlement Cllr Alexander said,
“For months the Labour and Tory leaders of Falkirk Council have been cutting services and introducing new charges in preparation for what they have said would be draconian cuts. Indeed Council leader, Craig Martin, has been quoted as saying the council would be required to cut around £13m from budgets. Now we find that far from facing a financial apocalypse the council has to make cuts of less than 1%.”
Councillor Alexander went on to say,
“Around 80% of the council’s costs are salaries and this forthcoming year there is a pay freeze for staff earning more than £21,000 so wage costs are being effectively frozen. Cllr Martin has seriously misled the people of Falkirk to say nothing of the staff he has deemed no longer worthy of calling Falkirk Council their employer.
There should be an immediate reversal of the privatisation of Falkirk Council’s libraries and sports centres and an end to the targeting of elderly and disabled people to fill a non existent financial void. Cllr Martin should also apologise to the people of Falkirk district for his scaremongering and if he refuses to do so should consider his position as council leader.”
SNP Candidate for Falkirk East, Councillor Angus MacDonald welcomed the package that not only protects 99.1% of Falkirk Council’s budget but also protects police and teacher numbers as well as freezing Council Tax bills at a time when VAT and National Insurance rates are rising.
Councillor MacDonald said,
“Councils in England are facing a 6.7% reduction in their budgets, more than 7 times the cuts Falkirk Council are facing.
"That demonstrates the commitment of the SNP Government to the services offered by the council and yet we are seeing these services slashed and burned by the Labour and Tory coalition running Falkirk Council.
"I hope the Administration running Falkirk Council will recognise the fact they have been handed a very good settlement and cease their attack on the elderly and disabled people within our community.”