Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has said he shares the growing anger at the SNP Government’s recent budget, announced last week, which he says will force local councils to make a choice between cutting services or imposing above-inflations rises in council tax.
The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “It is very unusual for all 32 local authorities in Scotland to come together and express their concern, as they have done though COSLA, after examining what the SNP’s budget means for them.
“Unfortunately it now looks as if councillors across the Highlands and Islands are going to be faced with a grim choice: cut local services or put up people’s council tax.
“Such is the shortfall in funding from Edinburgh, they may actually have to do both those things if they are to balance their books.
“Even Scotland’s SNP-led councils are objecting to the cuts made by this SNP/Green coalition in Edinburgh; cuts which are so unnecessary given this nationalist Scottish Government has just received a record block grant from the UK Government of £41 billion. That’s a £3.9 billion increase on last year.
“Scottish ministers have hung local councils out to dry, and that’s bad news for local services and local council tax bills. It’s clearer than ever that the priorities of the SNP and Greens are not the priorities of local people, especially here in the Highlands and Islands.”
1 For impact on council finances: Scottish Budget: Councils plan 'full-frontal attack' amid tension with Holyrood | The National
2 For spending on independence referendum:
The SNP’s latest budget reaffirms their plans for another divisive independence referendum. The budget document says: ‘We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to EU values, our alignment with EU policy priorities, and make the necessary preparations for a Scottish referendum and subsequently for re-joining the EU as an independent member state.’ Furthermore the budget allocations show that the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture budget is going up by £21 million from £349.5 million in 2021-22 to £370.5 million in 2022-23. (Scottish Government, Budget 2022-23, 9 December 2021, p.95)
3 Background to UK funding here: Record £41 billion per year for Scotland in budget - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)